A tale for today: how much is a free lunch at the ‘Koob Café’?

Rose Luckin

Chris walked into a London cafe. It had a strange name: ‘Koob Cafe’, but Chris had been attracted by the sign over the door saying “Free Lunch here all day every day.” The cafe staff explained that all Chris had to do to enter the cafe and get a free lunch any day, was to press a small button on the cafe to agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the café, which was actually a bit like a club. Chris had no worries about doing this because copies of the rules and regulations were freely available in several volumes lined up at the side of the café counter, and the cafe staff, invited all their customers to browse any of these volumes at their leisure.

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Posted in ICT in education

Just how good are academy schools? A new database makes it easier to tell

Bilal Nasim. 

There has been huge interest in the performance of schools that have changed from mainstream to academy status in recent years. Since 2010, successive governments have backed the opening of more academies, arguing that they drive up standards by allowing headteachers more freedom to innovate. Critics claim that there is scant evidence to show that becoming an academy is a guarantee of a better school.

So, can education researchers help to resolve this debate?

Until now it’s been quite difficult to track the performance of schools that change to academies. Previously, academic researchers and policymakers could make use of the Read more ›

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Posted in accountability and inspection, Evidence-based policy, Research matters

What happened to the link between the women’s movement and the fight for children’s rights?

Berry Mayall. 

Once upon a time, English women fought for childhood – not just for gender equality with men. In 1900 women fought for suffrage, but also for a socialist society – a better deal for all.

Children at that time had become visible in the new elementary schools. They were hungry, poorly dressed, lacking food and boots. Some were ill, some disabled. Women spoke up for these children: they could not benefit from schooling unless their health and welfare needs were addressed. Women argued that the state should share responsibility with parents for their health.

And women also saw that children had things in common: they grew according to laws of development; they learned by exploration – and that school should take account of these points. Therefore children were a special social group, and the future of society. As detailed in my new book, Visionary Women and Visible Childhoods, England 1900-1920: Childhood and the Women’s Movement, it is no accident that measures to improve the status of Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education

The changing role of children: should they have more chance to contribute outside of school?

Berry Mayall.

Have we gone too far with ‘scholarising’ childhood in the modern world? My new book, Visionary Women and Visible Childhoods, England 1900-1920: Childhood and the Women’s Movement, explores children’s experiences of home and school during the early Twentieth Century. I used people’s memoirs about their childhoods, written many years later, in my research.

I chose people who had attended the elementary schools, which were set up to cater for the poorest children. The memoirs suggest strongly that children of the time felt very strong attachment to their homes, and especially to their mothers, who worked so hard to keep the family afloat. People describe the sheer effort of wash-day, the endless toil of keeping the tiny home clean and tidy, the battle to provide enough food for everyone, given that a man’s wages were not enough to keep everyone alive, and that mothers too worked, at home and in the neighbourhood, to make a few extra pennies each week.

Accordingly, writers of memoirs recall feeling very strong attachment to their home, and very strong feeling of responsibility Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Social sciences and social policy

Brexit: German universities among those poised to benefit if researchers and funding shift

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Humboldt University in Berlin. German universities may emerge as ‘winners’ from Brexit. Tilemahos Efthimiadis, CC BY

Aline Courtois

The UK is currently the second-largest recipient of competitive research funding from the EU: 6% of students and 17% of staff in UK universities are from other EU countries. Nearly half of academic papers produced by the UK are written in collaboration with at least one international partner – and among the top 20 countries UK academics cooperate the most with, 13 are in the EU.

While collaboration is important, countries also compete with each other for funding and students. Our new research has found that academics and institutions across Europe, and particularly in Germany, could make significant gains as Brexit shakes Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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