Equality and social justice were the prime objectives of the first access courses, but the government's current lifelong learning policy has shifted the position of access students in ways that often impede their educational opportunities. This research study draws on the views and experience of academics, access practitioners and, above all, access students themselves. Their accounts reveal how access as currently provided within the dominant discourse can intimidate the students it is meant to serve, reinforcing exclusion and poverty and reproducing unequal power relations. Dr Burke and her access students show how a collaboratively developed pedagogy for access courses, committed to anti-classist, anti-sexist and anti-racist approaches to teaching and learning, would empower students to succeed. This text should be useful to all access students and those contemplating access courses, as well as those wanting to widen educational participation.
Professor of Education at the School of Education, Roehampton University.