The Virtual Gateways programme leads by example

Fri, 21 May 2021 16:43:00 BST

The Gateways programme supports approximately 1,700 widening participation pupils across 48 Greater Manchester schools, by providing essential information, advice and guidance (IAG) about higher education. After on-campus activity was cancelled in 2019, and over half of the cohort missed their annual Gateways session, the Gateways team were keen to deliver an online programme in 2020/21.

The typical Gateways timetable is 4.5 hours and jam-packed with activities and presentations to provide key IAG, inspiring academic enrichment, and an insight into student life. However, the sessions were reduced to 2 hours, and non-essential IAG removed from the timetable. All existing content was reviewed and adapted to fit an online learning environment, and a new collection of videos, activities, worksheets and presentations were created.

The student voice was included through the use of pre-recorded videos created by student ambassadors, and a live Q&A session was delivered fortnightly to all participating schools. Teachers were also encouraged to make up for the lack of academic enrichment material by using the University's wide array of academic resources.

The Gateways team also launched a new Gateways website, which was designed to consolidate learning from the live events. This proved to be extremely valuable during the additional school closures in 2021, where worksheets and extension activities were created and uploaded to the website; allowing learners access to new HE information even when the Gateways programme was cancelled.

Since September 2020, approximately 550 learners have attended a virtual event; over 57 sessions, and an additional 19 sessions are due to take place over the next two months. The Gateways team have been inundated with positive feedback from teachers: "Thank you so much for the session, the students really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. These are definitely the best virtual sessions we have run and the only ones I look forward to!"

The Gateways team are now beginning to plan the delivery schedule for 2021/22, and are hoping to return to face-to-face delivery as soon as possible, with the option for schools to still book virtual sessions were necessary.

  • For more information about the Gateways programme or anything discussed in this article, please contact gateways@manchester.ac.uk.
  • View the videos that have been created on the Gateways YouTube channel.