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Building relationships with schools and colleges. Dr Steve Millington Manchester Metropolitan University Workshop presented at the Public Engagement in GEES Disciplines. Manchester Metropolitan University, 30 th April 2012. My background. Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

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Building relationships with schools and colleges

Building relationships with schools and colleges

Dr Steve Millington

Manchester Metropolitan University

Workshop presented at the Public Engagement in GEES Disciplines. Manchester Metropolitan University, 30th April 2012

My background
My background

  • Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

  • Research and teaching

  • Educational liaison and outreach

  • Faculty WP Champion

  • Manchester Science Festival Education Group

  • Direct provision to Primary, Secondary and FE sectors

  • Regional Widening Participation Manager for National HE STEM Programme

  • Project management

  • Strategic role in enhancing North West HEIs capacity for OEE and Science Communication

  • Identifying, mapping and disseminating good practice

  • Access to HE STEM subjects and the Third Sector National Forum

Why engage with schools colleges

Spend five minutes working in smaller groups

Identify 2-3 issues

Why engage with schools / colleges?

What are the barriers to outreach in your institution what could be done to overcome these barriers
What are the barriers to outreach in your institution?What could be done to overcome these barriers?

Building capacity and sustainability
Building capacity and sustainability

  • Do current staff possess the motivation and communication skills required to work with younger people?

    • Controlling class room environments

  • Rewarding / acknowledging outreach

    • Workload allocations?

    • Recognition of outreach in promotion criteria?

  • Are academic staff best positioned to engage with widening participation target groups?

    • BAME

    • White working class boys

    • Sensitivity to gender

    • Other target groups

  • To what extent is your outreach offer aligned with institutional and national priorities for widening participation in GEES disciplines?

Building capacity and sustainability1
Building capacity and sustainability

  • Young people’s perceptions of GEES

  • Parental perceptions

    • Regional geography legacy – failure to recognise how GEES disciplines have become critical sciences

  • Teacher perceptions of GEES

    • Disconnections between between National Curriculum and contemporary GEES disciplines taught in HEIs

Building capacity and sustainability2
Building capacity and sustainability

  • The role of professional bodies in other subject disciplines more advanced in tackling WP

  • Rethinking diversity – socio-economic status, gender inequality - dealing with class difference

  • Transition and preparation for HE – inadequacies (Quinn et al, 2005)

  • First-in-family significant target in terms of breaking the culture of non-participation

  • Targeting hard-to-reach schools

  • Targeting Gifted and Talented from WP backgrounds

Building capacity and sustainability3
Building capacity and sustainability

  • Aim Higher – schools outreach, but also Work Based Learning and Higher Level Skills Development

  • Sure Start – 250 closures and reduced service provision

  • Educational Maintenance Alliance

  • Restructuring of schools careers guidance

    • Effectively privatised but new opportunities to engage

  • Removal/reduction of frontline support services for hard-to-reach groups – Looked After Children, severe disabilities, youth clubs, libraries etc

  • Restructuring of HEA subject centres

Building capacity and sustainability4
Building capacity and sustainability

  • Greater Manchester Strategic Alliance – Lifelong Learning Network finished in 2009

  • The Greater Manchester Challenge ended in 2011

  • North West Development Agency closed 31st March 2012

  • North West Universities Association closed on 31st March 2012

  • Higher Futures 4U – uncertainty over the future of early years intervention

  • Implication that HEIs will fill some of these gaps

    • OFFA agreements formalised institutional targets

    • HEIs required to provide a clear evidence base to HEFCE

Building capacity and sustainability5
Building capacity and sustainability

  • Training student ambassadors

    • Role of postgrads and undergrads in delivering outreach activity

    • Role models closer to the age of the target groups

    • Addressing diversity

    • Extending network of outreach

    • RGS Geography Ambassadors Scheme

  • Embedding outreach into the HEI curriculum

    • UGs receive credit for undertaking outreach activity

  • Involving technical staff in outreach programmes

Building capacity and sustainability6
Building capacity and sustainability

  • Should you charge for event?

  • Grant support

    • See Research Councils UK

    • Researchers in Residence

    • Bringing Cutting Edge Research into the Classroom

    • CREST Awards

    • Nuffield Bursaries


  • Is there an economic case for HEIs supporting outreach?

Contacting schools
Contacting schools

  • Which schools / colleges? Who are your key feeders?

  • Do other parts of your institution already have links?

    • Central Schools Liaison / WP teams, Institutes of Educations etc

    • Problem of multiple and repeated contact with the same school

  • Why should a school give up time for your outreach activity?

    • Quality and additionality

    • What’s in it for them and the young people?

  • Understanding the school year

    • Long lead-in times – perhaps up to a year in advance

  • Teachers have perhaps 2-3 opportunities a year to engage with HEIs – can’t waste their time / limited resource

Contacting schools1
Contacting schools

  • Does the school have the space and resources for you to deliver a planned activity?

  • Getting young people out of school increasingly difficult

    • Delivery off-site / on-site

  • Are schools / colleges the best conduits through which to reach WP groups?

    • Third sector / voluntary networks might provide better access to particular target groups

Key intervention points:

8 years Awareness raising

13-14 years Discipline promotion

17 years old Recruitment

Ideas for outreach activity

Working in smaller sub-disciplinary groups

Develop an idea for delivery in schools

Ideas for outreach activity


  • Is all outreach intrinsically a good thing?

  • Monitoring and evaluation

    • Event success

    • Long term impact

  • Teachers, student ambassadors as well as participants themselves

  • Are your events interesting, engaging, appropriate, relevant and useful?

  • Service Level Agreements – managing expectations

Top tips delivery in schools
Top tips: delivery in schools

  • Who is your audience?

  • Keep presentations short and focused

  • Use a variety of resources when presenting

  • Ensure your audience can contextualise the activity you present

  • Hands-on activities – but present a clear challenge and clear targets

  • Longer workshops – use a diversity of methods

Conclusions three top tips
Conclusions: three top tips

  • Manage expectations

    • Establish clear targets

    • Open a dialogue with schools / colleges to develop an understanding of what is being delivered and why

  • Planning ahead

    • School / college timetables

    • Understanding the school year

    • CRBs, risk assessments etc

    • Lead-in times of several months rather than days/weeks

  • Evaluation and feedback

    • Refinement of your outreach offer

    • Dissemination of good and bad practice

Good practice guides
Good practice guides

  • Geographical Association


  • Manchester Beacon


  • National Higher Education STEM Programme. 2010. Outreach to Schools: A Good Practice Guide. University of Birmingham.



  • Research Councils UK

    • www.rcuk/per/schoolsandyoungpeople

  • RGS