June 13 and 14th NEON (National Education Opportunities Network), the organisation for widening access professionals, brought together over 230 delegates for the 12th Annual Summer Symposium. DANCOP featured in almost all of the sessions, showcasing the range and depth of our work, with six members of the team presenting original papers based on their practice.

Denise Jelly, Deputy Head of DANCOP, ran an in-depth laboratory session to a standing-room only audience. “Further, Higher, Stronger: The Power of Partnership-Working for Progression”, explored the strength of DANCOP’s work with F.E. colleges in maximising support for post-16 learners. Participants reflected on their experiences of partnership working, how it is evolving, what we value most, and how we retain and build on that.

In a parallel session, Vicky Cotterill’s presentation illustrated how DANCOP has embedded a truly collaborative approach to evaluation, engaging delivery practitioners as evaluation partners. She demonstrated DANCOP’s interactive Evaluation Dashboard which has been transformational to insight, review, and management functions, and shared how data visualisation tools are informing our practice and strategic decision-making.

Denise Jelly, Vicky Cotterill, Anna Davey and Aimee Green on stage at NEON

Aimee Green, shared her own perspective on developing and implementing a strategic and collaborative attainment raising programme for learners in secondary schools. Highlighting how DANCOP’s collaborative approach to attainment raising has allowed us to draw on skills and experience from across the sector, adding richness and creating well-rounded, impactful programmes.

“Accessing the Ladder of Opportunity & Empowering Informed Choices” was the title of Tina Wakelin’s paper, focusing on higher and degree apprenticeships. The session explored the process of identifying need, designing and developing a “Learn to Work” programme and implementing it.

Day 2, saw Emma Walker present on DANCOP’s work with engaging parents and carers across our region. From the challenges of recruiting parents and carers to projects, to the impact and outcomes of completed projects, she discussed learning to date and plans to develop this crucial aspect of outreach moving forward.
Anna Davey presenting her work at NEON symposium

Finally, Anna Davey, head of Data, Evaluation & Impact at DANCOP, shared some of the work she has spearheaded to discover, “What Works in Outreach? Finding the Winning Formula Using HESA Data and Power BI”. DANCOP has been on a revolutionary data journey: bringing data to life and driving an ongoing cycle of enquiry and practice. There was an audible collective gasp from the packed room when Anna shared our HESA data, analysed using Power BI, showing how we can identify what works and for whom, recognising that one-size doesn’t fit all.

“The symposium comes at a critical time, with the national Uni Connect budget from which DANCOP is funded cut by £10M and DANCOP’s own budget slashed by 39%. It is more important than ever that we raise the profile of our collaborative outreach work and its transformative impact. I am enormously proud of the team and the difference we make – long may it continue!”
Jo Mallows – Head of DANCOP

For more information on any of the papers presented please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and to keep the conversations going.