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IOE at 120: the parallel lives of the Institute and the ILEA, 1982-1992

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 September 2022

Newsam Library. Credit: Matt Clayton.

Peter Mortimore.

During the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher’s Government sought to wean education away from anything tinged with progressivism to something more in tune with the Conservative Party’s traditions. In London, this meant mounting an attack on the two dominant and interactive players: the University of London’s Institute of Education (as it was known then) and the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). By the end of the decade only one would have survived.

IOE, founded in 1902, had increased in size and reputation, as readers of the earlier blogs will know, and, by the beginning of the decade, was the largest university establishment dedicated to education in the country. In 1983 Denis Lawton was appointed Director. An ILEA teacher, he had come to the Institute in 1963 as a research officer for Basil Bernstein and his Institute career had developed over the years. He became a professor in 1974 and the deputy director in 1978.

Like all universities, IOE had suffered cutbacks in funding due to the oil price shocks of the 1970s. Several London University institutions had merged in order to (more…)

IOE at 120: knowledge, power and social class – a closer look at the Sociology of Education, 1972-1982

Blog Editor, IOE Digital17 August 2022

Basil Bernstein, Professor of the Sociology of Education, 1967-90; Karl Mannheim Chair of Sociology of Education, 1983-90.

Basil Bernstein, Professor of the Sociology of Education, 1967-90; Karl Mannheim Chair of Sociology of Education, 1983-90.

This blog is the eighth in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening. 

Michael Young.

The 1970s was a period of change and excitement but ultimate disappointment for sociologists of education. Internal divisions within the field and external political developments would change the discipline irrevocably. This meant that the work of IOE’s most eminent scholar, Basil Bernstein, would only later enjoy the influence it deserved.

In 1965 Basil Bernstein was promoted to be the first Professor of the Sociology of Education at IOE, and those of us who subsequently joined his department hoped that his highly original research on social class and language codes might be the basis for how the discipline would develop. However, for all its theoretical sophistication, his early work on language became, at best, an outrider to the peculiarly English obsession with the educability of working-class children and its correlation with their persistent low attainment at school. Despite Bernstein’s own powerful (more…)

IOE at 120: how philosophy of education addressed ideas and values at the heart of the debate – 1962-1972

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 July 2022

A 'child-centred' primary classroom from the 1960s

Progressive educational ideas and practice were highly influential : ‘child-centred’ primary classroom in the 1960s

This blog is the seventh in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening. 

Judith Suissa.

John Dewey argued that philosophy could be understood as “the general theory of education”, and philosophy has always played a central role in teaching and research at IOE. Indeed, IOE is regarded as one of the leading centres for Philosophy of Education in the world.

The decade from 1962-1971 is often regarded as the heyday of British philosophy of education, when what came to be known as ‘the London school’ was crystalised at IOE. This was a period when teacher training courses included lectures and seminars in the ‘foundation disciplines’ of (more…)

IOE at 120: Empire, decolonisation, modernisation and dislocation – 1952-1962

Blog Editor, IOE Digital24 June 2022

Beryl Gilroy with her pupils; she was given an honorary fellowship in 2000

Beryl Gilroy at Beckford primary school in north London in 1971. Photograph: Beryl Gilroy Estate

This blog is the sixth in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening.

Elaine Unterhalter.

Many historical strands weave through the 1950s, but the end of Empire and grappling with what colonial education and decolonisation entailed were key themes at IOE.

Understanding the 1950s at IOE requires trying to bring together two threads: inclusive education for modernising societies and the relationships of colonialism, built on economic and political dispossession associated with slavery, land seizure, economic exploitation, racial discrimination and cultural hierarchy.

The involvement of IOE with Britain’s colonial projects stretches back to the 1920s. A Colonial Department was formally established in 1927, aiming to train teachers and support education policy work for the Colonial Office. In 1952, as part of a series of lectures organised to mark the Golden Jubilee anniversary of IOE, Sir Christopher Cox, educational adviser to the Colonial Office, delivered a lecture celebrating the ‘increasing importance’ of (more…)

IOE at 120: the Second World War and the educative society, 1942-1952

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 May 2022

THE NEW BOY Mr RA Butler: “It may not seem very easy at first but you’ll soon settle down.”

This blog is the fifth in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening.

Gary McCulloch.

The decade from 1942 to 1952 went from some of the most difficult and dangerous days of the Second World War, to the stirring of hopes that an educative society could be created in which educational values underpinned the reconstruction of society.

For the IOE it might be called Fred Clarke’s decade. When he died in January 1952, 70 years ago, Professor A.V. Judges at King’s College London, could recall him as ‘the doyen of pedagogic leaders in his own country… a reformer through and through’. To former students like the historian Brian Simon, he was ‘the leading educational statesman in Britain’.

It was Clarke who presided over the early development of the Institute of Education under its new title at the University of London as its director from 1936 to 1945, through the challenges of the war years when the IOE had to be evacuated from London to a temporary home in Nottingham.

Clarke was acutely aware of the social class inequalities on which English education had been based.  He was also concerned to help to promote a new social philosophy that would be ‘in harmony with that which inspires a generous education’. He (more…)

IOE at 120: Imagining the education of the future, 1932-1942

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 April 2022

Finding a home in the University of LondonGary McCulloch.

This blog is the fourth in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening.

1932… hardly the best of times to create a new Institute of Education in London. Certainly, it was an age when there were many brave and even utopian schemes coming to the fore in the world of education. The 1920s and 1930s saw progressive ideals becoming manifest, for example, in A.S. Neill’s Summerhill school, with its ideals of freedom for children; Bertrand and Dora Russell’s Beacon Hill school, with its radical ideals about child-rearing; and the civic philosophy of Kurt Hahn’s Gordonstoun. The New Education Fellowship was founded in 1921, inspired by the mystic Beatrice Ensor, and continued for the next two decades to generate international conferences on lofty themes and the journal The New Era, while the threats of fascism and war grew on the European continent.

And yet, despite the progressive visions, the years following the First World War were also hard times for education, despite the promises of the Education Act of 1918. Economic pressures were at the heart of this. The Geddes reports of 1922 led to (more…)

IOE at 120: Seeking the best way to educate the ‘whole child’, 1922-1932

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 March 2022

Nazlin Bhimani.

This blog is the third in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening.

By 1922, Prime Minister Lloyd George’s declaration that the men would be coming home to a ‘land fit for heroes’ rang hollow. The initial euphoria that gripped the nation in the aftermath of the First World War quickly dissipated as the enormity of the destructive capacity of the war in human and economic terms was realised. Some 750,000 British men were killed or wounded, the number of widows rose to c1.6 million, and just over 730,000 children lost their fathers. Families suffered extreme poverty as unemployment averaged 64 percent.

Britain’s relatively undereducated citizenry, in comparison with her European and International competitors, was seen as a growing liability in terms of the nation’s financial health and the future of the empire. With the passing of the People’s Representation Act in 1918 (and later the Reform Act in 1928), which extended franchise, the need for an educated citizenry became more imperative. To meet the demands of a new, modern world, the 1918 Education (Fisher) Act embodied the notion of creating a responsible and informed citizen. Though raising the school leaving age to 14 was achieved, the Act failed to meet its other targets when the Geddes ‘axe’ drastically reduced the (more…)

IOE at 120: war and peace, 1912-1922

Blog Editor, IOE Digital24 February 2022

Georgina Brewis.

This blog is the second in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening.

Following its foundation in 1902, the London Day Training College’s second decade was profoundly shaped by the First World War (1914-1918) and its aftermath. The numbers of students on the roll dropped sharply as men enrolled in the armed forces after the British government’s declaration of war with Germany in August 1914. Women students also left for war work, including in munitions factories or in clerical work in government departments. By the middle of the war in September 1916 there were just 211 students, nearly all of them women. The 16 men left were those deemed medically unfit for service.

With London schools facing severe staffing shortages, the LDTC’s student teachers stepped up to new responsibilities that included increased teaching practice, students assuming full control of classrooms, and women being placed in boys’ secondary schools for (more…)

IOE at 120 – an expansive vision for teaching and learning

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 January 2022

John Adams, the first principal (centre), with Margaret Punnett and Percy NunnThis blog is the first in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening. 

Tom Woodin.

At the turn of the Twentieth Century, a sense of historical change was palpable. London was viewed as a ‘great’ city at the heart of the largest empire in history. It was a financial hub; the centre of trade and a place where key political, cultural, economic and educational institutions coalesced.

It was also ravaged by inequality and poverty, which imperial adventures such as the Boer Wars had made a topic of public debate as had Charles Booth’s maps of London which provided a striking cartographic representation of poverty. Just a year after the death of Queen Victoria, the 1902 Education Act helped to foster the notion of an ‘educational ladder’ based upon scholarships for the lucky few who were able to progress from elementary schools to secondary education. The ‘scholarship boy’, and occasional girl, became an iconic figure in British life although in reality the ladder was thin and rickety and far from the proposed ‘educational highway’ for all that was favoured by the Workers Educational Association.

It was at this time that new ideas about teaching and teacher training came into their own. The London Day Training College – (more…)