Improving access in STEM subjects

Villiers Park Educational Trust

Back to Focusing on hard-to-reach or under-represented groups

Criteria for selecting schools, colleges or academies

Picking the right schools to work with is essential.

You need to make sure that many of their pupils fall within your target population.

For example, if you want to get more female learners onto physics and engineering courses, you could target all-girl secondary schools. If you are targeting learners from specific ethnic backgrounds, you need to work with schools serving those communities.

Working with schools in areas with high indices of educational deprivation can help you focus on youngsters from families with no experience of attending university (see other useful links below).

Remember that schools serving less advantaged areas are harder to work with – you will have to make more effort and invest more resources.

Consider working with a list of schools that meet the criteria you have devised.

What we do at Villiers Park

We have always worked with a list of schools. Originally our criteria was that we should represent all types of schools and all regions of the UK.
In recent years we have been targeting less advantaged young people, so our criteria for schools and college have changed to:

  • State school
  • Have post-16
  • In an area with a high index of educational deprivation (see below)
  • Have a high percentage of disadvantaged pupils (see below)
  • Within the UK
  • Are willing to have a liaison member of staff and have returned a completed joining form

This means that out list of schools and colleges has evolved so that more of the students applying for our five-day residential courses meet our criteria for preferential selection.

Other useful links

You can find data about educational deprivation on the Communities and Local Government website but unfortunately there appears to be no easy, free-of-charge way of relating the data to postcodes.
There is a useful article on indices of multiple deprivation here.
It is possible to look up individual schools, areas and local authorities in the Department of Education performance tables.
Starting at this page, you can select a region and then one of the live links under ‘primary’, ‘secondary’ or ’16-18′. This will give you data about that group of schools.

After that select the tab marked ‘Narrowing the Gap’.

This allows to look up the percentage of disadvantaged pupils in each primary, secondary or 16-18 school or college in that local authority.