Last updated 10 June 2009
HEFCE 2007/12 sets out effective ways to target outreach activities at people from communities under-represented in higher education. Here we have provided answers to a set of frequently asked questions about this guidance.
The targeting guidance (paragraph 21) states that, as a principle, resources should be targeted at learners with the potential to benefit from higher education (HE) who come from under-represented communities. Overwhelmingly these learners are from lower socio-economic groups (groups 4-8 in the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification) and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who live in areas of relative deprivation where participation in HE is low.
Aimhigher partnerships at area and regional levels continue to be responsible for the allocation and distribution of funds to all partners. In the targeting guidance (paragraph 63) we have said that Aimhigher partnerships should review their plans and move towards the approach set out in the guidance.
Yes. The principle underpinning this guidance is that resources should be targeted at learners with the potential to benefit from higher education (HE) who come from under-represented communities. Overwhelmingly these learners are from lower socio-economic groups (groups 4-8 in the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification), and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who live in areas of relative deprivation where participation in HE is low (paragraph 21).
As stated in paragraph 4 of the targeting guidance,
‘Those aged 13-19, and more broadly 13-30, remain the key target groups but we would expect Aimhigher partnerships and HE providers to continue to work with younger learners in primary schools, and with adults.’
This guidance builds on and sharpens the focus that we set out in 'Aimhigher: Guidance for submitting strategic plans 2006-08' (HEFCE 2006/02) (See paragraph 23 onwards of the targeting guidance for more detailed guidance).
Adults under 30 from groups that are under-represented in higher education remain a key target group for Aimhigher and widening participation. We have stated that learners engaged in apprenticeship programmes, or who are already working towards NVQ Levels 2 or 3, should only be targeted where this can be done efficiently and effectively and where their needs are not being met by other initiatives such as Lifelong Learning Networks or Train to Gain (paragraph 29).
Given that we have identified the target group as set out in the response to question 1 above, we expect that few will have parents and/or carers who have themselves had experience of higher education (HE). Since those whose parents and/or carers have experience of HE are more likely themselves to enter HE, it is entirely appropriate that we should prioritise learners whose parents and/or carers do not have that experience. Our targeting guidance will ensure that this happens and means that parental education need not be a criterion in its own right.
We state in the targeting guidance that for disabled people, the critical factor is disability rather than social position. As such, the target group includes all disabled people with the potential to benefit from higher education (HE).
The Disability Equality Partnership will continue to advise Aimhigher partnerships and HE providers about the involvement of disabled people. Our commitment to ensuring that widening participation activities are inclusive for disabled people remains unchanged.
In the targeting guidance, we identified learners from lower socio-economic groups and disadvantaged socio-economic areas as the principal target group for widening participation. We anticipated that many children in care and/or care leavers would fall within the target group. However, this group was not explicitly a priority group within the targeting guidance.
We have subsequently identified 'looked after' children in the care system as a specific priority group to be targeted. This is reflected, for example, in the 'Guidance for Aimhigher partnerships' (HEFCE 2008/05) and 'Request for widening participation strategic assessments' (HEFCE 2009/01).
As with disabled people (see question 6 above), the critical factor is children in care and/or care leavers rather than social position, As such, the target group includes all children in care and/or care leavers with the potential to benefit from higher education.
In the targeting guidance, we identified learners from lower socio-economic groups and disadvantaged socio-economic areas as the principal target group for widening participation. There are many disadvantaged learners who do not fit neatly into any of the broader social categories (for example, travellers, refugees and asylum seekers). While many of these will fall within the target group, many will not.
Partnerships will continue to have scope to address other needs but they need to think carefully about whether targeting other learners requires particular and distinctive forms of intervention which will draw resources away from the main target group. Ultimately Aimhigher and other higher education (HE) outreach activity will be judged on its success in narrowing the social class gap in achievement at all levels and, in particular, narrowing the social class gap in HE participation.
The critical factor is socio-economic class. So as far as parents and/or carers of those from lower socio-economic groups are concerned, the answer is a definite yes. It is important to recognise that parents and/or carers are one of the most important influencers for young people, and partnerships and institutions will want to continue with this work.
In the guidance, we highlight the need for widening participation practitioners to target disabled learners, and to ensure that widening participation activities are inclusive for all. However, we recognise that targeting SpLD learners first relies on successful identification, and that many learners with SpLD remain unrecognised.
In describing the targeting process, we stress the importance of good working relationships between teachers and widening participation practitioners, and learners and parents and/or carers in order to effectively target learners. Further resources are available through the AchieveAbility Network that can help schools and widening participation practitioners in identifying SpLD learners.
AchieveAbility is a national network formed to promote awareness of the needs of those with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia or SpLD in the learning environment. The purpose of the AchieveAbility Network is to ensure that there are appropriate learning opportunities to support and enhance the continuation rates of SpLD learners across the educational sectors.
AchieveAbility has produced a framework for teachers and other practitioners to use to create a more inclusive teaching and learning environment, 'AchieveAbility Interventions: A Framework for Whole Class Learning drawn from SpLD Work'. This framework includes a toolkit to be used to identify learners with SpLD, and we would encourage widening participation practitioners to make use of this resource in collaboration with school staff to ensure that SpLD learners are included in the targeting process.
A copy of the checklist and more information are available.
This work on updating and extending our measures of young participation is underway and data are expected to be published in the autumn. HEFCE will provide a measure of young participation by small areas and identify sets of areas ranked by participation or other measures such as the Index of Multiple Deprivation. We will also provide a look-up between postcodes and any new participation groupings similar to the existing POLAR postcode lookup. We are also running a pilot exercise to seek views on extending the type of information we can provide through services like POLAR.
NS-SEC and area measures of deprivation are the two factors that are associated with young participation in higher education. Using NS-SEC and IMD measures in targeting should assist in increasing the effectiveness of Aimhigher activities in reaching their intended recipients.
Yes. Just as in schools, further education (FE) lecturers and other college staff are likely to be best placed to make judgements about those most likely to derive the greatest benefit from the provision on offer, provided that they understand the importance of widening participation and the criteria which need to be applied. FE colleges will have data relating to Education Maintenance Allowances which they can use as one of the criteria to identify potential beneficiaries in the first instance. (It would not be appropriate to use EMA as a criterion for excluding students, since not all those entitled to claim will do so.)
No. For each set of data, we have suggested that Aimhigher partnerships and higher education providers should be aiming for about two-thirds of participants in the most intensive activities to be drawn from NS-SEC 4-8 (with the proportion of those from social classes NS-SEC 4-7 recorded separately); and that two-thirds of participant should come from areas with the highest levels of deprivation as presented in the Index of Multiple Deprivation (paragraphs 57-58).
The two criteria are not mutually exclusive. They are two different measures, and two ways of measuring success, given that social class and relative deprivation are key drivers of educational inequality. For the most intensive activities therefore, partnerships and institutions will need to measure the proportion of learners coming from social classes 4-8 and ii) the proportion from deprived areas (paragraph 59).
The two-thirds figures should not be seen as quotas. Nor should they be seen as specific targets – for example, we have said that the two-thirds figure will be more appropriate for some activities than others. The key points to emphasise here are the importance of continuous improvement; and the need for data collection and analysis that shows whether the key target group has been successfully involved.
We do not propose to review Aimhigher monitoring arrangements for 2006-07 at this stage. It may be helpful to do this later, particularly because partnerships and higher education (HE) providers record and process data in different ways. At this stage we wish to emphasise the importance of continuous improvement, and to underline the need for data collection and analysis that shows whether the key target group has been successfully involved. Aimhigher partnerships will need to think about this in the returns they make, and given the way Aimhigher and HE outreach are complementary, we would expect HE providers to be doing this too (paragraph 62).
For Aimhigher partnerships, this document provides guidance for implementation from August 2007. Aimhigher partnerships should review their plans and move towards the approach described.
There is no requirement for partnerships to submit revised Aimhigher plans for 2007-08. However, we will seek feedback on the impact of these guidelines from Aimhigher partnerships in their 2008 monitoring returns. The guidelines will also form the basis for any future request for Aimhigher plans, if the programme continues beyond July 2008.
Yes, but only for the most intensive activities. The guidance identifies the type of activities and the data that Aimhigher partnerships and higher education providers will need to collect (see paragraphs 50-55). Data to inform these classifications can be obtained when seeking parental permissions for engagement in these activities.
The challenge now is to put the targeting guidance into practice. The beginning of the academic year gives partnerships and institutions an ideal opportunity to begin this process, including: