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Evaluating Three Models of School–University Partnership at the University of York Vivien Hendry, Hannah Ainsworth & Carole Torgerson.

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Presentation on theme: "Evaluating Three Models of School–University Partnership at the University of York Vivien Hendry, Hannah Ainsworth & Carole Torgerson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Evaluating Three Models of School–University Partnership at the University of York Vivien Hendry, Hannah Ainsworth & Carole Torgerson

2 Background School-university link programmes contribute to widening participation, which is valuable socially & economically: by reducing earning disparities; increasing high-level skills in the population; contributing to social equality; and having individual benefits. Three Programmes: Green Apples Durham Aimhigher’s links to the University of York University of York Schools & Colleges Network (UYSCN)

3 Three Programmes Green Apples Selective targeted early outreach programme in all York schools in collaboration with local F&HE providers & guidance services. –York St John University, Askham Bryan College, York College & University of York. Aim: increase aspiration & improve progression. Mainly Years 9–11, some primary school activity & continued support Years 12/13.

4 Three Programmes Durham Aimhigher Aimhigher facilitates a wide range of links between local schools & universities nationally, –Our research only focussed on the relationship with York, not all links. Aim: raise aspirations & widen participation. Residential experiences for Year 10/11, healthcare days, visits for mature Access students & training for staff providing IAG.

5 Three Programmes University of York Schools & Colleges Network (UYSCN) Started in 2008: a national, dialogue-based programme. Aim: Promote understanding; assist informed policy-making & staff development; develop student aspirations; university applications. Not primarily focused on WP; improving IAG a key objective.

6 Questions & Methods What is the impact of the three school–university link programmes? What are the factors that contribute to or inhibit success? Mixed methods – combined quantitative & qualitative. Quantitative: numbers of school & college staff & students involved; University of York’s direct costs. Qualitative: focus groups & in-depth interviews to elicit perceptions of stakeholders: –Focus groups: head teachers & nominated contact teachers. –In-depth interviews: staff at strategic & organisational levels eg directors of the programmes, university-based programme co- ordinators & representatives from Aimhigher.

7 MethodLinks programme(s)ParticipantsRole(s) 1Interview Green Apples, Durham Aimhigher, UYSCN 1Strategic 2Interview Green Apples, Durham Aimhigher, UYSCN 1Strategic 3InterviewDurham Aimhigher1Organisational 4 & 5Interview (joint) Green Apples, Durham Aimhigher, UYSCN 2Strategic & Organisational 6InterviewGreen Apples1Organisational 7InterviewUYSCN1Organisational AFocus GroupDurham Aimhigher7 Head Teacher, Assistant Heads, Aimhigher Co-ordinators & Aimhigher Mentors BFocus GroupGreen Apples4 Head of Year & Link Contact Teachers CFocus GroupUYSCN6 Assistant Principals, Head of 6 th Form, Careers Leader & Programme Manager Summary of Participants

8 Thematic analysis using framework

9 Results: Programme Aims People enter the programmes because they believe there will be benefits from taking part, & having relationships with the institutions involved, to tap into expertise & resources. Schools: opportunities their students would not otherwise have access to. Universities: social contribution which can affect recruitment by making the university more attractive to potential students. Widening participation, equity & diversity sometimes explicit aims, but rarely sole focus.

10 Results: Widening Participation Providing social opportunities: “A lot of our pupils live in very closed little... you know, they only live two miles from the middle of the city, but they really think it’s a big deal coming into the city.” [Participant B, Green Apples focus group] “Because it’s for a larger group, they’re often mixing with students from another school again. So it’s this idea that, in higher education, you broaden your social horizons, & meet people from a wider variety of backgrounds, is reinforced.” [Interview 1]

11 Results: Relationships Clear mutual benefits for both schools & universities. Relationships facilitate exchange of information. Trust between stakeholders & in information provided. Responsive to feedback & adaptable to suggestions: –Tailored to articulated needs of schools, –Potential for shared governance, curriculum input, strategic planning, school improvement or other types of collaboration. Built on strength of personal relationships, developed over time: –Establishing a reputation for quality, –Committed, enthusiastic & organised stakeholders; staff continuity, –Approachable & trained mentors & student ambassadors, –Good communication between organisers & recipients.

12 Results: Challenges (1) Challenges may occur for any aspect of a programme. Financial constraints for programmes: –Individualised approach to IAG resource-intensive. Competing priorities; timetabling constraints & availability. Social & economic barriers for students from non-traditional HE backgrounds: family, peer, social & cultural pressures. Unfamiliarity, misconceptions about HE, of what is involved in studying at a research-intensive university. Conflicting goals & lack of trust between stakeholders. Selection criteria may mis-select students.

13 Results: Challenges (2) Loss of focus in students when gaps between events. Students’ shyness or lack of self-confidence may prevent them taking up a programme, or limit what they get out of it. Prioritising information appropriately: –Prioritising between options available to schools to work out what is best for their students, –Conflicting information & keeping up-to-date. Transaction costs of building relationships: appropriately limiting & selecting schools to have a relationship with: –Lack of & poor communication prevents successful relationships. Geographical & logistical barriers to building relationships with non-local schools.

14 Results: Challenges (3) Schools’ institutional barriers –Other commitments, insufficient notice for activities & events, limits to time students can take out of schools, lack of teaching cover –Lack of necessary time for teachers to prepare for & arrange events –Schools & teachers may reinforce attitudes & stereotypes about HE Universities’ institutional barriers –Transport & accommodation capacity constraints –Ill thought-out events can reduce future participation rates or generates psychological barriers to HE –Using programmes as sales or marketing pitch Legislative barriers increase administrative burden Lack of national support for building careers service or IAG

15 Results: Measuring Success Understood in terms of: –Qualitative assessments of enjoyment, –Repeat business & demand for activities, –Programme providers confident about measuring ‘hard’ success of programmes; programme recipients less confident that had necessary information, –No measures of, for example, university applications. Need to build in methods for measuring success: Robust design, appropriate data collection & analysis: –Minimising biases that could undermine the conclusions, –Increasing political pressure to collect data for quantitative evaluations of a programme’s direct impact.

16 Conclusions (1) 3 link programmes highly valued by those involved: –Successful programmes provide benefits for all stakeholders, whether schools or HE institutions. Effective programmes are individualised. Adequate funding is crucial: –Individualised approach for schools is resource-intensive. Central aim is providing IAG for HE: –Where expertise of HE institutions can be most valuable for schools & colleges, –Recruitment is part of the reason for providing these programmes, –Widening participation, equity and diversity are also aims, –Programmes provide social & local benefits beyond official stated aims (social contribution).

17 Conclusions (2) Trust between stakeholders foundation for superior programmes, helping build reputation for providing high- quality experience. –Conflicts between stakeholders’ goals can undermine trust. –Good communication builds trust between stakeholders. –Quality increased through using feedback to inform programme development & adaptable to changing circumstances. –Relationships central to successful programmes, & are built up over time. Shared governance, strategic planning arrangements & curriculum development are relatively uncommon: –Arrangements created in response to particular need or situation.

18 Recommendations Implementation of best practice & efforts to reduce barriers which affect programme quality & participation rates, with implications for equity & diversity in higher education. The right model for a programme is based on the needs of its recipients & responsive to the local environment. Programmes should work on promoting good communication & building trust between stakeholders to establish close relationships. Evaluations must ensure robust designs, appropriate data collection & empirical quantitative analyses, using methods to minimise biases which undermine conclusions.

19 Acknowledgements This research was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Full report will be available on HEFCE’s website ( early 2010. Thanks to: Research Advisory Group, Jeannette Bollen-McCarthy & Jonathan Haslam (IEE), Connie Cullen (Director of Admissions & Student Recruitment, University of York), –Also responsible for planning the programme development work which follows from this research.

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