The National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) scheme aimed to encourage more young people into higher education (HE). As part of this project, Neil was commissioned to undertake research on BTEC students. The outcome of this piece of work was insightful, and highly regarded by professionals in the sector. Neil is an expert in his area, and a skillful researcher, and speaker. It was a pleasure working with Neil; he is considerate, and a consummate professional. I would recommend Neil, and have done so on numerous occasions, without hesitation.
Kris Brenan, Student Recruitment Manager, Anglia Ruskin University
Aside from the financial impact that A-
The REACH partnership commissioned Dr Neil Raven to undertake this study with a reference to looking at formulating outcomes into training and mentoring packages for staff and students. It was clear that staff from the institutions involved were supportive of this project from the outset and were keen to work with Neil to find solutions to drive forward. Neil acted as a conduit for staff across institutions to share their knowledge and experience of widening participation and ‘drop out’ work, which carried on after the end of the commissioned project.
As the REACH Partnership Manager, I was fortunate to experience first hand some of the interviews and staff meetings with Neil during this time. I was impressed with his professional and approachable manner, the quality of his reports and feedback and the evidence he was able to bring to the partnership both from his findings and recommendations. I very much enjoyed working with him and would not hesitate to recommend him to others.
Christine Edmonston, REACH Partnership Manager.
The Outreach team at UEA had grown organically over a number of years and we felt it was time to review all work we undertake under the Outreach ‘banner’ to check our activities were current, relevant, following best practice and generally fit for purpose. Using an Independent Consultant was crucial to ensure impartiality and to allow us to benchmark ourselves against the wider Outreach sector.
Working with Neil was fantastic, his commitment and dedication to us was above all expectations and he conducted a really thorough review of our activities and ran broad focus groups with all stakeholders, we felt every aspect of our work was included. Neil was personable and easy to work with, taking the time to understand what we do and why, so he completely understood what we were trying to achieve in our team and from the review. The end report we received was just what we needed. The focus was on recommendations for developments and improvements to our projects, which have proved invaluable since and given us a really strong basis to structure our work on moving forward. I cannot recommend working with Neil enough, diligent, thoughtful and utterly competent, he has added huge value to our work.
Charlotte Wheatland, Assistant Head of Outreach, University of East Anglia.
The Suffolk and Norfolk Collaborative Outreach (SNCO) project commissioned Dr Neil Raven to undertake research into the barriers faced by young people in rural/coastal areas in our two counties. This was conducted through desk research and both focus groups and 1:1 interviews. Neil was always very professional and a delight to work with. The feedback from the many partners and schools was also very complimentary. The final report was of a very high standard, delivered on time and its findings and recommendations are being implemented not only in East Anglia but generated interest at a number of other universities and local authorities. I would have no hesitation in recommending Neil as a very able and professional researcher.
Miles Cole, External Relations Project Manager, University of Suffolk.
During our project we worked with Neil on a number of activities, including a research brief and CPD workshops for school staff. Both activities were enhanced by Neil’s vast knowledge and experience in the sector -
Abigail Paine, Widening Participation Officer, Lincolnshire Outreach Network.
I asked Neil to conduct some work around a three year externally funded project. The project involved working with first year undergraduate students, giving them an insight into the cultural sector and supporting them to develop their own session plans, and delivering arts activities to children at local deprived primary schools. Aims included raising student’s skills and confidence so that they were more ready for employment and progression, and creating happier human beings who could engage diverse audiences and give back to the community.
I found Neil to be incredibly helpful from the word go. During our initial planning conversation he asked pertinent questions to really get to the root of what we were asking him to do. He made sure he had a full grasp of the project and our aims and objectives before he set about designing a framework to evaluate the project’s impact. His methodical and inquisitive manner made working with him a pleasure. I felt that he really took time to understand the purpose of the project and valued what we were trying to achieve. Professional and calm at all times, I felt Neil was the perfect person to get people to open up and share a genuine reflection of their experiences. He explained the processes and asked the team’s opinions, making us feel involved at all times. Neil was able to engage with both professional teachers and students during the evaluation which was essential.
The report Neil produced was incredibly useful. We were able to respond almost instantly to some of the suggested developments which were highlighted in easy to read text boxes. I was also able to pull pertinent quotes from the report to show to our funders. These were even more valuable considering they had been collected by an independent consultant.
I would highly recommend Neil -
Kate Beckwith, Arts Education Manager, University of Essex.
We were looking to fill a gap in our training provision to help our PhD students to make better use of reflection in their research. Neil was able to offer a session that covered exactly what we needed in “Reflective Practice and the Research Process”, which now runs twice a year as part of our formal programme. Neil is very professional and approachable, which helps him to build a good rapport with our students so that they explore the theory and practice of reflection effectively, and he always receives excellent feedback from his sessions. I would definitely recommend Neil to other institutions that are looking for an experienced professional to contribute to their development activities.
Dr Duncan Stanley, Loughborough University Doctoral College
At the Graduate School here at the University of Northampton we support doctoral researchers by providing skills training in many different areas. Whilst we use internal academics for some of our workshops, we like to offer students external expertise and, in the light of this, we had asked Dr Neil Raven to deliver a number of different workshops for us. He has run workshops in academic writing, qualitative data analysis and reflective practice. Feedback from Neil’s workshops has been ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ and our students find his experience, dedication to research and his thoughtful interpretation of complex theories well-
Simone Apel, Researcher Developer, University of Northampton.
The University of Lincoln Doctoral School has been establishing and progressing its Researcher Development programme for postgraduate students over the past few years, and through his input as an external facilitator Neil has been instrumental in enhancing our training offering. For over 6 years, Neil has provided an impressive suite of PhD/research-
Working with Neil to provide these sessions was an ease. Neil has been fantastically adaptable in revising and developing his materials according to our training needs. His relationship with our team has, without doubt, helped to push our programme onto bigger and better things than previously managed. He has always understood the direction and vision of our team and is the first to provide something new to aid this vision.
Our team and our students agree that Neil is a fantastic facilitator, whose humble and approachable delivery, plus quality materials and content, has truly made a difference in the development of our researchers. We would absolutely recommend Neil to any institution looking for a facilitator to aid developmental activity."
'Doctoral School team, University of Lincoln', October 2019