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How we delivered 1,039 activities to 18,900 learners in a year like no other

18 Jan 2021

Widening Participation in action – helping talented pre-16s fulfil their potential despite the pandemic

Widening participation in action

Putting the needs of talented youngsters first is the name of the game for our Widening Participation team.

In a challenging year, the team had to adapt existing activities to suit online delivery – not only to help young people fulfil their potential, but also mitigate the impact on them.

Despite the barriers posed by the pandemic, the team delivered 1,039 activities to 18,900 learners under the age of 16, at 176 schools and colleges.

Our pre-16 work expands Higher Education opportunities by delivering outreach programmes designed to raise the awareness and aspirations of students.

These include The Great Science Share for schools, which encourages children and young people to ask and share scientific questions, and our Gateways programme which supports approximately 1,700 students across 48 Greater Manchester secondary schools.

Meanwhile, our Diversity Champions Project aims to improve the understanding of hate crime among schoolchildren and young people aged 13–16.

The impact of our pre-16 work is detailed in our all-digital annual report.

The report shows:

  • We engaged with over 90,000 primary and secondary pupils during the Great Science Share event last year
  • Just under half (46%) of the English schools that engaged with the Great Science Share last year were high priority WP schools
  • 93% of Gateways attendees felt they had a better understanding of how university differs from school as a result of a Gateways event
  • Our Diversity Champions Project won the Community Cohesion/Diversity Award at the Outstanding Social Behaviour Awards 2020.

At our University, widening participation is firmly embedded into how we run our institution. A key ambition for teaching, learning and the student experience is for there to be no barriers to studying and no boundaries to learning.

Put simply – we open the door of university life to the most gifted students, regardless of their backgrounds.

Head of Widening Participation, Stephanie Lee said: “This work highlights the importance of having a sustained and student life-cycle approach to widening participation.

“This year has been a significant and unique challenge for WP as we have sought to react to and mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the children, young people, students, and graduates that we work with.

“We are really proud of how we have reacted to this challenge. In this report we showcase some of the new WP activity that now exists, in addition to demonstrating how our established programmes have adapted to the current situation.”

Read the report

To read the report, visit:

For further information, visit: