Beyond bridging: the prospects for porosity in parental engagement initiatives

Tracey Peace-Hughes*, Jill Marchbank, John H. McKendrick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the prospect of porosity in widening participation work with parents/carers from multiply deprived communities. Porosity offers a conceptual lens through which spaces can be viewed as interconnected and fluid, and not as bounded entities. The paper draws upon an evaluation of a pilot widening participation project. We reflect on the experiences of parents and the course co-ordinator as the participants move between social realms – the university campus and the home environment/local community – appraising the extent to which understandings of both change as a result of project participation. We conclude that widening participation programmes may offer porosity – with changes often experienced by parents in their home environments. However, concerns are expressed over whether these changes can be sustained in the long-term and the lack of change in participating Higher Education institutions. A process of mutual co-creation of widening participation programmes is advocated, which could allow for greater porosity with the potential to further break down structural barriers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-103
Number of pages21
JournalWidening Participation and Lifelong Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021


  • poverty
  • education
  • widening participation
  • parents
  • deprived areas
  • higher education
  • parental engagement
  • Scotland


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