It is well documented that without parent/carer/family support a young person’s progression, not just through education, can be restricted.
In October 2018 I hosted a free family day at a local venue in Swindon. The aim of the event was to bring Swindon families together to increase awareness, quash myths, and develop a greater understanding of the education process, regional education providers, and Study Higher’s role within Swindon.
From previous parent engagement at schools and smaller parent/carer events I identified a gap in knowledge between parents/carers and students, resulting in a disconnect of ambitions. I decided that a larger scale event bringing children and parents/carers together to learn about the opportunities and inform the process surrounding further and Higher Education would help raise the aspirations of the parent/carers for their children and reduce the fear caused by a lack of information and guidance.
The event consisted of 10, 20 minute talks by Education providers taking everyone through the education process as well as 12 stands for everyone to gain more information and ask questions. These talks were on A-Levels + BTECs → Apprenticeships → Myth Busting → Finance → Student Life → What University Courses look like → Personal Statements → Making a Competitive Application → Revision Techniques. All were designed to engage the families to learn and work together. It also increased awareness of the route through education and allowed all of the families to ask questions and discuss the future of their children together.
We are grateful to Swindon secondary schools for sharing the event information with their parents as well as the universities and colleges engagement throughout. The colleges and universities who attended were Bucks New University, University of Reading, Swindon College, New College Swindon, Oxford Brookes University, Ask Apprenticeships, University of Bath, Renault F1, University of Oxford, Swindon Academy United Learning, QA - Apprenticeships, Cirencester College, The Commonweal School.
The success of the event was evident by the turn out of nearly 200 people and the feedback gained from parents and students. There was a creche provided for the younger children and a Sunday lunch for everyone who attended. There was a drawing competition and prizes given for redesigning the Study Higher logo.
The feedback received showed the impact of the day:
‘Fabulous day, very informative and I learnt a lot and a lot to consider for the future.’
‘Thank-you for notetaking materials. Very useful. Lots of new information. Makes it less intimidation and more accessible.’
‘I enjoyed today - thank-you! It was nice to find out that my son is not the only person who is struggling to find what he wants to do in the future so lots of options to discuss.’
‘Really good organised event. Informative and useful prep for next stage after GCSEs.’
Having spoken with most parents/carers and evaluated the feedback I found that most parents/carers knowledge of post 16 education was limited and that more information needs to be available as well as more individual information to their situations. By bringing families together to learn about further and Higher Education it gives both parents/carers and children the information to make joint decisions about their future.
Rachael Wells, Swindon Higher Education Liaison Officer