Brilliant Club

35 schools signed up to new university transition programme ‘Join the Dots’ on A-level Results Day

18 Aug 2022

Students from 35 schools have been signed up to a new school to university transition programme, Join the Dots.

On A-level Results Day, students taking part in Join the Dots have been matched with a PhD coach from one of six partner universities taking part in the pilot. The PhD coach will support them, as part of a group of eight students, through the six-month Join the Dots transition programme.

Join the Dots, developed in collaboration with the Reach Foundation and the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, brings together schools, colleges and universities to support students who are most likely to face barriers during the transition to higher education.

The programme connects schools, universities and students to share knowledge and set goals for a successful transition. It builds communities of students to identify, discuss and address shared challenges and foster a sense of belonging at university. Through 1-1 and peer group coaching, it helps students to develop key university study strategies and act as a link for students to access university support as needed.

The pilot is launching this summer with over 220 students signed up from 35 schools and six partner universities: Kingston University, King’s College London, the University of Sussex, the University of Manchester, Royal Holloway University of London, and the University of Southampton.

Students from the least advantaged backgrounds have a 3 in 100 chance of going to the most competitive universities compared with 1 in 3 for the most advantaged. But getting in is not the only challenge, because disadvantage does not disappear when students walk through the doors of a university. Data shows that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more at risk of dropping out of their course[iii] and are three times more likely to miss out on a 1st or a 2:1 degree at university compared to their more advantaged peers[ii].

The Brilliant Club will publish an evaluation of the Join the Dots pilot in early 2023. The evaluation will focus on both intermediate outcomes which are essential for success in higher education and longer-term outcomes which are indicative of a successful university experience. The intermediate outcomes which will be measured after the end of the programme include: a sense of belonging, academic self-efficacy and study strategy use. It will also measure longer-term outcomes of participants which are linked to the Office for Students’ measure of a successful student outcome, such as second year completion, degree completion and degree outcomes. 

Anne-Marie Canning MBE, CEO of The Brilliant Club, commented:

“We know that the transition from school to university can be a challenging time for students who might be living and studying independently for the first time. Over the last year, we have worked with schools, students, universities and other individuals to develop Join the Dots, a programme designed to support students to develop the skills they need to succeed in higher education and enjoy their university experience too.

“On Results Day today, students on our pilot programme have received their grades and found out where they will be studying from September. They’ve overcome the first challenge – accessing university – and now Join the Dots will give them the tools to succeed too.”

Ed Vainker, CEO of the Reach Foundation, commented:

“Join the Dots is a much needed initiative to strengthen the partnership between schools and universities to make sure that every young person makes a strong transitiion. The programme has been developed by school leaders, university staff and young people and is a great example of collaboration across sectors to support young people.”

Jan Balon, Headteacher at the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, said:

“A strong relationship between schools and universities is critical in ensuring that the most vulnerable students are able to succeed in higher education and we are delighted that Join the Dots will provide the structured collaboration needed to support this challenging transition.”

You can find out more about Join the Dots, or sign up your students for Year 2, here.

Join the Dots has been developed by The Brilliant Club in partnership with the Reach Foundation and the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham. With thanks to the following schools, universities and organisations, who have also supported and contributed to the development of the programme: