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Aimhigher Programme

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which Aimhigher projects are focused primarily on primary school pupils; and what the cost of each was in the last 12 months. (247136)

Aimhigher projects are delivered through the 44 area-based Aimhigher partnerships of schools, colleges and universities. Partnerships submit plans to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), summarising the type of activities they intend to undertake. However, they are not required to detail their activities with primary schools separately and do not set out the costs of individual activities.

From 2004 to 2007, HEFCE supported the ‘Professor Fluffy’ project based at the University of Liverpool. £274,000 was provided jointly from Aimhigher and HEFCE's own funds. The ‘Professor Fluffy’ project aims to raise awareness of higher education at an early age. In 2004, Professor Fluffy started a tour of primary schools in Greater Merseyside. In a project called ‘Professor Fluffy's Greater Merseyside Primary Roadshow’, year five and six pupils take part in a range of activities aimed at raising aspirations and introducing the vocabulary of higher education. The project reaches over 140 primary schools a year in Greater Merseyside of which 30 also participate in a visit into one of the colleges or universities. Professor Fluffy's resources are linked to the key stage 2 national curriculum and include the Professor Fluffy comic book, activity booklet and over 20 curriculum modules, e.g. five modern languages and a variety of STEM subjects. The children, and their parents, are also able to access Professor Fluffy's own interactive website which has had over a million pages viewed over the last couple of years. At the end of the programme each pupil receives a special Professor Fluffy certificate in a ‘graduation ceremony’ to celebrate their participation, together with their very own Professor Fluffy. In addition to the roadshow and university visits, a teachers' pack, offering five sessions, will be available shortly for purchase by schools. The Professor Fluffy concept and delivery models have been franchised to over 20 partners across the country. So far, Professor Fluffy has visited over 350 primary schools and talked to 30,000 primary pupils and their parents.