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Dr John Butcher

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Director, Access and Open
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education & Language Studies
  • LTIA
  • Open and Access
  • john.butcher

Professional biography

As Associate Director (Curriculum and Access) in LTI at the OU, I am responsible for the development, enhancement and implementation of the portfolio's teaching curriculum. This includes leadership of the university’s UK-wide Access provision (three 30 credit Level 0 interdisciplinary Access modules).  I am Deputy Director on the Open Programme and support the MAODE. I lead the Access Observatory and through that, evaluation and reporting of WP initiatives internally (implementation and evaluation of the university’s Widening Access and Success Strategy) and externally ( OFFA  returns). I am Academic Lead for the Access Student Support Team and I represent the OU on the FACE executive.

My previous roles include: Head of Academic Practice & Learning Innovation at University of Derby; Senior Academic Development Advisor at University of Northampton; Director of Learning & Teaching at University College Falmouth, and before that Staff Tutor in Education at the Open University. I began my career teaching and managing in post-16 education (FE and sixth form).

I am an active researcher. I have supervised 13 doctorates to successful completion and I am currently supervising two doctorates in professional and academic development. I have gained funding, as Principal Investigator, for a number of research projects: Understanding the impact of outreach on access to higher education for disadvantaged adult learners (OFFA, 2016-17);  "Part-time higher education in the UK" (HEA, 2014-15); "Employability and WBL in art, design and media" (ADM subject centre, 2007-08); "Web portal for progression from foundation degrees in ADM" (NALN, 2006-08); “The Coordinator role in ITE” (TDA, 2004-5); "Bilingualism and Initial Teacher Education" (TTA, 2002-04); and internal scholarship funding for projects on the assessment of reflection, the language of assessment on Access modules and progression from STEM Access modules to L1 Science. My main areas of expertise are:

  • widening participation.
  • mentoring;
  • strategic academic/ professional development;
  • teaching skills in post-compulsory education;

I have published Developing Effective 16-19 Teaching Skills and co-edited Leading Professional Development in Education (both Routledge) and many journal articles, including those in: Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, Journal of Further and Higher Education, International Journal of Academic Development, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, The Curriculum Journal; Journal of Education for Teaching; Teacher Development; Research Papers in Education; Open Learning; Mentoring and Tutoring. I have externally examined at the universities of Winchester, Northampton, Canterbury Christchurch, Oxford Brookes and Newport. I am currently External Adviser to the EdD at Leeds Beckett.

I was the founding editor of the open access international journal Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, am on the Advisory Board of Journal for Further and Higher Education. I am currently Managing Editor for Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning and regularly review for others. I am a Review Coordinator for the Quality Assurance Agency and am an experienced chair of internal panels.

Research interests

My interests are in part-time learners in higher education, widening participation, and formative assessment. I have previously published research in mentoring, post-16 education, vocational education in schools and professional doctorates in education.

Teaching interests

My interests span the embedding skills development in Access courses and the supervision of students on the Professional Doctorate in Education.

Impact and engagement

My HEA research report and associated book chapter have been extensively cited in House of Commons Library Briefing Paper 'Part-time undergraduate students in England' (13 June 2017).

My scholarship on the language of assessment has been widely disseminated around the OU and externally and is impacting on learning design and discourses of assessment beyond the Access Programme.

External collaborations

The OFFA-funded research on adult outreach I led was in partnership with Birkbeck, Bristol and Leeds universities.

The ADM subject centre-funded research on employability and ADM was in partnership with Bath Spa, UWE and Plymouth universities.

The TDA-funded research on the school coordinator role in ITE was in partnership with Oxford, Oxford Brookes and Reading universities.


Editorial - Writing Together: Practitioners, Academics and Policy Makers (2018-07)
McKendry, Stephanie; Marr, Liz and Butcher, John
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 20(3) (pp. 1-6)
Chinese whispers? Investigating the consistency of the language of assessment between a distance education institution, its tutors and students (2018-06)
Hills, Laura; Clarke, Anactoria; Hughes, Jonathan; Butcher, John; Shelton, Isobel and McPherson, Elaine
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 33(3) (pp. 238-349)
Editorial - (2018-01)
Butcher, John
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 20(1) (pp. 1-7)
How does a STEM Access module prepare adult learners to succeed in undergraduate science? (2018)
Butcher, John; Clarke, Anactoria; Wood, Carlton; McPherson, Elaine and Fowle, Wendy
Journal of Further and Higher Education ((Early Access))
Unfit for purpose? Rethinking the language of assessment for Widening Participation students (2017-05)
Butcher, John; McPherson, Elaine; Shelton, Isobel; Clarke, Anactoria; Hills, Laura and Hughes, Jonathan
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 19(2) (pp. 27-46)
Editorial 'Where are we now?' (2017-05)
Butcher, John
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 19(2) (pp. 1-5)
Editorial (2016-06)
Butcher, John
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 18(2) (pp. 1-6)
Can tablet computers enhance learning in further education? (2016-02-01)
Butcher, John
Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40(2) (pp. 207-226)
Financial risk and inflexibility: part-time HE in decline (2015-12-01)
Butcher, John
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 17(4) (pp. 89-104)
Part-time learners in open and distance learning: revisiting the critical importance of choice, flexibility and employability (2015-09)
Butcher, John and Rose-Adams, John
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 30(2) (pp. 127-137)
Book review: Understanding Behaviour 14+ (2014-07-01)
Butcher, John
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 16(2) (pp. 70-73)
Undergraduate design learning in multiple partnerships: joinedupdesign for academies (2013-08)
Butcher, John and Schaber, Friedemann
International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 23(3) (pp. 567-579)
Going URB@N: exploring the impact of undergraduate students as pedagogic researchers (2013)
Butcher, John and Maunder, Rachel
Innovations in Education and Teaching International
Book Review: The Mature Student's Guide to Writing (3rd ed), Jean Rose, 2012 (2013)
Butcher, John
Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 15(1) (pp. 81-85)
The impact of a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education on university lecturers appointed for their professional expertise at a teaching-led university: ‘It’s made me braver’ (2012-06)
Butcher, John and Stoncel, Di
International Journal for Academic Development, 17(2) (pp. 149-162)
Enhancing design learning through partnerships: the case of Joinedupdesign for Academies (2011)
Butcher, John and Schaber, Friedemann
Editorial (2011)
Butcher, John
Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 3(1) (pp. 1-1)
How might inclusive approaches to assessment enhance student learning in HE? (2010)
Butcher, John; Sedgwick, Paul; Lazard, Lisa and Hey, Jayne
Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 2(1) (pp. 25-40)
'Square pegs in round holes' - an investigation into inclusive assessment. (2010)
Butcher, John; Hey, Jane; Sedgwick, Paul and Lazard, Lisa
Skill Journal, 98 (pp. 13-16)
Book review: Museums and Design Education: Looking to Learn, Learning to See (2010)
Butcher, John
ADM-HEA website
Editorial (2010)
Butcher, John
Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 2(1) (pp. 1-2)
Off-campus learning and employability in undergraduate design: the Sorrell Young Design Project as an innovative partnership (2009-03-01)
Butcher, John
Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 7(3) (pp. 171-184)
Enhancing professional self-esteem: learners' journeys on a distance-learning Doctorate in Education (EdD) (2009)
Butcher, John and Sieminski, Sandy
Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 1(1) (pp. 44-55)
Editorial (2009)
Butcher, John
Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 1(1) (pp. 1-3)
Book review: Researching Schools: Stories from a Schools-University Partnership for Educational Research (2008-11-17)
Butcher, John
ESCalate website
Book review: Rethinking English in Schools: Towards a new and constructive stage (2008-07-02)
Butcher, John
ESCalate website
We will take them from anywhere: schools working within multiple initial teacher training partnerships (2008-02-18)
Mutton, Trevor and Butcher, John
Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 34(1) (pp. 45-62)
Towards professional multilingualism? Reconceptualising the school coordinator role in initial teacher training (2008)
Butcher, John and Mutton, Trevor
The Curriculum Journal, 19(3) (pp. 215-226)
Exploring diversity: teacher education policy and bilingualism (2007)
Butcher, John; Sinka, Indra and Troman, Geoff
Research Papers in Education, 22(4) (pp. 483-501)
More than managing? The role of the ITT coordinator in schools in England (2007)
Mutton, Trevor and Butcher, John
Teacher development, 11(3) (pp. 245-261)
The challenge of a distance learning professional doctorate in education (2006)
Sieminski, Sandy and Butcher, John
Open Learning, 21(1) (pp. 59-69)
Exploring difficulties in learning to teach English post-16 (2003-07-02)
Butcher, J.
Curriculum Journal, 14(2) (pp. 233-252)
Sink or swim: Learning to teach post-16 on an 11-18 Post-graduate Certificate in Education (2003-03)
Butcher, John
Teacher development, 7(1) (pp. 31-58)
A Case for mentor challenge?: The problem of learning to teach post-16 (2002-12-01)
Butcher, John
Mentoring and Tutoring, 10(3) (pp. 197-220)
Book review: Acting in classroom drama: a critical analysis, Gavin Bolton, 1998 (1999-12)
Butcher, John
British Educational Research Journal, 25(5) (pp. 709-710)
To challenge or not to challenge: the mentor's dilemma (1999)
Burgess, Hilary and Butcher, John
Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 6(3) (pp. 31-47)
The conundrum of general national vocational qualifications: a case study of the training needs of school-based GNVQ teachers (1998)
Butcher, John
Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 50(4) (pp. 569-583)
Alleviating Tension at 16-19 (1996)
Butcher, John
Forum for Promoting 3-19 Comprehensive Education, 38(2) (pp. 41-43)
Developing effective 16-19 Teaching Skills (2004-11-25)
Butcher, John
ISBN : ISBN 0415328373 | Publisher : RoutledgeFalmer
Learning Through Life Revisited: The Role of Policy in Enhancing Social Mobility Through Access to Part-Time Study (2018-08)
Marr, Liz and Butcher, John
In: Billingham, Stuart ed. Access to Success and Social Mobility through Higher Education: A Curate's Egg. Great Debates in Higher Education (pp. 51-65)
ISBN : 978-1-78754-110-8 | Publisher : Emerald Books | Published : Rotterdam
Supporting the transition of mature learners into higher education (2018-07-20)
Butcher, John
In: Matheson, Ruth; Tangney, Sue and Sutcliffe, Mark eds. Transition In, Through and Out of Higher Education (pp. 121-124)
ISBN : 9781138682177 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxon
Outreaching: two approaches to outreach with adult learners from disadvantaged backgrounds (and an emerging evaluation toolkit) (2018-07)
Butcher, John and Fowle, Wendy
In: Broadhead, Sam; Butcher, John; Hill, Michael; McKendry, Stephanie; Raven, Neil; Sims, David and Ward, Tom eds. Concepts of Value and Worth: National and International Perspectives on Widening Access and Participation (pp. 207-229)
ISBN : 978-0-9954922-2-6 | Publisher : Forum for Access and Continuing Education
Do you have to be mobile to be socially mobile? Adult learners miss out again! (2017)
Fowle, Wendy and Butcher, John
In: Broadhead, S.; Hill, M.; Hudson, A.; McGlynn, C.; McKendry, S.; Raven, N.; Sims, D. and Ward, T. eds. Widening Participation in the Context of Economic and Social Change (pp. 153-162)
Publisher : Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE)
Listen to part-time learners and smart policy will follow (2015-11-29)
Butcher, John
In: Hillman, Nick ed. It's the finance, stupid: The decline of part-time higher education and what to do about it(79) (pp. 48-56)
ISBN : 978 1 908240 07 1 | Publisher : Higher Education Policy Institute | Published : Oxford
The Challenge of Assessing Reflection: The Open University's Access Programme (2015)
Butcher, John; Sinclair, Stefanie and Clarke, Anactoria
In: Miller, Wendy; Collings, Jane and Kneale, Pauline eds. Inclusive Assessment. PedRIO Papers (7) (pp. 25-29)
Publisher : Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory (PedRIO) | Published : Plymouth University
Mentoring in professional development: the English and Welsh experience (2000)
Butcher, John
In: Moon, Robert; Butcher, John and Bird, Elizabeth eds. Leading Professional Development in Education (pp. 97-106)
ISBN : 978-0-415-24381-0 | Publisher : Routledge/Falmer | Published : London
Leading Professional Development in Education (2000)
Moon, Robert; Butcher, John and Bird, Elizabeth eds.
ISBN : 978-0-415-24381-0 | Publisher : RoutledgeFalmer | Published : London
Building a bridge to professional self-esteem: Learner transitions on a distance learning Doctorate in Education (EdD) (2009)
Butcher, John and Sieminski, Sandy
In : The University of Northampton Learning and Teaching Conference (13 May 2009, Northampton)
Talkback: the student experience of learning through verbal feedback in the studio (2007)
Butcher, John and Cash, Caroline
In : European League of Institutes of the Arts Teachers' Academy (12-14 Jul 2007, Brighton, UK) (pp. 164-168)
The Challenge of a Distance Learning Professional Doctorate (2004-06)
Butcher, John and Sieminski, Sandy
In : European Distance and E-Learning Network Conference (EDEN 2004) (16-19 Jun 2004, Budapest) (pp. 45-50)
Meeting professional development needs? Does the Doctorate in Education bridge the intellectual and professional development needs for teachers (2003)
Butcher, John; Burgess, Hilary and Sieminski, Sandy
In : 5th International Conference on Education (23-24 May 2003, Athens)
Please can we actually do something to arrest the decline in the number of disadvantaged adult learners in universities? (2018-01-12)
Butcher, John
Society for Research in Higher Education
This is not America (2018)
Butcher, John
Forum for Access and Continuing Education
Broadening the scope for outreach to include adult learners as well as 18 year olds (2018)
Butcher, John
Higher Education Academy
Preparing unconfident adults to access STEM degrees (2018)
Butcher, John
The Efficiency Exchange (Universities UK)
There has been a massive drop in the number of mature students studying at UK universities (2017-09-12)
Butcher, John
The Conversation
Understanding the impact of outreach on access to higher education for disadvantaged adult learners (2017-07)
Office for Fair Access, and Butcher, John
Office for Fair Access
A toolkit to encourage more ambitious access agreements (2017)
Butcher, John
Efficiency Exchange, UUK
Social mobility isn't just about 18 year-olds: adults need life chances too (2016-02)
Butcher, John
The Conversation
'Shoe-Horned And Sidelined'? Challenges For Part-Time Learners In The New HE Landscape (2015-07-03)
Butcher, John
Higher Education Academy, York.
Distance Education In European Higher Education - The Potential: UK Case Study (2015-07)
Rose-Adams, John and Butcher, John
International Council for Open and Distance Education, Oslo.
Arts university student mentors and gallery peer leaders: partnerships for learning (2010-02)
Butcher, John
HEA Art Design Media Subject Centre
Book Review: Media Literacy in Schools: Practice, Production and Progression. (2008-05-29)
Butcher, John
Higher Education Academy


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