Supporting progression to HE: the role of colleges and vocational courses

Gartland, Clare and Smith, Christine (2018) Supporting progression to HE: the role of colleges and vocational courses. Education & Training, 60 (6). pp. 637-650. ISSN 0040-0912

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Vocational courses in England support the progression to Higher Education (HE) of large numbers of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, yet there is little research exploring the college experiences of these young people prior to entering university. This paper considers the experiences
of young people on Level 3 Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) vocational courses in their progression to Higher Education (HE) from differently positioned post-16 colleges in England.

A qualitative study was undertaken into the experiences of students on BTEC courses in four subject clusters (science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), arts and humanities, social sciences
and health) at both a Further Education College and a Sixth Form College in an area of multiple deprivation and low HE participation. Young people’s experiences of BTEC courses and the pastoral support and guidance they receive are explored through the conceptual lens of ‘possible selves’ and
using Bourdieu’s ideas of capital, habitus and field.

Pedagogies and practices on BTEC courses are found to support the development of relevant social and cultural capital and help young people formulate well-articulated ‘possible selves’ as university
students, even amongst students who previously had not considered university as an option. The findings illustrate how differently positioned colleges support students’ progression and identify challenges presented by an increasingly stratified and marketised system.

The study highlights the transformative potential of BTEC courses and their role in supporting progression to HE amongst young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The current emphasis on standardisation and rigour as mechanisms to better equip students for HE
neglects the unique contribution BTEC pedagogies and practices make to encouraging HE participation. A Bourdieusian and ‘possible selves’ theoretical framework has provided new insights into these valuable learning processes

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: progression to HE, BTEC pedagogies and practices, theoretical framework, Bourdieusian, possible selves
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Young People & Education
Depositing User: Clare Gartland
Date Deposited: 02 May 2018 09:59
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2018 10:44

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