AffiliationSheffield Hallam University
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AbstractThis paper will aim to determine how successful Aimhigher is as a potential mechanism of social justice. It is concerned primarily with the aims and intentions of the programme and how it has developed over a six year period since the launch of Excellence Challenge in 2001. It is not intended as critique of widening participation policies and practices generally; there is an ample body of literature that questions the impact of widening participation and even the notion of barriers to higher education for some groups (see particularly Gorard et al: 2006). The authors of the current paper believe that, while there are caveats about the lack of comparable datasets or 'smoking gun' causal links between intervention and enrolment, such policies are generally successful in raising educational attainment and raising aspirations and awareness of HE among underrepresented groups. The authors draw on their own and others' research that support the notion that Aimhigher in particular makes a positive difference (Bowers-Brown et al 2006, CRE 2005, McCaig & Bowers-Brown 2007, Hatt et al, EKOS,2007). As such, this paper can be seen as 'friendly fire' rather than a full frontal attack on methodological or ideological grounds. However, we will conclude that Aimhigher fails to fulfil its potential to be a force for social justice, in part because of a fundamental weakness in the concept of Aimhigher, and in part because of structural weaknesses in the operation of Aimhigher partnerships.
CitationMCCAIG, C.and BOWERS-BROWN, T. (2007). 'Aimhigher: achieving social justice?'In: British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Institute of Education, University of London, September 5-8 2007.