What did we learn from organising and delivering a multi-site higher education experience day for year 10 students?

In March 2022 we delivered a campus experience day for an entire year group in a school in Leicester city. Year 10 students were assigned to one of five higher education campuses across the county: three universities and two sites at an FE college. Organising a large-scale visit during the pandemic was challenging, and we learnt much about how to organise similar events in the future. Students mostly enjoyed their experience and found it useful, and the school was able to check off that all important Gatsby benchmark 7.

Our infographic Pathways Ready Day gives some more context to the day, and explains our rationale, our evaluation methods, and our evaluation findings and recommendations. Pathways staff considered these findings during a team meeting, and felt that it important to consider:

– Implementing agreements with the school and with higher education campuses about expectations for communication, timing of decisions, and outcomes for delivered sessions
– Scoping out the campus sites, sessions’ content, and delivery methods in advance, such that we can give advice about movement around the campus, timings, and levels of interaction
– Reducing the number of sites to one or two campuses rather than five
– Ensuring that the project leader is well-supported by experienced colleagues
– Introducing a staff briefing document to ensure that all staff (school, higher education campus, Pathways) are informed about their roles and responsibilities on the day.

There was much to celebrate about the day, including:
– Very few behavioural issues from students, despite the school’s expectations
– Students felt that their voices were being heard and valued
– Students attitudes ‘warmed up’ over the day, as they began to see the benefits of higher education and started to gain confidence in speaking out
– Campus tours and practical ‘hands on’ experiences were very well received
– Some school staff found the sessions useful, as well as the students
– We delivered a successful multi-site campus experience during a pandemic!

A two-page infographic is available here Pathways Ready Day to download. For further details, please contact reach@leicester.ac.uk.

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