Name: Emily Danvers ( and Tamsin Hinton-Smith (

Discipline/Subject: Higher Education Studies

Institution: University of Sussex

Title: Developing a collaborative approach to WP through knowledge-sharing and capacity-building

Overview of programme of outreach:

We are Higher Education academics and researchers with an additional role as evaluators of the Sussex NCOP consortia – a government policy initiative aimed at supporting the most disadvantaged young people to access higher education. Working across these two distinct areas, we bridge a gap between academic theorisation of inequality and widening access, with direct engagement with practitioners (including teachers, widening participation (WP) professionals and community groups) seeking to develop best practice in outreach. While we are not directly doing outreach work with young people, we are researching it using what has become quite artificially distinct ‘academic’ and ‘professional’ lenses.

This has caused us to reflect on the need to build closer links between academics and the burgeoning WP outreach sector. We feel that a collaborative approach is important to ensure the most marginalised higher education minorities are effectively supported in their educational trajectories. In addition, developing WP as an academic discipline enables a reflexive critique of the dominant discourse of definitive solutions on ‘what works’ in outreach, which we argue narrows space for innovative, participative and risky initiatives.

To illustrate these points, we draw on our experiences of running CPD for widening participation professionals, teachers and community groups around conducting research and evaluation. Using this data, we reflect on the methodological and theoretical challenges of speaking back to the vocabulary of ‘what works’ in order to engage in more critical, collaborative and generative widening participation practice.

Description of non-academic group, subject areas and age groups with which the programme is engaged:

WP young people, WP professionals, National Collaboration Outreach Progamme (NCOP) consortia, teachers and community groups.

Links to resources:

Sussex Learning Network:


Name: Gwen Hughes ( and Beth Phillips (

Discipline/Subject: Bioscience, physiology and medicine

Institution: University of Nottingham

Title: Engaging them early: Primary School WP and Outreach activities to promote healthy bodies

Overview of programme of outreach:

Since 2013, our BSc Medical Physiology and Therapeutics students have delivered separate WP/Outreach Primary School events in Nottingham. They participate as part of the non-credit bearing Advantage Award ‘Learning Leader’s’ scheme, or to gain generic skills/experience for future employability or studies.

Activity objectives dovetail into and extend Key Stage 2 curricula in Health and Nutrition, where possible supplement the science and mathematics curriculum and help formulate awareness of scientific research. In-school activities include:

  • Glitter Bugs: promoting an understanding of microbes, contamination, handwashing and hygiene. Using a ‘special’ gel that glows under UV light, pupils compare the fluorescence pre and post handwashing, ‘see’ how handshakes and sneezing spread contamination. Paper based activities and quizzes test understanding of handwashing techniques.
  • Mighty Muscles: proving an insight to muscle types particularly skeletal muscle and strength. Using hand-grip dynanometers, strength is compared between genders, heights, dominant and non-dominant hands and pre and post fatigue (after squeezing a stress ball). Forearm circumference and length measurements enables muscle volume calculations. Class results are analysed and correlated results are presented with a simplistic understanding of science behind the results and statistical meanings (e.g means, error bars and significance).
  • Eating for Energy: providing various separate tasks to give an overview of digestion, dietary needs, energy sources and calorific contents at rest and during exercise (using fit bits). Visual aids include digestive aprons, anatomical digestive system models and replicas of muscle and adipose tissue.

Post-visit teacher resources are provided to extend the learning opportunity.

Healthy Bodies’ Discovery Days, on site, gives a visiting Primary School class the opportunity to participate as health-focussed research scientists. Activities include lab work (e.g. pipetting) and diagnostics in clinical skills (e.g. urinalysis) with research lab visits proving thrilling experience of seeing world-learning musculoskeletal research in action (e.g. ‘Worms in space’)

Description of non-academic group, subject areas and age groups with which the programme is engaged:

Primary School Key stage 1/2 pupils in physiology, health and medicine.

Links to resources:

Healthy Bodies:

Widening Participation: Medical Physiology:

Nottingham Potential: You Come To Us:

Schools Liaison:

Schools Liaison: Primary Schools:


Name: Patricia Harris (, Kim Ridealgh ( and Kristina Garner (

Discipline/Subject: Representing an institutional approach

Institution: University of East Anglia

Title: Involving Academics in Outreach

Overview of programme of outreach: Our university is located in Norfolk which is both a rural and costal county and faces difficult challenges in raising aspirations, with some areas of the county having progression rates to HE as low as 8%. We will present a paper written by Drs P. Harris and K. Ridealgh which discusses a unique academic post held in each Faculty at our institution. The purpose of the role is to ensure that Widening Participation (WP) students are considered, at Faculty level, from access, during transition and throughout their time at university. The role holder also has responsibility for nurturing the development of subject-specific outreach sessions. We would like to highlight examples from across the institution including Modern Foreign Languages, Health Sciences and Law to demonstrate how academics with WP/Outreach posts such as these can help raise aspirations and support long-term intervention projects. We would also like to point out the challenges faced by the WP/Outreach post holders and how some of these have been overcome.

Description of non-academic group, subject areas and age groups with which the programme is engaged: 

This model of delivering outreach is utilised across the institution for all WP groups with which we engage.

Links to resources:

1. Harris, P. and Ridealgh, K. (2016) ‘Academic staff involvement in Outreach: Best practice case studies from health and languages’, Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 18(3): 74-83.

2. Preparing for Law: transition case study from Law:


Name: Jonathan Watson (

Discipline/Subject: History

Institution: University of Brighton

Title: From facilitating outreach and recruitment towards inclusive practice in the Humanities

Overview of programme of outreach:

I am a full-time Senior Lecturer working in the Humanities Academic Programme at the University of Brighton, researching and teaching the politics and cultural politics of “race” in the United States. As Widening Participation Academic Champion in the Humanities, I was appointed to the post with a specific remit to support the development of activities across the School of Humanities at the University of Brighton. This post, accounting for 0.4 FTE of my job role (supported by the University’s OFFA-determined outreach budget) requires me to develop activities and programmes, support administrative and academic colleagues in developing activities. The role has evolved in line with sector-wide changes, so that I now also support colleagues in promoting WP policy to ensure it is reflected in academic practices, and to help us prepare for the new OFS-inspired aim to promote inclusion across the student lifecycle.

In my practice, I develop and deliver activities, including sample lectures, day workshops and a residential summer school (new this year), and provide templates for colleagues. Further, through liaising with colleagues in two other academic schools, I have helped establish models of outreach practice to support the wider development of outreach work in the university.

For my standalone activities, I use a work pack designed for a day-long engagement activity (run twice a year for 5 years) where local students investigate the use of the Brighton Royal Pavilion as a hospital for Indian troops during the First World War. This event is aimed at secondary school pupils in years 8-10 (but flexible enough to support older students) utilises the university, a local landmark and source material to engage students in an analysis of propaganda, race, empire and the First World War and the city in a way that tests those attending to explore how history can allow us to challenge dominant stories and sharpen our critical analytical skills.

Description of non-academic group, subject areas and age groups with which the programme is engaged:

The Humanities commitment to the University’s Widening Participation agenda includes workshops aimed at Primary School Children, taster sessions and workshops for secondary schools and subject-specific sessions aimed at post-16 students and access students.

Links to resources:

A resource site for Schools, Colleges and students interested in U.S. History Links: currently averages 600 hits per month; 51,000 visitors in total since 2013.

First steps in WP, Jon Watson:

University of Brighton Compact – Links to our current academic-led activities in Widening Participation