Submit an intervention
If you have evaluative evidence from an access intervention that you would like to see included within the toolkit, please get in touch.
You can email us at CommissionerForFairAccess@gov.scot
Updated 9 November 2020
Professor Jim Gallacher,
I am writing to advise you of the sad death of Professor Jim Gallacher who was central to the lifelong learning, widening access and articulation agenda over many years and decades. He was a wonderful man and eminent in his field.
Professor Mike Osborne, Director of CR&DALL(Centre for Research & Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning) has written an account of Jim’s life which I have provided the link for below
Webinars and Online Events
SCAPP Connect with Coffee
Last working day of the month
Next event: Monday 30 November 2020, 11am
As we continue to work remotely, we realise that our opportunities to meet, network, share news and practice or just say “hello” – in the train, corridor, coffee queue or water cooler – are limited. To address this in some way, we are introducing SCAPP Connect with Coffee events which will give you a chance to meet new colleagues, or catch up with existing ones.
These events will normally take place on the last working day of each month.
Join us for the first in our series of 40-minute online events to meet other SCAPP members. Grab a cuppa and meet our ‘Member of the Month’ and get the opportunity to chat to another SCAPP member through our ‘Speed Networking’ session.
Register at Eventbrite for this event
Refugees and People Seeking Asylum: Widening Participation Good Practice Examples in Scotland Date: Wednesday 2nd December 2pm -3.30pm
Universities of Sanctuary is an initiative that seeks to support universities to develop a culture and a practice of refugee welcome and to do this in a networked way, with other higher education institutions.
Building on our successful event in July, SCAPP and Universities of Sanctuary would like to continue the conversation amongst widening participation and access colleagues across Scotland who have an interest in improving access to Higher Education for refugees and people seeking asylum.
We have taken on board suggestions from participants at our first event, and will cover in this session good practice responses from widening participation practitioners in three Scottish Universities.
Presentations will focus on a mentoring programme for learners who are in the asylum process, acting as initial point of contact and information for potential refugee and asylum seeking applicants, and on the experience and learning so far from welcoming the first cohort of scholarship holders as a new University of Sanctuary.
We will also explore the shape and organisation of a proposed Community of Practice for practitioners and institutions supporting Refugee and Asylum Seeking learners.
This event will be of interest to colleagues already working with refugees and people seeking asylum or those interested in finding out more about improving their institutions’ engagement with this cohort of learners.
Please feel free to share this across your network for anyone who may be interested in attending
For further information see Eventbrite page here
Lunch and Learn with GCU College Connect Transforming Transition materials for Online Delivery
Wednesday 9th December 2020 12.30 – 2pm
If you’re a WP practitioner or supporting students using online tools, join us for the first in our Lunch and Learn sessions with GCU College Connect. College Connect staff will discuss their response to the global health pandemic, transforming their flagship College Connect Transition Programme from a classroom based project with subject area specific activity to an online programme delivered over 9 weeks.
The session will cover:
• approach to transforming the materials
• Key challenges
• Impact and areas for further development
• Next Steps for the Project
There will also be a demonstration of the online content with the opportunity to ask questions.
The session will be hosted using Blackboard Ultra Collaborate and the link will be sent to you nearer the time.
To register click here Lunch and Learn
The College Development Network (CDN), in partnership with Education Scotland, are running a series of Virtual Bridge Webinars which run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday 11am – 11.30 am. These are FREE to join
Tuesday, 24 November
5 Tools/Tips for Classroom Inclusion Using Office 365
Thomas Moore, North West Regional College
Demonstration of readily available tools within the Office 365 environment to help students grow their potential and gain independence, for teachers to become more empowered to engage every learner and to promote quality and inclusion. Session will demo use of: Immersive Reader, Dictation, Maths Tool, Translation and Live Captioning within the O365 environment.
Thursday 26 November
Retention – A Time for Reflection
Dr John Bowditch, Education Scotland
This presentation and session will look at what the national data has been telling us about retention and reflecting on the lessons from that. We will deal with retention in a broad sense, not just related to the current COVID-19 environment. There have been a number of reports and studies in the past and with SFC data available for interrogation, there is an opportunity for sharing insights with a view to improving our practice. Colleagues will be invited to raise questions, give examples from their own experience, and reflect on the data and work that has been done over a number of years to highlight good practice in improving retention.
Friday 27 November
Deaf Students at College and the Pandemic
Rachel O’Neill, University of Edinburgh
Students who are deaf already face challenges accessing college and university, but the pandemic has intensified many of these issues and raised new ones. During this session Rachel will highlight the issues faced by deaf students in accessing online and socially-distanced learning. She will offer some suggestions on how to improve access and support for deaf students in colleges and universities.
To register for any of these events go to CDN virtual webinars
A series of five pre-recorded webinars has been developed on using the Fair Access Toolkit and carrying out evaluation. Webinars are pre-recorded without an audience and each lasts 20 minutes approximately. Webinars will be retained as a resource on the Fair Access website. This means that practitioners can access these at a time that suits them best and can be watched in sequence or selected for choice of topic.
A real-time virtual workshop which builds on the pre-recorded webinars is planned for the autumn. Further details to follow.
Please accept our apologies for any compromise of sound quality as we work towards facilitating online provision of this resource.
1. Using the Toolkit for Fair Access
This webinar introduces viewers to the Scottish Toolkit for Fair Access. We explain the background and purpose of the Toolkit before taking you on a tour of the website and the resources available to help you plan and evaluate your activities. We also outline what SCAPP – Scotland’s Community of Access and Participation Practitioners – is and how it can support you in your work.
You can access Webinar 1 here
2. Assessing evidence for the Toolkit
In this webinar the team who developed the Toolkit for Fair Access explain how they identified and assessed the evidence included in the Toolkit. Watching the webinar will help you understand more about the purpose of different types of evaluation and standard of evidence required for it to be included in the Toolkit.
You can access Webinar 2 here
3. Planning your evaluation
This webinar will help you to plan your evaluation in a structured and systematic way. It outlines the issues you’ll need to consider at the planning stage and the importance of developing a proportionate approach. It also explains how a Theory of Change can help inform your evaluation framework and how you can summarise your theory in a logic model.
You can access Webinar 3 here
4. Selecting an appropriate method for your evaluation
This webinar will help you to select the best methods for your own evaluations and increase your confidence in your results. It talks you through the different types of research methods, the types of data they generate and the claims that can be made on the basis of the evidence they produce. We focus on evidencing causality through your evaluation and share our learning on running an RCT.
You can access Webinar 4 here
5. Sharing your findings – writing up and disseminating the results of your evaluation
The final webinar in the series is designed to help you communicate your evaluation findings effectively and achieve maximum impact. It identifies the things you need to include in the write-up of your findings, particularly if you would like your work to be included in the Toolkit in the future, and provides tips on ‘dos and don’ts’ when presenting data.
Access Webinar 5 here
Publications, Articles and Resources
Resources and Useful Reading
UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish
The Conversation Independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public
Volunteer Scotland has a daily Radio V podcasts on all matter volunteering and learning.
About the Universities of Sanctuary, how to become a University of Sanctuary, including case studies, useful links and websites.
Widening participation in HE: why it’s important to focus on ‘first generation’ students – UCL Institute of Education Blog See this interesting blog here at UCL blog
Read this post from Dr Karen Campbell, Research Fellow in Educational Research and Evaluation, Glasgow Caledonian University which argues that university preparedness is best supported when learners are immersed in the university experience when learners experience studying HE level qualifications within a university environment pre-entry
Moving Widening Participation Outreach Online: Challenge or Opportunity – Jon Rainford, University of Bedfordshire
Our Hub Model can Transform prospects for Young People in Care – Lorraine Moore, Manager, Hub for Success, Edinburgh Napier University. This article appeared in The Scotsman on 2 July 2020
Why Widening Participation Matters More than Ever – View form Scottish HE Sector – Laura Cattell, Head of Widening Participation, University of Edinburgh This article, published on FACE website (Forum for Adult and Continuing Education), summarises how Covid-19 has heightened the value and necessity of widening participation
Minister lambasts English universities for letting down students – article in the Guardian 1 July 2020
A Strange Speech to Widening Participation Practitioners – article by Alex Blower reflects on a speech on social mobility and concludes that the minister failed to read the room – from WONKHE 5 July 2020
Open University resources
Everyday computer skills (16 hours) is a collaboration between Lead Scotland and the OU in Scotland, with funding from SCVO’s Digital Participation Fund. It’s a digital skills course for beginners, designed with and for disabled people. It covers all you need to know to get online using your computer, tablet or phone, with a focus on accessibility and online safety.
Caring Counts is an OU in Scotland course co-created with carers and carers organisations. It’s intended to help carers reflect on their caring role, and the skills and experiences they’ve gained through it that are transferable to other contexts. It’s particularly useful for carers at a transition, who may be considering returning to work or study. It can be studied online or facilitated as a group course (there’s a guide provided) – which many carers organisations around Scotland have done.
Carers scholarships – the OU is now offering scholarships to carers and young adult carers beginning their studies with them. The criteria for this is that you must have a household income of less than £25k per year. In Scotland, the SAAS part-time fee grant covers module costs for anyone with a personal income of less than £25k. That means that Scottish carers won’t benefit from the scholarship in the same way as their counterparts in other parts of the UK so OU in Scotland will not be promoting it. The good news is that they can study with the OU for free anyway, as 70% of OU students are eligible for the part-time fee grant.
Refugees and asylum seekers
Reflecting on Transitions is an OU in Scotland course co-created with refugees, asylum seekers and other new Scots, in partnership with Bridges Programmes in Glasgow. The course can help learners identify the range of skills and abilities you’ve gained from their personal experiences and plan their next steps into work or study.
If you are using open educational resources with refugees and asylum seekers, you or your learners are invited to share your experiences on the Refugee Learning Stories blog. This is an open space, so anyone is welcome to contribute and posts can be anonymous if you prefer. There are some interesting posts for you to browse – from using Whatsapp as a language learning tool to university scholarships for asylum seekers in Dublin.
The Scottish Refugee Council has produced a short film called I Hear You for Word Refugee Day 2020
Very topical at the moment and of critical importance to educators, many anti-racism resources are being made available for free just now. The Service Design in Scotland Network has compiled an interactive Padlet of resources called Black Lives in Scotland. You can explore links to resources or contribute to the Padlet yourself.
Collection of mental health and wellbeing resources
Family friendly hub
Furloughed workers resources (in partnership with My World of Work)
Taking your teaching online
Open Pathways – an interactive guide for learners beginning their journey on OpenLearn
Managing your money for young adults (24 hours) is a course aimed at young people moving away from home to work or study. It comes with guidance for teachers on adapting for the classroom.
Making your learning count is a 30 credit module that allows you to gain credit for OpenLearn course and other informal learning.
Bullying and Manipulation: Join the Resistance interactive resource exploring bullying at work, school and even on Twitter at the hands of Donald Trump.
Citizen science and the data avalanche series of videos on how to become a citizen scientist
Climate justice for the next generation (7 hours, intermediate level) a new course that frames global warming and climate change in terms of social justice, human rights and intergenerational equality and emphasises how children and those least responsible for climate change are the ones who suffer its most significant consequences.
How to talk about race short video talking about race with comedian Munya Chawawa. A BBC / Open University collaboration.
In partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the OpenLearn team has curated a collection of employability and digital skills resources, as well as functional English and Maths: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/education-development/department-work-pensions
Internships and other work experiences (24 hours) is a brand new course for those who want to learn more about internships and other work experience options available, and explore how you can obtain and maximise the right opportunities to support your chosen career.
Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world (24 hours) is a new version of the existing ‘Digital literacy: succeeding in a digital world’ course with updated content reflecting changes in the digital landscape over the last few years.
Start your career with OpenLearn is a collection aimed at people leaving education and looking for some career support.
Coping in isolation: time to think – course trailer a short video for the course in which two Open University graduates reflect on the current COVID-19 lockdown. They offer some insights into their study experiences while imprisoned in the 1970s and 1980s, and suggest ways to adjust to the current pressures facing people across the globe.
Young carers, COVID-19 and physical activity article outlining an Open University study around carers and their relationship with physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Updated 1 November 2020
Open Learning Champions Update
This is the first newsletter in a while. I hope it finds you all well. As we face into a new, tiered lockdown and many people are facing furlough again or even redundancy, we hope that some of the free, online resources we’ve highlighted here may be useful for your learners. If there’s anything you’d like us to cover specifically, please get in touch.
During the first lockdown, OpenLearn saw a huge surge of learners – from an average of 40,000 a day to more than 200,000. From the end of March to the end of July, learners completed an astonishing 790,000 courses and gained 69,000 badges. OpenLearn has curated collections of resources that many found helpful during lockdown and are unfortunately still relevant:
• Collection of mental health and wellbeing resources
• Family friendly hub
• Furloughed workers resources (in partnership with My World of Work)
• Taking your teaching online
Some of your learners may have received laptops or tablets through the Connecting Scotland scheme. If they are looking to improve their digital skills, Everyday computer skills (16 hours) is a course for absolute beginners, designed with and for disabled people. It covers all you need to know to get online using your computer, tablet or phone, with a focus on accessibility and online safety. The course is a collaboration between Lead Scotland and the OU in Scotland, with funding from SCVO’s Digital Participation Fund.
Open Pathways is a resource to help learners plan their journeys – from dipping their toes into OpenLearn to registering for formal study. You can use it to support learners to access online learning at the level that’s right for them. There is an accompanying guide for Open Learning Champions with ideas for using resources with learners.
Care Experienced Week
This week is Care Experienced Week – look out for #CEW2020 on social media for celebrations of the care-experienced community. We at the OU are proud corporate parents. If you’d like to learn more about the impact of care experience on access to education, and the role of corporate parents, we have produced a new online resource in partnership with Who Cares? Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council, universities and colleges. Corporate Parenting in Higher Education takes 1-2 hours to complete and is based on the lived experience of care-experienced students. It has optional activities and opportunities to reflect on your role in improving outcomes for care-experienced students and you can gain a digital badge.
Black History Month
OpenLearn has created a Black History Month hub featuring articles and courses on Black history, notable people and the Black Lives Matter movement.
How to talk about race is a short video by comedian Munya Chawawa. A BBC / Open University collaboration.
Another new hub on OpenLearn features articles, course and interactive content related to sustainability, climate change, ecosystems and the natural world.
FutureLearn – available now
Most FutureLearn courses are free to access but there may be a fee if you would like the option of a certificate to recognise your participation.
A Global History of Sex and Gender: Bodies and Power in the Modern World (4 weeks) – University of Glasgow
Caring for Vulnerable Children (6 weeks) – University of Strathclyde / CELCIS
Introduction to Cyber Security (8 weeks) – Open University
Open Learning Champions
Well done to all of you who have managed to support learners through unprecedented times, sometimes while you and they grappled with unfamiliar technology. We hope these mailings have helped a wee bit. As a thank you to all our champions, please accept our Open Learning Champions badge (jpeg file attached) to ‘wear’ with pride!
It may be a while before we can meet face to face but we are beginning to offer online Open Learning Champions sessions (1.5 hours). If your organisation would like to host one, please get in touch.
Remember to follow @OUScotland and @OUfreelearning on Twitter for updates and tweet us using #OLchamps
You’re welcome to share this with your colleagues, learners and networks. If you no longer wish to receive these mailings, just respond to this email to let us know and we’ll take you off the mailing list.
Stand Alone Estranged Students Solidarity Week 23 – 27 November 2020
‘Being an Ally to Estranged Students’
Society focuses a lot on family, so estrangement is often misunderstood or goes unseen. And because it is not talked about much estrangement isn’t a term many people are familiar with. Individuals become estranged for any number of reasons, such as abuse, a clash of beliefs, religion or values and rejection of their LGBTQI+ identity among many others. This can be a long slow process, or a sharp and sudden break. Students in higher education feel the impact of not having any parental support throughout their entire student journey. Stand Alone’s Estranged Students Solidarity Week is about talking about estrangement and raising awareness of the issue, and showing estranged students you see them and offer them support.
Stand Alone has developed a set of resources to help staff and students reach out to estranged students. These can be downloaded at:
Let us know what you are doing during Estranged Student Solidarity Week by sharing pictures, comments, thoughts, etc, on
Twitter & Instagram
Also during ESS Week: Stand Alone Pledge Awards and Student Voice Awards.
Please contact us on email@example.com if you have any questions about ESS Week 2020.
Follow us on Twitter @StandAloneHE and @UKStandAlone
Articles and Papers
Why Widening Participation Matters more than Ever – View from the Scottish HE Sector written by Laura Cattell, Head of Widening Participation at the University of Edinburgh, published on FACE website (Forum for Adult and Continuing Education)
‘Student ambassadors: “role-models”, learning practices and identities’ published by Dr Clare Gartland from the University of Suffolk – paper presented at LEAPS/SCAPP event on 25th June 2020 “Working effectively with Student Ambassadors and Volunteers in Widening Participation Projects
Presentation from webinar Working Effectively with Student Ambassadors and Volunteers in Widening Participation Projects – presentation by Dr Clare Gartland on 25 June 2020
Using the Lens of ‘Possible Selves’ to Explore Access to Higher Education: A New Conceptual Model for Practice, Policy, and Research Neil Harrison, Department of Education and Childhood, University of the West of England
Information for Volunteers
Volunteer Scotland has a daily Radio V podcasts on all matter volunteering and learning.
Keeping Volunteers Safe: Restarting your Volunteer Programme this 10 hour course covers the key considerations to ensure a positive experience for those returning to volunteering following COVID-19. It’s hosted on OpenLearn Create as part of the OU’s Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership collection and you can gain a certificate of participation and digital badge participation on completion of the course. More information about Volunteer Scotland’s online learning here.
Information to support Care Experienced and Estranged Students
Carers Trust Scotland have produced a video with BBC Scotland called Things You Should Know About Young Carers (1 minute) featuring young people talking about what their caring role involves.
Materials provided by Hub for Success
For any queries or further information please contact the HUB for Success at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Finance, Research, Campaigns
Stand Alone summer update
Campaign for financial support for estranged and care-experienced students and graduates without family support
Stand Alone has been working in collaboration with a number of charities to raise awareness of the impact of Covid 19 on higher education students without parental / family support and to lobby governments for additional financial support for these students.
We published a survey at the start of lockdown on the challenges these students were facing due to Covid 19. We have written about the issue in the press, have taken part in Scottish Government consultations and are in discussions with the DfE and Welsh Government.
Our most recent ‘summer hardship’ survey report will be published shortly alongside an open letter from an estranged student.
Applying to SAAS: Financial Support for Estranged Scottish Students
Applicants need to let SAAS know that they are estranged from parents when applying for support.
A student is eligible to be considered for independence on the basis of being estranged if:
• they are not in contact with both their parents and
• there’s been a permanent breakdown in the relationship, and there is no sign of this being resolved in the future
Applicants are sent the Evidence of Estrangement form, and they return the completed form using the ‘Document Upload’ service in their SAAS Account. The form must be endorsed by a professional person who knows the student’s circumstances, such as: teacher / doctor / counsellor / college or university student advisor / lawyer / solicitor / police officer / family mediation worker / social worker / etc.
If the student doesn’t have a professional person to confirm they are estranged then they should still complete the estranged evidence form and explain why this is the case in section B. SAAS will contact them if they need any further information.
SAAS case workers assess all applications from estranged students on a case-by-case basis. If any further information is required when processing an application for estrangement SAAS will contact the student directly.
You can find information about the Student Information Scotland website here
Student Finance England ‘Estrangement Form 20/21’: Advice and best practice
Practitioners feedback since the form’s inception has been very positive as it gives step by step guidance to supporting those students without any suitable evidence and an opportunity to request a SFE caseworker should a further discussion be needed and a future telephone interview.
In the past some staff in institutions have been reluctant to sign the form as they felt they were confirming a certain situation was true.
Staff now no longer need to known the student for any length of time to sign the new form, therefore removing a major barrier to proving estrangement. The new form specifically directs students without evidence to student services as in many cases staff may either know their circumstances and be able to confirm them or alternatively, can suggest sources of evidence that can confirm their situation and would be acceptable. If you are not able to sign the form though, you should send it to SFE with an email explaining why and ask for the student to be referred to a case worker.
It is also important to note that the form is not a compulsory part of the estrangement process and evidence will continue to be accepted as it has been in a variety of formats.
Please bear in mind when speaking to a student about the form to be aware of the potential sensitivity of individual student’s circumstances and the potentially traumatic experiences that have led to a breakdown in the relationship with their parents and often also their wider family. Conversations should be conducted with care and confidentiality and not probe into details of student’s personal experiences and their estrangement.
House keeping: The new Form was released in Jan 2020. Please delete the old version and familiarise yourself with the new version.
Click here for the new form on the SLC webpage
You may also find the SLC Funding Information Team monthly bulletin useful which you can access via this webpage, and where you can also post feedback:
A guide to help estranged students write their personal statement
Stand Alone has worked with UCAS to produce guidance for estranged students on how to write their personal statement. A group of estranged students compiled a set of unique skills and positive personal strengths these students may have developed as a result of their experiences.
Click here for more information
New Stand Alone research report: Family Estrangement and the Covid 19 Crisis
This survey set out to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on estranged family relationships.
This research was conducted by Dr Lucy Blake at Edge Hill University, Dr Becca Bland at Stand Alone, and Dr Sarah Foley and Dr Susan Imrie at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge.
Click here to read the report
The Stand Alone Pledge
Emerging from lockdown and planning for a restructured delivery of the new academic year provides higher education institutions with a unique opportunity to fully address the different needs of a diverse student body.
So this is also a time to sign the Stand Alone Pledge or use your Pledge to shape the support for estranged students to ensure their needs are recognised and they feel part of their university community.
Click on the Pledge logo to link to the Pledge website
Updated 5 August 2020
Covid-19 Survey – Summary of resources
Following the survey on responses and challenges of Covid-19 which was distributed in May, please find the link below for the summary of the responses. There are key points and actions on page one, followed by an executive summary of the main points under themes, then followed by responses per question for those readers who wish to see the full set of responses.
I hope that this provides insightful, interesting and useful reading.