The National Council for Educational Excellence (NCEE) was established by Gordon
Brown, Prime Minister, in June 2007 to act as a sounding board about strategy and
measures to deliver a world-class education system for children and young people up
to the age of 19, with the support of education, business and the voluntary sector.
The Council asked universities to explore the part that they can play in supporting the
development of educational excellence. Working with Universities UK, Professor Steve
Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter and a member of the Council,
presented a report in November 2007, summarising the many ways in which
universities engage with and support schools and colleges, based on the responses to a
survey of all vice-chancellors in England. One of the recommendations in the report
was that Universities UK should build on the evidence provided in the survey responses
to progress this agenda.
In response, Universities UK has produced this further report with support from Action
on Access, the national coordination team for widening participation, which provides a
typology of activities in this area, mapping out thematically the range of activities, links
and interventions between schools, colleges and higher education institutions with
examples of practice and reference to what we have been told works well. Attention is
drawn to the familiar outreach activities that have been developed over a number of
years, as well as to more recent innovative activity such as the establishment of learner
progression frameworks and the delivery of university models in schools and colleges.
In addition, the report draws attention to the outcomes of a further survey undertaken
by Universities UK on the continuing professional development opportunities provided
by universities, with the aim of raising attainment in schools and colleges. The
responses illustrate the range of continuing professional development opportunities
available to schoolteachers, trainers and lecturers and provide examples of tailored
programmes that support the aim of raising attainment in schools and colleges. This
agenda is also supported by the research undertaken by many university education
departments on a number of topics, such as strategies for including reluctant learners
and supporting headteachers in areas of low achievement.
It is clear from the survey of the links provided by higher education institutions that
partnerships are only successful where both parties gain from working closely
together. This will be important in ensuring a commitment across all parts of the
education sector, which will be vital in ensuring delivery.