Guide to Writing a Widening Participation Blog Post

A core part of FACE’s mission is to amplify the voices of those working across the sector to widen participation in higher education and support a diverse range of students to succeed. One way that it does this is to provide a platform for blog posts written by practitioners, researchers, academics, and policymakers working in a wide range of education settings. These blogs have a permanent home on the FACE website, as well as being shared with a wide readership through FACE’s monthly e-bulletin.

Why blog?

Writing a blog post can be a great way to reach a new audience, to spark a discussion or deliver a call to action. Blogging can also be a nice low-stakes way to develop your writing practice without committing yourself to produce a long article or going through a formal peer-review process. As you’ve probably experienced (and research supports), there is a huge amount of under-disseminated knowledge out there in widening participation that we could all benefit from being shared more widely.

Still, we realise that the idea of writing a blog post can be daunting if you’ve never done it before, which is why we’ve put together this resource. FACE will also support you through the process; you can discuss an idea with us before getting started and, once you’ve submitted your draft text, we’ll put it through a light copy-editing and formatting process before it goes live.

What can I write about?

FACE publishes blog posts on a diverse range of topics, broadly related to access, widening participation and continuing education. Some of the areas you could write about include:

  • Access & Participation Plans
  • Education as a public good
  • CEIAG and employability
  • Equality and diversity
  • Evaluation and data
  • Partnership working
  • NCOPs / Uni Connect
  • Outreach
  • Social mobility
  • Student support
  • Student success
  • Teaching and Learning

You might think you don’t have anything to write about – but you do! No matter the focus of your role, you will almost certainly have something to say that would be useful or interesting to others working in the sector. For example, you could…  

  • Tell us about a novel programme you’ve developed
  • Describe your experience using a new evaluation method
  • Share the findings from research you’ve carried out  
  • Respond to a report that’s been published recently
  • Summarise your key takeaways from a recent sector event
  • Explain a way that you used data to inform practice  
  • Present your analysis of a HE dataset
  • Critique an aspect of WP policy or practice
  • Comment or reflect upon on a topical debate
  • Compile a list of ‘top tips’ for an area you’re experienced in  
  • Discuss the implications of a new policy change
  • Reflect back on the impact of a past policy change

…or something else we haven’t thought of yet!

FACE blog post: Quick start guide

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out these quick pointers for writing a successful FACE blog post.

  • A word count of 400-1000 words is ideal, organised into short paragraphs.
  • Include a catchy title. Subtitles for different sections are also great to break up the text and make it easier to scan.
  • Include an opening paragraph that introduces your topic and hooks the reader in, and a closing paragraph that rounds off the piece by providing a conclusion, final takeaway or call to action.   
  • Write with your audience in mind. The FACE blog readership is primarily made up of those working in UK HE in a mixture of practitioner, management and academic roles, with a smaller share based in FE and third sector education organisations. 
  • Aim for clear, concise and accessible writing. Avoid jargon and use (explained) acronyms sparingly. Avoid passive voice. Vary sentence length but avoid excessively long, convoluted sentences. (Trouble with a wordy sentence? Try splitting it in two.)
  • For referencing other sources, include relevant hyperlinks within the body of the text rather than using footnotes.  
  • High-resolution images can make a blog more visually interesting (but if you don’t have any, don’t worry – we’ll add some stock images).
  • Include your name, job title and organisation (with a website link). If you have a personal web presence that you’re happy for us to feature (e.g. Twitter), provide this too. When we promote the blog post via the FACE Twitter account, we’ll @ you.

What next?

Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or feel ready to dip your toe into the world of blogging for the first time, get in touch with FACE’s Web and Digital Media Officer, Jessica, to discuss an idea for a future post: webmaster@face.ac.uk

We’ve also compiled a handy list of resources to help you hone your blog writing skills:

Jessica Benson-Egglenton is a PhD Student at Sheffield Hallam University exploring widening participation policy and practice around target groups. She recently went back to full-time education after ten years working in higher education, primarily as a WP evaluator.

Image credit: Christin Hume 

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