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Raising aspirations for your future

Step into Success is the Solent University widening participation programme, which gives learners in years 5 to 13 the chance to access a variety of activities, events and resources designed to instil a passion for learning and raise their aspirations for the future.

The programme aligns with our Access and Participation Plan, working with schools, colleges, virtual schools, and local community organisations. The programme is inclusive, however we prioritise learners who:

  • Are from areas of either low income household, low socio-economic status, and/or high deprivation.
  • Are from a neighbourhood of low participation in HE.
  • Are from Black, Asian and Minority ethnic groups (BAME).
  • Are in care or care leavers.
  • Are from underrepresented groups or facing other barriers including: 
    • mature learners,
    • learners with disabilities,
    • learners from military service families,
    • learners that are estranged from their families,
    • learners who are refugees,
    • learners that are young carers,
    • learners from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

The programme's aim is to enable learners to integrate themes around careers, progression, and higher education, with strong links to the national curriculum and the Gatsby Benchmarks. We have on- and off-campus delivery options, in addition to virtual events and virtual delivery options including our ‘Play Pause Participate’ approach.

We work prominently with targeted partner schools/colleges and organisations, however, where possible, we will support disadvantaged learners from other settings (including access to many of our events).

Please take a look below at the activities we have available and email us should you have any queries or wish to be involved. Further large events for all are listed on our events page. You can also keep up-to-date by signing up to our widening participation newsletter.

Working with Solent has given an insight to so many of our students across the city, enabling them to see the potential that a higher qualification brings, opening the doors to opportunities local, national and international.

Beth Bray, Participation, Transition and Progression Manager, Southampton City Council

Activities for your learners

We offer a number of engaging activities for young learners. Find out what's currently available.

Year 5

Career Detectives

A 1-hour workshop exploring different career journeys, including an interactive game and discussions to spark inspiration.
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Wow Assembly

Delivered by a current Solent academic, our 20-minute Wow assemblies aim to excite and enthuse your learners while giving them a taste of student life by a positive role model. It will chart one student's educational journey from transitioning to secondary school, to degree-level study, and beyond.
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Year 6

My Solent Story

Delivered by a current Solent student, this 20-minute assembly aims to excite and enthuse learners and give them a taste of student life by a positive role model. It will chart one student's educational journey from transitioning to secondary school, to degree-level study, and beyond.
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Discover University Day (Introduction to University, Create Your Own University, Ask the VC)

A day at our East Park Terrace Campus where learners will take part in creative and interactive activities which introduces them to the concept of university and raises aspirations. 
Available to: Partner schools (non-partner schools may attend, subject to availability)
Time of year: Autumn
Format: Physical

Wow Assembly

Delivered by a current Solent academic, our 20-minute Wow assemblies aim to excite and enthuse your learners while giving them a taste of student life by a positive role model. It will chart one student's educational journey from transitioning to secondary school, to degree-level study, and beyond.
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Year 7

Introduction to University (assembly)

A 20-minute assembly which introduces the concept of university and raises aspirations.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 7
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Careers Day / Evening / Fair Attendance

Our stand is available to attend your careers event to support learners in making informed choices about their career pathways.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: All Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire secondary schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Year 8

My Solent Story (assembly)

Delivered by a current Solent student, this 20-minute assembly aims to excite and enthuse learners and give them a taste of student life by a positive role model. It will chart one student's career pathway from choosing GCSE options, to degree-level study, and beyond.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 4, 7
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Making the Right Choice (assembly)

A 20-minute assembly which introduces the concept of Level 1 and 2 qualifications (bespoke to school programme) to support learners making informed choices during the options process.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 7
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Campus visit: Step into Solent/Future Choice (My Solent Story/Employable You/Extended Campus Tour)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners will visit a variety of academic faculties exploring the options available at university.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Partner schools (non-partner schools may attend, subject to availability)
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical

Careers Day / Evening / Fair Attendance

Our stand is available to attend your careers event to support learners in making informed choices about their career pathways.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: All Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire secondary schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Year 9

Presenting Your Future

A two-hour workshop that enables learners to become familiar with routes to careers. This session encourages learners to investigate links to current study, explore levels, qualifications and labour market trends.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Southampton partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Making the Right Choice (assembly)

A 20-minute assembly which introduces the concept of Level 1 and 2 qualifications (bespoke to school programme) to support learners making informed choices during the options process.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 7
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Let's Talk About Mental Health

A series of mental health workshops to support young, their parents and carers and the education practitioners that engage with them on a day to day basis. Sessions include information, tools and strategies to help identify potential health issues, guidance on where to get advice as well as support and approaches to looking after your own mental health and wellbeing.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 9 and above), parents/carers and professionals
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

Campus visit: Step into Solent/Future Choice (My Solent Story/Employable You/Extended Campus Tour)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners will visit a variety of academic faculties exploring the options available at university.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Partner schools (non-partner schools may attend, subject to availability)
Time of year: Summer
Format: Physical

Careers Day / Evening / Fair Attendance

Our stand is available to attend your careers event to support learners in making informed choices about their career pathways.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: All Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire secondary schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Year 10

Why GCSEs Matter

A 20-minute assembly which highlights the importance of obtaining good GCSE results and progression pathways beyond GCSE exams.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Exam Preparation and Revision Skills

A one-hour workshop that supports learners in managing revision, applying exam techniques and using research skills.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Southampton partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Be The Boss

A two-hour workshop where learners familiarise themselves with employability skills, the importance of a CV, and take part in personal skills action planning.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

From GCSE to Business Industries (workshop)

Delivered by our academics, this workshop supports GCSE business learners in understanding key skills required for success within real-world industries.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Southampton partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Let's Talk About Mental Health

A series of mental health workshops to support young, their parents and carers and the education practitioners that engage with them on a day to day basis. Sessions include information, tools and strategies to help identify potential health issues, guidance on where to get advice as well as support and approaches to looking after your own mental health and wellbeing.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 9 and above), parents/carers and professionals
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

Student Perspective Series

A series of online events featuring a Solent student's personal journey (of a BAME student, a care-leaver, and a refugee) into higher education, with an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with our specialist panel.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 10 and above)
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

Campus Visit: From GCSE to Creative Industries (Subject Taster/Personal Branding/Cha-Ching/Campus Tour)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners will take part in an interactive academic taster focusing on careers and higher education pathways, while considering how to build a personal brand and learning about student finance.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Partner schools (non-partner schools may attend, subject to availability)
Time of year: Summer
Format: Physical

Campus Visit: From GCSE to STEM Industries 

(Subject Taster/Personal Branding/Cha-Ching/Campus Tour)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners will take part in an interactive academic taster focusing on careers and higher education pathways, while considering how to build a personal brand and learning about student finance.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Partner schools (non-partner schools may attend, subject to availability)
Time of year: Summer
Format: Physical

More Maths Programme

More Maths is a bookable small group maths tuition programme taking place after school which aims to compliment the school maths curriculum with topics including Algebra, Ratio and Proportion, Geometry and Probability. 
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Southampton secondary schools
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical

What Next Post-16 Options

A 60-minute workshop which discuss the range of post-16 education available including Apprenticeships, BTECs, T Levels and A Level supporting learners making informed choices about life after secondary school.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 7
Available to: Southampton partner schools/colleges
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical or online

Head Start Information, Advice and Guidance

Working with a small cohort of learners, our CEIAG qualified staff (Level 6) will provide one-to-one careers guidance to your learners.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Careers Day / Evening / Fair Attendance

Our stand is available to attend your careers event to support learners in making informed choices about their career pathways.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: All Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire secondary schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Parents / Carers Talk

A bespoke 45-minute talk providing parents / carers with information to support learners' career pathways and progression to higher education.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Partner schools and Southampton schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Year 11

Why GCSEs Matter

A 20-minute assembly which highlights the importance of obtaining good GCSE results and progression pathways beyond GCSE exams.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Exam Preparation and Revision Skills

A one-hour workshop that supports learners in managing revision, applying exam techniques and using research skills.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Southampton partner schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Campus Visit: From GCSE to Creative Industries (Subject Taster/Personal Branding/Cha-Ching/Campus Tour)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners will take part in an interactive academic taster focusing on careers and higher education pathways, while considering how to build a personal brand and learning about student finance.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Partner schools (non-partner schools may attend, subject to availability)
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Campus Visit: From GCSE to STEM Industries 

(Subject Taster/Personal Branding/Cha-Ching/Campus Tour)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners will take part in an interactive academic taster focusing on careers and higher education pathways, while considering how to build a personal brand and learning about student finance.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Partner schools (non-partner schools may attend, subject to availability)
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Let's Talk About Mental Health

A series of mental health workshops to support young, their parents and carers and the education practitioners that engage with them on a day to day basis. Sessions include information, tools and strategies to help identify potential health issues, guidance on where to get advice as well as support and approaches to looking after your own mental health and wellbeing.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 9 and above), parents/carers and professionals
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

More Maths Programme

More Maths is a bookable small group maths tuition programme taking place after school which aims to compliment the school maths curriculum with topics including Algebra, Ratio and Proportion, Geometry and Probability. 
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: Southampton secondary schools
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical

Student Perspective Series

A series of online events featuring a Solent student's personal journey (of a BAME student, a care-leaver, and a refugee) into higher education, with an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with our specialist panel.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 10 and above)
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

What Next Post-16 Options

A 60-minute workshop which discuss the range of post-16 education available including Apprenticeships, BTECs, T Levels and A Level supporting learners making informed choices about life after secondary school.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 7
Available to: Southampton partner schools/colleges
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical or online

Careers Day / Evening / Fair Attendance

Our stand is available to attend your careers event to support learners in making informed choices about their career pathways.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: All Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire secondary schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical

Parents / Carers Talk

A bespoke 45-minute talk providing parents / carers with information to support learners' career pathways and progression to higher education.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Available to: Partner schools and Southampton schools
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Year 12

Workshop: Finding your Future (Benefits of HE/Application Process Detailed)

A bespoke 45-minute interactive workshop providing an overview of the benefits of higher education, what university is like and how to take the first steps towards application.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Campus Visit: Solent Sport Experience (Finding Your Future/Specialist Facilities Tour/Sports Course Overview/Varsity Fixture)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners take part in a sports academic taster session and experience the competitive spirit of a Varsity fixture and activities of the Students' Union.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4,7
Time of year: Summer
Format: Physical

Let's Talk About Mental Health

A series of mental health workshops to support young, their parents and carers and the education practitioners that engage with them on a day to day basis. Sessions include information, tools and strategies to help identify potential health issues, guidance on where to get advice as well as support and approaches to looking after your own mental health and wellbeing.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 9 and above), parents/carers and professionals
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

Student Perspective Series

A series of online events featuring a Solent student's personal journey (of a BAME student, a care-leaver, and a refugee) into higher education, with an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with our specialist panel.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 10 and above)
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

Parents / Carers Talk

A bespoke 45-minute talk providing parents / carers with information to support learners' career pathways and progression to higher education.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Year 13

Interview, Audition and Portfolio Workshop

A series of online workshops for a variety of subject areas focusing on courses that require additional application selection (interviews, auditions, and portfolios).
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Time of year: Autumn and Spring
Format: Online

Campus Visit: Transition Morning (Pre-Application) (Finding Your Future/Support at Solent)

A digital event where learners will learn about the UCAS application process and how to make the next step to higher education. Our student ambassadors will join us supporting the day and talking about their experience from a role models’ perspective.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 7
Time of year: Autumn
Format: Online

Campus Visit: Solent Sport Experience (Finding Your Future/Specialist Facilities Tour/Sports Course Overview/Varsity Fixture)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where learners take part in a sports academic taster session and experience the competitive spirit of a Varsity fixture and activities of the Students' Union.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4,7
Time of year: Summer
Format: Physical

Campus Visit: Transition Day (Post-Application) (VC Welcome/Enrolment Process/Transition to University/Campus Tour/Student Q&A)

A day at our East Park Terrace campus where Solent applicants will develop resilience skills and knowledge of the University's services (including the Student Hub) ahead of enrolment. Our student ambassadors/ Students' Union will support activities and talk about their experience from a role model's perspective.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 7
Time of year: Summer
Format: Physical or online (activity will be available as individual workshops if campus visits cannot take place)

What Next Post-16 Options

A 60-minute workshop which discuss the range of post-16 education available including Apprenticeships, BTECs, T Levels and A Level supporting learners making informed choices about life after secondary school.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 7
Available to: Southampton partner schools/colleges
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical or online

Let's Talk About Mental Health

A series of mental health workshops to support young, their parents and carers and the education practitioners that engage with them on a day to day basis. Sessions include information, tools and strategies to help identify potential health issues, guidance on where to get advice as well as support and approaches to looking after your own mental health and wellbeing.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 9 and above), parents/carers and professionals
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

Student Perspective Series

A series of online events featuring a Solent student's personal journey (of a BAME student, a care-leaver, and a refugee) into higher education, with an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with our specialist panel.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 10 and above)
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

Parents / Carers Talk

A bespoke 45-minute talk providing parents / carers with information to support learners' career pathways and progression to higher education.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Other

Campus Visit: Looked After Children/Vulnerable Children (Support at Solent/Extended Campus Tour/Finding Your Future)

Learners will visit our East Park Terrace Campus, and working in small groups they will learn about the UCAS application process, student life and the support services available. Personal advisers/social workers/designated teachers welcome to attend.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7
Year groups: 11, 12 or 13
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical

Campus Visit: Looked After Children (Introduction to University/Finding Your Future/Support at Solent/Cha-Ching/Extended Campus Tour)

In partnership with virtual schools, learners and parents/carers will visit our East Park Terrace campus, and working in small groups they will take part in creative and interactive activities which introduce them to the concept of university and raises aspirations (all working in small, age group bespoke groups). Personal advisers/social workers/designated teachers welcome to attend.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7
Year groups: 6, 9 or 10
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical

Campus Visit: Community Groups (Academic Taster/My Solent Story/Extended Campus Tour)

A day at our East Park Terrace Campus, where learners will visit a variety of academic schools exploring the options available at university.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7
Year groups: 14 years and over
Time of year: Spring
Format: Physical

Let's Talk About Mental Health

A series of mental health workshops to support young, their parents and carers and the education practitioners that engage with them on a day to day basis. Sessions include information, tools and strategies to help identify potential health issues, guidance on where to get advice as well as support and approaches to looking after your own mental health and wellbeing.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 9 and above), parents/carers and professionals
Time of year: Spring
Format: Online

CPD: Teachers/Careers Advisers/Foster Carers/Local Authorities/Governors/Virtual Schools and Colleges/Community Groups

Bespoke CPD for professionals who support disadvantaged learners entering higher education. A variety of content can be covered including how our student services team can support learner, this can be hosted at your venue or at the university.
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Community Higher Education Talk

A bespoke 45-minute talk in a community setting providing parents/carers/adult learners with information to support progression to higher education.
Time of year: All year
Format: Physical or online

Community Pop-Up University

The University visits a community setting and provides a fun, interactive day featuring practical demonstrations, careers advice and information about higher education.
Time of year: Summer
Format: Physical

XLR8 to Success

XLR8 to Success is a holistic online programme for learners aged 13-16 focusing on mental health and wellbeing. With content designed by Solent University academics from our Faculty of Sport, Health and Social Sciences, the programme supports learners in developing skills to tackle challenges and when facing adversity. The programme’s overall aim is to enable them to consider their own mental health and wellbeing in relation to their studies and help them utilise the tools and strategies learned to accelerate to academic success. XLR8 offers support in three key areas:

  • Health: Improving diet and nutrition and physical activity
  • Wellbeing: Introducing mindfulness
  • Challenging times: Dealing with adversity and employing resilience skills

How it works

This is an independent study programme where learners can access the online content, complete the activities provided, and receive certification from the Solent Widening Participation team. Learners can register here.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 3, 4, 7, 8
Available to: All learners (year 9 and above)
Time of year: All year
Format: Online

Uni4Me

Uni4Me is a partnership of higher education organisations led by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON). Solent University uses the Uni4Me platform to make our online resources and details of our events accessible. From careers videos, presentations, articles, and podcasts, Uni4Me is a one-stop-shop for all things HE, making information about Solent University and university easily accessible.

Take a look at the Solent University’s Uni4Me partner profile here.
Gatsby benchmark: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Available to: All learners
Time of year: All
Format: Online

Our Play, Pause, Participate approach

The Play, Pause, Participate approach is Solent's way to ensure we continue to offer our partners schools the fun and engaging workshops you're used to. Video content streamed online means that widening participation activity can still take place in the classroom in a safe and interactive way.

How it works

Choose your preferred workshop for your learners from the Step into Success activity menu and agree a time with your Step into Success contact for the activity to take place. Let us know if you would like the workshop to be delivered totally pre-recorded or as a combination of pre-recorded and live content. Our team are happy to be available virtually for Q&As during the workshop if you have collaborative working software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom available.

Once we know your preferred method of delivery we will send you a video file which can be easily played in the classroom. No fancy tech is needed apart from a PC or laptop, access to the internet,and the ability to project onto a screen.

Our videos include pause points for learners to participate in activities supported by worksheets that can be pre-posted or downloaded.

If you have opted to have our team ‘present’ virtually alongside the video content, we will provide a live one way link allowing us to introduce the workshop and join the end of the lesson for a plenary and question and answer.

In both instances the teacher within the classroom will be able to control the pace of the lesson by determining the length of the time the video is paused and learners have to complete activities.

More information on how we adhere to safeguarding rules, technical requirements and maximum class sizes for delivery can be found here.

Solent has been proactive in designing a program specifically for our young people. They recognise the significant barriers that care experienced young people may have and offer innovative strategies to engage and support, not only the young people, but their carers too.

Maria Anderson, Headteacher, Southampton Virtual School