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Widening participation

General information | Widening participation | Gender | Race and ethnicity | Accessibility | Education | Data and statistics | Athena SWAN | LGBTQ+

Browse resources about equality, diversity and inclusion, focusing particularly on widening participation and social mobility.

Relevant organisations and websites

GeoFORCE – K-12 outreach program of the Jackson School of Geosciences, designed to provide lasting experiences for middle and high school students that will capture their interest, motivate them to achieve excellence in math and science courses, and build their awareness of opportunities in high-tech careers, especially the geosciences.

The Diversifying Leadership Sponsor Programme ‘Sponsor Toolkit’ – Advance HE's Sponsor Toolkit is an additional resource for sponsors, consisting of web-based materials and interactive support. It has been made available to ensure sponsors have a better understanding of the specific issues facing BME early career leaders and are confident to carry out their role in championing them.

Social Mobility Foundation – A charity that aims to make a practical improvement in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds.

The Brilliant Club – A charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from underrepresented backgrounds progressing to highly selective universities. This is done by mobilising the PhD community to share their academic expertise with state schools.

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO–London) – Mentoring programme to help under-served students gain admission to competitive colleges and universities.

in2scienceUK – A charity that empowers students from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their potential and progress to STEM and research careers through high-quality work placements and careers guidance.

Brightside – A social mobility charity, creating inspirational mentoring relationships that help young people make confident and informed decisions about their future.

IntoUniversity – Offers an innovative programme that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to either gain a university place or achieve another chosen aspiration.

Social Market Foundation – A non-partisan think tank that conducts research and runs events addressing a wide range of economic and social policy areas, focusing on economic prosperity, public services and consumer markets.

Education Development Trust – Aims to improve school systems by empowering employability and career services to young people. The Trust has been delivering the National Careers Service on behalf of the UK Government since 2004.

Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE – Examines different dimensions of social disadvantage and analyses the impact of public policy.

Bridge Group – A charitable policy association researching and promoting socioeconomic diversity and equality in the UK.

The Sutton Trust – A foundation with the aim of improving social mobility in the UK through evidence-based programmes, research and policy advocacy.

The Access Project – An innovative education charity that helps bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds gain places at top universities.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation – A British social policy research and development charity that funds a UK-wide research and development programme. It seeks to understand the root causes of social problems, to identify ways of overcoming them, and to show how social needs can be met in practice.

National Institute of Economic and Social Research – Researches the economic and social forces that affect people’s lives to improve the understanding of those forces and the ways in which policy can bring about positive change.

STEM Learning – The largest provider of education and careers support in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), housing the UK's largest collection of physical and online resources to support the teaching of STEM subjects.

Education and Employers Taskforce – Providing young people with the inspiration and motivation they need to achieve their potential by ensuring every school and college has an effective partnership with employers. The charity works to achieve this by working in close partnership with leading national bodies representing schools, colleges and employers, as well as the Government and the third sector.

NatCen Social Research – Britain’s largest centre for independent social research, working with the Government, think tanks, charities, businesses, universities and other research organisations.

SHINE Trust – A charity focusing on children across the Northern Powerhouse region, helping them to achieve the best possible qualifications in order for them to leave school with real choices for their futures. SHINE achieves this by identifying, funding and supporting teachers, schools and charity partners with innovative solutions to educational challenges.

The Careers & Enterprise Company – Established in 2015 to help link schools and colleges to employers in order to increase employer engagement with young people.

UPP Foundation – A charity that offers grants to universities, charities and other higher education bodies with the aim of increasing access and retention in higher education and improving students' employability.

Speakers for Schools – Established in 2011, a network of leading figures committed to giving their time to state schools each year with the aim of helping to level the playing field for young people of all backgrounds throughout the UK.

Lucinda Platt - ‘From school to work: getting on equally’ – A body of research looking at how children make the transition from primary to secondary school, and from school to university and work. The research looks at the different experiences, aspirations and achievements of boys and girls, children with disabilities or special educational needs (SEN), and children from different ethnic and social backgrounds.

Social Mobility Commission – The SMC monitors progress towards improving social mobility in the UK and promotes social mobility in England. SMC is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Education.

Daphne Jackson Trust – Daphne Jackson Fellowships offer STEM professionals the opportunity to return to research following a career break of two years or more when taken for family, caring or health reasons.

Generating Genius – A charity committed to motivating and supporting 14- to 18-year-olds in pursuing STEM subjects at school and ultimately considering careers in these fields.

Increasing diversity in Geoscience – a helpful overview, by Anglo American, of ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.


Can Mentorships Get More Girls Into STEM Subjects? – From EdSurge, this story is part of an EdSurge Research series about how personalised learning is implemented in different school communities across the US, with a particular focus on STEM.

Resources for Mentoring Programmes – From the National Mentoring Resource Center, a collection of mentoring handbooks, curricula, manuals, and other resources that practitioners can use to implement and further develop programme practices.

STEM Learning – Working with over 30,000 STEM Ambassadors from more than 2,500 different employers. They volunteer their time, enthusiasm and experiences to encourage and inspire young people to progress further in STEM subjects.

Harvey Nash Diversity Toolkit – A series of podcasts with chairpersons, CEOs and directors sharing their tips and success secrets on creating a diverse workforce. You will hear about culture, tenacity, learning from mistakes, passion, compassion and even courage. Their Role Model episode is extremely informative.

Promoting professional identity, motivation, and persistence: Benefits of an informal mentoring program for female undergraduate students (PLoS ONE 12(11): e0187531) – This study reports the first-year results of the PROmoting Geoscience Research, Education, and SuccesS (PROGRESS) program, a novel theory-driven informal mentoring program aimed at supporting first- and second-year female STEM majors.

Mentorship: A Significant Role in a Student’s Journey – Article published by ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning highlighting the importance of mentoring to the success of low-income, first-generation students.

Resources and articles

Widening and Increasing Equality of Access and Participation in STEMNational HE STEM Programme at the University of Birmingham – A number of publications produced by the Programme as outputs from the projects and activities undertaken are available for download.

CaSE Report - Improving Diversity in STEM – From the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

Commission on Inequality in Education – This report from the Social Market Foundation acknowledges that reducing inequality in education is a challenging task where progress has been all too slow. It reviews the evidence on inequality over time and observes how little it has changed and, in some cases, how the situation has actually worsened.

Where next for widening participation and fair access? – The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the social mobility charity Brightside are jointly publishing a collection of essays by senior higher education figures.

Boys to Men: The underachievement of young men in higher education – and how to start tackling it – This Higher Education Policy Institute paper looks at the data and the causes before making seven specific policy recommendations.

Education and Intergenerational Mobility: Help or Hindrance? – From the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion.

Education, Equity and Social Mobility: A Summary of Three Research Papers – From the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion.

Occupational aspirations of children from primary school to teenage years across ethnic groups – A joint report by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies and the Runnymede Trust.

State of the Nation 2017: Social Mobility in Great Britain – The fifth annual 'State of the Nation' report from the Social Mobility Commission.

Socio-Economic Status – An informative and in-depth overview of socioeconomic status produced by the American Psychological Association Taskforce on SES.

Time For Change: An Assessment of Government Policies on Social Mobility 1997-2017 – A Social Mobility Commission assessment of Government policies over the last 20 years to increase social mobility in Britain.

Using the Lens of Social Capital to Understand Diversity in the Earth System Sciences WorkforceJournal of Geoscience Education v.63, 98 – 104 (2015).

Cracking the code: how schools can improve social mobility – Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission research into how schools can help improve poorer pupils' exam results and career opportunities.

Social and ethnic inequalities in post-16 choices – Social Mobility Commission research providing an up-to-date understanding of post-16 educational choices and transitions, highlighting the implications of differences in choice sets for students from different areas and backgrounds.

Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility – A Social Mobility Commission report exploring the complexities of adding ethnicity and gender to an analysis of socioeconomic status (SES) gaps.

Access to Advantage – This report from the Sutton Trust uses UCAS data to analyse university acceptance rates for the 2015-2017 cohorts by school type and region, and discusses what schools and universities can do to help close the gap in higher education participation rates in England.

Science Shortfall Research Brief – Research brief from the Sutton Trust assessing the provision of specialist science teaching in secondary schools, in the context of widening access to careers in STEM.

Potential For Success – The Sutton Trust's 'Potential for Success' analyses how high-attaining students fare in secondary schools in England.

Evaluating Access – Report from the Sutton Trust, reviewing national and international research on widening participation and access programmes to find out which methods are most likely to help disadvantaged pupils get into higher education.

An Evaluation of the Impact of the Social Mobility Foundation Programmes on Education Outcomes – This evaluation from the Institute of Fiscal Studies focuses on early education outcomes for SMF participants.

ASPIRES 2 – A longitudinal research project studying young people's science and career aspirations. Based at UCL, the project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Gaining access - Increasing the participation of disadvantaged students at elite universities – This Reform paper examines the progress of high-tariff institutions in their attempts to improve access for disadvantaged full-time students.

Broaden Participation in the Geosciences – From the Science Education Resource Centre, Carleton College. A synthesis of advice based on broadening participation work done by faculty members and administrators involved in many programmes sponsored by NAGT, as well as partners in the discipline.

Closing the Gap? Trends in Educational Attainment and Disadvantage – The Education Policy Institute has examined the progress made in closing the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The analysis considers how that gap varies across the country and how it has changed since 2007.

Safety and Belonging in the Field: A Checklist for Educators – a recently released paper highlighting ways in which providers of taught fieldwork is a positive, generative, collective and valuable experience for all participants.