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FACE 2009 AIMHIGHER AND THE FE COLLEGE: Strategic synergy? Dr James Tate and Sue Hatt, Aimhigher South West University of the West of England, Bristol.

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Presentation on theme: "FACE 2009 AIMHIGHER AND THE FE COLLEGE: Strategic synergy? Dr James Tate and Sue Hatt, Aimhigher South West University of the West of England, Bristol."— Presentation transcript:

1 FACE 2009 AIMHIGHER AND THE FE COLLEGE: Strategic synergy? Dr James Tate and Sue Hatt, Aimhigher South West University of the West of England, Bristol

2 FACE 2009 INTRODUCTION Importance of FE to HE progression FE and working class learners Dearing and the ‘special mission’ The launch of Aimhigher The FE role in AH policy – ‘pivotal’

3 FACE 2009 METHODOLOGY Desk based research –Literature review –Policy analysis –Review of FE websites in SW Fieldwork –Questionnaires to FE Colleges (50) –Interviews with AH area managers (6) –Interviews with FE college staff (8)

4 FACE 2009 LOCAL MODELS National policy BUT local implementation SW: 3 area partnerships = 3 models –FE learners as recipients of AH –FECs as providers of AH to schools –FECs as deliverers and recipients Factors affecting success –Engagement in planning –Clarity and coherence –Alignment with FEC’s own agenda

5 FACE 2009 Strategic Alignment 1 “Institutions refer to the involvement of senior management as being key to the success of their widening participation strategy. It facilitates the decision-making process and promotes a more integrated approach to widening participation across the institution.” Thomas et al (2006) From the margins to the mainstream, Universities UK/SCOP “The extent to which WP and diversity was championed at the most senior level had an impact on how they were perceived and valued within the institution, and therefore how embedded they were in the minds of the staff.” Bridger et al (2007) Embedding widening participation and promoting student diversity: what can be learned from a business case approach? HE Academy

6 FACE 2009 Strategic Alignment 2 “We are the curriculum managers. We do have an HE strategy group, which is all the curriculum managers and some of the programme managers.... Senior managers recognise and say ‘there’s a need for a role here’ but we’re the doers.... You’ve got to have people who have got that curriculum knowledge.” “... the Vice-Principal has a good awareness of [Aimhigher] and he knows [what] he wants to do with it and what role it fulfils... but it is up to middle managers like myself to make sure that those strategic goals are put into place and embedded within curriculums”

7 FACE 2009 Curriculum 1 Middle-management involvement in Aimhigher significant because of their curriculum-awareness. Connecting Aimhigher activities to the FE curriculum is seen as justifying a school or college’s investment of student time and staff time in those activities. “.... that is what schools would say to you. We cannot afford the day out, we cannot afford the staff for the day out and we can’t afford the coach for a day out that doesn’t have a return for students curriculum.”

8 FACE 2009 Curriculum 2 This would place a high value on Aimhigher’s masterclass/subject enrichment activities. This is consistent with the FE Questionnaire results where almost a quarter of events (24.7%) were masterclass/subject-enrichment events. This “return for student’s curriculum” is relevant also to the continuance of the beneficial effects of Aimhigher in FECs beyond the lifetime of the programme itself.

9 FACE 2009 Post-Aimhigher Sustainability: that having proven their value to an institution certain Aimhigher activities will be continued by that institution under an alternative source of funding. Embedding: AH activity is incorporated within other larger events and activities organised by the institution.  Legacy: that the specific AH activities will not continue as such without AH funding but the lessons learned from those AH activities will continue to influence and inform the institution’s many other activities so that the primary WP concerns of Aimhigher will persist in other activities.

10 FACE 2009 Sustainability That having proven their value to an institution, certain Aimhigher activities will be continued by that institution under an alternative source of funding. “.... if you take something like the masterclasses, you know, that we really benefited from; we would have to fund-raise.... linked to every course is enrichment money.... It could be that a proportion of that is used.... So, yes, I suppose there could be other sources there that one would have to look at because this is so important.”

11 FACE 2009 Embedding An Aimhigher activity is incorporated within other larger events and activities organised by the institution, and the embedding Aimhigher is seeking is one where the larger activities in which it is embedded will continue post-Aimhigher; particularly activities “embedded in curriculums”. [with continuance] “.... the progression weeks and that sort of thing would happen anyway, because we involved Aimhigher with us, we would run without them.” [without continuance] “... all the kids will benefit from it in the class by going on the trips, its [Aimhigher funding] paying for a coach or something, but if there are five Aimhigher students in there, then it covers them.”

12 FACE 2009 Legacy That the specific activities will not continue as such in the absence of AH funding but the lessons learned from those AH activities will continue to influence and inform the institution’s other activities so that the primary widening participation concerns of Aimhigher will persist in those other activities. “.... it is hard to say what is Aimhigher and what is not, because things are happening anyway with branded things. We say it is Aimhigher, but with a lot of the taster days and visits... we organise them with other universities but it is just part of their general marketing.... I still get what I need from the universities even if they are not seeing it as an Aimhigher offer.”

13 FACE 2009 Key Points 1 Strategic alignment must include not only senior managers but also the middle-managers (Curriculum Managers) who are responsible for the actual implementation of any such alignment. For this implementation to be successful, strategic alignment must also be understood in terms of how well Aimhigher activities can be made consistent with, and complementary to, the college curriculum.

14 FACE 2009 Key Points 2 The customary use of the term “embedding” may be clarified in terms of different classifications of the ways in which the beneficial effects of Aimhigher might continue post-Aimhigher: sustainability, embedding, and legacy. Our understanding of what is meant by “embedding” must include policy and practice being embedded within curriculums. Strategic alignment, curriculum development, and embedding are not three separate issues for Aimhigher. Rather there is a direct connection uniting these three things as elements of a coherent whole.

15 FACE 2009 CONTACT DETAILS Jim Tate Sue Hatt Aimhigher South West Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities University of the West of England Coldharbour Lane Bristol BS16 1QY


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