Joining the dots between teacher education and widening participation in higher education

Vicky Duckworth, Liz Thomas, derek bland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In England and Australia, higher education institutions are required to widen participation in higher education by including students from under-represented and non-traditional groups. Widening participation is most effective when it starts early – during compulsory education and other forms of pre-tertiary education. Higher education institutions are providers of pre-service and in-service teacher education, and therefore have the potential to ‘join the dots’ between teacher education and widening participation. Two approaches are identified: recruiting more diverse cohorts of students to teacher education through targeted, relevant and engaging pre-entry experiences in schools and communities with low rates of progression to higher education, and preparing all teachers to better support the tenets of widening participation through their professional roles in schools, colleges and communities. This paper focuses on the former, using a structural theoretical lens to understand low participation by particular groups of students. This framework is used to analyse two empirical examples, one from Australia and one from England. The paper concludes by recommending a more systemic approach to widening participation through teacher education, and makes practical suggestions informed by theory, practice and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-277
Number of pages18
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016


  • Teacher taster programmes
  • access to higher education
  • literacy
  • newly qualified teachers
  • pre-service teacher education/initial teacher training
  • students as advocates/champions/ambassadors
  • widening participation

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