Promoting social mobility by creating pathways to the professions and vocational careers: the role of progression agreements. A literature synthesis of the widening access, student retention and success national programmes archive

May, Steve, Van der Sluis, Hendrik and Woodfield, Steve (2012) Promoting social mobility by creating pathways to the professions and vocational careers: the role of progression agreements. A literature synthesis of the widening access, student retention and success national programmes archive. Project Report. HEA Academy, York, U.K..

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Abstract

There is strong current interest in social mobility, especially in the light of the conclusion of the Leitch Review (2006) that highlighted the importance of upskilling the workforce and the ongoing Milburn review (2012) on the need for greater inclusion. This report brings together material related to Lifelong Learning Network (LLN) progression agreements (PAs) and, to a lesser extent, the Aimhigher progression framework and considers their role and potential impact on social mobility.
Relevant documents, both within the WASRS archive and externally, were identified through a keyword search. These documents were imported into thematic coding software and text excerpts related to PAs and social mobility extracted and then brought together to provide the basis of the synthesis.
Students studying on vocational programmes were found to have benefited from LLN activities in relation to information advice and guidance, curriculum development, new courses and agreements between feeder and receiving institutions. However, HEFCE (SQW, 2010) is concerned with their continuation beyond the funding period, since, although alternative funding modules have been explored by most LLNs, buy-in and carry-over has not been guaranteed. As the funding period was limited, and the continuation of the LLN outputs uncertain, it might be concluded that LLN activities have only benefited a few cohorts of vocational students. Recent changes to the HE funding system are likely to have significant impact on its legacy in general, and progression agreements in particular.
Indirect benefits include the deepening and formalising of partnerships within LLNs, previously established informal networks, and the formation of new partnerships (SQW, 2010). However, in the current political climate of increased competition between HEIs and higher fees, such relationships between institutions are likely to come under increasing pressure. Therefore a new collaborative environment will need to be built and proven over time. Most LLNs sought partnership with employers and engagement was apparent in the development of curricula and new courses (e.g. Kewin et al., 2011). The interests of employers have also manifested themselves in a desire to upskill their employees. Furthermore, many LLNs have targeted their developments on subject areas for which there was a regional employment need (e.g. Elgie, 2010). However, the current challenging economic climate might constrain employers and their willingness to engagement with the remaining LLNs, placing their sustainability under further pressure.
It is also important to emphasise that providing clear and robust evidence of success is difficult for any intervention. The key challenges centre around the following issues: measurement of impacts that may only become identifiable over long time periods; attribution of success when there are other political and social factors and policy interventions at play; unintended consequences of interventions (positive and negative); and differing interpretations of success by stakeholders.

Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Subjects: Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Kevin Sanders
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2013 16:05
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 10:22
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/5441

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