There is a dearth of literature on Access to Higher Education (AHE) tutors, which this paper addresses. Tutors play an important part in constructing emotional and academic support for students. Understanding their constructions of professional identity and their views of the students they teach helps to explain the learning environments they create. The empirical qualitative data comes from a study of AHE students’ and tutors’ views of their experiences on AHE courses that was collected in seven rural and urban AHE-providing institutions in the East Midlands of England in 2012–2013. It was analysed using open or inductive coding to reflect the emphases given in their interviews by participants. Emerging findings suggest that tutors’ commitment to ‘second chance learning’ arose, in part, from their own biographies and recognition of the disempowerment experienced by AHE students who were often economically disadvantaged and had had negative experiences of schooling and/or a period of work before joining the course. Tutors’ sense of agency and identity and the cultures on AHE courses were negotiated each year through getting to know the students, meeting their extensive demands for support, directing their teaching and learning experiences and contesting the institutional contexts of the courses.
- collaborative cultures
- personal histories