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The School-University Partnerships Initiative (SUPI) 2013-2018

The School-University Partnerships Initiative was a four-year initiative launched in 2013 to create structured and strategic mechanisms for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to work in partnership with secondary schools and further education colleges. This partnership supported researchers’ direct engagement with students and brought contemporary and inspirational research contexts into formal and informal learning to enhance and enrich the curriculum. Research Councils invested around £2.5 million over the lifetime of the initiative.

The aims of the School-University Partnerships Initiative were to:

  • inspire the next generation by facilitating engagement between secondary school students and researchers to bring contemporary research into formal and informal learning contexts to enhance the curriculum and raise ambition
  • reach secondary school students from a diversity of backgrounds and abilities and engage the widest possible range of teachers and schools in ways which have maximum impact on teaching quality and learning
  • provide researchers (particularly those in the early stages of their career) with opportunities and training to engage with secondary school students and develop their transferable skills as outlined in the Researcher Development Framework
  • support secondary schools and HEIs to work together to create structured, strategic, sustainable and equitable mechanisms for school-university engagement which increases the breadth and quality of interactions between researchers and students.

The following HEIs were awarded funding:

The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) worked with the 12 SUPI projects to develop effective practice in this important area, and share learning with the wider sector. In addition, the NCCPE worked with other organisations supporting similar initiatives, to ensure they learnt together and maximised the value of the work being done.

The NCCPE acted as a central point of contact and advice for all SUPI projects, facilitating inter-project communication, and organising termly events to capture and share learning, as well as supporting the former RCUK to evaluate the SUPI programme as a whole. For further information see the NCCPE website.

The SUPI programme is undergoing a long-term evaluation, but has so far already generated some valuable lessons learned and PoP tool  for anyone interested in developing school-university partnerships, NCCPE also plan to develop a ‘train the trainer’ model in the near future to accompany these resources.