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Case study: pivoting to online with The Sutton Trust

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Like thousands of other organisations around the world, The Sutton Trust had its plans ripped up during the global coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Their summer schools programming was forced to move online and be delivered unlike it ever had been previously. However, The Sutton Trust was able to turn this challenge into an opportunity; by moving online, they ended up supporting even more students than originally planned for and still delivered a superb summer of work. At the heart of it was our platform.


At-a-glance results


We supported programming across 20 universities and hundreds of Sutton Trust Summer School programmes and trained over 800 Ambassadors from The Sutton Trust and partner universities.


Between July and September 2020, our platform facilitated nearly 14,500 messages in just over 1,300 conversations.


3,678 posts and 2,332 FAQs from Sutton Trust Ambassadors were commissioned, collected and published through our platform.

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The challenge


The Sutton Trust already had plans in progress to build a new online platform to provide a digital offering to students that didn’t quite gain a place on their desired programme. Sutton Trust Online was intended to run alongside in person programming for their Pathways programmes and UK summer schools, which are usually hosted at over 20 universities across the UK.

But, coronavirus changed all that. Quickly, all programming moved entirely online - all of the content was delivered remotely, as was the peer-to-peer support offered by their Ambassadors through our platform.

However, the Sutton Trust didn’t shirk the challenge; by moving online they were able to increase the amount of students they supported by 100%.

The Sutton Trust used our Group TAP Page to bring together over 800 ambassadors from various institutions so that students could speak directly to ambassadors not only related to their programme, but also Sutton Trust Alumni and ambassadors from different sectors and universities. We integrated with Sutton Trust Online’s Single Sign On process to ensure that students could seamlessly start conversations with ambassadors after signing in to their STO account.

We also ran a series of online training workshops to ensure the Trust’s 300 Ambassadors were confident using our platform and knew what was expected of them in their roles.


Why TAP?


Direct conversations: Our chat feature allowed for authentic, peer-to-peer conversations between prospects and The Sutton Trust’s Ambassadors. These conversations helped answer burning questions, and equip thousands of young people to make confident decisions about their future.


Safeguarding by design: Our ‘safeguarding by design’ approach to building our platform – with in-built checks and alerts – offered a safe space for conversation and reflected The Sutton Trust’s passion for safeguarding.


A passion for WP and outreach: We share their passion for widening participation and outreach - one of our co-founders has first-hand experience of widening participation to access higher education. Work in this area reflects our company mission and it aligned with the goals of The Sutton Trust.



We supported programming across 20 universities and over 300 Sutton Trust summer school programmes and trained 800 Sutton Trust Ambassadors.

Between July and September 2020, our platform facilitated nearly 14,500 messages in just over 1,300 conversations.

3,678 posts and 2,332 FAQs from Sutton Trust Ambassadors were commissioned, collected and published through our platform.

“Building a professional and social network is a key component of our programmes and we wanted to recreate these interactions on our new digital platform. The Access Platform has allowed us to connect our students with our growing alumni community. It has helped our students to chat to their peers, and gain advice and tips from alums who are just a few steps ahead of them.”


Binda Patel, Head of Innovation at the Sutton Trust



“As it was an online course, I was worried it would not be as immersive and interactive as the usual in-person summer programme. Though, the Sutton Trust tackled this by having regular communication with us throughout the day, and even had socials!” - Student, UK Summer Schools 2020

“Can I just say: Wow! This is so much more than I expected. I thought STO was just going to be a backup for all those we could not reach via your summer programs and a “sticking plaster” to see us over COVID, but I was so wrong! Whilst you cannot fully replace the direct contact of the Summer Schools, STO can certainly stand on its own. It has so much promise. Well done to all involved.” – Sutton Trust Board member


Find out more


If you’d like to see how we can help you maximise your widening participation and outreach efforts, why not book a demo of our platform to see how we can help?


We’re also currently offering a period of three months’ free usage of all our features to give you time to get to know us and our platform better, and see what difference it can make to your recruitment efforts.


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