Nicola Edger and Sara Lambert are both Army wives and project officers at Wiltshire College. They are working on a scheme to raise the aspirations of students from target postcodes and this includes reaching out to Service youngsters. Army&You spoke to them to find out more…


CHILDREN from Service families have got the experts puzzled. Despite frequent school changes and the emotional pressures their parents’ jobs bring, they do well at GCSE.

They are known to be resilient, open to change and adaptable, all qualities that are important for success at university. And yet they seem to be under- represented in the higher education population.

The government and universities are asking: why do fewer young people from Service families go on to university than their academic results would predict?

The National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) is trying to answer this question.

Garrison towns

Although NCOP’s work is not exclusively about Service children, a glance at its map showing target ‘wards’ – postcodes where few young people go on to some form of higher level study – quickly reveals that garrison towns are higher education ‘cold spots’.

The good news is, if your son or daughter goes to one of the garrison’s local secondary schools or colleges, they will be eligible for a wide range of exciting activities to help them with their  post-16 and post-18 decision making:

  • Tidworth and Salisbury Plain – Wessex Inspiration Network (WIN)
  • Catterick Garrison – Higher York
  • Aldershot – Higher Education Outreach Network (HEON)
  • Colchester – Make Happen.

The WIN, which covers Salisbury Plain, has project officers at Wiltshire College and Wellington Academy making sure students receive a programme of one-to-one careers advice and giving students opportunities to attend a huge range of inspiring events.

The NCOP has run and supported a range of trips, including:

  • A residential at Bath and Bath Spa Universities to explore career options and higher education
  • The Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham
  • An insight day at Bath Spa University to find out more about routes into teaching
  • A lecture at Cadbury World about careers in marketing
  • A visit to the Farnborough Air Show to meet Tim Peake and hear him speak about becoming an astronaut
  • A trip to Amsterdam as part of Wiltshire College’s BTEC health and social care course.

If you’ve got children at the garrison’s local secondary schools and colleges, look out for the acronym ‘NCOP’ and get your young person exploring a whole world of possibilities.

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