A deepening chasm: the new HE binary divide

Paul Temple

Martin Trow (1926-2007) was a leading American scholar of higher education, probably best known for his work on the development of mass higher education in western countries in the second half of the twentieth century. In one of his many influential studies, he drew a distinction between British universities where what he called “hard managerialism” was to be found, and those where “soft managerialism” applied.

Trow’s hard version “elevates…management to a dominant position in higher education…business models are central to the hard conception.” By contrast, the soft managerialists “still see higher education as an autonomous activity, governed by its own norms and traditions, with a…management still serving functions defined by the Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education

Some are more equal than others: who is music education for?


Andrea Creech

The National Music Plan (NMP) aims to enable children from all backgrounds and every part of England to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with other people; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress.

Unfortunately, there are good reasons to worry instead that music education has become the preserve of the elite.

For example, Ofsted reported in 2013 that few Music Hubs – set up to promote and coordinate music regionally – were doing enough to help schools bring the benefits of music education to pupils from all backgrounds. Other reports have highlighted persistent social barriers and described access to music education as ‘unacceptably variable’. Critics have argued that the NMP does not align well with principles of inclusion (for example, downgrading informal learning) and that it has been Read more ›

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Posted in Arts in education, Education policy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

From WhatsApp to Wind in the Willows: the digital v print debate


Sally Perry

‘All reading can be done on iPads’

At the ATL teachers’  union conference earlier this month the third motion on the final day called for an end to cuts and closures in school libraries. The motion was supported by a survey of 485 schools, and evidence of both good and bad developments in library provision – though more bad than good – was presented.

While all the implied reasons for the cuts could be challenged – they generally concerned priorities in space and funding – one justification, quoted in the press release and picked up by the media, stood out: ‘The new head has decided a library is no longer needed so is planning to get rid of it as all reading can be done on iPads’.

With World Book Night being celebrated on Saturday 23 April (also the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death), this is perhaps a good moment to reflect on what we know about the reading habits of the younger generations. However, before considering the claim that Read more ›

Posted in Literacy, Research matters

A profession of uncertainty: the Reggio Emilia image of the ‘rich’ teacher

100 languages

Peter Moss

In last month’s blog, I introduced a new book about Loris Malaguzzi, one of the 20th century’s great educationalists, whose legacy is the world-famous municipal schools of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy. One of Malaguzzi’s great achievements was to build this system of council-run schools for children from birth to 6 years with the active participation of a collaborative network of stakeholders: children, parents, citizens, city politicians and officials – and teachers. A teacher himself, by education and in his early career, Malaguzzi not only understood teaching but devoted much thought and effort to creating a team of valued, competent and supported teachers for Reggio’s municipal schools.

His starting point was the meaning of education and the image of the teacher. Education, he was clear, was holistic, education-in-its-broadest-sense: not only teaching, but ‘assistance with the psychological growth and maturity of every human being, to allow their personality to expand in as rich and as individually and socially normal a way as possible.’ And just as his political choice was for the image of the rich child, so that called for an accompanying image of the ‘rich’ teacher, for such children demand ‘rich intelligence in others, rich curiosity in others, a very high and advanced capacity for fantasy, imagination, learning and culture’.

‘Rich’ teachers had to be open to, indeed welcome, the unexpected and uncertainty. Ours, Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Superman was a foundling: art that draws on childhood

2Angela Barrett, Snow White’s Mother, 1991 @ Angela Barrett

Heather Elliott

Superman was a foundling.  Ann Shirley was adopted. James Bond was fostered. The poet, Lemn Sissay, who spent some of his teenage years in care, has covered the walls of the cafe of the Thomas Coram Foundling Museum with the names of fictional heroes who grew up outside nuclear families. This work is the starting point for the museum’s current exhibition, Drawing on Childhood, which explores why literature’s most beloved sons and daughters are all alone in the world. The show is bookended by illustrations of foundlings Tom Jones and Jacqueline Wilson’s Dustbin Baby, taking in along the way Rapunzel and Snow White, Jane Eyre and Peter Pan, Roald Dahl’s  James Trotter  and Harry Potter.

The Foundling Hospital was established by Thomas Coram in 1739 as a home for London’s abandoned children and the museum is the perfect setting for this exhibition. It also has a special connection with the Institute of Education. Our Thomas Coram Research Unit has been researching children in the city and the institutions and families who care for them for 40 years. We focus, in particular on the marginalised and displaced and how their lives are storied, children who are migrants and who are in care, for example, or living in poverty. 

The Foundling Museum Cafe featuring Lemn's Sissay's mural 'Superman was a Foundling' (c) The Foundling Museum

Lemn Sissay’s mural Superman was a Foundling

Coram’s campaigning concern for London’s children is reflected in the exhibition, too.  Read more ›

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

Remembering Belsen – do we know what we are forgetting?


Andy Pearce. 

On 15 April 1946, nearly three-quarters of the 9,000 Holocaust survivors housed in the Displaced Persons camp at Bergen-Hohne made the short journey to the former site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The occasion was the first anniversary of Liberation Day – the moment twelve months earlier when British forces entered the camp and uncovered all manner of horrors and shocked many the world over. Like all commemorative events it was a highly politicised affair. As a stone memorial to Jews who had died in Belsen was unveiled, Norbert Wollheim – the Deputy Chairman of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone – took the opportunity to publicly criticise the British for their continued recalcitrance towards Jewish immigration into Palestine, and not doing enough to prevent the destruction of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust.

In the seventy years since, the liberation of Bergen-Belsen has held a position of pre-eminence in British collective memory of the Holocaust. As the work of Tony Kushner has shown, since 1945 Belsen has had a “particular resonance and centrality in the British imagination” – acting as a cultural reference and point of access for British approaches to the Holocaust. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to the site last year, together with the intense media coverage given to the monarch’s meeting of survivors and former liberators, only further reinforced this symbolic power. Meanwhile, the government’s decision to fund a digital scanning project of Bergen-Belsen – part of an on-going Read more ›

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

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