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Check out the latest news and blogs from SCAPP members and news from across the sector


Building a Widening Participation Practitioners’ Network during a Pandemic

Muriel Alexander, SCAPP Development Coordinator, reflects on her first 12 months or so in her role, what has been achieved so far,  and looks forward to meeting colleagues for a proper coffee and not just a virtual one

Read the article here

Identity Matters

Read this post from Dr Karen Campbell, Research Fellow in Educational Research and Evaluation at Glasgow Caledonian University. This post draws on her recent HERD publication, Higher education learner identity for successful student transitions.

Read Identity Matters here


Cov-19 Chronicles from the margins. Colleagues from the Open University have written two blogs which can be found on Marie Gillespie’s website Cov-10 Chronicles from the Margins. The OU held a virtual roundtable event in January to look at forging partnerships with community organisations to open up learning to those affected by forced migration. The first of the blogs is written by Lida Dancu, who summaries the discussions held at this event. Read Lidia’s summary of the event  here

The second blog is written by Gill Ryan who writes about how mobile learning technologies are being harnessed to support displaced people in their learning. You can read Gill’s blog here.


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

Capability building at the hub of university transitions

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

News updates

Recovery and Education

Scott Duguid, Learning Support Adviser, Edinburgh College is interested in the role of further and higher education in peoples’ recovery from addiction and how colleges and universities can better advocate for the needs of individuals.

He is also interested in raising awareness of recovery within colleges an universities and how we can develop better, more connected structures for adults entering mainstream education (for comparison, as is increasingly the case with care experienced students).

Scott would welcome contact from any professionals with an interest in recovery and education, and particularly interested in hearing from anyone who might be willing to do some awareness training for Edinburgh College support/lecturing staff.

Topics might include:
– College and the recovery pathway
– Learning support for adults in recovery
– Cognitive/learning impacts
– Transition support

If anyone can help Scott, or wants to connect he is available


University Demand at Record High

19 Feb 2021

New figures from the university admissions service, UCAS, show the total number of applicants to Scottish universities has risen by over 12 per cent (an increase of 14,700 applicants), reaching a record high for this point in the application cycle.

Read more information here

Maintaining fair assessment for university students in academic year 2020/21

Scotland’s higher education institutions have offered reassurance to all students that fairness will continue to be a defining feature of assessment processes in 2020/21.

A new statement by all 19 universities reaffirms their commitment to ensuring that student assessment, and the processes that lead to progression and graduation, are underpinned by the fundamental principles of fairness, integrity and reliability as well as those of quality and standards.

Read the full statement on the Universities Scotland website  here.



Sir Peter Scott, Commissioner for Fair Access, has published an interim report on The Impact of Covid-19 on Fair Access to Higher Education

The report focuses on themes of digital poverty, articulation, outreach and access, online learning, student experience, staff, mental health, financial hardship, targets and examinations, grades and contextual admissions and reinforces the need to continue to take effective, and urgent, action to tackle inequalities in access to higher education

Sir Peter Scott’s report can is available on the Scottish Government website 


Updated 3 December 2020


The Sutton Trust are keen to engage with partners who work with S5 pupils for their US programme.

The Sutton Trust US Programme is designed to support students from state schools across the UK in Year 12 in England and Wales, S5 in Scotland and Year 13 in Northern Ireland to explore US study and access leading universities. It includes two virtual residentials before all students spend a week in the US staying on campus at a leading US university and visiting a variety of other American universities. Please note that the health and safety of our young people and our staff takes top priority. This may mean we need to adjust our plans, and possibly deliver US weeks in a virtual format. If any of your students are accepted onto the programme we will provide further details regarding US weeks.

An optional second year of the programme supports students to apply to US universities alongside their UCAS options. In the past six years, we have helped more than 450 British students get places and funding at top US universities.

The programme is free to take part in. 

The Programme is founded and funded by the Sutton Trust, the UK’s leading social mobility charity, and delivered in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, who are experts in helping UK students study in the US.

The Trust are accepting applications until 17 January 2021

The Sutton Trust also runs multiple UK-based summer schools that students may be interested in. You can find more information here.

For further information please contact Angel Fletcher at










Member of the Moment

Building a Widening Participation Practitioners’ Network during a Pandemic

Muriel Alexander, SCAPP Development Coordinator, reflects on her first 12 months or so in her role, what has been achieved so far,  and looks forward to meeting colleagues for a proper coffee and not just a virtual one

Networking – remember that? The ease and comfort of meeting new or existing colleagues in trains, in the coffee queue pre or mid-event, at lunch or between breakout sessions, sparking ideas, clarifying or checking details, building – or building on –  connections and friendships.

I took up the reins of SCAPP (Scotland’s Community of Practice for Access and Participation) in January 2020, after its launch in May 2019 as part of  Scotland’s Framework for Fair Access.  After an intensive and fulfilling period of networking, meetings and events attendance in the familiar and traditional sense of these activities, 51 days later I found myself in my spare bedroom (now office) wondering where SCAPP goes from here!

SCAPP’s aim is to support the development and professionalisation of a strong widening access and participation community in Scotland.  Networking and communication is at the heart of what we do, something which has required new ways of thinking, working and surviving during the pandemic.

So how has SCAPP developed and responded since March 2020? All activities, communications and operations have had to be reconfigured to ensure business continuity.  Colleagues without exception have responded creatively, positively and collaboratively to support SCAPP’s progress and development. We will all be familiar with new online platforms and delivery methods, dodgy WIFI connections, mute buttons and for some home schooling, all within, and often in addition to, a day’s work!

Notwithstanding this, membership has grown from 87 in January 2020 to just over 260 at the time of writing incorporating university, college, charities and other public sector organisations.

A key objective of SCAPP has been to develop appropriate opportunities to raise the status of widening participation and access work. To this end a staff mentoring programme has been established – MAPS (Mentoring for Access and Participation Practitioners). 42 professionals are participating, as mentors, mentees and in some cases, both.

Another key development has been in establishing a Professional Standards Framework which will support the professional recognition and accreditation of WP colleagues designed to raise the profile and support continuing professional learning and development of staff working in the field. Work continues throughout 2021 to complete a workable model which we hope to pilot later this year. Watch this space!

Central to the activities many colleagues undertake is the evaluation of WP activities to ensure practitioners are equipped with the right evaluation tools to evidence impact , measure success and enhance the work which has been developed,  by sharing practice and ensuring our techniques are relevant and informed by research. An event in January 2021 brought together members of the widening access and participation network and the research community to explore a collaborative approach to working more closely and many exciting and interesting opportunities and tangible activities were explored  – such as a Directory of Practice, an online forum and Sharing practice events – which could be progressed quickly and we hope to bring these to fruition in the coming months.

There has been a huge appetite for networking and events, perhaps not surprisingly fuelled by the, often, isolating nature of the working environment that we all find ourselves in but also a need to connect, meet, learn and engage in something different but meaningful within the working day.


Seventeen events have taken place since August 2019, fifteen of which have been delivered online since March 2020. We have introduced regular Connect with Coffee, Lunch and Learn and Brunch and Blether events  – plans for Afternoon Tea and Talk too! – as well as topical or relevant workshops covering about the articulation agenda and the work of Student Ambassadors. Events will continue during 2021 recognising their importance in enabling networking and connections to develop.


An articulation network is being developed to support practitioners who have an interest or role in articulation and the broader learner journey within which it exists.  Early discussions have also taken place about coordinating a community of practice for professionals supporting Refugees and People Seeking Asylum in collaboration with City of Sanctuary as a result of interest within the sector.


So what about the future? SCAPP is addressing a gap in basic opportunities to meet (currently online), share and develop ideas and practice, supporting the needs of wider access professionals, and providing  a sense of community and belonging which is masked in the current working environment.

SCAPP’s strength lies in its collegiate and partnership approach, providing a neutral stance within which activities can be developed and implemented. As the scope of widening access and participation grows and diversifies, SCAPP is appealing to a broader widening access and participation professional community.

Beyond the funding which currently supports the activities of the DC role, all of the work undertaken by working groups, events, activities and programme developments is currently supported by invaluable in-kind support, relying on busy but willing practitioners to make activities and developments possible, and to broaden the support network of SCAPP.

But we need to work towards a sustainable model of delivery and support in the future. As all organisations tighten their financial belts within increasingly challenging economic circumstances, that collaborative, in-kind support might be a vital ingredient if we are to continue the work of this important Community of Practice in supporting the ambitions of the Framework for Fair Access.

But first, let’s get networking a la traditional!  Look forward to seeing you in the pre-event coffee queue!