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The Virtual Experience

HEON’s Virtual Summer School replaced the traditional residential school at Surrey University’s campus.  It was held over 4 days and included a programme of live and recorded activities such as subject tasters, information and guidance on options and money, mental health and well-being and social activities.  The programme was designed to be flexible, with students encouraged to take part in the recorded sessions at the scheduled time or later if more convenient. All resources are being made accessible until September 2020. The activities were delivered by several Partner Institutions.  Covid-19 has had a particular impact on the education of these Y10 and Y11 students as they were in the first or second year of their GCSEs with some due to take examinations this year. 


This year 129 students were registered to take part in the summer school. These included those students who were planning on attending the residential summers school. We also had a school participate as part of their work experience week. Over the week the attendance to the sessions was tracked with the highest number of students participating in the City vs Campus session.

What was the impact?

The students were asked at the end of the event to complete a survey to share their feedback. A majority of students (60%) said they enjoyed coming to the Summer School ‘a lot’ and 9 out of 10 found it very or fairly useful.

At the end of each day students completed a smaller survey about the specific events and some of the feedback received from these were.

“very informative, I especially enjoyed the ”invest in yourself” course as it made me think about myself quite a bit”

Being able to do virtual tours of universities was really useful for me because I could look at which universities do the subjects I am interested in and whether I may be interested in studying there “

With regards to the organisation and delivery of the event the students commented positively. There were some reflections that there should have been more live sessions included throughout the week.

“..any problems that I brought up, you solved very quickly, which was awesome!”

“Couldn’t have been better in my opinion.”

“I think it was done effectively and was very well planned”

The Summer School aimed to achieve ten of the Outcomes in HEON’s Progression Framework. There were 25 students that completed the pre and post evaluation surveys. This demonstrated that with the exception of KO1, there was an uplift in students agreeing with the outcome measurement statements.  The largest increase was for AO6 increased sense of self-belief and awareness (+28% agreeing).  KO3 (increased understanding of the financial implications of HE)  KO4 (increased knowledge of academic and pastoral support) and KO5 (increased subject knowledge) also all achieved 20% or more uplift. 

Overall the virtual summer school was well received. Participation in activities was greatly enhanced by the flexible nature of the programme giving students the opportunity to access recorded content at any time. The HEON team look forward to learning from this experience for future initiatives.