The project will develop more robust evidence on summer schools, as the existing research only provides correlational evidence on whether this outreach activity is effective in widening participation.

We’re delighted to be working with the following partners on the project: 

  • Nottingham Trent University
  • University College London
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Gloucestershire
  • University of Kent
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Suffolk
  • University of Surrey



TASO’s research involves assessing whether students who attend summer schools will progress to higher education in the future, which we can track.

The evaluation is being conducted using a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with eight different higher education providers (HEPs). This means we are randomly allocating eligible applicants for each summer school into a treatment group, where they will receive a place, or a control group, where they don’t receive a place. Both groups of students are also asked to complete surveys before and after the summer schools to capture differences in attitudes and aspirations towards HE between the two groups.

Alongside the RCT we are carrying out an Implementation and Process Evaluation (IPE). This research will tell us more about whether, why and how summer schools have an effect on students’ decisions to progress to higher education.

Student progression to HE will be tracked using the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT). We will also capture which provider they go to and what course they study and compare the outcomes for the treatment and control groups.

Four of the HEPs will run summer schools aimed at post-16 students (Year 12) and four providers will run summer schools aimed at pre-16 students (Year 9 or 10).

Research partners were selected after an open call for partners. All applications were assessed by the TASO’s Theme Working Group (TWG) for the widening participation outreach.

Interim findings will be published later this year. The final report is due to be released in January 2024, although we will be tracking data for the pre-16 summer schools until 2026.