Widening Participation Takes To The Road

Sunday 14th July 2019

Since October 2017 the Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire Plus (HeppSY+) have been travelling around schools and colleges across the Sheffield City Region delivering higher education help and guidance to those most at risk of missing out.

The HeppSY+ Bus, is a double decker mobile classroom, enabling two simultaneous workshop sessions to take place. It can accommodate up to 35 students, with activities for Year 9-13 pupils.

The bus aims to support the most disadvantaged young people in the region to progress into higher education, providing local schools, colleges and communities with a visually exciting, innovative and alternative way of engaging students.

On board the bus, students can get involved in a variety of sessions focused on building their knowledge of higher education and career options, as well as their confidence and resilience, including:

In just three months the bus is already having great success: 88% of students who have got on board feel they know more about higher education and 59% said they were more likely now to apply to higher education after only one session.

One student commented: ‘I like the bus because it’s big and it’s fun. Before I didn’t know whether I wanted to go to university or do an apprenticeship, but now I want to go to university.’

Another said: ‘On the bus, I enjoyed making a t-shirt and socialising, but I also enjoyed learning about what accommodation is like if you want to leave home. It’s made me feel more confident about what I want to do when I leave school and how college and universities work.’

After a session on the bus a third student, who was initially reluctant to get on the bus, commented to their teacher that after their experience they now wanted to join the school council, so they could to university and get a good job.

The feedback from teaching staff has also been very positive, 100% of staff rated the professionalism of HeppSY+ bus delivery team as excellent. Additionally, 83% of teachers said they thought the sessions delivered were excellent, the remaining 17% rated the sessions as good.

All the sessions are delivered by the HeppSY+ team of Graduate Interns, who have all recently been through higher education.

Graduate Intern Hannah, who completed her studies at Sheffield Hallam University, said: ‘The students we’ve had on the bus have really engaged with the activities we deliver. From the first moment they get on the bus, there’s a real buzz and sense of excitement.’

Continuing, Hannah said, ‘One of the best experiences I’ve had whilst working on the bus is working with parents. We do a lot of open days and open evenings, and it’s an opportunity for parents to come and ask questions. We’ve found that working with parents really helps to overcome barriers for students because they are such a big part of the decision-making process.’

Mike Garnock-Jones, Director of Hepp, said: ‘We recognised that there can be an issue getting students out of school and the bus is a great way to bring higher education to them. It’s bright, it’s orange and it stands out from the crowd. It’s been fantastic to see the impact the bus is already having; young people and schools really value what it has to offer. Even on the launch day, we saw students engage with the activities and change their mind on higher education.’