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Villiers Park Educational Trust’s Scholars Programme was found to have a positive benefit to both the academic attainment and soft skills development of pupils

Villiers Park Education Trust (Villiers Park) is a national charity that works to support social mobility in the UK.  They approached Pro Bono Economics to assess how students benefit from participation in its Scholars Programme, the aim of which is to help talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their full potential. The impact of the programme was assessed on the following criteria:

  • Development of the ‘soft skills’, such as self-management, team working and independent thinking;
  • Academic attainment at key stage 4 and 5; and
  • Success in gaining a place at a leading university

This impact assessment used data gathered by Villiers Park on the academic attainment of students who participated in its Scholars Programme during the academic years 2016 and 2017. It also utilised survey data for a sample of Scholars in 2017/18 to assess its impact on students’ soft skills development.

The report found that the Villiers Park Scholars Programme has a positive impact on students in all three criteria for assessment, while the survey data showed a positive impact on soft skill development too. Over 80% of students felt they had seen some or significant improvement across a range of soft skills including self-confidence, communication skills, teamwork and resilience.

Additionally, pupils who participate in the programme have increased academic attainment when compared to what their expected achievement would have otherwise been. Villiers Park pupils achieve around three quarters of a grade higher for each GCSE subject when compared to other students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and approximately 80% of Scholars go on to attend university, with two-thirds of these studying at universities in the top third of institutions. This is well above the national average for pupils from low income backgrounds studying at Key Stage 5.

Many thanks to Kate Stratford, Veselin Karadotchev, Gosia Goralczyk, Iva Detelinova and Maureen O’Reilly for their dedicated work on this project.

17th June 2019