Social Mobility & Widening Participation Yearbook 2022-23

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Y e a r b o o k 22-23 S o c i a l M o b i l i t y & W i d e n i n g P a r t i c i p a t i o n D e p a r t m e n t

In our 2022 yearbook, you will read the following quote from a student named Elsie on one of our programmes:

“…it’s really important we feel like we’re a part of something and we’re united.”

Elsie was speaking about her experience on Pride Power, a new project we launched in 2022. Pride Power is a strand of our flagship K+ programme for Year 12 and 13 students for LGBTQ+ young people. With Pride Power we aim to provide a space and series of activities for LGBTQ+ students and allies to foster a sense of belonging, confidence and self-efficacy. We consolidated a programme for Black students within K+ called Aspire with the same objectives.

Feeling part of something and feeling united. Feeling self-confidence, belonging, agency. We hold these things central to our work not only because they are key to progressing through education, and into and through university. But also because they are arguably more important than ever.

This yearbook covers some of our work in 2022, including quotes and stories from young people, teachers, academic colleagues and other participants. It may have been the year where we reconfigured following the most extreme periods of the pandemic. But the impacts of COVID-19 on young learners and their teachers, parents, carers and other supporters will continue.

So feeling part of something, and being united, is as important as Elsie says. I am proud that our work continues to develop with people at its centre. Our work in Social Mobility & Widening Participation continues to feel part of something within the broader context of King’s, where the commitment to making the world a better place and using our knowledge with purpose guides work across the College.

Finally, this yearbook ends with a recommitment to supporting the learners, families and neighbours we work with through the current strains of cost of living. Learning does not take place in a vacuum. Working for educational equality and widening access to university needs to take into account the very real challenges facing people today. We will continue to review, evaluate and develop our work with that foremost in our minds.

Michael Bennett
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Growing poverty, the rising cost of living, the ongoing impact of the pandemic, and an increase in mental ill health, are making education journeys tougher. We must act. The Social Mobility & Widening Participation Department is taking steps to change this. We promote social mobility by removing barriers to success throughout the education journey. We work with learners from underrepresented backgrounds and their supporters, empowering them to access and succeed in higher education. We take an equitable approach to improving education equality and creating a diverse community of learners at King’s. We believe a young person’s destination should not be limited by their start in life.



Impact: Impact on admissions and interview with a King's Scholar

Theme 1: Pandemic response

Theme 2: Communities

Theme 3: Working with others

Looking forward


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In 2022, our work was shaped by the pandemic. Its impact on the mental health and attainment of young people influenced new projects and new areas of research. We strengthened our support for specific communities, including LGTBQ+ and Black students. We turned to our partners to find innovative ways of reaching more young people. The stories told here bring this work to life.

2022 was a year of change. Emerging from pandemic restrictions gave us the opportunity to think differently about our priorities. We created a new threeyear strategy to capture these priorities and respond to the changing social context.

Our new strategy commits to renewing and strengthening our commitment to raising attainment. We will work to improve social mobility in regions with high deprivation and low university participation. We will support the mental health and wellbeing of our young people, and we will increase our knowledge of what works in widening participation.

These new priorities help us deliver the support our young people and communities need right now.

Social Mobility & Widening Participation

I m p a c t D a t a a n d S t o r i e s

Impact: Admissions data

Admission of priority groups year-on-year by programme. Priority group students are classed as having spent any time spent in care, any background of involuntary immigration, being estranged, or having caring responsibilities can significantly impact educational opportunities and outcomes.

2022-2023 S o c i a l M o b i l i t y & W i d e n i n g P a r t i c i p a t i o n

Impact: Admissions data

POLAR 1/2 vs 3-5 gap year on year. POLAR is a measure of local areas' young participation rate in higher education, with 1 and 2 being the least participation.

% of students from ACORN 4 & 5 postcodes year on year. ACORN is a measure of socio-economic deprivation, with 4 & 5 being the least affluent.

(Left) IMD 1:5 gap year Indices of multiple de are widely-used datase the UK to classify the deprivation of small are
2022-2023 S o c i a l M o b i l i t y & W i d e n i n g P a r t i c i p a t i o n 6

Validated Scales Project

Our ‘validated scales’ project really improved how we evaluate students’ feelings of self-efficacy, social capital, and belongingness, especially on the K+ programme. These measures are closely associated with increased educational attainment.

Many of the scales that have typically been used have been general in their scope and therefore have not accounted for specific age groups or a transitional educational context. A lot of the existing scales have not been sensitive to the impact of COVID-19 on changing models of educational interventions (e.g. hybrid delivery). We also recognised that classic scales present several issues for practitioners and evaluators alike. For example, many of the scales are developed in the US and so the language and idioms are not appropriate for the HE context in the UK. Often these scales use language that is not appropriate for the age groups taking part in the evaluation. Scales used can be too long and use inconsistent scoring techniques.

Realising this, our What Works team have collaborated with the Psychometrics & Measurement Lab and Department of Digital Humanities to produce new bespoke scales. These take our specific social, educational, and technological context into consideration. This combination of expertise represents the first of its kind for a UK higher education institution and has paved the way for a new standard for evidence in widening participation.

The outcome of our collaboration has been to adapt various different survey instruments, making them suitable to a pre-entry, HE specific context. Of those scales that currently measure similar constructs, two instruments appear better suited to modification; Yorke’s Student ‘belongingness’, engagement and self-confidence scale (2016) and Sander and Sanders’ Academic Behavioural Confidence Scale (2009). Moving forward our aim is now to implement a scale for future waves of K+.

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"This combination of expertise represents the first of its kind for a UK higher education institution and has paved the way for a new standard for evidence in widening participation."
2022-2023 Social Mobility & Widening Participation
Validated scales project

Impact: King's Scholar studying at King's


King’s Scholars, our flagship pre-16 programme, supports learners from Year 7 to Year 9 in local partner schools. The first cohort of King’s Scholars started in 2015, which means they are now old enough to go to university. We spoke with Cormac, a King’s Scholars alumni who is now in his first year at King’s. We met him when he was 11 years old, and now he’s an undergraduate studying English Literature & French.

How are you finding studying at King's?

So far, it has been great! I am enjoying my course and have gone to a few History Society meetings.

How much of an influence did experiencing university at a young age have on your coming to King’s?

What memories do you have from being a King’s Scholar?

I remember visiting campus and working in small groups in King’s Learning Centre. We would do activities to stimulate our thinking like writing exercises and other things that help us learn and become more familiar with the uni environment. I remember having a history subject taster session which I enjoyed. This helped me confirm my choice of what subject to pick at school. I always liked meeting the student ambassadors because they were really friendly and knew what they were talking about.

King’s Scholars helped me become more confident in my choices. Teaching us that there’s a progression plan and that it’s never too early to start preparing, especially if you’ve come from a family where you are the first to attend university. It has helped me access higher education and become more informed about it.

How did your parents feel about you being selected to be a King’s Scholar?

They were so happy! They thought it was a great idea for kids like me. I know most of my friends who were also King’s Scholars have also gone on to university. King’s Scholars helped us a lot.

Do you remember any metacognition skills?

Yes, I do. The metacognition sessions very helpful. I remember improving my notetaking. The whole point was to learn how to be more efficient with revising. It definitely helped my exam preparation.

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T h e m e s T h e m e s T h e m e s
Be Well Hubs, Mental Health and Wellbeing and understanding attainment gaps Pandemic Response Communities Working with others Pride Power and Aspire, Lambeth Social Mobility Report and King's Scholars Family Day Developmental Neurobiology Academy, IntoUniversity and Dentistry Summer School THEMES COVERED 2022-2023 Social Mobility & Widening Participation 11
P a n d e m i c R e s p o n s e T h e m e o n e T h e m e o n e

King’s Social Mobility & Widening Participation Department, in partnership with Citizens UK and the NHS, is helping primary and secondary schools in Southwark and Lambeth to establish Be Well Hubs. These hubs aim to destigmatise mental ill-health by providing a place where people can speak openly, access support and co-produce solutions with local mental health trusts to improve services.

We spoke to Sarah Cowdrey, Therapy Team Manager at Newlands Academy in Southwark, about the school becoming a Be Well Hub and supporting good mental health and wellbeing in their community.

Responding to the pandemic


What are the main things that impact students' mental health at Newlands Academy?

Many students at the school experienced distress and social anxiety off the back of the pandemic, which led to an increase in school refusal (when anxiety builds up to the point that a young person cannot go to school), peer pressure, lack of trust in school staff and self-esteem issues. Missing out on a huge chunk of education has had a huge impact on the way they feel about themselves.

How will the Be Well Hub improve the support you provide?

We hope to provide wrap-around service for the whole school community, taking a holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing which is less pathologising and stigmatising. Our goal is to provide a support avenue that encourages both students, school staff and their families to reach out, ask for help and access it. We would also like to create community networks in and around the school through the Be Well Hub and use them to create systemic change.

What is your vision for the Be Well Hub at Newlands Academy?

There will be three branches to our Be Well Hub: one for students, one for staff and one for parents/carers. By providing a space for people to seek help and find connection, we aim to remodel the school’s identity in the local community. Sometimes our students feel ashamed that they are at a special provision which impacts how they feel about school. We want to focus on building connections and fostering new relationships with local schools to shift the connotations of Newlands Academy, so students feel proud of where they are.

How can we work together to achieve this?

We hope to stay connected to and partner with local charities who can promote the Be Well Hub through posters and flyers so we have a more visual presence in the community. The school also looks forward to working closely with Citizens UK and King’s College London to explore further opportunities.

S o c i a l M o b i l i t y & W i d e n i n g P a r t i c i p a t i o n

Responding to the pandemic

Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey

The King’s Wellbeing Survey is our first attempt to measure student mental wellbeing across the whole institution. It grew from King’s concern for student wellbeing during the pandemic, and interest in how students engage with their studies beyond attainment. What Works collaborated with colleagues from Student Success and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience to build the survey which uses a combination of clinical and nonclinical scales to represent the complex nature of mental wellbeing.

With over 5,000 full responses, the What Works team identified statistically significant findings. Whilst variation in wellbeing outcomes vary by faculty, negative wellbeing outcomes are most associated to a series of demographic characteristics. This is most pronounced for LGBTQ+ and disabled students but females, students from underrepresented backgrounds and non-mature students with caring responsibilities also reported significantly poorer mental health.

Male students, mature students, and international students were more likely to report positive wellbeing outcomes.

We will collect data on an annual basis to track the wellbeing of students from enrolment to graduation. From this data, we will gather insights to inform both the university’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the design of student facing services

Understanding Awarding Gaps

In spring 2022, the What Works team began to investigate key factors affecting attainment and awarding of degrees at King's. With a dataset of over 11,000 students across eight faculties (between 2016/17 and 2020/21), we carried out a regression analysis to understand the gap between different levels of degree awards: first-class, 2:1 and above, and 2:2 and below.

The regression analysis allowed us to explore the statistical relationships and analyse the relationship between degree awarding and factors like ethnicity, socio-economic status, 'widening participation status' and mode of study.

We analysed rates of awarding based on ethnicities using two methods. The first was a generic BME categorisation which included Black, South Asian and mixed home students. The second further disaggregated ethnicity data, splitting Asian and Black more specifically (e.g., Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, African, and Caribbean).

The results of our regression modelling indicated that students from certain minoritised ethnicities were significantly less likely than white students to achieve a 2:1 or first-class degree. This was the case, despite achieving similar grades in first year, and while holding other key variables in constant. Additionally, our analysis indicates that Black students (both African and Caribbean) were significantly more likely to receive a 2:2 or below than white students, despite similar grades in first year, and while controlling for key variables.

The implications of these findings are powerful reminders that while King’s College London performs well based on Office for Student benchmarks, disadvantages persist for students from certain minoritised backgrounds. As a result of this work, the What Works team is carrying out a qualitative study that focuses specifically on students’ subjective experiences. From this, we aim to be more informed about the reasons for the awarding gap existing, especially from the perspective of Black students. This will then inform the plans of the Student Transition & Outcomes team who lead on this work.

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2022-2023 Social Mobility & Widening Participation

C o m m u n i t i e s T h e m e t w o T h e m e t w o

A l o n g - s t a n d i n g a p p r o a c h w i t h i n o u r d e p a r t m e n t i s t o i d e n t i f y u n d e r s e r v e d c o m m u n i t i e s a n d o f f e r t h e m t a i l o r e d s u p p o r t . O u r t a r g e t i n g i s u n d e r p i n n e d b y r e s e a r c h a n d o u r c o m m i t m e n t t o u n d e r s t a n d i n g t h e c o m p l e x b a r r i e r s f a c i n g c e r t a i n g r o u p s . O v e r t h e y e a r s , w e h a v e d e s i g n e d p r o g r a m m e s f o r p a r e n t s , s u p p o r t e d t h e a t t a i n m e n t o f l e a r n e r s f r o m G y p s y , R o m a a n d T r a v e l l e r c o m m u n i t i e s a n d c a m p a i g n e d f o r c h a n g e a l o n g s i d e t h e L a t i n X c o m m u n i t y . I n 2 0 2 2 , t h i s a p p r o a c h h e l p e d u s t o b u i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h g r o u p s w e ’ d n e v e r w o r k e d w i t h b e f o r e .

Pride Power and Aspire

Without support, reaching university is a challenge for anyone from a widening participation background. Thriving while you’re there is even harder. Some students face further barriers because of immutable parts of their identity. Black African and Caribbean students face systemic race disparities in many aspects of life, and education is no exception. LGBTQ+ students experience more bullying, poorer mental health, and higher rates of estrangement. They are less likely to feel they belong at university. This leads to many Black and LGBTQ+ students dropping out of university and those who stick it out until graduation often leave with a lower degree classification.

We created Pride Power and Aspire in an effort to promote and celebrate diversity in the King’s community.

Aspire and Pride Power are networks for K+ students from Black African, Black Caribbean and mixed Black backgrounds, and LGBTQ+ students and allies respectively. The networks celebrate participants’ identities, creating a safe space for them to foster a sense of belonging and build self-confidence.

“I feel like a part of a community. I wasn’t expecting that. Pride Power definitely brought our community together a lot closer. Being LGBTQ, it’s really important we feel like we’re a part of something and we’re united.” -


King's Scholars Family Day

King’s Scholars Family Day is an annual event which brings together families of Year 8 and 9 King’s Scholars, as well as our parent networks from Parent Power and Hastings. In 2022, 150 parents and children participated, exploring Strand campus to get a taste of university life. We tailor the session to the different age groups with parents and carers attending talks on student finance and university accommodation. Young people take part in subject taster workshops and learn practical medical skills like taking blood pressure and dressing a wound. The day finishes with a motivational talk for everyone and a prize-giving ceremony. Every year, the feedback for Family Day is a joy to read.


Student Feedback

“It was really fun to learn about how doctors take blood and do CPR. Philosophy was also good because the thinking really challenged me.”

“Family day helped me to understand what university would be like. I learnt about the uni experience. It will help me to grow.”

Parent Feedback

“I am more aware of the support outside my family and friends network and I will definitely use the support from my local community.”

“I loved visiting King’s. I found the speakers excellent and have come away with a positive attitude aboutunifor the future.”

“I recommend Family Day to other parents because all parents need help for their children - we are not alone because of our different cultures and nationalities.”

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There are many obstacles that stand between Lambeth’s young people and a bright future.

43% of the borough’s young people live in poverty. Affordable and wellmaintained housing is lacking. Hospitalisation rates from mental ill health are the highest in London, and experiences of racism are common. Lambeth’s young people perform worse in their GCSEs than their counterparts from across London. Almost 40% of 19-year-olds do not have a level three qualification.

Our Building Better Futures action plan sets out to improve this situation.


In 2018, King’s College London and Lambeth Citizens set out to create a social mobility action plan with the local community. We conducted listening sessions with 792 parents, pupils and teachers in which Lambeth residents shared stories about their educational experiences and the impact of the pandemic.

Our listening campaign revealed the community’s key barriers to social mobility. They include insights on how prepared and confident young people feel to pursue their future goals, race and discrimination in education and workplace settings, the ability of parents to provide education support for their children, and experiences of mental ill health in both young people and their parents.

We published the Building Better Future action plan to address these issues. The plan encourages Lambeth Council to support schools and colleges to offer effective careers guidance and promote a diverse range of progression opportunities. It also asks Lambeth Council to set up a working group to tackle Islamophobia, increase support for parents whose first language is not English, and help establish mental health hubs in schools.

Over the coming years, we will work with Lambeth Council and the local community to fulfil the recommendations the action plan. Together, we will support Lambeth’s young people to thrive.

Communities 2022-2023 Social Mobility & Widening Participation
2022-2023 Social Mobility & Widening Participation

W o r k i n g w i t h o t h e r s T h e m e T h r e e T h e m e T h r e e

W e p a r t n e r w i t h o r g a n i s a t i o n s t o i n c r e a s e o u r i m p a c t a n d f i n d c r e a t i v e s o l u t i o n s t o p r o b l e m s . O u r p a r t n e r s e n a b l e u s t o s u p p o r t y o u n g p e o p l e f r o m h a r d - t o - r e a c h r e g i o n s a n d b a c k g r o u n d s a n d e x p a n d o u r p r o v i s i o n f o r s p e c i a l i s t s u b j e c t a r e a s . T h i s y e a r , w e ’ r e c e l e b r a t i n g b o t h l o n g - t e r m p a r t n e r s h i p a n d n e w p a r t n e r s h i p s , a n d t h e i m p a c t w e ’ r e a b l e t o h a v e w i t h t h e h e l p a n d s u p p o r t o f l i k e - m i n d e d o r g a n i s a t i o n s .

Working with others


The DevNeuro Academy is a widening participation-focused Summer School for Year 12 students, hosted by the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology and the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). KCLWP supported Dr Leigh Wilson, Public Engagement Manager and Programme Lead, from the start, offering expertise and delivering information, advice and guidance on the programme. Our relationship with Leigh helped steer the design of our WP Champions Programme. We caught up with her to hear about how DevNeuro Academy has progressed.

Can you tell me a little about yourself and what attracted you to your role?

My role at King’s isn’t entirely straightforward. My background is in neuroscience research, then I became more interested in science public engagement and outreach. I was magnetised to working with people, especially younger people, and to develop courses that teach science in a creative way.

The flagship programme I’ve worked on and reconceived is DevNeuro Academy. I thought it was a great opportunity to develop a bigger WP-based programmes within neuroscience. It’s existed for seven years, starting off as a small programme working with 12-15 students in three WP-based schools in the local area, and now we work with 52 students in 26 schools from 13 London boroughs.

What impact do you want the DevNeuro Academy to have?

I want it to reach out to London communities. It’s not just local to King’s, it’s spread out over 13 boroughs, opening the opportunity to schools that have low progression to university, encouraging those pupils that are interested to feel as though they have access to Russell Group universities. That’s one of the big impacts I’d like to seeincreased applications to King’s from those would never have thought about applying.

What has the programme taught you?

I think it’s taught me how to get people on board, how to introduce a culture amongst academics who are not used to doing outreach and introduce a real culture of WP, showing the two-way benefits. It’s taught me a lot about how young people think, and to never make assumptions about what they’re thinking, what they’re interested in, what drives them, what backgrounds they come from.

What are you planning on doing next with DevNeuro Academy?

It’s my second year of face-to-face in July. I want to know every student’s name by the end of the week and for them to know each other’s. This year, we’re going to base our selection entirely on WP criteria. I’d really like to make some partnerships with local schools and select a certain percentage based on neurodiverse criteria. I’d love to expand it - students are interested in neuroscience and getting experience in research centres which is virtually impossible when you’re a 17-year-old.

I want to introduce more people to the joy of creating unlikely relationships.

How has it been working with KCLWP?

Being a WP Champion means KCLWP have helped me figure out the programme as I go along which has been an interesting process in itself. I hope that what we’re doing with DevNeuro Academy is forming a really good template for other departments. It’s been a lovely process working with the team –I’m really grateful for that.

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Working with others IntoUniversity

Since 2013, KCLWP has partnered with IntoUniversity, a charity that runs local learning centres across the UK for young people. We are proud to sponsor the IntoUniversity centre in Kennington. King’s takes a key role in providing IntoUniversity with student mentors who inspire the next generation to consider higher education as a viable option for their future. Through the mentoring programme, university students provide information, advice and guidance to young people and support them with their academic work.

Throughout the 2021/22 academic year we welcomed over 1,000 IntoUniversity students to King’s, offering pupils the opportunity to explore different campuses and speak to current undergraduate students. Our student ambassadors play a vital role in supporting IntoUniversity events, from leading interactive campus tours to speaking on Q&A panels. Meeting university students with similar backgrounds makes the university pathway more achievable for future generations.

Dentistry summer school

This year, we partnered with the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences to create an interactive dentistry summer school. Our aim was to bring dentistry to life and increase applications to the faculty from young people living in England’s social mobility cold spots. To do this, we focused on practical clinical experience. Citing learnings from this type of activity is the cornerstone of a strong dentistry application but it is not something that is typically easy to access.

34 young people attended the summer school from across the country. With the help of the faculty, participants experienced the newest technologies in dentistry teaching. They used haptics machines to practice clinical skills on virtual patients and learned how to wax up a tooth.

“Being able to use the dental school equipment gave a real feel of what it would be like to study dentistry.” - Summer school participant.

Our partnership with the dental faculty enabled us to offer young people from widening participation backgrounds a unique summer school experience. Access to technology and knowledgeable staff created a high-quality programme and a transformative opportunity.


“The Summer School was extremely successful with both students and staff thoroughly enjoying the experience and providing very positive feedback. Some of the participants have gone on to apply for a place on the Enhanced Support Dentistry Programme at King’s suggesting that their experience was an enjoyable one." -


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Working with others Step Up Scholars

The first day of secondary school is daunting for everyone and we know that a smooth transition from primary to secondary has a positive impact on attainment. Step Up Scholars targets the youngest participants in our programme portfolio. Year 6 pupils from three partner schools attend five inschool sessions led by Student Ambassadors. Students take part in a variety of activities that prepare them for secondary school life. They learn soft skills like friendship-building and timetabling, as well as metacognitive skills to support their attainment. Since the pandemic, Step Up scholars also has a renewed focus on mental wellbeing.

Parental engagement is a priority for KCLWP and Step Up Scholars gives us the chance to meet and engage Year 6 parents at the beginning of their child’s secondary schooling. We support Step Up Scholars parents and guardians through the KS connect text messaging service and invite them along to their




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“Step Up Scholars has really boosted my confidence for secondary school, and I feel more excited.”
“I enjoyed that I am not the only one that is going through these problems and that the ambassadors help me get through them.”
L o o k i n g f o r w a r d L o o k i n g f o r w a r d L o o k i n g f o r w a r d

Looking forward

This is one of the most challenging periods in recent memory to be a young person. The stress, trauma and long-lasting disruption caused by the pandemic has exacerbated already stark gaps in outcomes. The cost of living crisis is putting huge pressure on families. All this at a time when 1 in 6 young people is experiencing poor mental health.

The wider environment has been central to our considerations when developing our new strategy. That is why it commits us to support the mental health and wellbeing of our young people. We are in the fortunate position to have some of the world’s experts in Mental Health at King’s who we have brought together in an advisory group to steer this provision. As you have read about, work is already underway with a collaboration between King’s, the NHS and Citizens UK to establish wellbeing hubs in local schools.

The attainment of our young people continues to be a barrier to progressing to university. Empirical research from the Education Endowment Foundation highlights that small group teaching, tutoring and consistent, good quality teaching can lead to improved academic performance for learners, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We have long recognised the importance of supporting young people with their attainment., Teachers’ wellbeing and continuing professional development will be an additional focus of our work, both locally and in our strategic regions: Essex, Kent and Hastings.

In the meantime, anytime a K+ participant visits King’s, we will give them a meal. We will fund travel for young people to university open days and offer holder days. And we continue to prioritise the third sector through strategic partnerships.

We will do everything we can to support our young people through the cost-of-living crisis, particularly as it is fundamental to living and learning well.

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King's College London

Social Mobility & Widening Participation Department

Find us on socials @KCLWP

Photography credits: David Tett ( and James Asfa (Citizens UK)

Design credits: Kirsty McLaren (KCLWP)

S o c i a l M o b i l i t y & W i d e n i n g P a r t i c i p a t i o n

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