Education, justice and democracy: the struggle over ignorance and opportunity

Stephen Ballpost by STEPHEN J BALL
Institute of Education, University of London

The history of English education is very much a history of social class and the 1944 Education Act, the wartime government’s response to the great evil of ignorance, did little to interrupt that history, rather it brought about a very modest loosening of the relationship between social class and educational opportunity. This was partly in relation to the raising of the school leaving age and partly by allowing some working class students access to grammar schooling via the 11+ examination system. Continue reading Education, justice and democracy: the struggle over ignorance and opportunity

Respecting Young People: Learning from the Past

Sheine Peartpost by SHEINE PEART
Nottingham Trent University

Respect was, is, and always will be the cornerstone of any meaningful attempt at dialogue.  It is therefore apposite that BERA has put respect at the heart of designing a future we have not yet realised.  It is also pertinent that the voice of the young should take centre stage in this endeavour.  Try as we may, we are not young people and we cannot know what they are thinking, experiencing and feeling unless we make serious efforts to really listen to them.  Sometimes when we attempt to engage in debates about young people, often polar views are presented: if only youth would listen to the sage advice of experience there would be no problem. Continue reading Respecting Young People: Learning from the Past

Social Class, Ethnicity and STEM Participation

Heather_MendickLouise Archerpost by LOUISE ARCHER and HEATHER MENDICK
King’s College London and Brunel University

Background – the issue

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are widely recognised as crucial for the UK’s economic prosperity[i]. It is broadly accepted that there is a need to increase the number of people studying and working in (STEM) at all levels[ii]. Although debates remain over how many future scientists the economy needs[iii], there is substantial concern, particularly from government and employers, about a growing STEM skills gap. Continue reading Social Class, Ethnicity and STEM Participation

Are girls losing out? Educational issues for Muslim, black and minority ethnic migrant girls

Heidi-Mirza1post by HEIDI SAFIA MIRZA
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Girls remain largely absent from educational discourse, eclipsed by an ongoing media and policy obsession with the ‘boys underachievement debate’.  The  concern is now on the lower achievement of boys, particularly African Caribbean and white working-class boys and, more recently, in the wake of the Trojan Horse fiasco in Birmingham, the threat of Islamic extremism among Muslim boys. The ‘post feminist’ complacency that there has been an overall improvement in the performance of girls in schools, which is seen at the expense of boys, masks the real educational difficulties faced by girls from working-class minority ethnic backgrounds. Continue reading Are girls losing out? Educational issues for Muslim, black and minority ethnic migrant girls

Education policymakers’ understanding of young people

Professor Rachel Brookspost by RACHEL BROOKS
University of Surrey

A critical interrogation of policy texts suggest that the way in which education policymakers understand young people’s lives is often problematic – tending to value them largely for their future contribution to society, and stressing the importance of duty rather than more questioning, critical and creative contributions that young people may make. In this short article, I suggest that, in the run-up to the 2015 election, politicians need to be pushed to articulate their understanding of ‘youth’ more clearly and encouraged to place more value on the diversity of contributions young people can make – in the here and now – to wider society. Continue reading Education policymakers’ understanding of young people

Social justice: a common curriculum

Terry Wrigleypost by TERRY WRIGLEY
Visiting Professor, Leeds Metropolitan University, England and Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Ballarat, Australia

The school curriculum has been a central issue for social justice since the start of state education. From the distinct curricula of class-divided Victorian schools, the move towards a common currriculum has been uncertain and problematic. Even after 1945 divisions were continued, posited on the myth of genetic intellectual differences.

The spread of comprehensive schools, and the school leaving age raised to 16, created new possibilities around the 1970s. Innovations supported by LEAs and the Schools Council emphasised more investigative and engaged approaches to learning and a greater connectedness to daily life. Bridges were built from young people’s experience to high-status knowledge. Continue reading Social justice: a common curriculum