Welcome to the May issue of Teaching Matters: Widening participation

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Welcome to the May issue of Teaching Matters!

So, if last month’s issue didn’t inspire you to put the kettle on and start chatting to more students and staff, I don’t know what will! There were fantastic blog posts from a range of schools, including School of Chemistry, School of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, and School of Health in Social Science, which show just how easy and effective informal meetings over coffee, tea and cake can be to increase a sense of academic community and belonging.

This month we focus on another aspect of belonging at university: Widening Participation. In brief, Widening Participation (WP) is a targeted response from governments and universities to actively address the demographic inequalities of who ends up attending, and succeeding, in Higher Education. The WP responses are aimed at under-represented groups who are from a lower socio-economic group and low-participation schools and neighbourhoods

Teaching Matters is working closely with the Widening Participation team, in Student Recruitment and Admissions, to bring you posts related to how the University is “reflecting, serving and celebrating the multifaceted community of which it is a part.” The Widening Participation 2018 – 2021 Strategy has recently been launched “to ensure that students from a wide range of diverse backgrounds thrive and feel a sense of belonging.” The strategy is based on four mutually supportive strands of the student lifecycle: Aspiration and Early Engagement, Support to Get In, Support to Succeed, and Support to Progress.

This month’s issue will be introduced with a post from Head of Widening Participation, Laura Cattell, who explores these four strands within a national and local context. Other blog posts will explore how each strand is being implemented in practice in different schools and support/professional services, including one from a current Law student who came through the University’s Access to the Professions programme, and a post from Grace Sansom, who highlights the WP scholarships in the School of Mathematics.

Mini-series: promoting inclusion, equality and diversity in the curriculum

The latest mini-series on Academic Blogging now makes way for the next series: promoting inclusion, equality and diversity in the curriculum. This mini-series will run in May and June, and is co-edited by Brian Connolly, Tom Ward (Academic Services), and Dr Velda McCune (IAD). Tom and Velda are members of a task group established by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, which has produced a set of principles for promoting inclusion, equality and diversity in the curriculum. Blog posts will showcase initiatives that are taking place across the University that have made strides to adhere to these principles in practice. Two podcast episodes will wrap-up the mini-series, which will invite discussions between staff and students about their experiences of embedding inclusivity in the curriculum.

Happy reading!!

Jenny Scoles

Dr Jenny Scoles is the editor of Teaching Matters. She is an Academic Developer (Learning and Teaching Enhancement) in the Institute for Academic Development, and provides pedagogical support for University course and programme design. Her interests include student engagement, professional learning and sociomaterial methodologies.

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