With the deadline to exams ticking down, all students are aiming for an improvement in their grades. The critical aim for many is to reach the minimum grades required at GCSE so they could still get into university in two years’ time. There is an increasing recognition that many students from lower participation backgrounds don’t get to university because of a gap in their attainment, which can start early. If students don’t reach Grade C in English and Maths at GCSE, many will have to retake these before getting places at university.
The Easter Revision School aims to reduce this attainment gap, and is run for students from backgrounds which are traditionally less likely to participate in higher education. It is run and funded jointly by Next Steps South West, part of a government-funded consortium across further and higher education institutions in the South West, and Marjon’s outreach team. Students have come from Heles School, All Saints Academy, Lipson Academy, Coombe Dean, UTC Plymouth and Plymouth Studio School.
Terry Doyle, Institutional Officer for Next Steps South West at Marjon, said; “Spending time on a university campus is an important part of the school, raising not just expected attainment but also ambition. Many of Marjon’s team of Student Ambassadors are helping with the Revision School, meaning the students can hear first-hand about university life and the opportunities it can give, including studying abroad, different career opportunities and living away from home.”
The school is part of a series of interventions aimed at improving access to higher education, through higher attainment, awareness and ambition. The new Office for Students highlights the obstacle of attainment in its guidance to universities: “When disadvantaged students achieve the same levels of attainment as their advantaged peers at age 16, they are almost equally likely to go to higher education. However, only one third of disadvantaged students get the GCSE grades associated with higher education entry, compared with two thirds of their advantaged peers.”
Next Steps South West and Marjon will carefully assess the impact on the students, in terms of their final grades compared to their previously predicted grades, as well as their enjoyment and confidence in the subjects. The hope is that this test model will prove successful and be able to be extended to more students in coming years, thus opening up the opportunity for higher education to more of Plymouth’s young people.