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The impacts and benefits of employing a progressive and sustained approach to outreach programmes for universities: a case study – the progress to success frameworkThe East Midlands is a social mobility cold spot with limited life chances and GCSE attainment well below the national average. The University of Derby’s Progress to Success Framework - targeting secondary schools in disadvantaged areas of Derby city and Derbyshire - has been developed in response to government concerns around widening the participation in higher education (HE) of under-represented learners. It is a long-term outreach initiative aimed at raising the aspiration, awareness and attainment cohorts of learners through a multi-intervention approach creating ‘drip feed’ touchpoints from Year 7 through to Year 11. Initiatives such as the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) and Derby Opportunity Area (OA), plus research into sector best practice and ‘what works’ inform the framework, through which we offer activity which is engaging, interactive and informative. Robust evaluation and reflection is embedded throughout the framework using a logic model to map out success and impact measures to ensure effectiveness. A mixed methodology is employed, including individual activity feedback; teacher evaluation; multi-point surveys; focus groups; and tracking progress against predicted grades. This paper explores the benefits and challenges of delivering sustained outreach, and measuring the longitudinal impact on learners, in a rapidly changing political landscape, which is often times characterised by short-term funding streams and responding to continuous change in government measures. It puts forward an often overlooked practitioner viewpoint and illustrates how outreach professionals can ensure programmes encompass activity that is ultimately deliverable, whilst also being reactive to policy and creating a valid body of impact evidence.
Times they are a changing: evaluating interventions in a new eraThis chapter will outline the University of Derby’s response to that APP requirement of evidence-based practice to address the inequitable HE outcomes of under-represented groups. It will firstly share the University’s current evaluation practices concerning access, in which the East Midlands Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Partnership (EMWPREP) plays such a key role. It will then move on to demonstrate how the University has utilised Theory of Change to embed evidence-based practice across the whole student lifecycle, and discuss the methods and methodologies that will be adopted within a new framework to evaluate interventions, and identify new areas for research. The chapter concludes by reflecting on key areas of focus required by the University through the 2019-2020 academic year, in order for the institution to be well equipped to meet its APP reporting requirements when the first monitoring return is due in spring 2022. It will also reflect on the challenges that the institution faces (as well as the sector as a whole), in order to fulfil OfS expectations.