Kent Academies Network
The Kent Academy Network (KAN) Universities Access Programme aims to encourage high calibre students from local academy schools to apply for places at top UK universities. The programme fosters ambition into these students, equipping them with the skills and approach they need to secure top HE places, support them in their applications, and demonstrate that these places can be realistically achievable. It is also intended that, in turn, these students raise awareness and ambitions amongst their peers.
The Kent Academies Network (KAN) aims to remove barriers to Higher Education for the most able, disadvantaged pupils.KAN does this by developing pupils’ confidence, knowledge, and agency so that they can set ambitious goals, and ultimately reach them.
There are five schools in the network: Knole Academy, The Marsh Academy, The John Wallis Academy, Skinners Kent Academy and The Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey.
KAN also aims to develop future leaders in education and social impact who feel part of
a wider community and have increased opportunities thanks to the experiences and
skills they develop through their commitment to the role.
Our Core university access programme has been running since 2013 and our new Aspire university access programme will begin in 2021. Core and Aspire are uniquely comprehensive four-year programmes of mentoring, meet-up days and Core residential weeks.
The KAN scheme was initially supported and funded by the Sutton Trust. Sevenoaks School has been an active partner school in the programme since conception.
KAN’s success would not be possible without the generosity and commitment of many individuals and organisations. Friends of the programme, alumni, and staff and teachers from the academies and Sevenoaks all volunteer their time and expertise. The Accelerate and Access Foundation, The Buffini Chao Foundation, Queens’ College Cambridge, Fitzwilliam College Cambridge, Tonbridge School, and those that wish to remain anonymous, support the funding of the KAN university access programme.
• 94% of students from the four pilot cohorts went on to study a degree
• 84% of our current students would be the first in their families to go to university
• 71% of the mentor alumni are now either working in education or social impact
"Participating in KAN has developed my ability to work
with young people and given me confidence in teaching
and mentoring. The targeted support we’re able to give
students during the residential has reaffirmed my desire
to work with young people, but has made me think about
different ways to do this – for example, I’d previously wanted
to teach in the classroom, but I’m now thinking of working
in a more university access-based role." (Previous KAN mentor)
"KAN’s dedication to giving its mentee cohorts all they need to
support them into higher education is incredible; the confidence
that it instilled in each mentee, and the ongoing support, is so
valuable to us as we progress. If I had not been on the KAN
programme, I would not be half the person I am today." (Alumni of the first cohort)
From 2021 Sixth-form students at Sevenoaks School now have the opportunity to participate in a service group that functions as a form of work experience and involves supporting management tasks for the programme.
Each year, the academies identify Year 9 students to begin the application and interview process. Up to
three students are selected from each school – making a total of 15 students in a cohort.
Every academic year of the four year programme there are:
• Termly online mentoring sessions (new in 2020-21)
• Two meet-up days, at either Sevenoaks School or a university
• The Spring residential event at Sevenoaks School
• The Summer residential week, which takes place at Tonbridge School for the two youngest
cohorts (beginning at the end of Year 9) and the University of Cambridge (alternating between
Fitzwilliam College and Queens’ College) for the eldest
KAN students are guided by an undergraduate mentor who is with them throughout the programme.
The mentoring relationships and the peer-to-peer support network, fostered by the small, close-knit
cohorts, are hugely important to KAN.