Raising attainment targets in access and participation plans will vary depending on a provider’s context and what they are trying to achieve with their activity.
Most targets would relate to the medium or long-term outcomes of increased attainment at levels 2 and 3, or increased access to higher education.
A longer programme of work, for example with primary school children, may need to use an intermediate outcome from a logic chain as their target because the longer-term outcomes will not be realised in the five year duration of the plan.
The expertise of academic staff can be drawn on when deciding which factors to target and how to measure them.
The link between raising attainment and higher education access and participation
Targets related to raising attainment in schools and colleges must:
- be ambitious
- be clearly defined
- be focused on outcomes (which may include medium-term outcomes)
- directly reflect the provider’s strategic aims and objectives
- be informed by an assessment of performance
- focus on where the impact will be greatest
- take into account the provider’s context, capacity and capabilities.
Targets should clearly demonstrate the link between raising attainment in schools and colleges and higher education access and participation. For example:
These medium-term outcomes can be influenced by a variety of factors such as:
- subject knowledge
- parental or community influence
- teacher expectation
- peer support
- quality of teaching
- access to resources
- exposure to stress
- time spent studying.
Providers should consider these influences when planning their attainment-raising activities.
Providers should consider how they will monitor progress and evaluate the intervention to understand how they may be making an impact.
Setting medium-term attainment goals can help understand the extent to which an intervention achieved its goals.
Tracking services, such as the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) or UCAS’s STROBE service, can be a useful tool to help understand if someone who participated in an intervention accessed and succeeded in higher education. This can help providers monitor their long-term outcomes.
The Office for Students has developed a toolkit to enable providers to effectively evaluate their outreach interventions for under-16s.