Improving access in STEM subjects

Villiers Park Educational Trust

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

Your target population

There are two aspects to widening participation. One is to inspire youngsters to want to go to university. The other is to make sure that you reach under-represented groups.

You have to think about targeting. Otherwise you will find that you have done much excellent work, but most of it was with youngsters for whom the experience makes little or no difference to the choices they make in the future.

So how do you define your target population?

  • Age?
  • Gender?
  • Type of school attended?
  • First generation HE?
  • Geographical region?
  • Ethnicity?
  • Socio-economic group?
  • Academic potential?
  • Curiosity?
  • Motivation?
  • Interest in science?
  • Other?

What we do at Villiers Park

Villiers Park Educational Trust’s mission is to help able young people to reach their full academic potential and develop a passion for learning and we are committed to fair access – enabling students from less advantaged backgrounds to gain places at leading universities.

So some of our activities are targeted at all young people with high academic potential and are designed to develop their passion for learning. Other activities do this but also support youngsters from less advantaged backgrounds.

Activity Online extension activities Five-day residential courses Villiers Park Scholars Programme
Target group Young people with high academic potential 16-18 year olds with high academic potential including those who are less advantaged Less advantaged 14-18 year olds with high academic potential in selected regions
Age Recommended 16-19 16-19 Selected at 14 in Y10
Gender No No No
Type of school No List school or college State school in designated region
Family educational background No First generation HE preferred Neither parent stayed on into non-compulsory education preferred
Region No UK Selected e.g. Swindon. Hastings and Bexhill
Ethnicity No No No
Socio-economic No Those meeting disadvantage criteria given preference Eligible for free schools meals, limited family income, neither parent in a professional occupation
Academic potential Only suitable for very able Capable A or A* Evidence of high academic potential (e.g. cognitive ability scores)
Curiosity No Must be studying related subject at post-16 and the school is asked to nominate someone interested in the subject Asked to talk about a topic of their choice in an informal interview (after an introductory session)
Motivation No
Interested in subject Designed to provide extension and enrichment No
Number No One nominee per school per course 30 per region per year

Other useful links

Generating Genius began by targeting 12 year old boys of Afro-Caribbean origin who had shown ability in Maths and lived in Inner London. The programme was created to address the issue that boys of Afro-Caribbean origin underachieved at school and were one of the most under-represented groups at university studying STEM subjects.