• Travelling hopefully: an exploration of the limited possibilities for Level 1 students in the English further education system

      Atkins, Liz; University of Huddersfield (Taylor and Francis, 01/07/2008)
      This paper discusses the findings of a small?scale qualitative study exploring the aspirations and learning identities of three groups of Level 1 students in two English further education (FE) colleges. Emerging identities are explored in the context of classed and gendered dispositions and the educational positioning of the young people. Empirical sections show that the young peoples lifestyle aspirations have a heavy celebrity influence and that their occupational aspirations have an unreal, dreamlike quality associated with a lack of awareness of the trajectories they would need to follow to achieve their ambitions. Further, the paper argues that whilst the young people are developing identities in which learning, leisure, work and domesticity are synonymous, leisure identities assume the greatest importance to them. The paper concludes that this aspect of their young lives is significant since it provides an escapefrom the mundane drudgery of a low?value vocational programme and the inevitability of a future engaged in low?paid, low?skillled work.
    • Visions, dreams and reality: The limited possibilities for level 1 post-16 students

      Atkins, Liz; University of Huddersfield (01/09/2007)
      This paper discusses the findings of a study exploring the aspirations and learning identities of 3 groups of level 1 students in 2 English Further Education (FE) colleges. It gives a brief description of the methodology employed and an overview of each of the three groups. It then summarises the findings from the data, to provide a context for the discussion which considers the key themes arising from the study. Drawing on the data and on relevant literature, the paper goes on to explore the positioning of these young people in the context of class and gender stereotypes, their aspirations and developing identities.
    • What is the impact of University work-based learning for early year's practitioners in Norway and England? Examples of processes, outcomes and impact from the undertaking of work-based projects

      Atkins, Liz; Furu, Anne; Heslop, Kay; Kaarby, Karen Marie; Lindboe, Inger Marie; Mpofu-Currie, Lucy; Northumbria University (Open University, 01/02/2018)
      This paper is focused on partnership work between academics in Norway and England involved in the teaching of university and work-based learning programmes. Initiated four years ago, the collaboration has developed into a community of practice involving a range of shared activities. These activities include academic and student exchanges, nursery visits, seminars and workshops, which culminate in a joint conference presentation. This paper explores the cultural and curricula differences between the two programmes, and considers how these impact on the individual practitioners undertaking them and on the settings in which they work. The data draws on four students' experiences to exemplify learning in a work-based context. Ethical issues were addressed in a manner consistent with the British Education Research Association (BERA) (2011) guidelines for educational research, and the study utilised theoretical frameworks that drew on concepts of work-based learning (e.g. Colley et al., 2003). Findings suggest that, despite the significant differences in culture and curricula approach, both programmes appear to enhance the practice of practitioners in early years. Key impacts of the programme included evidence of personal change and professional development (Mpofu-Currie, 2015), which were reflective of democratic rather than instrumental notions of professionalism (Atkins and Tummons, 2017). There was also evidence of significant gains in knowledge, manifested through improved pedagogy and more meaningful engagement with the children in each setting. This work demonstrates the benefits of knowledge exchange and dialogue to promote cross-cultural learning experiences. The authors hope that it will inform the development of innovative work-based learning programmes and wider policy in relation to work-based learning, as well as knowledge transfer between Norway and England.
    • Youth transitions, VET and the making of class: changing theorisations for changing times?

      Atkins, Liz; Avis, James; Northumbria University (Taylor and Francis, 19/07/2017)
      The paper places youth transitions and VET within the global policy context in which economic competiveness is hegemonic. It compares research from the 1970s/80s, which explored young peoples lived experiences of VET and youth training schemes with contemporary work on similar themes. It argues that there are continuities and discontinuities in the conditions that young people face in their transitions to waged labour. Continuities can be seen in constructions of working class youth, but also by the way in which policy views the economy as characterised by upskilling. This is called into question when set against the existence of significant numbers of low waged, low skilled jobs in the English economy. There are also discontinuities that are the result of changes in class and employment structures. As a result precariousness has become ubiquitous with this existing in tandem with labour that is surplus to the requirements of capital. The paper re-considers youth transitions and re-evaluates the notion of serendipity, suggesting these concepts need to be rethought and reworked in current conditions.