The disadvantage gap: what it is and how your school can help tackle it
23rd February 2023
There’s a huge gap in outcomes between young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and their more advantaged peers when accessing leading universities, the best apprenticeships, and the most competitive careers.
While independent school students are twice as likely to gain a place at a leading university, for example, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to become NEET (not in education, employment, or training).
The Department for Education’s definition of the disadvantage gap only takes into account academic attainment. At Unifrog, we believe a student's chances of fulfilling their next steps after school is also affected by these factors:
- The likelihood of completing post-16 and/or post-18 pathway shortlists
- Having access to information about a broader range of pathways from an earlier age
- Having a open, growth mindset over a fixed one
Shortlisting is one of the most important ways your school can reduce this gap. By encouraging your students to complete shortlists on our search tools, you’ll connect them to a huge range of opportunities tailored to them and their preferences.
The sooner they make the shortlist, the sooner they’ll receive information that is relevant to their interests.
Across the country, there’s a 9% gap between the proportion of students in deprived areas completing shortlists and those in less deprived areas making shortlists. That’s around 40,000 fewer students from deprived areas making shortlists, compared to those in less deprived areas.
UK Education Lead at Unifrog, Charley Fowler, explored the impact of shortlisting as part of her MA in the Sociology of Education. In particular, she focused on how students in areas with above- and below-average levels of deprivation interact with Unifrog.
A key finding from Charley’s research was discovering just how fixed students’ mindsets were on a small number of pathways to pursue after school. This was true both for those at the IMD1 school (in the top 10% most deprived in the country) and the IMD10 school (in the top 10% least deprived).
‘Most students at the IMD1 school had decided they were going to pursue apprenticeships with local employers or in areas that their dads worked in. A minority were interested in HE, and those that were interested were only considering local universities.
‘For the students at the IMD10 school, their mindsets were also fixed, but on the pathways that most of the students at IMD1 had ruled out. The students at the IMD10 school were certain they would progress on to particular university courses, and only at institutions which they felt were prestigious enough.‘
This fixed mindset can prevent students thinking more widely about their options, feeding into the disadvantage gap. On Unifrog, students can access information about the full range of post-school pathways in one place and make shortlists of opportunities that interest them. This empowers the student, as it provides them with a wealth of information at their fingertips. But it’s also a powerful tool for schools, as they can track which students are not accessing this information.
Charley’s research shows how Unifrog is helping students feel empowered:
‘During the interviews, students in both settings spoke about how they valued the sense of ownership Unifrog gave them over their applications. Shortlists could have this impact too – they are the student’s own personal exploration of all the options, so by completing them, they can cut through the noise of personal, and not always helpful, opinions of others.‘
With a wider array of post-16 and post-18 opportunities in one place than any other provider, Unifrog guides students through the maze with timely, relevant prompts to show them what they’re already interested in. As a teacher or careers adviser/counselor, you can make your life easier by letting the platform do this for you.
By encouraging your students to complete shortlists, you'll help to remove the limits placed on post-school pathways and instead signpost students to new events and opportunities with employers and universities
They’ll receive tailored notifications on webinars and information sessions, careers fairs, work experience opportunities, and events where they can chat 1:1 with universities and employers.
The sooner your students learn how to take control of their own choices, research and evaluation, the better equipped they’ll be to achieve a fulfilling next step after school.
Want to learn more about shortlisting on Unifrog? If you're already a Unifrog partner and you have questions, please contact your Area Manager, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don’t work with us already, please:
- Request a demo here (we'll then set up a meeting with you), or
- Call us on +4420 3372 5991 or email us at email@example.com
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