Like a lot of people we have found working through the pandemic isolating. For a sector which has always felt like more of a community, the lack of physical conferences, round tables and briefings has created a vacuum for sharing ideas and supporting each other. As a movement, widening participation has always been greater than the sum of its parts, and not being able to meet, share and spark off colleagues has been sharply felt by the three of us.
Last year, in the midst of lockdown, we independently had been in touch with each other relating to Office for Students guidance and the issues we were facing. It occurred to us that if we were coming across similar issues and questions, then most likely others were too. To fill this gap, we started to develop an idea for a network for widening participation professionals with responsibility for responding to and monitoring Access and Participation Plans (APPs).
As we had previously worked closely with FACE we proposed to create an APP Special Interest Group (SIG) within its infrastructure. This is a great collaboration – being able to draw on FACE’s extensive membership and expertise, and gathering perspectives from sector professionals which can be fed back into the organisation as an insightful contribution to understanding the intersection between policy and practice.
The proposed SIG would be a forum for discussing policy guidance specifically around Access and Participation Plans, share best practice and offer professional support for each other as a community. The SIG would also represent a powerful collective voice which could be channelled and amplified through FACE.
After discussions with the FACE executive we are pleased to announce that the inaugural meeting of the APP SIG will be on 4 November from 13.30 – 15.00 on Teams. If you would like to participate, you can book your space by following this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/new-access-and-participation-plan-special-interest-group-sig-tickets-181347283607
Clare Allison, University of Kent
Wendy Fowle, The Open University
Gino Graziano, University of Southampton