‘Their defining moments’: Identifying critical influences for progression into post compulsory education in the arts.

Baines, Martell (2020) ‘Their defining moments’: Identifying critical influences for progression into post compulsory education in the arts. In: Delivering the Public Good of Higher Education – Widening Participation, Place & Lifelong Learning. FACE publications. ISBN 9780995492240 (In Press)


Widening Participation (WP) outreach is delivered to all ages in schools, colleges and community settings by higher education providers (HEPs). The impetus for this engagement is to meet the requirements of the WP commitment for the institution as well as related policies and practices. This is in order to create fairer, more equitable access into post compulsory education. Specific ‘target’ groups and individuals are identified through a variety of WP criteria, under-representation or factors of disadvantage. This study is located within a specialist arts institution. It is a practitioner research study that utilises narrative enquiry as a method using critical incidents technique (CIT). Semi-structured interviews with ‘storytelling prompts’ were carried out to provide case studies of five highly engaged arts students. All had studied creative subjects as undergraduate degrees at the institution. The resulting narratives provide insights into their decision making. They relate an array of incidents that the respondents acknowledge as having been influential and had informed their progression into post compulsory education (PCE). Analysis of transcripts identifies emergent themes and categories of those influences. Underpinned by existing literature on the debate on whether education alone can or cannot compensate for society, the research question asks: Can education that includes widening participation (WP) interventions compensate for society? - If so, to what extent?’ This research study focuses on one element of this overall question; whether critical incidents recalled by learners could support co-creation of meaningful WP interventions? A tentative conclusion that emerges through the students’ voices and narratives is that WP design with the aim to create positive learning and experiences for other participants following their path, can be informed by students’ experiences of their progression into post compulsory education.

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