Fast Forward recognises the importance of engaging students with the concept of life long learning
The Fast Forward Program is a partnership between the University of Western Sydney and Greater Western Sydney (GWS) schools which helps students to see the value of continuing their education through to Year 12 and beyond. It began in 2004 and has continued to grow, offering the opportunity for enhanced academic and personal achievement to a large number of GWS students. In 2013 there are 53 partner schools and approximately 2,500 participants involved in the program.
Fast Forward encourages students to strive for their personal best and to see tertiary study as a realistic and viable post-school option.
The program recognises the importance of engaging students with the concept of lifelong learning and the benefits of post-school education as early as possible so that they can more knowledgeably plan their pathways in the senior years of schooling and post-school study.
The main objective in expanding the Fast Forward Program is to increase the number of students from a LSES background who raise their educational aspirations and knowledge of post-high school opportunities and options. This is achieved by:
- increasing the number of schools involved in the program
- growing the number of program offerings available to new and existing students
- increasing parental/carer involvement by providing opportunities for them to learn about the program and gain an understanding of how they can play a part in raising the aspirations of their child.
The expansion of the Fast Forward Program has been fully funded by HEPPP. These funds have been used to employ project officers, allowing the expansion of program offerings and also funding additional resources for use within the program. Other activities funded by HEPPP include the Year 12 Conference, Higher School Certificate (HSC) Preparation Courses, additional in-school mentoring sessions and workshops, parent information sessions, and the recruitment and training of over 100 university students to be mentors in the program.
Each of the 1,900 students involved in the program in 2012 was involved in 7–12 hours of intensive experiential learning activities totalling around 20,000 hours of student engagement. 89 per cent of students have engaged in study beyond Year 12.
There were 262 Year 12 students in 2012. Destination tracking identified 246 of these students. Of that group, 219 (89 per cent) have engaged in further study in 2013. Others have undertaken apprenticeship/ traineeship courses, enrolled in the Defence Forces, or have commenced full time employment.
50 per cent of 2012 Year 12 students were made first round offers to study at a university.
At on-campus events, student responses to evaluation questions indicated that 91per cent of students agreed or strongly agreed that the information presented was interesting, relevant and engaging.
Further expansion is planned in 2013 with a new program targeting 16 high schools situated in areas with high rates of students from LSES backgrounds. A targeting policy has been developed to select these schools and students in consultation with the Department of Education and Communities and the Catholic Education Office.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.