The Sutton Trust: Kusuma Sutton Scholars

Encouraging young people to aim high

Sometimes young people don’t have the information and support they need to make informed choices about their future.

The Kusuma Sutton Scholars programme worked with 11 to 14 year olds in state schools to raise their confidence and aspirations about further education and encourages them to consider university.

Run by the Sutton Trust, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, the two-year programme included school visits, university campus visits, project days, and academic guidance. Pupils considered how their GCSE choices can influence their future careers, and encounter current university students.

Between 2015 and 2019, we gave a grant totaling £182,000, which funded 601 students to go through the programme. Around 20 schools from coalfield communities in Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire joined the programme.

School visits:Pupils were given the opportunity to think about possible future careers and consider the routes they might take to achieve their ambitions. They got a run-down of the terminology they might hear on their university campus tour – terms like societies, graduation, academics and independent living.

University campus visits:These visits to Cambridge and Nottingham universities were a chance for pupils to find out what university is all about. As well as getting to explore a campus, they could try out academic subjects and ask the questions that would help them make informed decisions about their future.

Project days: With a focus on developing transferable skills, such as confidence, communication and team work, students completed a mini project involving interactive activities and games. Students were supported to understand their strengths and areas of improvement.

  • Around 22% of young people living in disadvantaged areas apply to university – 30% less than those living in the most advantaged areas.
  • The Kusuma Sutton Scholars programme supported and encouraged 601 young people to aim high and consider applying to top universities.
  • 97% of students who graduated from the programme said they would apply to university.
TheSutton Trust aims to break the link between educational opportunities, family background, school or neighbourhood, and realise a system in which young people are given the chance to prosper.

“The Trust has long worked with bright students in the later years of secondary school and in the sixth form,” says Sir Peter Lampl, Chair of the Sutton Trust.“But if we want more students from low and middle income homes to be in the running for university places when they are 18, we need to support them much earlier on, so that they continue to do well at school, have high aspirations for their futures, and make the right educational choices.”

“The programme is fun and interactive. I’ve gained access to a wider range of opportunities that I’m grateful to have as they will help me in higher education. The programme has made me want to go to university as it is a better future. University will enable me (to access) more jobs and opportunities for the future and I hope to make the most of it. I want to become a surgeon. I really enjoy Sutton Scholars and I am proud to be part of this amazing programme.”  
Sutton Scholars student

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