‘Tragedy of the commons’: how the government abandoned the pursuit of teacher quality

education and the tyranny of numbers

Chris Husbands.

The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is a well-known tenet of public, and especially environmental policy. The ‘commons’ refers to a resource shared by many individuals who can use a portion of it for their own benefit. The tragedy is that in the absence of effective regulation, each individual will tend to exploit the commons to his or her own advantage. Under this state of affairs, the commons are depleted and eventually ruined: everyone acts in their own interests and the outcome is destructive for everyone. But the problem is that if the commons are going to be used up, whoever uses most stands to benefit the most. The application of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ to environmental challenges is obvious. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Teachers and teaching assistants

Education and peace-building in the Somali region

Tejendra Pherali

On the afternoon of 1st Nov, we were having lunch in a Yemeni restaurant in Hargeisa, Somaliland when I heard the news about deadly attack in Mogadishu that morning.

The Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu was stormed by Al-Shabab militants, killing 15 people including a Member of Parliament and Somali general who had led the military campaign that drove Al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in 2011.

When my colleague Abdi Zenebe from the University of Hargeisa received a call, it did not take me long to realise that the person on the other side was asking about me. It was my wife who had been terrified by the news and confused about whether I had travelled to Mogadishu or Hargeisa.

My UK mobile network would not work in Somaliland and I had not yet managed to obtain a local SIM card or perhaps, I had not prioritised it. I can empathise with the stress that is caused on families of individuals who work in conflict-affected or other humanitarian situations. For some, career choices in challenging situations are serendipitous whereas for others, these are professional adventures. It is probably a combination of both in my case. READ THE FULL BLOG

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Posted in International development

Children of the new century: mental health at age 11

Andy Bell

This week Centre for Mental Health and the University College London Institute of Education published new data showing that children from the lowest income families are four times more likely to have mental health problems than those from the highest earning backgrounds.

With funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Institute and the Centre have been studying data on the mental health of children born in 2000 and 2001 up to the age of 11. The children are all part of the Millennium Cohort Study, which collects anonymised information over a number of years about children born at the turn of the century.

Using reports from both parents and teachers, we now have information about the mental health of children Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Evidence-based policy, Research matters

HE Green Paper: feeding industry with a pipeline of graduates

Paul Temple

The University Grants Committee (UGC) was created in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, when the penny began to drop in Britain that universities were fundamental to what wasn’t then called the knowledge economy. For most of the twentieth century, the UGC and its successor bodies sought to guide the development of a high-achieving university system by funding institutional development and, at various times, using its funding role to orchestrate system planning. As UK higher education is now generally regarded as a world leader, you could argue that the UGC and its successors did a pretty good job.

Their role began to change from the 1980s onwards, when market mechanisms came to be seen as answers to public sector resource allocation questions. A quasi-market methodology was developed by the Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Further higher and lifelong education

Now we can say something about prisoners’ basic skills levels

Brian Creese, NRDC & CECJS

I know it is difficult for some of us educationalists to admit this, but Michael Gove’s arrival at the Ministry of Justice has been a breath of fresh air. He has already instigated a review into education in prisons and its links with rehabilitation, led by Dame Sally Coates and seems ready to examine alternatives to the current policies of high incarceration.

My own contribution to the Coates Review will be my recently completed report on prisoners’ literacy and numeracy levels. In my view, this information is much needed. The last survey of prisoners’ basic skills was 15 years ago, and the comparisons with the general population were flawed. This incorrect and out of date understanding of prisoners’ skills, together with the press’s desire to discuss adult literacy levels in terms of reading ages, has dominated discourse in this area for too long.

So, we decided it was time to take a fresh view. You can download our report, “An assessment of the English and maths skills levels of prisoners in England”, here. Read more ›

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

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