Abi: access student

My life had come crashing down. I’d lost a lot of my confidence. I had heard about this course. I signed up and it changed my life.

Claire: teacher educator

'I think it's important for my students to become critical and to look at the world around them.'


Overview of the project


Transformational Further Education: Empowering People & Communities.

This research aims to understand and provide evidence of how the further education (FE) sector is vital in transforming lives and communities in 21st century Britain. To provide a frame of reference, which is underpinned and driven by excellence in the sector, the study will provide learners and teachers with the opportunity to tell their stories, linking the distinctness of FE to the impact it has on individuals, society and the economy, and strongly drawing out the role of the teacher in making a difference to quality teaching and learning.

vickyThe two researchers undertaking this project, Vicky Duckworth and Rob Smith aim to inform and facilitate UCU’sfunding-interview empowering and inclusive vision of FE and will be a rich source of evidence to draw upon in campaigning work in order to influence policy makers and shape policy.

Watch our introductory video below.


The Principal

Curtis Tappenden is a teacher who has featured already on this site. Apart from being an inspirational teacher, he was involved in the Reimagining Further Education Conference in July 2017. He has been involved in the UCU FE transforming lives and communities from early on. Curtis takes up the story: Networking is vital to look…


Further education offers spaces for learning that accommodate people from a diverse range of backgrounds. This includes adults returning to education to move their lives and prospects forward.   In this video, Rithenella, now studying Social Work at University,  talks about the challenges she faced as a looked-after child and how she returned to education…


  Anita speaks about how her life changed for the better after returning to education as a mature student. Labelled as a ‘no-hoper’ at school because  her dyslexia was positioned as a deficit – in the private domain her personal  growth continued as she developed  a rich skill set as a daughter, a parent herself…

Marie: education and empowerment

Marie, a single mother of three  arrived in Further Education after breaking out of an abusive relationship. Marie struggled with literacy and her confidence was at rock bottom. Gaining a level 2 in literacy, Marie progressed to an access course and University. Now a senior staff nurse in the local hospital, in this interview she…