- This blog was kindly authored for HEPI by David Tiedemann, HE Access Lead at Ark Schools.
Key Stage 5 results day is both an exciting time in schools, and a large logistical undertaking. At Ark, we have 13 sixth forms across London, Birmingham, and Hastings, and more than 1000 Year 13 students, so while the day is full of wonderful stories about student success, it is also a busy one for our Destinations Team. Both on results day and in the weeks and months leading up to it, the team help prepare schools to give the best advice and guidance on HE broadly and on clearing specifically so that students can best navigate the day. We also use results day to collect data on student destinations. In the coming weeks and months, my team will pore over this data to understand how we can improve future post-18 outcomes for our students.
Ark is a multi-academy trust with 39 schools from nursery to sixth form, serving over 30,000 students. Since we work mostly in areas of economic disadvantage, our schools have a higher proportion of students eligible for free school meals, double the national average. We have high aspirations for our students’ post-18 destinations, whether that’s universities, apprenticeships, or directly into employment, and our team is dedicated to supporting schools’ work in this area. Much of our work involves disseminating information about the HE sector to schools (much of it informed by HEPI) so that students can make the best choices when selecting their five UCAS applications. We encourage students to consider the strength of the course and institution when making decisions about HE, so that they choose a best-fit destination that will set them up for future success.
We also create resources focused on clearing. We produce a clearing guide encouraging Year 13s to research clearing options in summer before results day and make a list of courses to explore should they improve on their predicted grades or miss their offer. Schools are encouraged to distribute information about clearing in advance of exams, and to speak to students they feel may need to consider clearing in advance. This research is invaluable in ensuring that students make informed decisions about clearing on results day. In addition, the team provides schools with resources to help organise their results day to ensure destinations data collection and advice on final destinations runs smoothly.
To support schools with the results day process, volunteers from the central office record destinations data. Data is collected in Ark’s bespoke platform, called CCR, where information on student applications and offers is recorded in the summer term, including information on route (employment, university, apprenticeship, etc.), level, establishment, and offer details. Up to seven intended destinations are recorded for school leavers, with the aim to record a safe, a secure, and an ambitious destination. On results day, we record the final destinations of students, along with information on whether students have met the conditions of their offers. This kind of record-keeping, along with other biographical and assessment information, allows for a detailed analysis of post-18 destinations data that helps us identify ways to improve student progression, and what support we might need from HE partners for future cohorts. Ark aims to improve post-18 destinations year-on-year, so results day and the weeks following are an ideal time to reflect on what schools and the Destinations Team have done in the past year to help students find the best fit HE institutions and support schools with their advice and guidance in this area.
This year, we are very excited to be working with The 93% Club, a university society for students from state schools, who will send volunteers to five of our sixth forms. They will advise students and speak to them one-to-one about the transition from school to university. Informing outgoing Year 13s about university societies like the 93% Club can help them acclimatise to university once they arrive at their chosen institution. This linked sixth-form – university transition support is crucial for the cohort we serve.
Results day is an opportunity to see what our students have achieved and to celebrate their success. This year, through our partnerships with Marshall Wace, The Reuben Foundation, The Spencer Steadman Trust, and Urbanest, 55 Year 13 students will receive bursaries worth nearly £720,000 to help cover the cost of university and accommodation. Results day is an excellent opportunity to see student achievement gaining university places; it is also wonderful to see their success winning bursaries to support their studies.