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HE Parent Champions

A parent champion and ambassador network to support parents of prospective university students with the process of choosing, applying to and attending university 


Head Teachers / School Leaders, School Teachers

Aimed at



Careers & Aspirations, Community Support, Empowering Young People, Transition

Why was the project needed?

Parents are significant influencers for young people and often showed reticence towards them progressing onto Higher Education. There is lower uptake for student from disadvantaged backgrounds especially where their parents have not attended themselves. We hoped that a supportive network would allow parents to better understand, support and encourage the aspirations of their sons and daughters. 

What happened and what was the impact?

We worked in collaboration with the Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach (NEACO) and the University of Suffolk (UoS) to recruit and train Parent Champions; they developed a plan, recruited and trained parent ambassadors who undertook a minimum of 6 events a year supporting parents at open days and other community events. 

How did you measure success?

In 2019 we established a team of 15 Suffolk-based parent ambassadors in collaboration with NEACO and UoS. Parents play a major role in a young person’s decision about their future and it’s important to support and guide families who are new to the world of higher education. Our parent ambassadors have helped their children go on to university or a degree apprenticeship and are perfectly placed to give a parent’s perspective on topics like student finance and the Universities  and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). They share their experiences with parents at school, university, and community events in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Haverhill, and Stowmarket. 


Ingredients For Success

Making sure you have a strong programme for parents to become champions/ambassadors. Including appropriate training and support and the relevant events for them to attend. 

How is the project, and the differences is has brought about, sustainable?

The project is fully funded by NEACO and UoS. 

What are the predicted long-term impacts?

We expect to see a continued increase in the number of young people from within the Opportunity Area applying for Higher Education and Degree Apprenticeship Programmes  

 “As a parent ambassador I’m able to show parents that children from all backgrounds have every right to go on to higher education. I was a young parent with limited experience of education and my children were eligible for free school meals. Three of them have now graduated and are reaping the rewards in the workplace, with a newfound self-belief in themselves and their goals. I couldn’t be prouder of their success and I want to help other families who are looking at higher education for the first time” 

Gwen Clarke, Parent Ambassador 

Area Most Impacted

Careers & Aspirations

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Parent and Carer Ambassadors - neaco/ UEA outreach

Next steps to do something similar yourself

These are a list of Big Idea resources that you can use to implement in your setting:

NEACO website

University of Suffolk Website

UEA Parental Engagement Best Practice Guide

UEA PAC Best Practice Guide

neaco - Parental Engagement - Insight report

neaco - Parental Research PPT - TYP School comms

Parent Carer - Higher Education - Information Evening

Hear from UEA and UoS Parent and Carer Champions who have been creating a network of Parent and Champion Ambassadors to engage parents in conversations about Higher Education:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Parental Engagement here

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