HOP | Lucky Number 7- An interview with our NCOP manager Naomi on…
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Lucky Number 7- An interview with our NCOP manager Naomi on launching our seven messages.

We interviewed our sensational NCOP manager Naomi about HOP’s new 7 messages that have just been finalised.

Here is what she had to say.

Take it away Naomi.

What are the seven messages?

  1. Uni Connect provides impartial information, advice and guidance to underrepresented students about their career options and the different education and training routes available, helping to remove the academic, financial and cultural barriers to progression and supporting them to achieve their ambitions.
  2. Uni Connect works with FE colleges and universities in local areas to help underrepresented students understand their Higher Education and training options at levels 4,5 and 6.
  3. Uni Connect aims to ensure that all those living in disadvantaged areas have an equal opportunity to pursue Higher Education and training opportunities. The programme can adjust its focus to different age groups and training routes to support local employment priorities.
  4. Uni Connect partners with Higher Education providers, local authorities, LEPs, career advisers and employers to provide a single point of contact for schools and colleges to find out what education opportunities and career pathways are available for students in their area. This improves efficiency for all involved by ensuring that university and college engagement with schools is targeted, joined up and professional, so there is no duplication of effort and the hardest to reach students, schools and colleges are supported.
  5. Schools, colleges and universities are facing immense difficulties due to the pandemic and Uni Connect is in a unique position to liaise between these organisations and help ensure both young and mature underrepresented students can access Higher Education to give them the skills needed to support economic growth.
  6. The Uni Connect hubs offer a powerful, strategic and flexible network with local and regional partners, able to support the levelling up agenda and delivery of other government priorities in local and regional communities.
  7. To minimise the impact of the pandemic on disadvantaged students, Uni Connect provides long term coordinated outreach to support student progression to Further and Higher Education. This enables schools and colleges to focus resources on mitigating the disproportionately negative effect of the pandemic on the academic performance of young people from disadvantaged groups.

How were these selected?

These seven headlines were launched by our funders, The Office for Students (OfS) last month (September 2020). It’s the culmination of the very best practice that the Uni Connect programme has developed and worked upon over the past three years. When the programme was first launched in January 2017, it had a much narrower focus on traditional Higher Education (HE) Outreach, but as the workforce has developed and we have strengthened our relationships with our schools and colleges we have been able to create a progamme that offers support and advice on all pathways, from further education, training and apprenticeships as well as the traditional HE routes. These headlines make it really clear that we are here to make a difference, supporting all our young people but being able to offer additional targeted help for those who need it the most.

Did you bear in mind how Covid-19 has affected this?

Absolutely, our help is needed more than ever. Covid has and will continue to cause so much disruption for our young people and their families. They have lost months of education, vital connections with their friends and family and now coming back into schools and colleges, things remain uncertain, will there be another lockdown, what will happen with exams etc.?

These headlines get to the heart of how we can help. Making decisions about going to college, work or university are so important, it’s hard enough to understand what is right for you and how you see yourself years into the future without a pandemic.

We will be able to work with each of our schools and colleges, looking at how we can add value to what already is happening for their students and families. Whether that is impartial careers guidance, offering mentoring and coaching, access to online resources, exam support or just helping young people and their families make sense of the choices in front of them and their implications.

What are you most excited about that will come from these messages?

That we get to make a difference in such traumatic times. These headlines represent a really fair description of what Uni Connect does and has to offer. This isn’t just about university anymore, even though the name can be quite confusing, it isn’t intended to be by the way. This programme is about exploring all the pathways from level 4 upwards, it also allows us to expand our support out to those who most need it, including adults as we move into the next phase of the programme.

I am a great believer in that all children aspire that’s not the issue, what we need to help influence is their expectations out of life. For many young people they just don’t expect that these opportunities will come their way, they often see that these are for other people! We can change this.