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Aspiration and constraint in the post-COVID post-compulsory crisis

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After decades of uncertainty about the future of education and work, the global pandemic has further undermined old ideas about post-compulsory education as a route to well-defined occupations and identities. The profound disruption of economic and social life before and during the COVID crisis has summoned up new aspirations for individuals and the world they inhabit; yet it also provides little clarity about educational routes to achieve them.

Post-16 education, which had already begun to shake off its relative obscurity in several countries, has been further propelled towards the top of policy agendas by the recent crisis. Yet it remains unclear whether in the post-COVID world it will be the enabler of a new flourishing of meaningful work and lives in a more sustainable world; or a tool for the imposition of new constraints on such aspirations, with a further narrowing of programmes and practices preparing students and educators alike for unequal, routinised or workless futures.

This session brings together several papers submitted to the BERA Conference in the Post-Compulsory and Lifelong Learning SIG on the eve of the pandemic. The research they report remains strikingly relevant, as important indications of the dilemmas and challenges now facing this educational sphere. They range from the economic context of technologised work(lessness), through the heightening of social inequalities, to the living concerns of both educators and students in this field. 


Profile picture of James Avis
James Avis, Professor

Professor of PCE at University of Derby

James Avis in an Emeritus Professor of the university of Huddersfield & Prof of post-compulsory education at the university of Derby. His research interests lie in post-compulsory/post-secondary education and life-long learning. He has written...

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Martell Baines, Mrs

Progression Manager - Widening Participation at Leeds Arts University

Martell Baines role is the Progression Widening Participation (WP) Manager at Leeds Arts University and a practitioner researcher. She is the current (2020 21) Chair of the Access and Participation Strategy Group for the Office for Students...

Profile picture of Lynne Taylerson
Lynne Taylerson, Dr

Director & Lead Trainer at Real Time Education Limited (ITP)

Lynne Taylerson is a further education lecturer, teacher educator, mentor and director of Real Time Education, an independent training provider. Her doctoral research uses a netnographic approach to investigate FE practitioners’ use of social...

Profile picture of Christina Donovan
Christina Donovan, Ms

Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Christina Donovan is a Lecturer and Researcher in the Faculty of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, having previously worked in the Further Education sector. Her doctoral studies explored the nature of trust and distrust and its...

Profile picture of Sarah Bates Evoy
Sarah Bates Evoy, Ms

HE Lecturer; FET tutor at Waterford Institute of Technology

Sarah Bates Evoy is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning in Waterford Institute of Technology (Ireland) and a further education tutor in the Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board. Her present...

Profile picture of Charlotte Chadderton
Charlotte Chadderton, Professor

Professor at University of Derby

Charlotte’s research is in the field of social justice in education with a particular focus on race (in)equality and on the way in which different kinds of inequalities are produced and reproduced in educational spaces and by educational...

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Frances Ann Norton, Ms

Subjects Leader Postgraduate Studies at Leeds Arts University

Frances Ann Norton’s current research investigates strategies to develop student critical thinking, using Community of Inquiry (CoI) as a methodology with non-traditional and lifelong learners. A conceptual framework built on the ideas of...

Profile picture of John Preston
John Preston, Professor

Professor of Sociology at University of Essex

John is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Leadership Fellow in Conflict, Crime and Security. John works on the sociology of disasters, emergencies, and existential threat. He also...

Profile picture of Samantha Broadhead
Samantha Broadhead, Professor

Head of Research at Leeds Arts University

Professor Samantha Broadhead is the Head of Research at Leeds Arts University. Her research interests are related to widening participation, in particular the Access to HE education and the experiences of mature students. She is also interested...


Profile picture of Mike Seal
Mike Seal, Professor

Professor in youth and community education at St. Marys University

Mike is the national officer of the Professional Association of Lecturers in Youth and Community Work and a visiting professor at Leeds Beckett and Newman University Birmingham. He was previously Professor of Education and Social Mobility at the...

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Bill Esmond, Dr

Associate Professor at University of Derby

Bill Esmond is associate professor at the University of Derby, where he is cluster lead for research in the field of technical and vocational education and training (TVET), professional and continuing education. Following extensive periods of...


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