The CRA - from the beginning to today – a personal perspective
The Centre started out as a two year MSC funded Project in 1991. Entitled the ‘Recording Achievement and HE Project’ and led by the Wigan Local Education Authority, it involved 11 such authorities and 15 Universities and Colleges of Higher Education across the North of England and North Wales. Affectionately known as ‘the Wigan Project’ or ‘the M62 Project’, and supporting local cross sectoral cluster groups, the focus was very firmly upon progression to HE, and specifically upon the wider achievements and experiences of HE applicants and how these might be appropriately presented in the HE admissions process. This created a context for dialogue and development between HE staff, school and college staff and of course students, with the aim of demystifying the HE recruitment process, and led to thinking as to how such wider experiences might be built upon in HE. Our outcomes were disseminated across the pre HE and HE sectors via the production of Annual Guidance materials disseminated via UCAS, who provided - in Tony Higgins – one of the joint Chairs of our first Steering Group.
At the end of the funded period the Project members decided to continue working together, and – notwithstanding changes in staff - many have done so ever since! Over time our title has changed, from the ‘RoA and HE Project’ to ‘the Recording Achievement Consortium’ through to ‘the Centre for Recording Achievement’, but our focus upon recording – the process and active verb - as opposed to record has never varied. We’ve worked upon ‘Progress Files’ in the school and college sector and ‘Personal Development Planning’ and e-portfolios in the HE sector, particularly following the Dearing Report in 1997. We’ve worked with employers and professional bodies, on research, evaluation and consultancy – including as a member of the ‘Enhancing Student Employability Co-ordination Team’ (ESECT, 2002-5); we’ve provided leadership for a Project to support the use of electronic portfolios in work-based learning and continue to support sector-wide implementation of the Higher Education Achievement Report. We run National Seminars on the HEAR and in support of holistic approaches to Personal Tutoring, amongst others. But through all of this we have not lost sight of an emphasis upon developmental potential and usefulness by students and possibly others, alongside issues to do with wider achievements and effective use of such information which characterised our early work. So amidst much change there is also much continuity.
These days we are still a membership organisation, an educational charity (since 2002) and have links- and members - across the world, with a number of reciprocal membership agreements. Above all however we are still a ‘family’, broadly based, and with a set of values and interests which holds us together in the use of the processes of review, reflection, recording and planning to enable and facilitate the personal and professional development of us all.