Manifesto for the Director of Fair Access & Participation 5: Anne-Marie Canning, King's College London

Brightside and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) have released a collection of action points for the new Office for Students on unlocking access to higher education. Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director of Fair Access and Participation contains the views of 35 leading thinkers from academia, university administration, Parliament, think tanks and the media.

We’re also publishing each entry individually. Here Anne-Marie Canning, Director of Social Mobility and Student Success at King’s College London gives her perspective:

‘White working-class boys are the most under-represented group in higher education. Their access to university – and the access of white working-class girls too – should be a top priority for the Office for Students.

A 2016 report by LKMco and King’s College London offered clear direction for supporting white working-class children into higher education. Attainment for this group is a significant barrier to progression and widening participation programmes must be targeted at Key Stage 4 or earlier. Parents need to be engaged in order to support post-16 progression and we should be wary of interventions that rely upon sport as an engagement tool. Finally, degree apprenticeships could be a powerful widening participation tool for white working-class young people too.

At King’s we have established the McFadzean Scholars programme for Year 10 low-income white boys and their parents. This has been positively received by schools. We are launching a new online website called which targets parents and carers in white working-class communities. Through the website, families can order a homelearning pack, live chat with one of our parent leaders and connect with stories from similar families who have had a child go on to university.

The Director of Fair Access and Participation should set a high standard for initiatives focused on white working-class pupils and ensure they are integrated as a discrete target group in large-scale widening participation programmes. We should be resolute in taking a proactive approach to helping more white working-class children make it to higher education.’