Britain’s asylum system fails the most vulnerable; it cannot ensure that people who are least able to protect themselves are provided with the legal assistance that they require to cope with the challenges with which they are inevitably faced. Against this background, the charity Refugee Action developed the Frontline Immigration Advice Programme (FIAP), a technology-supported capacity strengthening programme that aims to increase access to justice for those going through the asylum system in the UK. This paper is concerned with the design and implementation of the FIAP as a free digitally enabled programme that provides learning opportunities for organisations and frontline workers in the refugee sector and supports them in developing new forms of legal practice. It provides empirical data from interviews with members of staff from six participating organisations in the FIAP, and from Refugee Action and the Office of the UK’s Immigration Services Commissioner1 (n = 21). The paper adopts a view on social justice, which according to Fraser (2005) is understood as ‘parity of participation’. We draw on Fraser’s work, as well as work of other scholars such as Lambert (2018) and Hodgkinson-Williams and Trotter (2018) to explore the relationship between social justice and open education by taking into consideration the context within which organisations and professionals operate. The analysis highlights six dimensions for social justice approaches for professional learning as demonstrated through the case of the FIAP: i. deliberate iterative design; ii. access to provision; iii. flexibility of provision; iv. development of resources; v. support and vi. advancing knowledge and skills whilst adapting the workplace. All these dimensions are discussed in the paper in relation to the concept of openness and are critical in developing open socially just programmes that aim to change work practice and address the needs of the most vulnerable.

DOI: 10.5334/jime.563
ISSN: 1365-893X