YourEd is our secondary schools partnership scheme designed for schools and pupils who may feel unsure if the University of Edinburgh is for them. We take the University to them: sharing our resources and expertise to bring them into our University community at an earlier stage.
Establishing a schools partnership scheme is key in tackling educational inequality. Particularly with those schools and pupils who feel that Edinburgh ‘is not for them’. By taking the University directly to schools we want to underscore that everyone is welcome and valued here. We believe that access of opportunity should be equitable to all, as such, we collaborate with schools who may not already have as much access to initiatives and support offered by other Higher Education institutions. Establishing a close partnership with these selected school partners means we can respond directly to their needs, and offer collaborative ventures with mutual benefits. In this way, perceptions of Edinburgh will change, not only for students but their families and school staff, and with it our applicant pool and ultimately student body.
We strive to raise YourEd pupil aspirations, attainment and access to opportunity through a whole school journey approach. Therefore, we work with year groups from S1-S3 providing sustained support to encourage positive perceptions of higher education, our university and the pupil’s own potential within that. And then, in the senior phase (S4-S6), we work solely and directly with WP pupils in a more focused way to ensure they have the access and support to the opportunities not only that a University of Edinburgh education can offer but equitable with their more advantaged peers. YourEd offers a wide range of in-school, on-campus, and online inputs throughout the S1 to S6 academic year. These inputs cover: what university is like (and specifically the University of Edinburgh); what being a student at Edinburgh actually looks and feels like (both academic and extracurricular); and why they might want to consider studying here. We also provide more generic information, advice and guidance to support those students through the UCAS process wherever they decide to go. We understand the transformative impact that relatable role models can have on a young person’s perceptions of self and university. And so, we work with a diverse range of alumni from our partner schools who currently study at Edinburgh and feed into a variety of our activities with the pupils, hopefully providing inspiration and confirmation that the University of Edinburgh is indeed “for them”. As of 2020, YourEd is also piloting a mentoring scheme with these former pupils, and YourEd+, which is a sub-project that focuses on raising attainment of selected S5-S6 pupils from five of YourEd partner schools. It aims to do so through offering study skills sessions in advance of pupils’ Higher exams, academic sessions on a choice of university-level subjects, and an optional assignment for those aiming to apply to study at Edinburgh.
We currently work with 10 partner schools across 8 local authorities in the South East of Scotland: Deans Community High School, Alva Academy, Ross High School, Portobello High School, St Augustine’s High School, Balwearie High School, Kirkcaldy High School, St David’s RC High School, Selkirk High School, Wallace High School. In S1-S3, we work with whole year groups of pupils, while from S4 to S6 we only work with pupils that meet our widening participation criteria.