Our University, in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam, is encouraging some of the most disadvantaged pupils to aspire to university


A year on from the inception of a collaborative outreach programme involving the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and colleges, schools and communities across the region, a report has shown that the majority of pupils in some of the most disadvantaged postcodes are aspiring to continue their studies at university.

The report, which surveyed over 10,000 pupils of all ages shows that over two-thirds of young people are hoping to apply to higher education.

The scheme - the Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire Plus (HEPPSY+), is part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), which funds partnerships across the country to deliver Widening Participation schemes. Our local partnership builds on strong foundations of recent collaborative outreach, drawing together the two universities, colleges,schools and communities across South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and north Nottinghamshire.

NCOP funding is awarded to areas where research shows there is less than expected progression to Higher Education based on GCSE results. The remit of the local partnership is to work with young people from Year 9 to Year 13 who live in 45 target wards, reaching approximately 24,000 young people.

Our Widening Participation and Outreach team has been using the funding to extend successful initiatives such as campus visits, summer schools and outreach schemes such as the Brilliant Club.

Areas of good practice within the scheme have also been highlighted in a government report on NCOP’s first year, including the HEPPSY+ bus mobile classroom. The bus visits local schools and colleges to provide information, guidance and advice to young people to support their educational journey and help them take the next step to access Higher Education.

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education at the University of Sheffield and Chair of HeppSY+, said:

“HeppSY+ is working to increase the number of young people progressing to higher education, by basing its activities on evidence about what is needed and what works.”

“The first year’s baseline survey is critical in gathering data that will enable us to further enhance our Widening Participation and outreach activities amongst key target groups, so that we make the biggest possible difference possible in supporting young people from backgrounds with low HE progression rates to aspire to a university education.”

Data from the first year of HEPPSY+ is already informing next steps for the programme. The partnership is working with Sheffield City Council and its Lifelong Learning Skills and Communities - Targeted Support Service (LLSCTSS) to carry out a piece of intensive work with black, Asian and minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in Sheffield. This work targets BAME young people who live in NCOP areas and a conference has been held with local stakeholders to determine next steps.

Visit the HEPPSY+ website to find out more

HEPPSY+ outreach schemes

Brilliant Club

Brilliant ClubThe Brilliant Club is a national charity which supports widening participation activities in research intensive universities like Sheffield. Although many more young people from a range of backgrounds go to university these days, access to more competitive universities is not evenly distributed, with only 1 in 50 English 18-year olds from the fifth most disadvantaged backgrounds progressing to highly selective universities, compared with 1 in 4 of the most advantaged fifth.

Via HEPPSY+ we are running the Scholars Programme in partnership with the Brilliant Club, a highly regarded scheme which recruits PhD researchers from both universities, trains them as university access professionals and places them as part time tutors in local state schools, where they deliver a course of university style tutorials. Early indications suggest that HEPPSY_+ pupils on the programme are making progress in their assessed work with their tutors which is 3% above the average score for this programme nationally.

The Brilliant Club has also been contracted by HEPPSY+ to produce a set of resource packs integrating higher education into 10 national curriculum subject areas. This provides an opportunity to engage subject specialists and provide subject updating and legacy materials.

We have further built upon this work by creating a follow up programme during school holidays at our University, called Scholars Plus, where participating students return to the University for three days. During this visit they further develop their skills through group work, confidence building and presentations, whilst getting to sample facilities such such as Bouldering at Sport Sheffield and the range of food on offer at the Students’ Union!

Achievement AwardsAchievement Awards programme

Over a two-year period starting in Year 10, pupils complete a series of goals in order to gain an Achievement Award. The goals currently include 95% attendance and 95% punctuality in school, attending a Post-16 open day or evening and undertaking some volunteering, work experience or equivalent extracurricular development. There are also dedicated online motivational resources to keep students on track. The results have been impressive with 691 Year 10 students currently on track to achieve the award next year. We currently deliver the award in partnership with 14 selected schools and at the end of Year 11 successful students are invited to attend a special graduation-style awards ceremony along with family members and their teachers.

Open DayOpen Day Experience

A new development for 2018 is our Open Day Experience where HEPPSY+ pupils can get an early taste of what it’s like to visit an Open Day by visiting the campus at Sheffield with dedicated HEPPSY+ staff there to guide them. For many families with no experience of Higher Education this can be a daunting experience so we provide extra support to ensure that pupils and supporters get the very best out of the day and obtain the information they need to make good, informed choices about university later in their educational career.