In early November, the HEAT Research Team met with staff at the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss our research in general and, more specifically, our initial findings in relation to outreach, KS4 outcomes, and Higher Education progression.
As the HEAT Service expands, we continue to cultivate relationships with people and organisations that are becoming ‘critical friends’ in relation to our research agenda. The DfE, now reunited with Higher Education in one department, is just such an organisation; and one that can also provide us with technical help in accessing and understanding data sets such as the National Pupil Database.
Although the meeting was attended mostly by economists from the Higher Education section of the DfE, it was clear that their thinking and research agendas are wider and more subtle than the mere economic benefits to the UK of HE progression and completion. One area of particular interest is discovering more about the long-term outcomes for those who do not progress to HE or who do not complete their degrees.
We had a very useful, open and friendly conversation. The DfE representatives were very interested in our research, keen to keep in contact and agreed to act as a critical friend to us. They will be sharing our research to date with other parts of the Department, including the schools section, and may help us identify further opportunities for linking with the National Pupil Database. We were also pleased to be asked to act as reciprocal critical friend to them (for example by reading their research before it is published). We look forward to working more closely with the DfE and will keep the HEAT membership fully informed.