Professor Sam Broadhead

Professor Sam Broadhead is Head of Research at Leeds Arts University. Her research interests are related to widening participation, in particular the experiences of mature students and Access to HE education. She is also interested in the scholarship related to the work of Basil Bernstein (1924-2000). This is a development of her previous research about phronesis (practical wisdom) that formed the basis of her doctoral study at the University of Sunderland.

Mature Students Matter Feedback

Art, Craft and Design in Education All Party Parliamentary Group Presentation

Leeds Arts University was invited to present at the Art, Craft and Design in Education All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) at Westminster on 12 February 2019, chaired by Sharon Hodgson MP and Tracy Brabin MP.

Dr Samantha Broadhead, Head of Research and Martell Baines, Progression Manager, discussed the question: Why do mature students in art and design matter?
The aim was to change awareness around the many reasons why mature students study later in life and how valuable intergenerational learning is in art, craft and design. Findings from the institution’s research on Access to Art and Design challenged the notion of ‘second chance’ students because many mature students had not previously had a ‘first chance’ to succeed.

It was argued that some mature students bring capacities that enrich the learning experience for everyone, such as organisational skills, resilience, resolve, wisdom, ‘phronesis’, strategic thinking and being open to opportunities. In addition, people from different age groups bring diverse cultural references that enhance art and design practice.

Professor Broadhead and Ms Baines said:

“We were honoured to talk to parliamentarians while sharing the platform other groups in the sector such as GuildHE. We were especially pleased to hear the response to our presentation, from the floor and later on Twitter where people noted that phronesis was a new but useful term because it described how life experience informs good judgment.”


Public engagement event at Batley Community Centre

On 21st September 2019, Broadhead took part in a public engagement event within Batley Community Centre as part of the launch of her recent publication Perspectives on Access: Practice and Research. During the previous three week, the local press had published two articles and one quarter page advertisement to disseminate Broadhead’s research into mature students. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook were also used to promote the event. Broadhead gave also a short talk about her work, referencing Broadhead and Gregson (2018) and Broadhead, Davies and Hudson (2019) in both cases she was the lead author. The beneficiaries were people residing in the Batley area including those who ran small businesses. Eighteen attended and eleven filled in evaluation forms about their changing awareness by the benefits mature students bring to the arts and higher education, this was the means by which impact evidence was collected.

A questionnaire was used to capture the impact of Broadhead’s research on this group of beneficiaries. 7/11 people fed back that Broadhead’s research presentation had led them to think differently about mature students in the arts. An additional 4/11 reported that it had a substantial impact on their thinking. 10/11 thought that mature students should be able to study an arts subject if they wished. 6/11 people reported that Broadhead’s research into practical wisdom had made them think differently about the qualities that mature students have that enhance the arts and higher education for everyone. With an additional 5/11 claiming the presentation had made a substantial impact on their thinking. When the beneficiaries were asked to list the benefits mature students bring to education 11/11 included life experience in their list, an important aspect of practical wisdom. 


For further information please see:

Broadhead, S. and Gregson, M. 2018. Practical Wisdom and Democratic Education - Phronesis, Art and Non-traditional Students. London, Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN-10: 3319733109 ISBN-13: 978-3319733104.

Broadhead, S., Davies, R., and Hudson, A. 2019. Perspectives on Access: Practice and Research. Bingley, Emerald Publishing.