Hidden sins of economic crisis: the problem of unhappiness at work

image © iStockphoto.com / mustafahacalaki.

Francis Green

When the financial crisis and recession hit Britain more than six years ago, many feared for the loss of jobs. Respectable forecasters expected unemployment to reach three million, as it had in the 1980s era of high Thatcherism.

That fate was avoided, but another serious problem has been lurking in the shadows: enhanced fears and anxieties at work, and reduced well-being.

Such fears are not presented in official statistics, so how do we know this? As social scientists here at the Centre for Research on Learning and Life Chances (LLAKES) we can’t go on what we hear from anecdotes about this or that employer, or group of employees. Instead we use properly conducted surveys. We talked to a nationally representative sample of people in their own Read more ›

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Posted in Social sciences and social policy

Why we must take the National Curriculum out of ministers’ clutches

John White

Nicky Morgan has just rejected ASCL’s call for ‘a broad nationally defined core curriculum framework’ to be set by a curriculum commission at arm’s length from politicians.

This will review the framework every five years and include representatives from school leaders, teachers, parents, industry, and politicians. Schools are encouraged to build a culture of curriculum design and development including but going beyond this core. Read more ›

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Posted in curriculum & assessment, Education policy


Frank Coffield

At the end of a recent conference, we were invited to share what we’d learned and one student offered: “What I’ve learned today is that we should build co-construction together.”

Another conference opened with this remark from a specialist in education management: “The polity in general and educational governance in particular have recently undergone a paradigmatic shift.” Before he could utter another word, a school governor (a local industrialist), cut in to ask “I’ve heard of a morning shift, but what in heaven’s name is a ‘paradigmatic’ shift?” If academics continue in this vein, there will soon be calls for simultaneous translation into English.

We are being pressurised to maximise impact so perhaps it would be a good idea, when addressing teachers, to omit the technical jargon, the tired (if not completely expired) metaphors and the comforting euphemisms. Recently I’ve read in Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education

School-university partnerships: fragile and fragmented, but still worth fighting for

Toby Greany

It’s no great secret that partnerships between schools and universities are in a state of flux. Historical relationships are being reshaped by the push for a self-improving school-led system in England in particular, with the rapid expansion of School Direct giving schools a stronger role in Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

I have led two recent studies designed to track and make sense of these changes. The first was funded by RCUK and NCCPE and undertaken in partnership with Nottingham and Nottingham Trent universities: it looked at school-university partnerships in the round across the UK, for example including Widening Participation and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) initiatives. The second was undertaken with Dr Chris Brown and funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund and the participating schools. It looked at how four current and emerging Teaching Schools in England are working with their partner Read more ›

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Posted in Leadership and management

Consenting or consuming? What kind of sexuality is 50 Shades of Grey selling to young women?

Emilie Lawrence and Jessica Ringrose

On 8th March we celebrated International Women’s Day – a day to reflect on just how far we have come in achieving equality. This presents a good opportunity to discuss how the intricacies of sexual and emotional relationships are navigated in two of the biggest blockbuster films and novels in recent times – 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight. These representations raise questions over how we engage in a meaningful dialogue with young people about sexuality in a world where stories like these reign supreme

From toilet rolls to sex toys, 50 Shades of Grey spin-offs show that the support for the trilogy has been huge and the backlash even bigger. The book has been criticised for romanticising domestic violence, mental health issues, and for its childish repertoire of words used to describe body parts, experiences and sex. But the pressing question about the enormous success of the book trilogy and now the first instalment of the movie is why now?

Why during a period of proclaimed postfeminist equality for women and girls in education, work, and the public sphere do Read more ›

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Posted in Social sciences and social policy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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