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Families And Higher Education Decision-making

Project: Other


FAHED was an action research project that aimed to introduce the idea of higher education to the parents of pupils in years 9 and above who had a history of low participation in higher education. The project worked with both parents and their children to encourage discussion at home and generate a long-term view about family concerns, and engender mutual understanding of factors that influence future learning plans.

The FAHED Project was funded as part of HEFCE Widening Particpation - Lancashire Compact (1999-2003). In 2004 the project focussed on:
1. disseminating its findings and development material to further and higher education practitioners through a staff development programme that was funded under Aimhigher Lancashire
2. delivering a FAHED cycle in the community
3. supporting the delivery of FAHED cycles in Cumbria exploring issues faced by families living in rural areas

The FAHED Cycle consisted of a course for parents, a course for young people, a joint campus visit and follow up interviews with parents to explore barriers to and perceptions of higher education. The FAHED cycle consists of two strands - a 6 week discussion course entitled 'Your Child's Future' for parents, and a 4 week discussion course for pupils.

Both courses incorporated a visit day to Lancaster University. This was designed to complement the knowledge that parents and pupils obtained during the discussion based courses. In the full FAHED cycle the campus visit was followed by interviews and focus group discussions were carried out with parents and pupils.

Throughout the duration of the FAHED project, cycles were undertaken with families who had little or no experience of higher education. These included cycles focussed on the needs of parents with religious, cultural and social concerns. A cycle was also developed to address the concerns of parents of young people with a disability. At the end of each cycle we maintained contact with the schools, pupils and parents with a series of follow-up activities designed to keep the issue of higher education alive.

FAHED Visit Days were an important element of the FAHED cycle. They provided parents, pupils and teaching staff involved in the FAHED project with first hand experience of a university campus. Typically the days incorporated tours of the campus, a range of departmental activities, talks on topics of interest such as Undergraduate Admissions, Educational Studies Admissions, Finance, Student Support Services and the Students' Union, and activities with student societies.

The Lancashire Compact was one of the regionally HEFCE- funded widening participation projects (1999-2003). It was a collaborative project involving: Edge Hill, Lancaster University, St Martin's College (now the University of Cumbria) & University of Central Lancashire. The Lancashire Compact aimed to raise aspirations for, and awareness of, higher education amongst young people and adults in Lancashire. It worked in partnership with schools, colleges and other organisations throughout Lancashire to deliver motivational and awareness-raising activities to encourage progression for all those in the region who demonstrated the ability to benefit from higher education.

The four main strands of the Lancashire Compact were:
1. working with families with no history of participation in higher education by encouraging active involvement from parents in the process of widening participation.
2. working with young people in schools, colleges and neighbourhoods where under-representation in higher education was identified.
3. working with adults to provide appropriate pathways for them into higher education.
4. sharing resources between the four institutions to enhance widening participation and strengthen links with schools and colleges.
Effective start/end date1/01/011/01/09