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Trinity’s coastal outreach: Hastings

Trinity College and Villiers Park Educational Trust are collaborating on a new initiative to inspire and support young people from less-advantaged backgrounds in the south coast town of Hastings to access higher education.

The Future Leaders programme focuses on 14-19 year olds in the East Sussex town, where few young people go onto university relative to the general UK population. Hastings is an Opportunity Area under the Department for Education criteria.

Alex Grant. Photo: Villiers Park Educational Trust

Alex Grant, Assistant Director for Hastings and Bexhill at Villiers Park, said:

Progression to university from coastal areas such as Hastings has often proved challenging. The Future Leaders programme helps our young people to develop pathways, personal to them, which shift talk of university away from being an aspiration to becoming a future that seems realistic and attainable.

Working in partnership with Trinity College will support our Future Leaders to see that some of the world’s most competitive courses and institutions are a part of their reality.

Launched in 2020, the Future Leaders Programme seeks to inspire confidence and equip students with the skills, experiences and motivation to become leaders in their chosen field.  Trinity is also helping develop a programme to support less-advantaged students who aspire to leading universities including Cambridge and Oxford.

The collaboration with Villiers Park Educational Trust reflects Trinity’s outreach focus on the coastal regions of Hastings, Great Yarmouth and Felixstowe.

Head of Outreach at Trinity said:

Trinity is committed to reaching out to areas of the UK where participation in higher education is low and where people face far higher barriers to improved social mobility than elsewhere in the UK.

Hastings, like other coastal areas, has large numbers of pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds and research shows that students are less likely to enter university than those in the UK’s urban areas.

We are pleased to collaborate with Villiers Park Educational Trust in engaging with young people through their new Future Leaders programme – this innovative partnership brings Villiers Park’s expertise together with Trinity’s access staff and student ambassadors in pioneering ways that will help change perceptions, break down barriers, and equip students to take the next step in their education and careers.

Riyadh. Photo: Villiers Park Educational Trust

Riyadh, 18, is a student at Ark Alexandra Academy in Hastings who has been supported by Villiers Park. He said:

Being a part of the Villiers Park Future Leaders programme gave me the opportunity to put myself forward to new schemes that I would otherwise have been unaware of. It was through the programme that I came to know of Trinity College’s annual Stonehouse Residential.

Upon successfully applying, I was able to benefit from meeting an exceptional group of like-minded students, intelligent academic speakers and friendly outreach staff. The experience definitely helped demystify rumours around UCAS, university and what it means to apply to the best institutions in the country.

Rae Tooth, Chief Executive of Villiers Park Educational Trust, said:

I am very excited about this new partnership, which brings together the strengths of both Trinity College Cambridge and Villiers Park to make the biggest possible difference to the significant challenges of social justice in the UK.

The College has worked in real partnership with us to develop this cutting-edge programme. Hastings has some of the lowest levels of entry into higher education in the UK, and yet its young people are no less bright or less ambitious for the fulfilling lives they want to live. Working with Trinity we can ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and experiences to thrive and fulfil those ambitions.

Trinity will contribute subject content from its world-leading academics to Villiers Park’s Launchpad online learning platform and will introduce young people to higher education via access to student ambassadors, campus visits and taster lectures, as well as supporting them in the transition from school or college to university.

Read more about the Future Leaders programme.

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