Despite having many affluent areas, East Sussex has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the South East, concentrated in coastal towns with Hastings being the most deprived area in the region and one of 12 Opportunity Areas in the Country.

There are poorer outcomes at ages 16 and 19, especially in the HE (Higher Education) cold spot areas. Intensive work is being funded across our partner FECs (Further Education Colleges) who have a population of over 1100+ NCOP learners, many of whom face a range of barriers into progressing onto higher level learning. The rural and coastal demographic of the region with poor transport infrastructure has been known to create physical barriers in accessing further and higher education providers.

‘Go Further’ is a collaborative venture between Sussex Coast College and Sussex Downs with their main campuses covering Hastings, Eastbourne and Lewes. Both colleges have implemented a suite of activities designed to support, encourage and enable their identified cohorts to progress onto higher level learning.

Go Further is providing a comprehensive package of transition support including pre-application advice, careers guidance and skills development opportunities as well a strong IAG offer to encourage Level 2/3 learners to progress into a positive destination. The transition support will be extended to Summer Schools, for both Year 11s and Year 14s’ to help support them into a college or HE setting.

Liaison coaches are helping us to provide expert coaching and mentoring as well as tailoring support to meet specific needs for example with care leavers or students with a disability. A new peer mentoring scheme is growing with 19 student coaches signed-up to offer an extra layer of support to school and college learners.

Go Further is helping to raise awareness of progression opportunities at Levels 4+ are developing six new Degree Apprenticeships as well L4 pathways in Project Management and Digital Media.

Alongside curriculum development, the colleges are piloting Digital Badges for progression to Higher Education, to compliment East Sussex Council’s digital badge to Employment.   Funding will enable the digital badge to be piloted to a group of learners during the Summer Schools and then be rolled out next academic year.  Working with EDEAL a pilot group of learners from Sussex Coast and Sussex Downs will compete in an enterprise business project to support progression to careers and courses in business and management.

A bursary fund is also available to help with travel to work placements and university interviews, for example.

“NCOP funding has enabled Sussex Coast College Hastings to increase the number of students applying for university by 15% (from 252 to 291). We have provided additional coaching to over 100 NCOP eligible students with 60 of these applying through UCAS. A further 44 students who are resitting their GCSE Maths* are benefitting for additional support from funding via NCOP to enable them to gain a higher grade and prepare for university application next year.

Given that Hastings is one of the coldest spots for HE progression in the country we see these initial results as a really positive step in enabling our students see that higher level skills and Higher Education in general is relevant to them and we look forward to further increased levels of engagement in year two”. Dan Shelley, Vice-Principal Sussex Coast College

For further information please email our Post 16 Liaison Programme Manager, Lucy Jenks