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Richard Harrison School and Community Liaison Officer Open University Widening Participation Conference 2010 TO BE OR NOT TO BE: THE IMPACT OF WIDENING.

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Presentation on theme: "Richard Harrison School and Community Liaison Officer Open University Widening Participation Conference 2010 TO BE OR NOT TO BE: THE IMPACT OF WIDENING."— Presentation transcript:

1 Richard Harrison School and Community Liaison Officer Open University Widening Participation Conference 2010 TO BE OR NOT TO BE: THE IMPACT OF WIDENING PARTICIPATION PRACTICE AND RESEARCH IN DRAMA

2 Aims of the session Context for the research: overview of WP in higher education Reasons for WP in higher education: governmental and institutional drivers Reasons for engaging in WP activity Overview of WP activity at Central Overview of Career Pathways Mapping Project Initial findings from Career Pathways Mapping Project

3 Outline of the session -Context for WP activity -WP in HE: why do we do it? -WP at Central -Career Pathways Mapping Project -Plenary

4 My background -Currently School and Community Liaison Officer -Formerly Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions Officer at The University of Warwick -Worked in theatre marketing/audience development at Birmingham Repertory Theatre -Advanced Educational Practice at IoE

5 Outline of the session -Context for WP activity -WP in HE: why do we do it? -WP at Central -Career Pathways Mapping Project -Closing remarks

6 WP at Central: Central has a history of engaging with a diverse range of groups Central engages in a range of activities to promote widening participation to HE and to drama in particular

7 WP in higher education and the arts: We call it ‘widening participation’; they call it ‘audience development’ and ‘community engagement’. The aims, though, are the same: to broaden access to HE/the arts.

8 WP: a policy context “Widening participation addresses the large discrepancies in the take-up of higher education opportunities between different social groups. Under-representation is closely connected with broader issues of equity and social inclusion, so we are concerned with ensuring equality of opportunity for disabled students, mature students, women and men, and all ethnic groups. “We will work with others to raise aspirations and educational attainment among people from under-represented communities to prepare them for higher education, ensure success on their programme of study, improve their employment prospects and open possibilities for postgraduate study, and give them opportunities to return to learning throughout their lives.” HEFCE 17 December 2008

9 Policy drivers for WP activity -Former Government aim to achieve up to 50% of year olds having an experience of higher education. -Institutional desire to broaden and diversify student population. -Impact on learning environment for students and staff. -Positive effect of more diverse student - and staff - populations.

10 Policy drivers: the Government’s perspective -Government aim to achieve 50% - or 40% - of year olds having an experience of higher education. -New Labour imperative, though not a New Labour invention -Open University, P/T degrees, open studies -Office for Fair Access (OFFA) inaugurated in 2004 following The Higher Education Act Funding linked to WP and achieving targets set by HEFCE/DIUS

11 Policy drivers: the Government’s perspective “Britain can only succeed in a rapidly changing world if we develop the skills of our people to the fullest possible extent … to create an innovative and competitive economy.” John Denham, Former Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, at the Action on Access conference in December 2007

12 Outline of the session -Context for WP activity -WP in HE: why do we do it? -WP at Central -Career Pathways Mapping Project -Closing remarks

13 L Archer, M Hutchings, and A Ross. Higher Education and Social Class: Issues of Exclusion and Inclusion. London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2003 WP: the academic discourse “…There is a growing concern to increase, and diversify, the numbers of students in higher education… These drives to widen participation are motivated by a number of factors, including economic, institutional and social justice concerns… To achieve this target of widened (not merely increased) participation, new students will need to be recruited from previously under-represented groups.”

14 L Archer, M Hutchings, and A Ross. Higher Education and Social Class: Issues of Exclusion and Inclusion. London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2003 WP: the academic discourse “Currently, almost all young people from middle-class and professional families go on to university. Participation among young people from working-class groups are a key target of initiatives aimed at widening participation in post-compulsory education.”

15 P.J. Burke. ‘Fair access? Exploring gender, access and participation beyond entry to higher education’ in Leathwood C. and Francis, B. (Eds) Gender and Lifelong Learning: Critical Feminist Engagements. Abingdon: Routledge, 2006 WP: the academic discourse “Widening participation policy and practice must move away from deficit discourses and perspectives that hide the complex power relations tied to certain values to developing policies and practices that begin to challenge deeply embedded inequalities and exclusion in higher education.”

16 WP: the implications of WP/outreach AGAINSTFOR Lowering standardsEquality of opportunity for the individual Costly for Universities and society (interventions, extra support etc.) Limits social exclusion and the associated problems (Social mobility) WP students more likely to drop outEmployment / economic benefits (Good for individual, good for society) Mass HE lowers the market value of a degree (less delineation between individuals) Avoiding ‘waste of natural resources’ (not missing out on talent) Social engineering that disadvantages Independent School students Better relations between staff and student Devalues non-University education/career paths Greater diversity = healthier learning environment Source: Lewis, K. ‘Widening Participation: Philosophy, policy and practice’. Conference Proceedings, ‘AUA London Region Conference’, Birkbeck, University of London,

17 Outline of the session -Context for WP activity -WP in HE: why do we do it? -WP at Central -Career Pathways Mapping Project -Closing remarks

18 Key areas of focus at Central Age Disability Ethnicity Gender Socio-economic status – or ‘class’ (NS SEC)s

19 WP activity at Central Work of SPCD: Community Drama Officer (short courses, NST, Aimhigher), business development (communications support, voice), HEIF (SMEs, charities), Saturday Classes, Summer Schools (HEFCE and private). Other outreach at Central: placements, public productions, research seminars and lectures, consultancy work, external lettings, UG/PG programmes. Bursary and scholarship support.

20 The role of the SCLO Governed by OFFA and our access agreement Two areas of activity at Central: workshops and research. Innovative in drama subject area. Higher Education Audition/Interview Workshops Career Pathways Mapping Project Audition Vouchers Scheme Also OFFA RG, WP WP, Admissions WP, safeguarding policy, Meteor project

21 Higher Education Audition/Interview Workshops

22 Audition Vouchers Scheme

23 Outline of the session -Context for WP activity -WP in HE: why do we do it? -WP at Central -Career Pathways Mapping Project -Closing remarks

24 Overview of Career Pathways Mapping Project Driver for this project is the commitment made in Central’s access agreement. …development of a model for mapping the pathways taken by school students into the study of drama and theatre in higher education, enabling measurement of success of outreach activities in attracting applicants to HE and to the School… (Section 1.1) The School would aim to establish its mapping model over five years and then present the findings to other institutions and agencies in the sector. A key aim would be to identify which activities are most effective in attracting under-represented groups in HE in order to target funding more effectively and to invest in the most effective strategies. (Section 7.5.2) This is a longitudinal research project, which will utilise both quantitative and qualitative data.

25 Research aim -To develop a model for mapping career pathways into the study of drama/theatre in higher education.

26 Research questions - What experiences are available to young people who show an interest in drama/theatre during their secondary schooling? -What drama/theatre-related pathways are open to young people in London? -What advice is available to young people interested in progressing within drama/theatre? -How are young people’s aspirations explored and met?

27 Stages of the research project -The research project will be conducted over five academic years, and will comprise three main stages: -Pre-pilot stage ( ) during which sampling was explored, and methodologies established. -Pilot stage ( ) during which methodologies were tested, and literature reviewed. -Study ( ). -It is expected that the research will be concluded and published in July 2011.

28 Methodology -A mixed-method approach – thus enabling the collection of quantitative and qualitative data – is being employed, comprising: -initial questionnaire and interview; -workshop intervention; -follow-up questionnaire and interview; -questionnaire and face-to-face interview or written answer questions in subsequent years. -Statistical data will also be analysed and used.

29 Data gathering stages Year 10: -Initial group interview -Workshop intervention -Follow-up interview Year 11: -End-of-L2 study interview Year 12: -Progress update interview (can be postal questionnaire) Year 13: -End-of-L3 study interview (can be postal questionnaire)

30 Career Pathways Mapping Project: Initial Findings Initial hypotheses: -that many students who express an early interest in studying drama/theatre to a more advanced level do not have access to robust information, advice and guidance from all potential sources of this information; -that there is no encompassing model to map how such students may move through to HE-level study of drama/theatre, and the likely effects of making certain decisions, such as whether to follow ‘academic’, ‘vocational’ or ‘applied’ courses of study; -that there is no co-ordination across the London region or across relevant agencies in providing information, advice, guidance and opportunities specifically relating to drama study; -that the drama/theatre curricula and examination courses do not prepare students for all types of study, particularly vocational study that leads to a career in the theatre industries; -that drama/theatre as a subject within secondary, further and higher education is not viewed as favourably as other, more traditionally academic subjects.

31 Why do we engage in this activity? Broaden access to Central, and the subject area of drama in general. Institutional belief in the importance of WP/outreach. Helps us access potential students who may not otherwise engage with Central/drama. Desire to develop a diverse student – and staff – base which contributes to Central being an exciting place to study and work. There is an expectation on publicly-funded organisations (whether HE or the arts) that they will make themselves as accessible as possible to the communities they serve.

32 Outline of the session -Context for WP activity -WP in HE: why do we do it? -WP at Central -Career Pathways Mapping Project -Closing remarks

33 What were our aims for the session? Context for the research: overview of WP in higher education Reasons for WP in higher education: governmental and institutional drivers Reasons for engaging in WP activity Overview of WP activity at Central Overview of Career Pathways Mapping Project Initial findings from Career Pathways Mapping Project

34 What have we covered? -Context for WP activity -WP in HE: why do we do it? -WP at Central -Career Pathways Mapping Project -Closing remarks

35 Conclusions -WP in HE is driven by both institutional and governmental imperatives -WP is essential, not simply to fulfil Government objectives, but to ensure diversity of the student body -WP is the ‘philosophy’ behind this activity, and outreach the way of enacting it -The aim is to broaden access to higher education, and specifically at Central to drama as a subject area -Beware of the ‘deficit model’ approach -The individual is of paramount importance -We’re already doing a lot of good work, but there is much room for improvement!

36 Bibliography Go to to read Central’s WP Strategy Go to to read more about our school and community liaison activity. You’ll also see links to some of our other outreach activity. See the HEFCE website for further information on the strategic drivers behind WP: Go to to read Central’s access agreement Archer, L, M Hutchings, and A Ross. Higher Education and Social Class: Issues of Exclusion and Inclusion. London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2003 Burke, P.J. (2002) Accessing Education effectively widening participation. Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Books. Burke, P.J. ‘Fair access? Exploring gender, access and participation beyond entry to higher education’ in Leathwood C. and Francis, B. (Eds) Gender and Lifelong Learning: Critical Feminist Engagements. Abingdon: Routledge, 2006 Denham, J. (2007) ‘Speech’, Conference Proceedings, Action on Access Annual Conference, Gillborn, D. (2008) ‘What Happened to Race Equality?’, Conference Proceedings, ‘Widening Participation: Challenging Educational Inequalities’, Institute of Education, Lewis, K. ‘Widening Participation: Philosophy, policy and practice’. Conference Proceedings, ‘AUA London Region Conference’, Birkbeck, University of London, Reay, D, M. E. David and S Ball. (2005) Degrees of Choice: Social Class, Race and Gender in Higher Education. Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Books.

37 If you have any comments or questions, contact me on: Tel: +44 (0) Mob: +44 (0)


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