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GRT Outreach

We have experience and expertise around what makes effective outreach for GRT people towards or into higher education. The CIAO model is a way for us to share that with you.   

1. What is CIAO?                                                                                           

CIAO stands for Collaborative, Intersectional, Ambitious and Ongoing. CIAO represents the key principles that we think should drive outreach for GRT people in order that it is effective, meaningful and contextually and culturally sensitive. 

Rather than a 'how to' for designing outreach, CIAO is a series of questions to engage with as you plan, deliver and evaluate:


•Who could I work with to develop a breadth of expertise on this topic, particularly drawing in GRT community voices and experiences?


How can I understand, recognise and support the mutiple and complex identities of GRT people?.


How can I support the expansive ambitions of GRT people while not imposing ideas of what a ‘good’ HE trajectory might be?


How can I develop and enhance my understanding of GRT people and culture and continually enhance the work I do?

2. What else matters when designing GRT outreach?                           

In addition to the CIAO model, we also recognise the importance of broader considerations and have the following recommendations for those supporting GRT people into higher education of what we feel 'matters'. 

1. Developing belief about what is possible

While there is often focus around raising ‘aspirations,’ we think that what is needed to support GRT education progression journeys is more of a focus on developing belief in what is possible, and that barriers are not insurmountable. GRT young people need to be aware of the breadth of education opportunities that are available and to believe that higher education is a realistic and achievable option.

2. Attainment alongside aspiration

At the same time as focusing on raising confidence and self-belief, it is important to acknowledge that these alone cannot improve the educational opportunities of GRT young people. There is a vital need to make the option to progress realisable in practice through improving broader educational outcomes for GRT in school.

3. Engaging families as active and informed supporters

GRT parents, carers and families need to be recognised and valued not as 'barriers' to progression but as active supporters of their children's' futures. This requires more consistent contact with parents and a need to be mindful about how this engagement is managed, particularly in terms of language used, and avoiding complicated, exclusionary terminology or jargon.

4. Supporting transitions into through and beyond higher education

The smoothness of key education transition points is seen as key for maintaining successful engagement of GRT young people in learning trajectories into or towards higher education. The transition from year 6 to year 7 is seen as being particularly pivotal. However, we think other key transition points are also just as important including transitions into, through and beyond higher education so that this constitutes a meaningful life and learning opportunity in young people's lives. 

5. Bespoke support 

There is a need for outreach and support that is personalised and targeted explicitly by both design and communication at GRT people, while also recognising that GRT people occupy multiple and complex identities. This message needs to infiltrate all education levels from school through to colleges and universities. 

6. Targeted financial information

Outreach should provide targeted and tailored support to GRT people and their families around the financial costs, benefits and support availability for these educational transition points. This is seen as particularly important given sensitives (shaped by culture, identity and experiences) around ‘debt’ and the requirement to share detailed, personal financial information

7. Practice speaking to policy

There is a vital need for strong leadership at a policy levels to effect change beyond the outreach practices individual education providers and organisations. This includes around several key areas including developing understanding of GRT ethnicity, history, heterogeneity, cultures and specific barriers; and recognising racism and understanding that race and racism are not all about visibility. In addition, the relevance to GRT needs to be recognised of the important agenda to ‘decolonise’ education. Effective outreach should, if possible, attempt to speak out to change-makers and petition for policy change. 

8. The central role of advocacy organisations

While organisations working directly with GRT should not be left responsible for promoting their interests, they do have a vital role to play in leading good practice by other bodies. This includes in acting as an effective channel of communication between GRT communities and more official organisations and processes including the education system and student finance, and where there may be mutual lack of understanding. Community organisations also have a vital role to play in mediating knowledge and perceptions of education within GRT communities and nurturing the confidence of GRT young people to believe in their own educational potential and feel pride in their own identity.

The is the responsibility of all of us. There is a vital need for development of greater awareness and respect from wider society around GRT communities and cultures. This includes the need to alter perceptions about GRT that include those around educational potential and to take individual and collective responsibility for challenging racism in all of its obvious and less obvious forms.

3. How can I find out more?                                                                  


See our research for the history and evidence informing the CIAO model and recommendations. Please also get in touch with us. We offer a number of ways to work together from informal conversations or indepth consultancy, training for individuals and organisations and policy guidance. 

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