To review the key points of the higher education journey of young Croydon residents 2020 report.
Head of Service, Education Commissioning & Post-16 Participation introduced and went through the highlights of the report.
Following this, the Sub-Committee had the opportunity to ask questions.
The Chair commended the level of detailed information on the data set and acknowledged that this had been collated as confirmed by officers over a number of years. The information included in the report was a tremendous resource for all as it contained information for the whole of London. It was beneficial to have comparative data of the journey of young people into further education and jobs.
It was asked if there was any concerns in light of the current situation regarding institutions that Croydon’s young people progressed onto. The officer responded that there were no particular concerns and that the level of impact of the current situation was yet to materialise. Institutions have had to adapt their offer in terms of virtual learning and university students had experienced a very disruptive year to their learning that they were still adjusting to. It was expected that there would be significant emerging impact going forward on the choices that are made on whether they continued into higher education in the future.
Questions were raised on the inequalities highlighted in the report between Russel Group and other Universities and what could be done to bridge parity between the two types of universities. In particular to support those from ethnic backgrounds and heritage which only a small percentage go on to attend Russell Group universities. The officer said that all universities now had in place funding for wider participation which was being used to target specific groups that had been underrepresented or had not been able to attend particular types of universities. In terms of Croydon as a Borough, universities worked directly with schools in the borough, and in January Cambridge University commenced a programme about raising aspirations in young people at an earlier stage in their education. Unfortunately this programme was put on hold due to the pandemic and it was hoped to continue at a later date. The Council was committed to ongoing direct work with universities to raise the aspiration of young people particularly those from disadvantaged groups.
It was commented that when looking at the data across London, it was true that Black Caribbean children were least likely to go onto Russel Group universities but the data also showed that Black African children were more likely to go onto further education and to attend Russell Group universities. Additionally there were children from Chinese, Asian and Indian backgrounds that perform extremely well in terms of higher education. It was important to hone in on the data to explore the Croydon Context alongside the Borough’s local offer.
The Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Learning added that it was key that as corporate parents, the focus should be about how young people in the Borough were supported regardless of their ethnicity. Provision of crucial support was needed on how to access top universities by focusing on their applications and preparation for interview. It would be interesting to review the emerging data post Covid due to challenges presented with learning and what this will mean in terms of educational progress and outcomes.
The Chair thanked officers for the report and reflected that going forward consideration may be given to further scrutiny on student choice on higher education and life outcomes and how this would have been impacted by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The Sub-Committee came to the following Conclusion: