Swanshurst School Case Study

At the University of Birmingham, we are committed to engaging schools and colleges through a range of outreach activities to raise aspirations, improve motivation and encourage students to consider university. We work particularly closely with state schools in the West Midlands; our partnership with Swanshurst School is an example of our supportive approach to educational engagement.

Swanshurst School is a non-selective, state-funded secondary school and sixth form for girls which has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted in 2017. The School has Progress 8 and A Level Progress scores which are above the national average despite the challenges presented by the demographic of their catchment area. 60% of students at the school are eligible for free school meals and for over half the student body English is not their first language.

Below demonstrates the variety of ways in which the University of Birmingham partners with Swanshurst School.


Access to Birmingham

Swanshurst School has been a steady feeder school for A2B applications over recent years. From 2015/2016 until 2017/18 we received 33 applications to the scheme. Of those, 24 students received offers from the University and 9 entered.

 As a result of our outstanding relationship with Swanshurst, they were selected to trial our new online applications portal. Consequently we saw an 84% increase in A2B applications this year of which 20 students received offers to study at the University of Birmingham for September 2019.  During the online application portal trial, the school was instrumental in providing user feedback which has been instrumental ahead of our full rollout. 





ITE Training 

The School of Education have been affiliated with Swanshurst School for over 20 years and continue to be our largest partner school for ITE, ensuring continual development and high quality provision for both institutions. Training with 21 students being placed there each year since 2016.  Students train across all secondary subjects and are mentored by an experienced teacher in the school. From the beginning of our partnership the University has supported the professional development of 44 mentors from Swanshurst School resulting in high quality placement support. Currently a Senior Mentor from Swanshurst in a key member of the ITE Steering Committee and our Teacher Education Strategy.

Pathways to Birmigham 


This year the University launched Pathways to Birmingham to consolidate our long-standing post-16 schemes under one initiative.  As part of this, the Outreach department have increased efforts to promote the programmes and their benefits to partner schools with increased communications and events. Swanshurst School engagement with Pathways to Birmingham is now considerably higher than previous years, having submitted 17 applications across all Year 12 programmes of which 12 students were successfully recruited.






College of Engineering and Physical Science


The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences have engaged with the school eight times over the past four years, reaching over 600 students. Activity with the school ranged from Year 9 upwards with specific focus on promoting the engagement of girls in STEM subjects. The majority of events have welcomed Swanshurst School onto our Edgbaston campus. 




Debbie Beckford

Debbie Beckford

14-19 Coordinator, Swanshurt School

“We have worked closely with the Outreach team and the University of Birmingham’s academic community for several years, particularly within the department for widening participation. The University has always been an extremely accommodating and reliable support to Swanshurst School and especially to our students.”