Parent Power Cardiff launched to boost university access for local communities

A group for parents has been launched to boost university access for local students.

Parent Power Cardiff is a joint initiative between Cardiff University and UK education charity The Brilliant Club.

Families from Fitzalan High School, Cardiff West Community High School, Cathays High School and Willows High School have been invited to take part in the project. These schools are located in areas where the percentage of young people who go to university is lower than the Welsh average. Across Wales, 31% of 18-year-olds went to university in 2020. But just 21.3% of young people in Tremorfa and Pengam Green go to university by age 19. Likewise, in Ely West this figure is 23.4%.

Training, advice and guidance sessions will be targeted at parents and carers who may not feel comfortable navigating the university admissions system, including those who have not been to university themselves.

Venice Cowper, Widening Participation Manager at Cardiff University, said: "We are excited to be working with The Brilliant Club to launch Parent Power Cardiff, which is linked to the University’s goals of improving opportunities for people living in our local communities. Parents will be driving the aims of the network, drawing on our expertise and support to address the challenges or potential barriers to higher education.

The group will meet every six weeks over one year, led by a local PhD researcher trained in community organising by Citizens UK. At the end of the first year there will be a celebration event for parents and their families to celebrate their achievements.

Jimmy Pickering, Head of Communities at The Brilliant Club, said: "At The Brilliant Club, we know how crucial parents and carers are in their children’s education. Parent Power is about working with parents and carers so they support their children to get the opportunities they deserve.

"Every community is different, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what educational challenges members of Parent Power Cardiff decide they want to tackle. Their campaign should help young people at Fitzalan High School, Cardiff West Community High School, Cathays High School, Willows High School, and across Cardiff more broadly, to have a fairer chance at accessing the life-changing opportunities that come from attending university."

In the UK today, graduates from the most competitive universities are more likely to access professional careers and have higher rates of life satisfaction. On average they will earn 10,000 more per year than their peers. But access to these life-changing opportunities is not equal.

The Education Endowment Foundation estimates that parental engagement can help children and young people make an average of 4 months’ additional progress in education, with higher impact for students with lower prior attainment and younger students6.

Parent Power provides training for parents and carers so they can secure opportunities for their children and ensure they have a fair chance at success in education and beyond. Other Parent Power groups have secured bespoke open days and transport to the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Leicester, received training on student finance, and obtained bursary places at private summer schools for their children.