The research was based upon a partnership between four universities
and four further education (FE) sector colleges from the North,
Midlands and South of England. 16 FE learning sites
provided the focuses for an intensive examination of educational
practice, learning and learning cultures by means of a four-year
longitudinal study. The principal aims of the project were to deepen
understanding of the complexities of learning; identify, implement
and evaluate strategies for the improvement of learning opportunities;
and enhance practitioners' capacity for enquiry into FE practice.
The partnership involved close
collaboration between FE- and university-based researchers and FE
teachers, students and managers and was integrated with existing
communities of practice, with the object of strong impact on the
practice of those involved.
The project was backed by an elaborate dissemination plan supported
by the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA). Project activities
and outcomes were reported to practitioners, managers and policy-makers
within and beyond the four selected FE colleges through local, regional
and national workshops, seminars, conferences and publications.
Opportunities for participation were extended to
an expanded network of practitioners, managers and policy-makers.
They researched their own practices using ideas developed within
the project, and operationalised, experimented with and evaluated the
themes identified by the project teams. Their insights were fed
back into the on-going work and thinking of the college-based project
teams and the project as a whole.
Note: Professor Martin
Bloomer of the University of Exeter, died in November 2002.
He was one of the original Directors of this project, and his unique
contribution will be greatly missed.