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.

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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 IN HEADLINES

Hello Readers

Though most of the headlines over the past week have been devoted to the Olympic gold-medal-rush (congratulations Team GB), hidden amongst the column inches devoted to sporting spectacle have been some education stories which could have huge implications for our sector. This week our blog unpacks some of the biggest education stories of the past seven days.

National Student Survey

The results of HEFCE’s 2016 National Student Survey were published last week, with 86% of undergraduates in the final year of Higher Education responding that they are satisfied with their university programme. Out of Linking London’s partners, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama was within the top 20 institutions for student satisfaction, and UEL were named as having one of the largest increases in satisfaction year on year (up 5%).

Several Further Education Colleges achieved 100% student satisfaction for their HE provision. Many of Linking London’s FEC partners provide Higher Education qualifications, and we hope this success in the National Student Survey will shine a brighter light on the importance of the provision colleges offer for HE students. Our colleagues as the Association of Colleges were also thrilled, with David Corke, Director of Education Policy at the AoC, stating on the their site:

“The colleges that provide higher education work very hard to ensure they are providing a quality service to their students and the local community and it is gratifying to see that students themselves say they are pleased with the education they receive.”

Apprenticeship Levy Update

On Friday the government published guidance on how the new Apprenticeship Levy would operate. The update is available to read in full here. TES have also published a handy 9 point guide to the update and its implications for the sector. Although the report indicates the levy is still set to be introduced next April, FE Week has reported that the CBI’s director for employment and skills doubts the new system will be ready for successful delivery by the deadline.

Our NNCO website HECAIL contains a free guide to Degree and Higher Apprenticeships, while Linking London members can access the partner area of our website to find our other published resources on Apprenticeships.

A Level Results Day

As we all know, A Level results day is fast approaching this week, and many publications have featured stories telling students how to survive the day – whether their results are better or worse than expected.  The Independent’s ‘A-level results day: the 5 things students should not do’ could be useful for advisers who are trying to calm anxious students, and the Guardian has a feature dedicated to Clearing success stories which some may find helpful. For readers seeking a summary of UCAS Clearing and UCAS Extra, we have a guide available in the ‘After Application’ section of our NNCO website.

That’s all our headlines for this week, more news from us to come next Monday.

THE WEEK IN EDUCATION NEWS

Hello Readers

The summer months are quiet ones for the education sector. The time when students and teachers alike flee the classroom to enjoy the sunshine (well, some of the time), and when we hunker down in our office to busily prepare resources and events schedules for the coming term.

So rather than repeat last week’s post, and reel off the extensive list of conferences, workshops and publications we are working on, I have decided to use this week’s post to examine the latest educational news, and how it ties in to the work of Linking London.

The Brexit Backlash

The majority of the Education sector voted to remain in the EU, but we were in the minority as the referendum results revealed. Much of the sector is still reeling, asking what Britain’s exit from the EU means for Higher Education.

Britain’s future in the Erasmus scheme has been thrown into doubt, with the head of the programme refusing to guarantee British participation beyond next year. We also heard this week that new Prime Minister Theresa May is considering placing heavier restrictions on student visas, allowing only the very best foreign students’ access to British Universities. Many of our partners have issued statements reassuring current EU applicants that they are still welcome, and that the immigration status of current students remains (as yet) unchanged.

HEI leaders from 24 EU countries have signed a statement acknowledging the imminent Brexit, but calling for collaboration to continue in spite of it:  “We as European university leaders wish to reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation and exchange in this turbulent time for Europe. We are strongest when we tackle issues collaboratively”.  These sentiments on the power of collaboration are shared by the Linking London team – through our collaborative partnership we aim to make our members stronger, and better prepared for the future of the sector.

The Future of FE

HE in FE is often overlooked, yet around 159,000 learners are studying HE at college.  Currently many FE practitioners fear the implications of the HE Bill, and are concerned that the Office for Students could price colleges out of the HE sector.  Many of our partner colleges provide HE for students. If they were no longer able to afford an HE offer this would be a serious blow to disadvantaged London students who rely upon their local provision.

Social Mobility

Finally this week there has been much discussion regarding the relationship between social mobility and education – a topic close to our hearts, as Linking London was founded to pursue improvements in student achievement, social mobility and social justice.

Alan Milburn, Social Mobility Commission Chairman, believes: “It will be impossible to make progress in improving social mobility until the educational attainment gap between less well-off and better-off children is closed.”

We welcome Mr Milburn’s comments on the importance of education to social mobility – Linking London operates on the belief that through education learners can overcome class barriers and realise their ambitions.

More news, updates and commentary next week.

 

THE WEEK OF MOVING AND NEW MEMBERS

Hello All

Last week was moving week for Linking London! We boxed up all our resources and headed over to Tavistock Square, where we now reside on the 4th floor of the BMA (100 stairs up – I counted when the lift broke). We are now firmly settled in, and have a lovely view from our window, as you can see in the photo below.

Our New Office View

Our New Office View

In more good news this week our Director Sue welcomed Brunel University into the partnership. We now have a grand total of 42 members as we approach a decade of successful partnership this September.

Planning for our 10 year anniversary celebration is going full steam ahead; the RSVP’s are filling our inboxes, and both the evening entertainment and anniversary brochure are very nearly finalised.  Senate House here we come!

Even with moving office to contend with, we still found time for plenty of partnership work. As well as our monthly team meeting, planning is very much underway for events for the forthcoming academic year.  Deputy Director Andrew and I have been busy, both updating old resources, and creating new ones, to share with the partners upon completion. These include an Adviser Guide, an Access Guide to Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health, and an ICT guide for advisers.

Our NNCO Project Officer Emily is very pleased to announce the new date for the postponed NNCO Conference – the event will now be held on Monday the 17th October, and more details will follow shortly on the website.  In the meantime, as well as orchestrating the timetable for the forthcoming conference, Emily is planning a subject specific ICT event for the autumn term. Work continues on our HECAIL website, and we hope to populate it with many more resources over the summer months. We are particularly proud of our interactive map, which marks all providers of HE in the London area, and allows users to filter the map view by course, subject, and location.

On a final note, our office manager Stuart is on holiday this week, hoping to spend some quality time with his cat Maude! While he enjoys the (mostly) sunny weather I shall be manning the fort, and responding to all your enquiries.

That’s all the Linking London news for now, more next Monday from me and the team.

THE WEEK LINKING LONDON JOINED THE BLOGOSPHERE

Hello!

Welcome to the brand new Linking London blog; we are finally fully embracing the digital age and expanding our online presence. My name is Hannah, and I am the Support Officer for Linking London’s collaborative partnership. Each week on a Monday morning I will give you a peak into the heart of our organisation, allowing you to get to know who we are, and what we do, a little better.

So who are Linking London? We are a partnership of 40 educational organisations who work collaboratively to widen participation, increase social mobility, and improve social justice in education. The core aims of our partnership are to support recruitment, retention and progression to and through HE.

What do we do? We support staff in Higher and Further Education by holding staff development events, providing IAG support to partners, enhancing the relationship between HE and FE, commissioning and collecting data research, and providing information on qualification change and reform. Through events, research and resources, we aim to make the lives of our partners, and thus the lives of their students, a little easier. See below for photographs of some this year’s events:

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This week, in spite of it being half term, we have been busy in the Linking London office, working hard sustained by rather a lot of caffeine. You will have all heard about HEFCE’s new national collaborative outreach programme (NCOP), and I can confirm we have started work on a proposal, alongside our neighbour networks AccessHE and Aim Higher London South. Our Director Sue is working to secure vital learner data for the partnership – information which will aid us in supporting learner progression and student retention.

Emily (NNCO Officer) and Andrew (Deputy Director) met with partners OCN London, to discuss how Linking London can develop support and resources for vocational level 2 learners, and preparations are well under way for our NNCO conference on the 23rd June.

On a final note, as a decade of Linking London fast approaches (what a milestone) we can announce that we are moving! Never fear – we will remain in central London to support all our partner institutions; we are hoping to move just around the corner to Tavistock Square!

Next week I will report on our latest IAG Practitioner Group Meeting, along with any other office news. Please click follow to stay in the loop on all things Linking London – have a fantastic week.