THE WEEK OF COMPUTING, NURSING, AND IAG ARTICLES

Hello

It is now only 6 weeks until Christmas, but our term-time projects are still very much in full swing. Last week we held our final NNCO subject specific event: Spotlight on Computing. In spite of a last minute relocation due to a local power outage, attendance was good, and feedback on the presenters from UEL, LSBU and IBM was extremely positive

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The deadline for the second NCOP submission has been and gone, and we are now awaiting further feedback from HEFCE. In the meantime Emily (NNCO Project Officer) and Sue (Director) gave a presentation at the AoC HE Coordinators meeting, providing attendees with updates on the final stages of the NNCO and our plans for the NCOP (which officially starts in January 2017).

Sue also attended the Universities UK Action on Access Conference on the recent social mobility report. The event featured presentations from (among many others) HEFCE, The Open University, and King’s College.

UUK

UUK

 

Further to their personal statement surgeries in previous weeks, Emily and Andrew (Deputy Director and IAG specialist) have been busy preparing to hold a workshop and one-to-one sessions at City and Islington College for learners interested in studying Nursing, Midwifery or Allied Health Courses at HE level.

Emily and I have continued work on the NNCO subject specific guides to Art & Design, Business, Computing and Psychology, which we will launch at our Linking London NNCO End of Project Event on the 5th  December. Places are still available if you wish to attend .

Finally, you may have noticed a new feature on our NNCO website HECAIL – Andrew is now penning an article each month for the website, drawing on his vast IAG experience. So far he has given his thoughts on entry requirements, the new UCAS tariff and the progression of Access learners: read the articles in full here.

More on Friday from myself and the team.

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THE WEEK OF AWARDS, PERSONAL STATEMENTS AND ACCESS TO HE DIPLOMAS

Hello

What a week it has been! London has been rather chilly these last few days, but that has not stopped us from getting out and about! On Monday (Halloween) we held our first Access Practitioner Group Meeting of the academic year, which featured presentations from OCN London and SOAS University.  Delegates discussed the UCAS tariff and its impact on entry requirements for Access Learners, and shared examples of good practice

access-meetin-nov

On Wednesday and Friday Andrew (Deputy Director) and Emily (NNCO Project Officer) visited City and Islington College, where they ran a personal statement surgery for BTEC learners. Between them they helped 21 students improve their draft statements!

Thursday was the day of the much anticipated HE in London Student awards. Emily Sue and Andrew attended the event on behalf of Linking London, as we are one of the three networks who support HE in London.  Emily described the event as follows:

“The Awards celebrated and recognised the achievements of 20 learners from London schools and colleges who have successfully progressed to university, despite the many challenges and barriers they faced along the way. Learners received a certificate to recognise their achievements which was presented by Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North. They each received a £500 cheque to help them with cost of their higher education courses, which was made possible through a generous anonymous donation to this project via the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Learners were joined by their proud guests, tutors, advisers and teachers to help celebrate their achievements.”

he-in-london-awards

And on a final note I am sad to say I will be leaving Linking London later this month to start a new job at Sky! I will be writing a few more blogs for reader yet, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners, and most especially the Linking London team, for giving me such a wonderful opportunity . A new graduate intern will be hired later this year, and the job is advertised on the Birkbeck website.

More news from myself and the team next week.

THE FORTNIGHT OF THE HE SHOW & OUR NNCO LEARNER JOURNEY EVENT

Hello Readers

The last two weeks have featured two key events for us; one of which involved a trip to Kensington Olympia, while the other we held ourselves within Birkbeck, University of London.

Last week Andrew and I ventured out of the office to attend the HE Show at Olympia Central. The venue was packed with advisers and academics from across the country.

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Julia Goodfellow, Universities UK, provided the opening keynote: ‘Brexit’ and the higher education sector. Within her presentation she highlighted the importance of access to the Erasmus scheme, and that 14% of academic staff are from the EU.

Sarah Howls provided HEFCE’s presentation, which covered the young participation goal, widening access funds, and the NCOP – of which we are a part.

Gino Graziano and Andy Howard from Sussex University delivered a presentation entitled: Widening participation through the First-Generation Scholars Scheme. They noted the importance of evaluation, stressed how critical the lifecycle approach is to success, and explained how they try to cultivate a positive attitude with their target cohort (not treating them as a special case). An impressive 79% of their first generation scholars have engaged with the scheme.

Before we headed back to the office we also heard a brilliant presentation on employability from Tim Reed, University of Kent. Kent host a month long employability festival each year, where a third of the events are run by employers. The university boosts engagement with their employability service through social media, and has a strong employability presence at open days.

This week Linking London’s NNCO hosted our event ‘The Learner Journey: supporting progression to HE’. The event was extremely well attended, and included workshops and presentations from our colleague at SOAS, Birkbeck University of London, King’s College London, The Student Loans Company, UCAS and Employers & Education. Many thanks to all who attended and contributed to this event, where practitioners shared best practice and enjoyed many networking opportunities.

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More from myself and the team next week.

THE WEEK OF IAG, NNCO & NCOP

Hello

As usual this week has been a busy one for the Linking London team. We are thrilled to (quietly) announce that our joint NCOP bid with Access HE and Aimhigher London South has been successful. This means that together we will run one of the new HEFCE funded National Collaborative Outreach Programmes, starting in January next year. Following this good news we met with our neighbouring networks on Monday to discuss more detailed plans for the project.

On Tuesday we held our first IAG Practitioner event of the academic year, which featured speakers from CLC, Goldsmiths University of London, and the Student Loans Company. The event was extremely well attended (there were barely enough seats) and discussions included modes of outreach, degree apprenticeships and unconditional offers.

Wednesday was the date of the ‘Evaluation of the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCOs)’, which was held by London Metropolitan University.  Emily, our NNCO Project Officer, described the key points raised at the event upon her return:

“Overall all networks have had the focus of working in partnership collaboratively to help learners find out about HE and progress. As a result better relationships have been forged, learners and advisers have had their understanding and knowledge enhanced, and engagement has increased. The additional money from HECFE has enabled lots of innovative activities to take place.”

On Thursday Andrew (Deputy Director) met up with Birkbeck’s Caroline McDonald (Head of Widening Access and Retention) to discuss the university’s work with BTEC learners and their innovative Birkbeck Skills Programme.

On a final note we have been sending out even more copies of Andrew’s Studying Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions guide for Access learners this week. Any Linking London partners who would like copies of the guide should contact our team as soon as possible (info@linkinglondon.ac.uk) – they are proving rather popular!

More from myself and the team next week.

THE WEEK OF NEW PUBLICATIONS

Hello Readers

Our Director Sue made her second partner visit of the academic year this week – she visited King’s College London on Monday afternoon, and later in the week attended a meeting with London Councils where their associate membership of Linking London was renewed for a second year.

Sue and Deputy Director Andrew attended a book launch on Thursday evening; they contributed a chapter to the publication: ‘A Race to the Top: achieving three million more apprenticeships by 2020’.

BOOK LAUNCH

BOOK LAUNCH

The two were up bright and early on Friday morning to attend the final ESRC HIVE PED event ‘Where do we go from here?’. The event was hosted by our partners Greenwich University and Sue featured as a panel member!

HIVE PED

HIVE PED

Back in the office Andrew has been working on our collaborative IAG offer, which will support partner colleges with HE events and personal statement surgeries. His Access to HE Student Guide for Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Health has finally arrived and we are thrilled with the look (and the content) of the publication. Boxes have been sent to all partner colleges which have a Health Access provision.

NEW STUDENT GUIDE

NEW STUDENT GUIDE

The entire team (apart from Stuart, who is still away on honeymoon) attended our NNCO Steering Group Meeting, along with representatives from the University of Westminster, Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, Bromley College and UEL. This was our second to last steering group meeting, as the NNCO finishes at the end of the year. However, Emily and I have been busy preparing NNCO Guides for each of the subject specific events we have held (or plan to hold). These publications will be launched at the close of the project in December, and will cover Business, Art & Design, Psychology and Computing. Emily is also making the final plans for our upcoming NNCO Learner Journey event, to which places are still available if you wish to attend and have not yet booked.

On a final note, Emily visited our partners at GSM London this week to discuss their ‘Strengths Based Leaning’ scheme. We hope to find ways of incorporating this positive approach to students and their abilities (as opposed to the normal deficit model) into our HECAIL personal statement tool. There are a total of 34 identifiable strengths including empathy, positivity and focus.

More from myself and the team next week.

THE WEEK OF PARTNER VISITS AND MANY RESOURCES

Hello!

Now that term has well and truly started, we have been out and about this week at a variety of partner visits and meetings, while organising publication of the resources we have developed over the summer period.

Sue (Director) and Andrew (Deputy Director) travelled to City and Islington College for the first partner visit of the academic year. Andrew also visited Goldsmiths University of London to discuss future collaborative work with Linking London partner colleges.

Back in the office Andrew has been putting the finishing touches to our new Adviser Guide to Sports HE, which will be completed ready for partner distribution next month. The updated student guide for Access Learners applying to nursing, midwifery and allied health professions courses is due in the office any day now, and multiple copies will be sent out to Access tutors at partner colleges over the coming week.

Sue attended the steering group for one of our NNCO projects – Reaching East and Reaching London – at UEL, and has been busy finalising the 2016-17 Linking London Business Plan. Sue also attended the HE in London Management Group along with Emily (NNCO Project Officer).  Over the summer several new resources have been added to the HE in London website, including a Higher Education Activity Planner and three case study films which are designed to help advisers plan their outreach activities.

Emily has been orchestrating the introduction of the personal statement tool to our NNCO website HECAIL, which was trialled in a very successful pilot scheme last year. She has also been preparing for the NNCO Learner Journey event which is taking place on the 17th October. Places are still available for any interested practitioners, and as an NNCO event it is open to both partners and  non-partners! To book a place please click here.

Finally, congratulations are in order for Office Manager Stuart, as he got married at the weekend!  Stuart has been with Linking London from the very beginning, and I’m sure you will all join us in wishing him, and his new wife, well.

More news and updates from myself and the team next week.

THE WEEK OF OUR 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Hello Readers

What a week it has been. Yesterday we marked 10 years of the Linking London partnership with an anniversary celebration at Senate House.

We were thrilled to see so many of our valued colleagues and partners together in one space, and it was brilliant to catch up with contacts both old and new over wine and canapés – a chance to let our hair down and mark a decade of valuing collaboration over competition.

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The turnout for the evening was tremendous, and we were delighted to welcome both the Master of Birkbeck, David Latchman, and the former Director of HEFCE, John Selby, to speak to our assembled guests.

John highlighted the challenges that still face vocational learners today, and the work Linking London has done towards easing their progression to higher education, focusing on learner’s strengths as opposed to their weaknesses. David praised our Director Sue for her hard work in sustaining the partnership, and said how proud he was that Birkbeck have been our host throughout the last decade.

Sue herself then said a few words, thanking the partners for their support over the past ten years, and recalling the history of Linking London for the assembled audience. When she first started, Sue had no team and no office – she had to cart her paperwork around Bloomsbury in a plastic bag! Now we are far more comfortably situated, and have 5 members of staff, 42 members and 32 associate members.

We have fought for vocational learners through the financial crash, tuition fee hikes, the removal of funding and changes in government. We believe we are stronger together, and will remain as long as our partners need us.

While we bask in the glow of last night’s festivities, I will leave you with ‘Linking London in Numbers’ – some statistics highlighting what our partnership has achieved over the past decade. Here’s to the next 10 years!

42 partners in the network

53 publications written

305 twitter followers

319 staff development events held

93% of attendees rated this year’s events as good/excellent

1,300 contacts on our database

3000+ learners supported through our IAG offer

4,425 staff members have attended our events

250,000 college learner journeys have been tracked.

THE WEEK BEFORE THE CELEBRATION

Hello All

We are now only one week away from our 10 year anniversary event at Senate House, where we will celebrate a decade of Linking London alongside our partners and colleagues.

EVENT BROCHURES

EVENT BROCHURES

COMMEMORATIVE PENS

COMMEMORATIVE PENS

We have held over 300 staff development events which over 4,000 staff members have attended, and have published over fifty resources.

As we begin the new academic year our events calendar is bulging at the seams, with IAG, Access and HE in FE practitioner group meetings, a college learner progressions event, an NNCO subject specific workshop, as well as both an NNCO event dedicated to the learner journey, and one to mark the end of the NNCO project.

Over the summer we have been hard at work increasing and updating numerous resources to help our partner institutions, as well as adding even more resources and news to our NNCO website HECAIL, and preparing to launch a revamped Linking London website.

We feel a lot of progress has been made over the past decade, and that we have achieved what we set out to do. However now more than ever the educational world needs collaborative partnership and support.

With the ever changing world of qualifications, area reviews, the unexpected Brexit, funding cuts and fee increases, the past year has certainly been eventful. We aim to support our members through this turbulent time, promoting collaboration ahead of competition, sharing best practice and opening channels of communication for the greater good.

Thank you all for your decade of support, and with your continued encouragement we hope to last another ten years.

THE WEEK IN HEADLINES – APPRENTICESHIPS, PROGRESS 8 AND LONDON SUCCESS.

Hello Readers

The summer is nearly over, and the Linking London office is gearing up for a brand new term of staff development events. Yet though term is yet to begin, the news never sleeps, and so we once more have collated a summary of the week’s educational news for your reading pleasure.

Apprenticeships

Once again apprenticeships are making headlines: FE Week reported that 16-18 apprentices have had their funding cut by roughly 30%, with learners in more deprived areas of London seeing cuts of up to 50%.This revelation led former HE minister, David Lammy, to criticise the Prime Minister (again in FE Week), describing the cuts as “devastating for young people in deprived areas”.

Linking London has also noticed a decrease in sponsored degree programmes, with providers reclassifying their ‘work and learn’ qualifications as apprenticeships to avoid the new levy.  If the government’s apprenticeship target is only met by reclassifying existing programmes and cutting funds to others then surely the achievement will be undermined by the cost?

Progress 8

GCSEs have featured heavily in the press over the last week, partly due to results day, but also because of the new GCSE grading system, Progress 8, since the first qualifications under the new scheme are due to be awarded next year.  The Telegraph dedicated a feature to the new grading system, explaining the relationship between the previous A-C  grades and the new numerical ones:

“It is thought that roughly the same number of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently achieve a grade C and above, while the top 20 per cent of those who get a grade 7 and above, will get a grade 9. Grade 5 – equivalent to a low B or high C – will be the new benchmark for a “good pass” required by league tables, where currently the required grade is C.”

When mapping 2017 entry criteria Linking London has noticed some institutions equating 4 as the C ‘baseline’ equivalent, and others cite 5 as the criteria. When unis compare A-C grades with 1-9 ones who will the comparison benefit? Will it be easier or harder to achieve the grade necessary to progress to FE, and thus HE? Only time will tell. If you want to know more about Progress 8, TES have created a guide to the new qualification.

Capital

London is officially the most educated city in Europe, according to the BBC. In terms of graduate numbers “It is above anywhere in the European Union and unlike anywhere else in the United Kingdom”. We have always known London was an intellectual hub, but it is heartening to have our thoughts confirmed. Linking London exists to support institutions in the capital, who in turn support these vast quantities of students, gradually increasing social mobility through the power of education.

More from the team next week.

THE WEEK OF EXAM RESULTS

Hello!

This week the education press has been awash with Results Day facts, figures and theories, so we thought we would offer you a bumper blog post on all things results-day-related.

A Level Focus

A Levels have, predictably, been the focus of the results day headlines, partly this will be because BTEC learners do not have an official results day, and partly because A Levels are always the focal qualification in progression features, as they are seen as the ‘norm’.

So what were the A Level Headlines this year?

The Evening Standard Reported that the “gap between girls and boys getting the top grades at A-level has fallen to its lowest for at least 10 years” In fact more boys achieved the coveted A* grade than girls this year.

Although a record number of HE places have been offered this year, the BBC has reported that fewer students achieved the top A* and A grades than in 2015, though the overall pass rate stayed at last year’s figure of 98.1%

The Telegraph produced a useful chart which depicted the best and worst performing A Levels of the year. Pass rates for History, Economics and Politics have plummeted, while Maths and Language subjects have seen strong pass rates in 2016, despite reports that Language A Levels are declining in popularity.

What about BTEC?

Articles featuring BTEC learners have, as previously mentioned, been rather thin on the ground.  Luckily Pearson, the BTEC awarding body, is one of Linking London’s partners, and their team kindly provided us with the findings of a recently published Social Market Foundation Report ‘Passports to Progress’ which focuses on vocational qualifications

100,000 students progressing to HE now have a BTEC qualification – double the amount recorded 8 years ago.

This means 1 in 4 HE learners has a BTEC.

Between 2008-2015 the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering HE with A levels increased by 19%, compared to the 116% increase seen by BTEC learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Overview

To summarise A Levels have retained their pass rate but not the top grades, though the gender gap is narrowing and progression to HE is strong.

Although BTEC students have largely been absent from the news a quarter of students progressing to HE hold a BTEC qualification. More students from disadvantaged backgrounds are entering HE than ever before (the TES reports they are 81% more likely to apply than 10 years ago) and this widening participation success is largely due to the BTEC qualification. As the SMF report states: : “For young people taking A levels, prospects for progression into higher education depend heavily on where they are from. For young people taking BTECs, or a combination of BTECs and A levels, entry rates are much more even across areas”

That’s all from our Results Day special, more Linking London news next Monday.