Vocational diversification and influences of social class and gender in educational decision-making: the case of university technical colleges in England

Ann-Marie Bathmaker

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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    University Technical Colleges (UTCs), introduced in 2010, represent a
    new form of vocational education for young people in England. They
    contribute to an increasingly complex landscape of education and
    training, promoted as a creative means of meeting the diverse
    educational needs of young people (Fuller and Unwin, Lond Rev Educ
    9(2):191–204, 2011). UTCs respond in particular to national and
    international policy agendas that seek to promote participation in STEM
    subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths). They have been
    championed by the UK’s Edge Foundation as providing a “highly
    regarded” course of study “with clear progression routes into higher
    education or further learning in work,” especially careers in technician
    and degree level engineering.
    However, there is very limited research evidence to show whether
    young people and their parents understand the different options
    available, how decisions to attend a UTC are made, nor whether the
    education offered in these new institutions enhances or conversely limits
    the opportunities of students who attend them.
    This chapter draws on data from a project that carried out detailed case
    studies in two UTCs in England during 2014. The project addressed the
    following core question:
    What impact does vocational diversification in the form of UTCs have on the
    decision- making and experience of boys and girls from different class
    The research used a holistic approach focusing on the whole institution
    in relation to the introduction and development of new educational
    policies. This encompassed analysis of “the situated, material,
    professional and external dimensions” (Braun et al., Discourse 32
    (4):585–596, 2011, p. 585) of the schools, recognizing the schools’
    origins (and that of their communities), their ethos and culture, their
    physical environment and resources, and their staff, students, and families as well as external influences. The chapter offers an analysis of
    policy enactments (Ball et al., How schools do policy: policy enactments
    in secondary schools. Routledge, 2011) in the two case study institutions
    and considers how these enactments may reinforce or challenge historical
    patterns of gender and class divisions in vocational education in England.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of Vocational Education and Training
    Subtitle of host publicationDevelopments in the Changing World of Work
    EditorsSimon McGrath
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Print)9783319945330
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2019


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