Teaching and Learning Scholar: Jennifer Addo

Teaching and Learning Scholar Jen Addo

Place of work: South and City College Birmingham

Role: Head of School for Building Services and Professional Studies

Hi I’m Jen Addo. I am Head of School for Building Services and Professional Studies at South and City College Birmingham. I have been working  in FE for quite some time… I even studied here! I gained an immense love and respect for the FE sector after studying Heath and Care at a college as an adult learner, pursing a Foundation Degree at a college and then entering my 3rd year at the university campus. Having the opportunity to take this route helped pave the way to my, so-far, successful career in Education and contributed to the ontological and epistemological standpoint that I possess as an educational researcher and academic scholar.

After completing my degree and PGCE at the University of Wolverhampton I undertook a Master’s degree in Education.  I am now pursuing a Doctorate in Education. My research focus is the ‘Experiences of Non-Traditional Students transitioning to HE from Level 3 in a HE in FE context’.

I situate my position regarding ‘what I know’ and ‘why I believe it to be true’ as a Social Constructivist, seeking to harness the essence of the phenomenon in question (Husserl, 1913). For Social Constructivists our knowledge of the world is rooted in our experiences. Therefore, if my knowledge of the world is rooted in my experiences, perhaps my research interest has come about because during my educational journey and my own transition to Higher Education…no-one ever asked me.


Research outline

My research idea emerged during my role as Head of School for Higher Education in a HE in FE context. It was my responsibility to manage all of the Level 4, 5 and 6 programmes of learning and the teachers (of many different subjects), with the students being my central priority.  During my time in the role I was very much involved in analysing the data-sets that were produced regarding the progress of the HE students. The data is analysed by: ethnicity, age (mature vs young students), gender, disability and POLAR. I had and still maintain a particular interest in the experiences of BAME students transitioning from level 3 to studying HE in an FE context.

According to the BAME Student Attainment at UK Universities Report (Universities UK, 2019) the wider community and societal inequalities faced by BAME individuals extend throughout the different levels of the education system, including Higher Education (HE). The BAME attainment gap in HE is significant: in 29% of HEIs in the UK, the attainment gap is 10 to 15% (OfS, 2018). Regarding this, the OfS maintain that “Questions need to be asked about the impact of institutional structures on the university experiences of BAME students” (OfS, 2018 in Universities UK, 2019)- this statement gives further impetus for my research.


Gravett, S. (2006) Action research and transformative learning in teaching development, Educational Action Research, 12(2), pp.259-272.