Head Start Summer School, a programme designed to give disadvantaged students the best start at university


The Mohn Westlake Foundation is working in partnership with Kingston University to support two transformative programmes to enable more disadvantaged learners to thrive in Higher Education.

“I would recommend Head Start to all the students joining Kingston University. I had a fantastic experience and met lovely staff and current students who gave an answer for every question and useful advice on having a successful time at university. It built my confidence and I met new friends inside and outside my course. Now I am ready and prepared to start my first year as I have an idea of what is expected at KU.”Luula Oman, Head Start 2018

For more information about this project, visit: Head Start: www.kingston.ac.uk/

Our first year of support has already made a powerful difference for disadvantaged students.

The Head Start Summer School

The Head Start Summer School is an orientation programme designed to give disadvantaged students the best start at university by helping them to build confidence and familiarity with all aspects of university life. The programme equips them to manage finances, succeed in their studies, seek support and secure part-time work.  

The Mohn Westlake partnership has allowed the University to diversify and increase these events, including one-day intensive sessions for those who cannot attend a three-day residential. As a result, they are already ahead of target to more than double the number of attendees, now anticipating reaching this milestone in two years rather than three.

The programme is having an impact beyond Kingston; in the last year, two universities have approached Kingston for detailed guidance, feeding back that “we ran some pre-entry summer school days and had some nice success – all inspired by the work you and your team do at Kingston, so thank you!’ The University will also be sharing institutional research on the impact of Head Start with the Office for Students as part of the Evaluation and Impact Exchange.

This September they will be launching Head Start Express days for students who join through Clearing (and are therefore not enrolled until after the Head Start summer events). Clearing students are disproportionately from disadvantaged and/or underrepresented groups.

The impact of our partnership at a glance…

  • Our support enabled Kingston University to increase Head Start attendance in 2018 to 320 students, 33% more than the target number for year one.
  • Head Start will be holding seven events in summer 2019 – three three-day events, three ‘express’ events and a programme for mature learners.
  • Students who attended Head Start are more likely to stay at university (94.4%) compared with eligible students who did not attend (88.3%).

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