Trinity College is supporting Villiers Park Educational Trust’s Scholars Programme in Swindon to help raise the educational attainment of students from lower income backgrounds and increase access to leading universities.
The College has committed £150,000 over three years to support the Cambridge-based Trust’s programme in Swindon, an area where only 24% of 18-year-olds go on to higher education, compared to the national average of 35%.
Trinity Admissions Tutor, Professor Adrian Poole, said the partnership reflected the College’s commitment to academic excellence, regardless of a student’s background or financial situation. He said:
We recognise that the factors affecting educational achievement are many and often deep-rooted. Raising aspirations and improving attainment is a complex task, not something that happens overnight. We have been impressed by the results Villiers Park has achieved, and we are pleased to collaborate with them in their carefully planned Scholars Programme in Swindon.
Villiers Park Educational Trust has over 50 years of experience of empowering young people to fulfill their potential by helping them develop a passion for learning and raising their aspirations. The charity is committed to fair access – enabling students from lower income backgrounds to gain places at leading universities and to thrive once there.
One of seven regional programmes run by the Trust, the Swindon Scholars Programme will support 120 students each year through one-to-one sessions with Learning Mentors, undergraduate e-mentors, workshops, masterclasses and residential courses in Cambridge. Villiers Park CEO, Richard Gould, said:
These activities inspire the Scholars to fulfill their potential by helping them develop a passion for learning and it raises their aspirations, attainment and the skills needed to succeed. This new partnership will foster this focus on educational excellence.
Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, Professor Les Ebdon, welcomed the pioneering partnership, the first of its kind between a Cambridge College and Villiers Park. He said:
Villiers Park Educational Trust is doing important and useful work to help widen access to universities with the highest entrance requirements. Their Scholars Programme in Swindon is an interesting and exciting scheme, and I look forward to seeing the impact of their new partnership with Trinity College Cambridge.
Mr Gould said that while raising educational attainment was not easy, the Scholars Programme proved it could be done. Of the 300 students, all from less advantaged backgrounds, who graduated from the first two Scholars Programmes between 2011-2016, 79% gained a place at university, against a national average of 19% for the most disadvantaged students in the UK.
August 2016 data from Year 13 Scholars’ feedback and exam results show that 82% gained a university place and 10% are on gap year. 96% said the Scholars Programme had had a positive effect on their decision about which university to attend.
Mr Gould said:
Impact data shows that prolonged and sustained work with a group of high ability students is the key to improving the chances of less advantaged students accessing leading universities.
Anecdotal evidence also shows that through the Scholars acting as ambassadors within their schools and colleges, the Scholars Programme is helping to raise the aspirations and attainment of their peers.
You can read about students’ experiences of the Scholars Programme: what-impact-did-villiers-park-have-on-me