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

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’ Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Social sciences and social policy

What are our ethical responsibilities in a changing world of Internet research?

Jon Swain. 

Over the last decade or so there has been an ever-increasing interest in the ethics of educational and social science research. Researchers’ responsibilities to their participants, fellow members of the research community, and to the institution where they work or study are receiving more attention. Universities now have their own Research Ethics Committees, and there are various ethical guides and frameworks to choose from.

The ever-growing area of Internet research has opened up new debates that have unsettled some of the previous assumptions and expectations of what it actually means to be ethical for both researchers and Internet users. As a social phenomenon, the internet not only has a profound impact on the way ideas are formed and knowledge is created, but also provides students and academics with a wealth of new and rich opportunities to carry out research with the added advantage of not having to leave their desk. However, the research also has its own particular social and ethical implications, Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education, Research matters, Social sciences and social policy

Let’s open up the silos in the sky and supercharge AI to enhance education

Rose Luckin.

Sunday 15th October saw the publication of Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK, the report of the independent review announced as part of the UK Digital Strategy in March. It also builds on the recognition in the Industrial Strategy Green Paper published in January that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a major, high-potential opportunity for the UK to build a word-leading future sector of our economy. The two chairs of the review Dame Wendy Hall, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and Jérôme Pesenti, Chief Executive of BenevolentTech, have done a great job in raising the profile of UK AI and highlighting the tremendous opportunities and the significant challenges we face. They urge the government to help the UK become the clear world leader in the development of AI – “to boost productivity, advance health care, improve services for customers and unlock £630bn for the UK economy.” Read more ›

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Posted in ICT in education, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Helping the Education Secretary reach her full potential

John White. 

A central aim of Education Secretary Justine Greening is ‘enabling children to reach their full potential’  . The idea comes into many of her speeches. It appeared in the DfE’s response to the head of OFSTED Amanda Spielman’s complaint on October 11 that the focus on SATs and GCSEs is at the expense of ‘rich and full knowledge’. The response states that ‘Our reforms are ensuring children are taught the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their potential’.

It’s the kind of phrase that tends to wash over you. It seems no more than a way of saying ‘we want them to do well’ – a politician’s empty comment. But there’s more to it. Ironically for the present government, it was part of the lexicon of the child-centred theorists dominant in teacher training until the 1960s. The London Day Training College, later the Institute of Education, under Percy Nunn and his associates was their main base.

The watchword was ‘development’ and the model was biological. Just as plants grow to Read more ›

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

How unions secure better work-life balance for employees

Alex Bryson and John Forth. 

New research we have conducted for the TUC finds Britain’s trade unions play a vital role in securing a work-life balance for employees.

According to the most authoritative workplace survey in Britain, three-quarters of workplace managers agree or strongly agree that “it is up to individual employees to balance work and family responsibilities” (Bryson and Forth, 2017a). The percentage agreeing has risen since the early 2000s (Van Wanrooy et al., 2013), even though more regulations aimed at improving work-life balance – such as a right to request flexible working – have come into force. So it is, perhaps, no wonder that British workers look on in envy at the rights to extended paid leave and other statutory supports to work-life Read more ›

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Posted in Employment and skills, Social sciences and social policy
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.


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