The Covid-19 pandemic significantly affected what was originally classed as ‘normal’ for everyone across the world and will undoubtedly continue to impact on the everyday lifestyle and well-being of the general-public for years to come (Frampton, 2021). All the education sectors were affected, and the polytechnic sector was no exception.
As the Government moves through and beyond Covid-19 with an agenda firmly rooted in developing skills, it starts to raise questions around widening participation, not just in terms of entry criteria, but also in terms of institutional readiness to support such diverse groups of learners using tailored whole person pedagogical approaches (Kim et al., 2021; McCoy, 2021).
Furthermore, with the pandemic’s rapid acceleration of automation and ways of working, should the focus just be on skills? (McKinsey and Company, 2020; McKinsey Global Institute, 2020; Shepheard, 2020; The World Economic Forum, 2021). Or should there be a parity of esteem with other aspects and outcomes of whole person learning such as reflective practice, professional identity, attitudes, and behaviours which might be best nurtured and developed through both lifelong and life wide learning? As the world moves to a position of coexisting with Covid-19, could part of the solution to improving learner satisfaction and employability be through more person-centred programmes of study?
This review paper argues that the solution is one that is achieved by increasing learner agency and creating a tailored study programme that is focused on the knowledge, experience, social and emotional needs of the learner. The long-term success of these approaches that are discussed within this paper are dependent on several factors outlined within the paper, which will require further inquiry.
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