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Openings for Progression. Dr Lindsay Hewitt. The literature. A community of practice is “ a community created over time by the sustained pursuit of a shared enterprise ”. Smith, 2003

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openings for progression

Openings for Progression

Dr Lindsay Hewitt

the literature
The literature
  • A community of practice is “a community created over time by the sustained pursuit of a shared enterprise”. Smith, 2003
  • “In a partnership, there are always two kinds of objectives – the ones held in common and the ones peculiar to each partner”.

Mai, Kramer and Leubbert, 2005

the context
The context
  • The Open University in Scotland and South Lanarkshire Council Social Work Department - in partnership deliver the OU Diploma in Social Work, the BA (Hons) in Social Work
  • The Open University ‘Openings in the Community’ model – working in partnerships with a range of organisations in Scotland to offer widening access to higher education
  • Health and social care career paths identified by South Lanarkshire Council as offering opportunities South Lanarkshire
  • South Lanarkshire covers 1,772 square kilometres
  • Eleventh largest area in Scotland - almost 80% agricultural
  • Diverse mix of urban and rural environments
  • Routes to Work South (RTWS) clients
    • not currently working
    • recently left a job
    • out of work for a while
    • health problems
    • caring responsibilities
    • looking for a first job
    • most receiving some state benefits
the wp model
The WP model

Openings - a ‘gentle’ 20-22 week introduction to further study - successful students achieve 10 credits at SCQF Level 7.

Openings courses may enhance students’ confidence, self-esteem, study skills, employability,

and they may progress to …

further Health and Social Care-related study with the OU

employment and SVQ training with SLC at a level appropriate to individual needs

further study with other FE/HE providers

other training and employment

routes into health and social care
‘Routes into Health and Social Care’
  • Routes to Work South (RTWS) key worker funded by South Lanarkshire Council collaborates with the OU project worker
  • The OU project worker funded jointly by OU in Scotland and Health & Social Care Faculty
  • OU project worker liaises with the RTWS key worker in supporting access to the Openings programme.
what was it like
What was it like?
  • The student –

“Very scared at start. Did ok at school. Something missing out of my life. Lanarkshire life was earmarked out. All those years working, never crossing my mind to try (OU)”

  • RTWS key worker –

“A good working relationship. No issues between us. At first I didn’t know much about the OU. I had the ‘OU worker’ to ask anything I wasn’t sure about. We were working towards the same thing.”

what was it like1
What was it like?
  • The OU project worker- “I know the area, how the OU works. Enjoyed developing local relationship with RTWS staff/ clients. Some of the organisational issues, and lack of student engagement with the support on offer frustrating. At times it was like a full-time job.”
  • The psychology tutor – “I’ve supported a wide range of students at all levels. Know how daunting a new course can be. It was difficult to arrange local tutorials – trying to get a time and venue to suit everybody. The students had different problems with the course. Often personal/family issues got in the way.”
cost benefit analysis
Cost-benefit analysis

‘Hard’ outcomes initially disappointing, but improving

  • Expensive in terms of financial costs and time
  • £6,000 in ‘wrap round’ support and admin

Investing in the future?

  • Relationships established with local organisations, local colleges and community learning centres
  • Student perception – word of mouth, awareness of OU and of RTWS, of opportunities to support moving into work, education, training
associated factors
Associated factors
  • RTWS Key Worker only appointed May 09
  • Level of student engagement
  • Conflicting understandings of ‘widening participation’
  • Locally, shared language and agreement
  • Different organisational culture
lessons learned
Lessons learned

‘advice and guidance … crucial in supporting potential learners’NIACE, 2005

  • but relatively poor uptake of support available

“In a partnership, there are always two kinds of objectives – the ones held in common and the ones peculiar to each partner”

Mai, Kramer and Leubbert, 2005

  • need to establish and agree partner objectives
  • need to address students’ objectives and ‘buy-in’

Contact: Christine in Scotland, Learning Development 226 3851For more information about Openings courses, click