Schools and school partnerships

What can schools do?

Many schools are already working closely with universities and colleges to help prepare their students for higher education. But the pandemic has caused setbacks, and we know there is more that can be done.

We want universities, colleges, schools and third-sector organisations to continue to seek out strategic, enduring and mutually beneficial partnerships, and to experiment with new ways to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

Practical things that schools can do include:

1. Identify your local Uni Connect partnership

The Uni Connect programme is a national initiative helping teachers and advisers to encourage young people to take advantage of the opportunities in higher education. 

The programme works with secondary schools and colleges across England through 29 local partnerships.

The Uni Connect partnerships can signpost schools towards local sources of higher education information, advice and guidance and outreach including:

  • summer school programmes
  • targeted interventions to meet the needs of groups of pupils
  • academic support and mentoring for young people applying or preparing for university 
  • university visits and placements. 

Our Uni Connect website includes information on how to find your local Uni Connect partnership.

Visit the Uni Connect website

2. Develop lasting school-university partnerships

Increasing numbers of universities are involved in sponsoring schools and multi-academy trusts. There are also many staff and alumni involved in school governor structures.

These partnerships cover many areas, including initial teacher training and continuing professional development to teachers.

We've compiled a range of case studies showing examples of successful partnerships

The Department for Education has also published a guide to support schools and providers to set up sustainable partnerships.

It considers the importance of partnerships entering into formal agreements, with clearly defined objectives, and identifies areas where schools and providers can collaborate.

Read the guide to school partnerships

3. Embed the Gatsby benchmarks

Enabling pupils to have meaningful encounters with further and higher education providers is one of the eight Gatsby benchmarks of good careers guidance.

This can help them understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them so that they are well equipped to make informed choices. This includes academic and vocational routes.

Universities, colleges and other higher education providers can help pupils to understand the different higher education options that are open to them, including higher and degree apprenticeships.

The Uni Connect partnerships can signpost schools to different higher education providers.

More about the Gatsby benchmarks

Published 07 April 2022

Describe your experience of using this website

Improve experience feedback
* *

Thank you for your feedback