Charlton School

Aspire to HE (higher education) is a partnership of schools and colleges, led by the University of Wolverhampton and part of the Uni Connect programme funded by the Office for Students. The main aim of the partnership is to support the government’s goal to increase the number of young people from less advantaged backgrounds entering higher education by 2021.Charlton School work alongside Aspire to HE to design tailored programmes, seminars, and educational visits to Universities, so that more students from various backgrounds understand the benefits of higher education, and potentially use these experiences to pursue a career that might use a relevant degree.

Charlton School’s ethos is ‘Aspire for more’. Our aim is to ensure that every young person that participates in an Aspire to HE activity enhances their understanding, so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not higher education is the best decision for them. Therefore, by aspiring for more within their own lives, the long term rewards of higher education could be huge! By working alongside Aspire to HE, Charlton School hopes that more of our students use these opportunities to not only progress in secondary education, but to then develop into well educated, informed citizens that use their education to achieve what they desire, regardless of financial constraints, ethnicity or background.

Trips, visits, events and funding

Through the use of Aspire to HE’s innovation fund, specific students at KS4 have taken part in an array of activities that have helped them understand not only the benefits of higher education, but actually helped increase motivation within school, so that their career goals are directly connected to gaining a degree at a University or degree within the workplace. Here are some of the previous activities that Charlton School students have participated in, through the use of Aspire’s government innovation fund:


  • Laptop provision for students. As lockdown hit the UK education system from March 2021, planned Aspire to HE visits within this year had to be cancelled. However, funding that was approved for these trips was put to good use. Charlton School used the funding to secure up to thirty brand new laptops for specific year 10 students that they could use at home and until their secondary school education ends. Charlton School recognises that not every family has access to a computer. As COVID-19 has exposed inequalities across all aspects of society that includes educational provision, we want to make sure as many of our students have access to the latest technology, to ensure educational progress regardless of their background.
  • Seki Speaks! Stephen Seki motivational speaker. Stephen Seki proved highly popular in 2020, when discussing his life journey from humble origins when growing up in Africa to arriving in the UK and studying for a degree to become a pharmacist and now motivational speaker to young people. During the (second) year of the lockdown, Stephen Seki told his insightful story to a whole year 10 cohort on Microsoft Teams; that is over 200 students! Students and parents were in agreement on the ‘brilliant’, ‘engaging’, ‘funny’ and ‘relevant’ speaker that has undoubtedly helped students understand the importance of higher education, along with determination and resilience- qualities that have become essential due to such a turbulent year of lockdown learning. Well done year 10!
  • Cultural Awareness Day visits to the University of Liverpool and Aston University, Birmingham. Some of the innovation fund has previously used for targeted KS4 students who may consider going onto higher education. Therefore, what better way to engage this idea than by taking them to a top UK University! Charlton School has spent the last three years organising a ‘Cultural Awareness Day’ to nearby cities of Liverpool and Birmingham. Students previously visited The University of Liverpool- a top thirty traditional ‘red brick’ University. Students visited lecture halls, seminar rooms and even the Liverpool Students Union, to get a taste of what their life could be if they pursued a career that used a degree. Following this, students visited cultural landmarks like the Liverpool Museum, Liverpool ONE and even Anfield, to gain an idea of the types of businesses that students could be part of, if they lived in a cosmopolitan City not far from their home. Students were even given money to use the public buses to navigate from the University to the city centre- a proper student life!
  • For the Cultural Awareness Day visit to Birmingham, Students visited Aston University- a top 20 Russell Group institution, famed for its business and administration links. Students took part in a seminar from an Aston Uni lecturer, discussing the benefits of higher education. In the afternoon, students then visited Shoosmiths Law firm, an international business that has links to national companies that involve food, retail and finance. Students completed a seminar with employees from Shoosmiths about the benefits of working with their firm, and using a degree to achieve the best possible career in this industry.
  • Positively MAD- This education provider have helped Charlton school students complete various activities for KS3 and KS4, which the help of Aspire’s innovation fund. During January 2021, KS3 students participated in an online seminar that focused on personal resilience- a highly relevant attribute during lockdown learning. A whopping 300 students logged onto Teams to watch the live Teams session, and hundreds more watched the recorded session in one day! Positively Mad also delivered an online seminar linked to goal-mapping for our year 11 cohort. Over 170 students accepted the invite to pick up useful tips on how to set relevant goals that will prove useful for their decision-making process at College and potentially University!
  • Houses of Parliament and London School of Economics- Specific year 11 students previously visited the Houses of Parliament to understand not only the law making process in the UK, but reason how completing a relevant degree may inspire you to become a politician! Students also visited the world-renowned London School of Economics to complete a seminar on using a degree related to economics, business and law.
  • Scholars Programme- Specific KS4 students at Charlton School previously completed a scholars Programme, where they had the opportunity to visit top Russell Group Universities such as Warwick and Oxford! Students completed an assessment aimed at KS5 (college level). Once completed, this assessment helped students get a preference on future University places!


Other Aspire to HE innovation fund and subject trips and visits that Charlton students have taken part in include:

  • University of Wolverhampton Open Days
  • 999 emergency services taster days
  • A day in the life of a pro-footballer at West Bromwich Albion football club
  • Walsall Campus taster days

Impact of activities on students

  • The impact of working alongside Aspire to HE and the University of Wolverhampton has been huge. Through motivational seminars with Stephen Seki, all students within year 10 gained a valuable insight into the benefits of higher education. Therefore, achieving Gatbsy Benchmark 7
  • Over the past three years, ‘target 20’ students between years 9-11 participated in a free visit to a top thirty UK University, whilst exploring the possibility of living within a diverse city beyond the Shropshire area.
  • Based on Aspire to HE student participation surveys, an average of 5 more students per year have actively ‘changed their minds’ on pursuing a careers that uses a degree, directly due to organised events planned by Charlton School and Aspire to HE
  • In the academic year of 2019-2020, out of twenty year 11 students who were targeted for Aspire to HE activities due to living in areas where there was a low percentage of people going onto higher education, sixteen achieved a ‘good’ GCSE pass for English Language and Maths. Charlton School also recognises that over half of these students are completing a further education course and therefore have potential access to a higher education course in the near future. Well done!