Thursday, 10 November 2016

FW: Universities and Schools: Selection, Sponsorship & Social Mobility

Leading the universities and schools agenda

A one-day conference on Friday 25th November at Coventry University, London.
Booking now open

The government has brought education back to the top of the political agenda. Alongside the Higher Education and Research Bill, a new consultation raises big questions about universities and schools and the shape of the whole education landscape. It is, for this reason, we are bringing together experts from across education sectors to discuss how universities can take the agenda forward. There is an opportunity to shape the emerging policies, but we need to act quickly.

The consultation has wide-ranging proposals for all parts of the education system, including the controversial return of grammar schools. But away from the headlines, there are numerous measures that will have significant impact on universities. 

What does this have to do with higher education?

There are two key measures in the consultation which universities need to think about the most. The first is the return of grammar schools which will pose a problem for widening participation as the evidence is that for all the pupils doing well in the selective state sector, there are many more pupils out there doing worse. Constraining social mobility in the educational pipeline hampers universities' attempts to provide the best education for those who would benefit most.
However, the most direct impact on universities in the consultation is the requirement, as part of an Access Agreement for universities to sponsor schools. The government recognises that there is already a large number of university-school sponsorship arrangements, though it should also be noted these aren't universally successful. The real challenge comes with the proposal that universities would have to ensure that the schools they sponsor are rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding.

Join the debate

Wonkhe is hosting a conference in London on Friday 25th November to explore the government's proposals and what they mean for universities. The event will draw on research commissions by Hefce on university-school sponsorship, hear from a variety of perspectives where universities already sponsor schools including an academic contributor and a head teacher.
Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access, will address the conference and there will be a panel on grammar schools and social mobility. The programme includes opportunity for discussion, and the event should be essential for anyone working on their university's response to the government consultation.
Staff working in strategy, policy, recruitment, admissions and widening participation should attend.

Other speakers include:
  • Chris Millward, Director (Policy), HEFCE
  • Tim Allan, York Consulting
  • Eireann Attridge, Access and Funding Officer, Cambridge University Students' Union
  • Dr Janet Hannah, CEO, Coventry University London Campus
  • Nick Hillman, Director, Higher Education Policy Institute
  • Guy Keith-Miller, Head of Academy and Trust Partnerships, University of the West of England
  • Mark Leach, Director and Editor-in-Chief, Wonkhe
  • Judy Rider, Principal, Brompton Academy (sponsored by University of Kent)
  • Professor Peter Vukusic, Associate Dean for Education of the College of Mathematics, Engineering and Physical Sciences
To read the full agenda, and find out more click here.
If you have any questions about the conference, email

Read more on Wonkhe

Vice chancellor of Portsmouth University Graham Galbraith assesses the new proposals and asks whether there are lessons we can learn from the Californian experience.
Joel Mullan unpacks the experience of school sponsorship so far, and David Morris put the proposals in a wider context of the social mobility debate.

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