Enabling staff development praxis: establishing effective journeys through the looking glass of widening participation perception

Elaine Fisher

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Higher education has always aspired to be seen to encourage open access to all types of learner including those with vocational qualifications. The reality of participation rates for such vocational learners is low (about 18%), however the reasons for such levels appear to mainly be reflected in perceptive issues amongst employers, learners and educational staff rather than procedural or technical barriers within qualifications themselves. Key to aiding progression are staff in higher education and the associated development opportunities they can access. Accepting there are issues specific to certain occupational strands in higher education, it is a clear cross-party political intent to encourage further progression of vocational learners and indeed to increase the whole vocational delivery of such provision as apprenticeships. Recent announcements around fee levels and demands for visible efforts relating to widening participation make the requirement to increase progression levels critical to the future of educational pathways.There is also a clear demand for such vocational qualification pathways from a cohort of interested learners, supported by employers, all with an intention towards progression. Accepting there is a case for widening participation, associated change within Higher Education (HE) appears to require staff development support to ensure such change occurs. This paper outlines some of the key activities, operated by the Western Vocational Lifelong Learning Network, that can successfully be adopted to encourage such learners and ensure higher education meets the aspirations for widening participation to this key cohort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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