Lifelong Learning Network (LLN) progression agreements: An effective and sustainable approach for promoting the social mobility of vocational students?

Woodfield, Steve, May, Steve and van der Sluis, Hendrik (2013) Lifelong Learning Network (LLN) progression agreements: An effective and sustainable approach for promoting the social mobility of vocational students? Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 15(2), pp. 6-20. ISSN (print) 1466-6529

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Abstract

This article critically reflects upon the findings from a recent Higher Education Academy (HEA) funded literature synthesis on how progression agreements (PAs) can promote social mobility through improving pathways to the professions and vocational careers (May et al., 2012). The synthesis reviewed and analysed material contained in the HEA’s Widening Access, Student Retention and Success (WASRS) national programmes archive that focused on the PAs, many of which formed part of Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)-funded Lifelong Learning Networks (LLNs). Progression agreements are designed to support the transition into Higher Education (HE) for holders of (Level 3) vocational qualifications that facilitate access to UK HE - such as the Business & Technology Education Council (BTEC) Diploma - including those studying via work based learning (WBL) programmes, and also to help develop clearly defined access routes into graduate careers. Such students tend to come from lower socio-economic groups than those with traditional HE entry qualifications such as ‘A’ levels (Round et al., 2012), making PAs potentially important instruments for the promotion of upward social mobility, through providing alternative pathways into and through HE. Although the full impact of their activities won't be fully understood for some time, the article considers some initial evidence based on the archive literature on the impact of progression agreements in areas such as: academic and employment benefits for students; employer engagement; and the status of vocational qualifications in HE. The archive material provides evidence of positive impact in many of these areas, but the synthesis showed that quantitative data on student progression and longitudinal studies tracking student cohorts are lacking. Furthermore, the end of the HEFCE funding streams supporting progression, and recent HE policy developments, places the long-term sustainability of inter-institutional partnerships and networks at risk. Securing their future is likely to require the development of a re-orientated and mutually supportive partnership approach between HE and Further Education (FE) institutions.

Item Type: Article
Research Area: Education
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Interdepartmental and Cross-Faculty Research Groups and Centres (until 2017)
Depositing User: Steve May
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2013 15:02
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2013 15:02
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5456/WPLL.15.2.6
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/26262

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