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Commissioner for Fair Access
6th Floor Atlantic Quay
Scottish Government
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

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0131 244 1266

The Framework

Recommendation 2 of the Commission on Widening Access’ final report stipulated that by 2018, the Commissioner for Fair Access, working with experts, should publish a Scottish Framework for Fair Access.  This authoritative, evidence based framework should identify the most impactful forms of access activity at each stage of the learner journey, from early learning through to higher education and provide best practice guidelines on its delivery and evaluation.

The recommendation was in response to the lack of robust evidence on the effectiveness of access programmes.  The Framework should serve several distinct purposes. It should:

  1. Build evaluation capacity within the sector, identifying, for example, the minimum standards of monitoring and evaluation, based on sound research methodology, that should be embedded in all major access programmes.

  2. Harness and disseminate current research and new evidence flowing from more rigorous evaluation, to define the most effective interventions.

  3. Articulate and share practitioner knowledge and best practice across the sector to inform interventions.

The Framework will be an iterative tool requiring on-going development and maintenance. It is not intended as a repository or map of all access activity in Scotland.

Working Definition of the Scottish Framework for Fair Access

The Scottish Framework for Fair Access will be a sustainable web-based tool and Community of Practice backed by practitioners who are facilitating and promoting excellence in access to higher education and degree-level professions. It will support those in schools, colleges, universities and the third sector to understand what works in improving access for those from less advantaged backgrounds and other under-represented groups.

We are concerned with access in its widest sense - widening participation to study at SCQF Level 7 and beyond at college or university; progression to degree-level study and access to the most selective institutions and professions. The Framework will engage across the learner journey, from early years to adult returners, from awareness raising to admissions and incorporating retention, progression and outcomes.

The Framework will provide a toolkit of rigorous evidence-based and independent guidance on what works. It will showcase best practice in research and evaluation, and support the development of new activities and regional collaborations and the enhancement of existing interventions.

It will not be a kite marking process, so it will not judge individual programmes for inclusion within the toolkit, but it will highlight what types of intervention are effective either as whole programmes or components within programmes to encourage transferability, scaling and evidence-based planning.

We believe it is important that limited resources are directed towards those activities that align to that evidence and that existing programmes should engage with the evaluation guidance to build comprehensive sector-wide evidence. The toolkit is intended to support practitioners to plan and evaluate any new creative and innovative approaches to access.

In addition to the toolkit, the Framework will facilitate excellence in access by providing places and spaces for collaboration, professional development and reflective practice. 

Terms of reference for the Group have been published.

Framework for Fair Access Development Group

The Commissioner has convened a Framework Development Group to produce the initial iteration of the Framework. The group met for the first time in May 2017.

Membership of the group:

Conor Ryan (chair)

Director of Research and Communications, Sutton Trust

Kenny Anderson

Director, SWAP West

Robin Ashton Executive Director, Glasgow Colleges' Regional Board

Dr Vikki Boliver

Director of Research, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University

Dr Dee Bird

Assistant Director/ Outcome Agreement Manager, Scottish Funding Council

Dr Katrina Castle

Head of Widening Access, Edinburgh Napier University

Dr Neil Croll

Head of Widening Participation, University of Glasgow

Lynn Graham

Strategic Lead Access to Higher Education, Scottish Government

Dr Stephanie Mckendry

Implementation Advisor/Researcher, Commissioner for Fair Access

Sarah Morrison

Manager, LIFT OFF (Schools for Higher Education Programme)

Terms of reference for the Framework Developement group can be located here.

Consultation with the sector

The Framework Development Group is not a strategic representative body with members from all relevant organisations, but a small, active working group created to design the Framework. Cross sector engagement will be achieved through sustained consultation with relevant stakeholders throughout the design and development process.

Details of consultation activities will be published here.

If you would like to discuss the Framework or the work of the group please contact Dr Stephanie Mckendry, Implementation Advisor, stephanie.mckendry@gov.scot