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Title: Investigating policies to widen participation : a case study of one sixth form college in the north west of England
Author: Down, Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 085X
Awarding Body: Staffordshire University
Current Institution: Staffordshire University
Date of Award: 2016
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This investigation adds to the research base by focusing on the impact of widening participation education policies that are designed to deliver social mobility over the period 2001 to 2010 at a college within the sixth form college sector. The methodology is based on the case study practice set out by Yin (1994). The research is a micro study using quantitative techniques of the effects of social inclusion policy on one college, considering the changes in various student inputs and outcomes and whether the investment was efficient and effective, using the educational production function as its theoretical basis. The creation of a college and student level database which includes a consistent measure of socio-economic background and real expenditure per student over a 10 year period has added to understanding by allowing a coherent analysis of the changes that took place; institutions need to be aware of definition changes and the importance of using consistent measures when evaluating developments over time. Perhaps the clearest signal that widening participation educational policies have not been delivered is that, although the College has been successful in attracting a greater number of less advantaged students, it has not been successful in increasing the percentage of less advantaged students in the overall cohort if the consistent measure of socio-economic background is used. The findings on progressing to higher education, although mixed, are more positive, but there is no evidence that funding has had a positive effect, which adds support to the findings elsewhere in the literature for other sectors of a lack of a value for money for such policies. The finding that Russell Group participation fell considerably for all groups of students over the period, even those students with high prior achievement, leads this research to question whether policy intervention in the form of top-down directives, with the provision of additional finance, is an efficient and effective use of resources. It may be more appropriate to direct resources targeted at social mobility to programmes that: increase parental engagement, develop the role of ‘supportive adult’ in colleges and generally assist in breaking down perceived or actual social barriers. In terms of professional development, the analysis suggested careful attention was necessary in the use of appropriate statistics: there were problems with Chi-square if the concern was with trends, but simple time series regression, although having limitations, may be more useful as a quick and easily conducted tool for management assessment of performance in some situations. Multiple regression, although more complicated, gave a detailed examination that may produce some useful management information, with the simpler linear probability model (LPM) often, but not always, preferable to logistic regression, given its easier presentation to non-specialist audiences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available