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Aimhigher Associates: Succeeding Beyond Our Wildest Dreams?

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Presentation on theme: "Aimhigher Associates: Succeeding Beyond Our Wildest Dreams?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Aimhigher Associates: Succeeding Beyond Our Wildest Dreams?

2 Introduction: Outline of the Associates scheme Bridging the higher education gap - learners from the lowest socio-economic categories who have the potential to succeed. –Raising aspirations –Raising standards of performance –Increase awareness of HE opportunities offered by HE institutions –Develop and improve self esteem, motivation, confidence, persistence, application and time management –Greater understanding of the process of applying to HE Associates being role models for learners aged 14-19 enabling support, encouragement and new opportunities.

3 Mentoring? Emergence of mass mentoring programmes promoting equality of educational opportunity Personal development or developing skills? Can mentoring improve academic performance? Lack of clarity as to what mentoring means – it is not one thing but a range of possibilities Aimhigher Associates: is there a clarity of mission? Importance of training: to clarify mission, to develop confidence in the mentor and provide an introduction to the skills required in mentoring

4 Evaluating mentoring schemes Most research to date undertaken by those with an interest in highlighting positive outcomes Little in the literature exploring views of mentees, mentors and teachers Need to investigate processes, outputs (monitoring of exchanges) and outcomes (impacts on learners - unintended and intended) Distance travelled in terms of motivation, confidence and achievement Use of questionnaires: can provide insights in to the effectiveness of mentoring programmes, but return and attrition rates will affect the results. Also a number of variables might have influenced the changes taking place Evaluation should also bring together coordinators Need to critically reflect on what actually happens within the mentor relationship – without intruding on the relationship itself Evidence collected from a range of key participants can provide valuable insights into the nature of the relationships and the outcomes.

5 Pathfinder evaluation Logistical challenges/ level of prescription Group sessions or 1-2-1 Lack of clarity in the purpose of the programme Is it pastoral support or reinforcement for those already going? Engagement by schools/academies/colleges – greater responsibility? Is it mentoring or information giving? In the pathfinders the majority did not receive mentoring nor did they want it. If generic information giving is all that is taking place why not simply increase group sizes (value for money) Ensure training is consistently delivered and reflect on the content of the training Collect baseline data on exam performance Assess how costs might be reduced

6 Aimhigher Nottinghamshire Associates Evaluation Evidence gathered since November 2009 Use of questionnaires, focus groups, interviews and observations Analysis into timing and effectiveness of the mentoring, training, targeting, gender split among mentors and mentees processes, marketing and recruitment, motivations of Associates, learners, teachers and other staff in schools/academies/colleges, and scheme coordinators Analysis of outcomes, including the impact on learning and development

7 Learner information (228 completed enrolment questionnaires) Pre-16: 46.8% female & 53.2% male Post-16: 58.6% female & 38.5% male (2.9% unknown) Overall 52.2% female & 46.5% male (1.3% unknown) Ethnicity: 77.2% white with 22.8% other ethnic origins Targeting: 61% (341) identified cohort learners (out of 558 mentees). Some schools better than others at targeting!!! –Lowest = 16%, 4 schools =100%


9 Learner reasons for wanting an Aimhigher Associate “ I’m a shy person who finds it hard to communicate with other people I need someone who will be able to make my confidence higher” “If they had some knowledge of law and business course as this is what I want to do when I complete my A-levels” “Something that can motivate me for school to get my targets because sometimes I get distracted” “Someone happy, in higher education, know how easy/hard student life is and to be there for any needed matters” “I need help in Science, help in German and help in Maths” “Get distracted easily and frustrated when I can’t get my point across” “Applied for Medicine at Cambridge (Clare College), St Andrews, Birmingham, Leicester and Medical Biochemistry at Manchester” “Would like to go to Nottingham Uni to study Pharmacy” “Applying for a degree in criminology. I am a very active and out going person and enjoy meeting new people” “I really want to study English and try and aim to be an English teacher” “Being the first in my family to hopefully attend university I am dedicated to achieving this goal and work the best of my ability, I think it is important to balance these goals with other commitments and hobbies”

10 Learner experiences on the scheme “It was wicked” “It was really great, it helped me so much, and now I know more stuff about college, uni, etc” “I really enjoyed myself and appreciate that you have helped me” “Thanks for trying” “No Thanks” “I liked it but there needs to be more sessions” “No other than I really enjoyed it” “It was bad, never saw my tutor person after about 5 th week” “I have really enjoyed it and am grateful to the people who put it together and also the people who picked me to do it” “No not really apart from that I would like to see other people get the chance that I got and don’t it for granted” “Just good. My mentor was a good help with the English” “My mentor has helped me a lot with my self esteem and my confidence, he also help with revision and this helped me catch up in a lot of things that I have missed. Thank you” “It has been a great experience and helped me in many ways. If I had the opportunity to become an Aimhigher mentor myself I would love to do it.”

11 Mentor experiences of the scheme “ I loved it!!!” “I have absolutely loved being part of this as I have been able to give something back to the local community. I know that my experience will go some way in helping someone else who was once in the same situation as me” “I taught my mentees everything I wish someone would of taught me” “More organisation on the schools part…would be better. I felt uncomfortable in the staff room. Seemed to work for my year 9’s but I know others with older pupils who struggled” “If the scheme could be started any earlier I think that would make it easier to build rapport rather than just before Christmas” “The scheme is great and I think it would be even more successful if the mentees and mentors were matched by subject choices as this would help the mentee even further”





16 The voice of the learner: the best bits “Being able to talk to someone about higher education who is already doing it” “Learning new things about myself and what I could do in the future” “ I have learnt a lot about revision techniques and finally found the way I revise best” “I have got to look at the different things that are out there and also it has given me a lot of confidence” “Improving passion for higher education” “Improved my time management” “The inspiration I got from my mentor” “I now know that I can do anything if I really want to. This is the confidence that my Aimhigher Associate has helped me gain” “Realising just how much work/consideration I need to put into my future” “Meeting someone who has experienced going to university, especially how it feels moving from one city to another” “Being supported in my skills” “Learning and improving my grades” “Having somebody there to help me find ways of improving my confidence and my study skills” “Boosting my grades and more confidence” “Nothing” (you can’t please all the people!)

17 The voice of the learner: the worst bits “Missing some good lessons” “I feel more scared about higher education. My grades have dropped because I missed important lessons” “Not being able to have a full group session as kids weren’t at school” “Rarely saw my Aimhigher Associate” “I had to come out of core lessons e.g. Science/English” “Sometimes random, irrelevant activities can get a little tedious” “Not very useful” “Worst part was that the scheme was not optional for me because I believe although my mentor has helped me I can work just as well independently” “ Getting no further with increasing my self confidence” “Difficult to arrange a time that suited us both… a few times a time was arranged and my Aimhigher Associate had to cancel… sometimes it was the other way round as I had lessons at the time my Aimhigher Associate was available”

18 Learners willingness to continue on the scheme “Because I want to achieve even higher grades” “But only with the same person” “It would be good to learn better techniques” “ I would definitely like the chance to have an Aimhigher Associate next year, as I feel it would benefit me even more as I do my AS and A-level exams” “Because now I have a clearer idea of what I need to do, just not how to do it, I would be clearer about the help I needed from an Aimhigher Associate.”

19 Mentor information



22 Aimhigher Associate comments on the impact in raising aspirations “I think the scheme has impacted mostly on those students in year 10 who have no connection to HE and has helped to raise their aspirations greatly” “All of my mentees (year 12) already wanted to go to university…” “I think I was most effective in helping year 12 learners who are not sure of which course to study, finance available, etc.” “All my mentees were in lower sixth and their knowledge of higher education was very limited as they had very few family or friends who are at or had been to university and I was able to raise their awareness and address stereotypes” “All of my mentees were year 10 learners…who were concerned about proceeding into HE because of there backgrounds. Therefore, I tried to plant the idea of HE into their heads and I think it worked as they enjoyed learning more about university”

23 Continued… “Those with parents who are interested in their child's future have come on in leaps and bounds… and their grades have improved.” “Year 12 student. Achieved average in school. Working class background. She didn’t think their would be a course she would be interested in but I helped her find one she was excited about and didn’t think would exist.” “I have five year 9’s. 1) Was already considering university (vet), but I told her a lot she was not aware of. 2) Perhaps considered university was beyond her reach, and although is still somewhat unsure if its for her, she feels the door is open. 3) Wasn’t considering university, now believes he can do it. Spoke with his mum at celebration event, and she said he needed the push/drive which this scheme gave him. 4) Wanted to be a midwife, so needs university, now knows more about it. 5) Not interested in university, still not convinced, but knows its his choice.”

24 Increasing learner interest and enthusiasm in learning and subject/topics “One of the best things I did was an activity that helped them figure out what kind of learner they were, for example, auditory, visual, etc. once they realised how they learned best, we were able to transform confusing subject material into something they weren’t intimidated by.” “One of my mentees in particular really struggled with maths. I showed him ways to remember formula by inventing saying that go with them and by writing a handy hints poster to look back on. I came up with some questions about trigonometry which he was stuck on and worked them around a football pitch and players…which seemed to go down well.” “I think my interest in their work helped the most…I do feel that the Aimhigher Associate does not need to be studying the same subjects. My mentee wished to change at the beginning of the year as she wanted to study criminology at uni and I studied psychology but she said that she is glad she did not change as she got all the information she needed from me.”


26 The voice of the mentor: the best bits “The opportunity to pass on transferable skills.” “…helping my year 11 to secure a place at college after he asked for help with his application.” “Being able to communicate with young people who have doubts about going to university and reassuring them.” “The little things. When you can see in a students eyes that something that was once confusing all of a sudden makes sense…when they get a grade that they are proud of…when they excitedly talk about their future.” “Giving me the opportunity to experience something completely different whilst at university, to inspire other students. I am looking forward to talking about it when prospective employees ask me.” “There have been so many positives to taking part in this scheme. Having a positive impact on the aspirations of my five learners…being constantly surprised by their thoughts. It was also really rewarding to feel part of the Nottingham community, and to have the opportunity to give something back.” “Watching the mentees grow in confidence, creating aspirations for the future etc. …it’s good to look at them now.”

27 The voice of the mentor: the worst bits “When learners were not allocated/didn’t turn up.” “It was quite stressful at times trying to communicate with the school…” “I feel that some of my mentees weren’t really ideal candidates… one was a very high achieving learner, and I was not sure if the scheme was suitable for him.” “My group were not particularly interested…or understood why they had been selected. They saw it as pointless.” “Leaving it!” “E-mentoring. Only two of my mentees used it…the others had not used it at all, which made communicating with them outside of contact hours impossible. I think a big part of this is because they are not allowed to access the E-mentoring website from the schools computers.”

28 Continued… “The school…was not very supportive and it was hard to make the mentees feel that it is important and beneficial to them to take part, when the school did not help to emphasise that.” “Finding suitable times to meet.” “…it was a bit touch and go with timings around exams but the opportunity to E-mentor during the exam period greatly helped this.” “The never ending communication problems…” “The frustration at seeing and hearing about other mentors experiences going so well and the lack of support from the school. They didn’t understand why I was there…” “Being told off by the librarian/staff who seem to think I am a pupil. I obviously need to look a bit older!”

29 The Institutions and the teachers 14 Schools took part in the scheme with: –5 focusing on post-16 provision only and –7 focused on pre-16 provision –2 schools did have pre- & post-16 provision 9 teachers responded to the Teacher Exit Questionnaire.


31 The voice of the teacher: creating extra work? “The scheme took a lot of time to organise, especially at the beginning. Once the individual E- mentoring was set up the Associates were able to communicate with the students themselves rather than through me.” “A lot of work, however with the benefits to our learners I feel it was worth it.”

32 The voice of the teacher: compensated for extra work? “It gave a REAL experience of HE to our students from people barely older than themselves who clearly shared similar experiences.” “The time taken up in organising and maintaining the scheme was outweighed by the Associates time with the students.”


34 Teacher opinion of what constitutes an effective exchange? “Many times I witnessed industrious activity going on that could not be replicated in a classroom situation. For those quieter learners who may never voice an opinion, were like buds coming into bloom in summer.” “Anything that results in our students becoming more engaged in their school work.” “Particularly when a learner has to re-focus themselves in anyway: unsure about continuing, not sure if HE is for them, or simply to some degree adrift in their studies and can receive additional help.”

35 Part of the wider Aimhigher programme? “At the Academy we have been improving year on year with the Aimhigher programme and the Associates Scheme helps get the message across in a more personalised way.” “The scheme was fully integrated into the tutorial and support programme where Aimhigher activities are embedded.” “Students on the Associates Scheme also access other Aimhigher activities within their year group cohort. This is monitored throughout their time at School H to ensure that they have a tailored and broad-ranging experience…”


37 Teacher judgements “I have spoken to many of the students involved and can report a virtually unanimous appreciation of the scheme. We have students…who have produced excellent GCSE coursework and credit it to the work done with them by Associates.” “As a new post-16 provision it has helped to define our approach to individual student needs and provided our cohort with a students view of higher education. It has helped some of the learners to make the difficult transition from GCSE to A levels.” “Learners attitudes in lessons has developed positively.” “Improved examination results and greater take up of places at KS5.”

38 The voice of the teacher: the most and least useful aspects MOST “The chance for students to work with real HE students.” “The 1-2-1sessions.” “The Associates who really developed their relationship with learners…have really made a difference to our learners.” “Mentors have become a feature of daily life in schools and more learners have benefited from 1-2-1 mentoring.” LEAST “The communication! This has been a nightmare, with electronic links between learners and Associates often going down.” “Giving our students the options to opt out/not compulsory.” “Perhaps too much emphasis on higher education at the beginning. Many of the learners wanted more practical support on learning, revision, organisation – which will ultimately help them to get to university.”

39 The voice of the teacher: suggestions for improvement “To start in October as there is less pressure on learners from teachers.” “More time to allocate the learners.” “In an ideal world it would be incorporated into the timetable.” “Associates need to be very carefully recruited to avoid those who sign up but rarely appear.” “Late November proved problematic as a starting point for some of our learners who would of benefited from the scheme.”

40 The voice of the coordination team “I think its been brilliant being part of this project…this really hits home in things like the celebration events, when you see the young people and their parents…how proud they are…The schools have all been grateful for the opportunity to be involved…but the real privilege is to see the Associates…I thought their was a real buzz.” “Its definitely been worth it from the stories that have come back…you do get really nice stories from the associates, the schools… little sound bites of what it meant to be on the scheme.”

41 Discussion – 15 minutes 1.Mentoring or information giving? 2.1-2-1 or group sessions? 3.Pre- or Post-16 intervention? 4.Subject specific or generic?

42 Conclusions During mentor/mentee contact time (excluding E-mentoring) 1-2-1 exchanges make up 75.8% of the session total and group exchanges make up 24.2%. In Nottinghamshire our emphasis has always been on the 1-2-1 support/mentoring The evidence indicates that this scheme is best suited to Pre-16 as they have not come to definite conclusions about their future. More likely to involve mentoring as well as information giving whereas in Post-16 the evidence suggests it is information giving rather than mentoring 1-2-1 sessions are best suited to the Pre-16 learners enabling them to have the mentoring element. The group sessions are more suited to post-16 (and pre-16 information giving) Subject specific support is great in an ideal world, but logistically difficult Many benefits but hard to attribute impacts directly into the programme Increased learner understanding and awareness of HE Need to explore securing greater buy-in/responsibility of all parties involved

43 Contact Details Marie-Louise Aldridge Data & Evidence Manager Aimhigher Nottinghamshire 54 Terrace Royal Clarendon Street Nottingham Trent University Nottingham Tel: 0115 848 2575 Email: Dave Coppock Director Aimhigher Nottinghamshire 54 Terrace Royal Clarendon Street Nottingham Trent University Nottingham Tel: 0115 848 4872 Email:

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