X Close

Institute of Education Blog

Home

Expert opinion from academics at the UCL Institute of Education

Menu

Celebrating Geoff Whitty’s contribution to education research

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 September 2020

Emma Wisby and Andrew Brown.

As Covid-19 was reaching its first peak towards the end of March, we were preparing to publish an edited collection in honour of one of the IOE’s former Directors, the late Professor Geoff Whitty: Knowledge, Policy and Practice in Education and the Struggle for Social Justice – Essays Inspired by the Work of Geoff Whitty. Our plans to celebrate the book by gathering together friends, colleagues and interested readers remain on hold. In the meantime, here we reflect on the project and how it builds on Geoff’s scholarship as one of the foremost sociologists of education of his generation.

Geoff conducted incisive and powerful research studies across the themes of knowledge, policy and practice in education.

He was also a prominent voice in examining the field of education studies itself and its relationship to policy and practice.  The collection takes inspiration from all those (more…)

Will the Covid crisis spark a radical overhaul of schools and universities?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 March 2020

John White.

Weeks ago I thought the climate emergency might be the spark, but now, especially as UK schools and universities are closing, I think Covid-19 is more likely.

I had an email from a senior academic colleague in Wuhan who recently studied at the Institute. Among other things, she wrote about how all schools and universities had been closed, with students having to learn via online resources. She herself has spent her six weeks of lockdown co-writing a long paper welcoming the disruption of  traditional patterns of higher education by the digital university.

This has reinforced my own misgivings about traditional approaches to teaching in schools and HE. As I said, climate change has been a spur. School students have been (more…)

How can we create a ‘socially just’ school system?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 January 2020

IOE Events.

For some time, political rhetoric has focused on social mobility and the need to enable individuals to ‘fulfil their potential’ regardless of their background. But now social justice seems to have taken over as the new underpinning principle for public policy.  

The problem is, neither term has been deployed with much precision, not least when talking about education.  

For the IOE’s latest What if… debate, we wanted to take a look at our political parties’ stances on these matters by asking What if… education policy was shaped by a commitment to social justice?  

(more…)

‘PISA has shifted from being a measure to a target, and in so doing it has lost its value’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 December 2019

Paul Morris.

A recent IOE Blog asks whether England should continue its involvement with the triennial PISA tests and concludes that we should, as it provides a wealth of unexplored data for analysis.

The question is timely as the outcomes of the 2018 PISA exercise have just been released. They show once again that England’s scores are fairly stable and around the average – although the they do show improved scores in Reading and Maths and a decline in Science and Life Satisfaction.

The important question in deciding whether to continue with PISA is: what have been the major benefits over the last 19 years?

(more…)

Should England continue participating in PISA?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 November 2019

John Jerrim.

PISA has now been running since 2000, with England participating in every cycle. Yet involvement does not come cheap. It costs more than £2m every three years for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to take part. Not to mention the burden it places upon nearly 500 schools.

It therefore seems important that we consider whether all this time and effort is worthwhile. Is England really getting enough out of its continued participation in the PISA study?

This blogpost focuses on four key reasons why England has participated in the PISA study, and the value that they bring.

(more…)

Making History: new journal will raise the level of debate on national identity, culture and the canon

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 November 2018

Arthur Chapman, Hilary Cooper and Jon Nichol. 
At a time of growing polarisation among politicians and the public, when people are increasingly entrenched in their views, and with nationalism on the rise – history is surely one of the most crucial subjects in the curriculum.
That is why a new journal launched this week by UCL IOE Press is so significant. With its online open-access publishing, the History Education Research Journal (HERJ) aims to fulfil an important civic function. History education is a hotly contested area of the curriculum – prone, for example, to highly polarised and embittered political battles over canons, personal and national identity, national history curricula and cultural transmission. Here politically HERJ has a major role internationally in establishing an informed discourse with politicians and policy makers who often have limited knowledge and understanding of history beyond its role in inculcating national identity, patriotic loyalty and nationalism, in ignorance of its crucial role in educating pupils to become questioning, informed and sceptical citizens of liberal democracies. HERJ’s educative mission is to raise the power and impact of public debates on history education by (more…)

Geoff Whitty – an appreciation

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 July 2018

 
It is with deep sadness that we relay the news that Geoff Whitty, Director Emeritus of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), has died.  He passed away peacefully on Friday.  Here we celebrate his life and work. (more…)

Education and social mobility – the missing link, or red herring?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 November 2017

This week the IOE held the first in our ‘What if…’ events series, which challenges thought leaders to bring some fresh and radical thinking to key debates in education. We kicked off with education’s role in relation to social mobility, asking the panel ‘What if… we really wanted to further social mobility through education?’
First up was Kate Pickett of Spirit Level fame. She rejected the very premise of the question, highlighting the greater impact of wider, pervasive inequalities. Nevertheless, she saw some scope for education policy to help lessen those inequalities – banning private education, randomising school admissions and ending student fees were a few of her recommendations.
Next was James Croft, chair of the Centre for Education Economics. James was more sanguine about what could be achieved through education and ‘working with the grain’ (more…)

Priorities for a new government: advice from our academics

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 May 2017

The IOE blog has asked colleagues from across the Institute what’s at the top of their wish list. Their replies will appear over the next few weeks.
(more…)

Independent schools and social mobility: no easy answers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 November 2016

Geoff Whitty and Emma Wisby. 
There’s now just under a month for people to give their views on the government’s schools green paper proposals. If the impassioned public debate it has generated is anything to go by, Department for Education officials will have a lot of consultation responses to read. They will also have much thinking to do about how the behaviour of different parts of the education system would most likely change in response to the proposals, and the likely implications of that for achieving the aims behind them, especially Theresa May’s much vaunted commitment to increasing upward social mobility.
In broad terms, what the green paper proposals do is to accept at face value an existing hierarchy of secondary schools with regard to academic attainment: elite independent schools at the top, followed by grammar schools, high performing non-selective schools, and less well performing non-selective schools and a few studio schools with rather different ambitions at the bottom. They reinforce the legitimacy of this hierarchy by, in theory, removing the post code/house price or school fees barrier to the most academically able and engaged children accessing schools at the top end, regardless of background. Linked to this is an apparent intention to create more space ‘at the top’.
A particularly notable feature of the green paper in this regard is its ambition to harness the independent schools sector (more…)