Topic briefing

Strategic relationships with schools and raising attainment

Published 27 July 2020


Below are some examples of how providers are supporting school attainment which you may find helpful when developing your own approaches. Some of these approaches may not yet be fully evaluated.

We will update this page with more examples of effective practice as we identify them. If you have, or are aware of, examples of effective practice in this area please contact A&[email protected].

University College London: Academic support programmes

In their 2020-21 access and participation plan UCL outlined how they have been working with schools to run sustained academic support programmes to support attainment and keep students on track to fulfil their potential. Since 2009 they have worked with over 1,800 students and teachers, supporting maths, English and critical thinking skills. 

The university is now running randomised controlled trials with partner schools and organisations to gather evidence around the quantitative impact that university intervention can have using small group tutoring and verbal feedback. 

Kingston University: Raising attainment in STEM subjects

Kingston University has a co-ordinated and sustained approach to raising attainment with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. This includes:

  • sponsorship of the Kingston Academy, a specialist STEM school
  • employing a full-time STEM outreach offer who works on activity in its STEM Outreach Centre
  • a mobile Labs in a Lorry activity aligned with the school curriculum.

Cambridge University: Insight programme

The University of Cambridge works intensively with schools in East Anglia through their Insight programme.

Insight works at whole-school level and with targeted individuals in years 7-13 from underrepresented backgrounds. The programme seeks to not only raise aspirations for progression to highly-selective universities, but to support students in securing the grades required for entry.

The programme has a focus on literacy since there is evidence to suggest that increasing attainment in literacy can boost performance across a range of subjects, as well as providing students with the skills required to support their individual learning both in and out of school.

In year 7 and year 8 the whole cohort is engaged in a reading programme designed to increase comprehension skills and vocabulary, and targeted students and their families participate in events hosted by the university and The Brilliant Club.

In years 9-11 targeted students continue to work with the university outside of lesson time.

For those in year 12 and year 13, the programme provides highly targeted support for A-level subjects including summer programmes and study skills sessions.

The programme, which is in its pilot phase, uses tests provided by Cambridge Assessment to help schools identify students who are underachieving.

Explore the Uni Connect evidence bank for further examples

More resources on this topic

Insight brief: Schools, attainment and the role of higher education

Our Insight brief and accompanying case studies show how universities and colleges are working with schools and other organisations to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and their chances of going on to higher education.

Read the Insight brief

Insight event: Raising attainment, improving access, securing success

Our Insight event explored the shared challenges and opportunities faced by schools, colleges, universities and third sector organisations as they work together to raise attainment and improve opportunities.

Find out more

Published 27 July 2020

Describe your experience of using this website

Improve experience feedback
* *

Thank you for your feedback