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Title: Widening or Increasing Participation Within Further Education. A case study of a group of women returners and the barriers they faced on their journey to move on
Author: Jolliffe, Susan Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 331X
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2008
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Widening or increasing participation within Further Education. A case study of a group of women returnees and the barriers they faced on their journey to move on. The 1990's were a period of significant change within Further Education (FE), as portrayed by the Kennedy Report (1997) with its agenda to widen participation. Government policy was directed at developing the skills of an untapped workforce by creating a 'learning society'. Production of this 'telling' case study enabled an investigation into whether the strategies employed actually brought different recruits into FE or supported those already within the system. The study was based within a European Social Fund (ESp) partnership, Breaking Through The Barriers (BTTB), between Suffolk, Greece, Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Scotland. Suffolk was divided into six groups, providing access to the whole rural region, the Ipswich cohort being the focus of my research. This group of women participated in piloting an Accreditation of Prior Experimental Learning (APEL) package, which enabled the recognition of transferable skills that were identified and developed within their home environment. I adapted an evaluative framework to explore the intentions and outcomes of planners, providers and participants. The diverse evidence provided is used to produce a qualitative study from a predominantly 'learner voices' perspective. The thesis uses written programme feedback in addition to data collected specifically for this research, including a videoed focus group, observations, interviews and group discussions. My findings revealed that the beneficiaries actually recruited onto BTTB differed from those originally targeted and this impacted upon the implementation of the programme. Uniting the learners was a lack of self-belief, a search for personal growth, and the ultimate aim of moving on into employment. The women's dependence upon ESF support systems was highlighted by their feedback i.e. creche, transport costs and free entry. Such equality of opportunity issues affected many of the women's chances to progress into a mainstream environment. What emerged was the women's tendency to stay in 'comfort zones' that met their social needs and created reliance upon peer support. These learners revisited the same type of provision, a phenomenon referred to as the 'revolving door' syndrome. The dilemma is whether to try and change the participants or the system. In this case study the policies employed reflected the popular short-term view of individual development rather than structural change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available