The University of Southampton
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Southampton Education School

Research project: Creating an expansive learning environment in hospital portering - Dormant

Currently Active: 

2009 – 2010

Project Overview

As the UK’s largest employer, the NHS has recently being focusing on the opportunities for learning provided for its non-clinical workforce who, historically, have had limited opportunities to ‘upskill’ and for career progression. Southampton University Hospitals Trust (SUHT) commissioned the SoE to examine the workplace learning environment of hospital porters who are located in the lowest band of the NHS jobs and pay structure. The study used Fuller and Unwin’s (2004) expansive – restrictive framework to analyse the organisational and pedagogical characteristics of the portering workplace. The research highlighted the porters’ professional values, knowledge and skills and the contribution they make to the hospital’s performance and most importantly to patients’ experience. It suggested ways in which they could be offered more expansive opportunities for learning. The research report was welcomed by Anita Esser, Head of Wider Healthcare Education at SUHT who said: ‘This report will now enable us to create an action plan to improve the learning environment for this staff group and look for ways in which this can also help us have a greater understanding of the learning needs of other support staff within the Trust. The value of this work also needs to be recognised as important and is quite unusual as it has focused on the learning of support staff within healthcare which is rarely researched in such a rigorous academic approach and is positioned within other existing research on restrictive-expansive learning environments’. The final report is available.

Funding body: Southampton Universities Hospital Trust.

Project director: Professor Alison Fuller (please contact for further information).

Consultant and co-director: Professor Lorna Unwin.

Related research groups

Lifelong and Work-Related Learning (LaWRL) Research Centre
Work-related and Workplace Learning


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