Parental Engagement at Bradford Academy

Over the Autumn half term I have had the privilege to invite parents, carers and other family members and friends into our Academy to learn more about Further and Higher Education, and what they can do to support their young people through this challenging period.

Roy Ward led the 3 after school sessions. Roy works for Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) and is based at Bradford College – one of the more popular Post-16 destinations for Bradford Academy learners – however all sessions were purely informative and non-bias.

The first session saw a fantastic turn out of over 40 parents & carers, many with their young people also in attendance! Whilst enjoying some free refreshments Roy asked parents to write on post-it notes the areas they were confused about, and what they wanted to know more about. This formed the basis for our 3 session workshop.

The first session, naturally, became focused on Student Finance and the cost of going into Higher Education. The myths around student loans were well and truly dispelled, as many in the room discovered for the first time that it is not similar to a normal loan at all. I feel that everyone left this session feeling a sense of relief and a lot more positive about Student Finance. Whilst Higher Education may not be the right choice for everyone, I hope all that attended now believe that everyone can afford to go to University if that is what they want to do.

With heavy rain and a rival ballroom dancing class, the second session on 27th November was a more intimate affair, giving Roy the chance to speak to individuals and tailor the session to them. This session covered the various pathways at Post-16, including college, sixth-form and apprenticeships. We highlighted the range of courses available, and the other factors to consider when choosing the right path at this stage. Most importantly Roy stressed that no route is ‘better’ than another, and each one provides young people with an opportunity to continue into Higher Education.

Our final session took place just 1 week later, on the 04th December, and with a focus on Universities and Higher Education, this proved again popular with over 20 parents/carers and family members turning out despite the cold! In this session, we covered the many types of Higher Education Institutions across the country (and I showed off some particularly bad UK Geography during the interactive Map game!). Roy also showed parents the vast range of courses and available and how both parents and students can use UCAS to begin researching this at ANY stage in their school career.

Throughout the course of the workshop, we engaged with 28 mums, 12 dads, a grandad, a grandma and a step dad – all wanting to lean more about Further and Higher Education and help to provide the best possible support for the young people in their lives. After every session people stayed behind to enjoy another coffee and ask Roy questions specific to the young people in their lives. Everyone who attended said they found the sessions informative, useful and enjoyable!

For any information regarding parents events in future, or if you would like to receive any of the information delivered at these events please contact me via email –

Written by Catherine Garbutt, HEPO, Bradford Academy