One of KMPF’s flagship outreach programmes, “Future You”, designed for Further Education (FE) Colleges in Kent and Medway, has been shortlisted for the prestigious NEON Widening Access Initiative Award. This recognition celebrates the project’s significant contribution to widening access to higher education (HE) and its positive impact on students’ lives. In addition to “Future You,” Martha Collins, Widening Participation Officer from MidKent College, has also been shortlisted for a NEON Award. Nominated by Ruth Westbury, FE Manager at the University of Kent, Martha is recognised for her significant contributions to widening access to HE in the NEON Contribution to Widening Access Award category.

Launched in 2017, “Future You” was developed by the Kent & Medway Progression Federation (KMPF) in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Kent, the University for Creative Arts, EKC Group, and MidKent College. The programme addresses barriers that prevent FE students from considering HE by equipping them with self-awareness, knowledge, and confidence to make proactive future choices.

Joni Chase, FE Manager at KMPF, expressed her pride in the programme’s achievements, saying, “‘Future You’ has truly transformed the outlook of many FE students, giving them the confidence and tools to consider higher education as a viable path. Being shortlisted for a NEON Award is a testament to the hard work and collaboration of all our partners and their commitment to supporting their students.”

“Future You” consists of six interlinked sessions designed to help students reframe their possible selves and consider HE a viable option. The initiative has proven effective, with early evaluations showing significant improvements in students’ self-efficacy, academic motivation, and perceptions of HE. The latest data from the 2022/23 FE Evaluation Report highlights that 85% of students agreed the programme increased their HE awareness, and 50% felt encouraged to apply to HE.

Since its inception, the programme has engaged 3,843 students across FE Colleges, schools, and community settings. The annual training of FE staff has further embedded the programme within the FE sector, ensuring its sustainability and reach.

Joni Chase added, “I’d like to give a particular shout-out to Luke Underdown, KAMCOP Development Officer at EKC Group, who was part of the original content development team. Luke has since developed a Level 2 version of “Future You” tailored for Level 2 students, ensuring its accessibility and relevance to a broader range of learners.”

Qualitative feedback underscores the programme’s impact, with students reporting increased focus and confidence in their plans. For instance, a student from Canterbury College stated, “The whole course has made me think more about everything, and I am a lot more focused on life now.”

The NEON Awards ceremony will be held in the autumn at the Palace of Westminster. Hosted by Shadow Minister for Higher Education Matt Western MP, the event promises to be an inspiring evening, highlighting the sector’s achievements in widening access to HE.

We wish all our colleagues the very best of luck at the Awards!

Lucy King

21 May 2024

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