London Review of Education

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 1474-8479
Print ISSN: 1474-8460
In this chapter the online construction of disability is investigated, and the implications for educators working in virtual worlds are considered. Based on the analysis of data collected through interviews with deaf residents of Second LifeTM, it is argued that research into online identity, disability and education needs to allow room for self-description, and that educators need to recognise the power relations that can lurk within practices of provision or accessibility support. Working through these issues involves reconciling Disability Studies with e-learning and accessibility perspectives. It is proposed that strategies that would support this reconciliation might be found in recent literature on disability and technology.
The new English system of student finance seeks to resolve a higher education policy trilemma created by government's desire to switch more of the costs on to students, whilst seeking to promote both increased and widening participation. The rationale for this new funding system is based upon orthodox economic analysis which, the authors argue, rests upon inappropriate assumptions. Survey evidence from recent entrants is presented to support this critique and to question whether the current system can promote both informed student decision-making and widening participation.
This paper describes a small-scale study which investigates the role of blogging in professional academic practice in higher education. It draws on interviews with a sample of academics (scholars, researchers and teachers) who have blogs and on the author's own reflections on blogging to investigate the function of blogging in academic practice and its contribution to academic identity. It argues that blogging offers the potential of a new genre of accessible academic production which could contribute to the creation of a new twenty-first century academic identity with more involvement as a public intellectual.
The Academic Life: Small Worlds, Different Worlds represented an impressive investigation of the largest and most complex national academic community in the world, which seriously attempted a detailed representation of the variations in its form. Its ethnographic orientation to understanding the internal academic life through exploratory interviews with individual faculty in different types of institution and a range of disciplines provided subtle and complex insights. The strength of its subsequent influence on scholars in this field, however, may have restricted analysis of broader transformations in higher education and society and the related restructuring of academic work and careers.
At present the basic intellectual aim of academic inquiry is to improve knowledge. Much of the structure, the whole character, of academic inquiry, in universities all over the world, is shaped by the adoption of this as the basic intellectual aim. But, judged from the standpoint of making a contribution to human welfare, academic inquiry of this type is irrational. Three of four of the most elementary rules of rational problem-solving are violated. A revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry is needed so that the basic aim becomes to promote wisdom, conceived of as the capacity to realize what is of value, for oneself and others, thus including knowledge and technological know-how, but much else besides. This urgently needed revolution would affect every branch and aspect of the academic enterprise.
Proportion of pupils gaining 5 + A*-C passes 1989-2001
GCSE performance by ethnic groups in England (5 + A*-C) Source: DfES (2003) Aiming High: raising the achievement of ethnic minorities pupils, March (PLASC 2002 data).
Performance by key stage, gender and ethnic background (percentage)
Performance by key stage, free school meals and ethnic background in Lambeth 2002
Over the last decade the underperforming groups issues that have shaped thinking practice in schools have changed significantly. Today, a high level of education is no longer a luxury for some groups or social classes, but a necessity for every one in British society. Yet Black Caribbean heritage pupils' achievements lag far behind the average achievement of the majority of their peers and the gap is growing at the end of primary and secondary education. Despite much academic debate and policy makers' concern about underachievement in schools, the needs of Black Caribbean pupils have not been addressed in the education system and have been largely neglected. This research paper examines critically the national policy agenda, the extent of and reasons for underachievement of pupils of Black Caribbean heritage throughout each key stage in an inner city LEA. Statistical trends and patterns of performance are analysed by ethnic factors to illustrate differences in attainment. The paper questions the current national policy agenda for improving achievement for all pupils, and argues critically that the issues surrounding Black Caribbean pupils' underachievement are real and should not be underestimated in national policy formulation. Policy implications for government and for all concerned with school improvement are highlighted, as well as many practical suggestions.
This paper considers the meaning of social justice as reflected by New Communities Schools (NCS). It reviews the role of NCS in the modernisation of welfare, considers the criteria used to judge their effectiveness and assesses the outcomes of the NCS programme. Problems in assessing social justice outcomes are explored in terms of pilot or mainstream approaches; the focus on the most disadvantaged; local diversity versus over-arching approaches; soft or hard measures. It is concluded that there are major problems in addressing major problems of structural inequalities through pilot initiatives. However, although the NCS was not transformative it was sustaining for the schools that participated in it and led to modest improvements in the lives of staff, pupils and parents.
This paper presents an argument around the need to rethink the issue of early school leaving from the vantage point of students and teachers, and the conditions and pathways that need to be constructed and brought into existence within schooling, if such conditions do not already exist. The attempt is to move discussions outside of the well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful literatures of 'at risk' categories that end up blaming students, their families or backgrounds. The claim being advanced is that the focus needs to be on relationships, school cultures, and pedagogical arrangements that make schools more attractive and educationally engaging places.
The 'New Humanities' has called for new ways of engaging with Humanities texts; the European Science Foundation is just one major research funder to demand that the Humanities contribute to interdisciplinary collaborations. Meanwhile, traditionally trained disciplinary academics have resisted bringing traditional texts into interdisciplinary courses as 'dumbing down the curriculum'. This article analyses briefly the different epistemological, narratological and disciplinary genres in one text: Herodotus' Histories or Enquiries . It concludes that Humanities study must include such texts, not only as disciplinary but also as supra-disciplinary exemplary ways of knowing. It sketches a New Humanities curriculum based on such a text that could fit the twenty-first century student to live in a super-complex, multi-paradigmatic and radically interdisciplinary world.
Percentage of unsatisfactory or poor teaching in lessons in secondary schools at the time of going into special measures and their inspection in 2002-2003, two years after coming out
Numbers of schools in different categories of schools causing concern in July 2004
Outcomes of 'Special Measures' (SM) over the 11 years, 1993-2004
Number of schools with serious weakness that re-entered serious weakness or special measures categories
Inspection and performance data show that the schools identified as least effective in England (in special measures) are more likely to sustain the improvement they make after inspection than those that are relatively more effective, although still causing concern (identified as having serious weaknesses). We compare the progress of these two categories of schools causing concern and discuss the role of school leadership in relation to their differential improvement trends. It is argued that special measures identification and support for improvement has made an important contribution to the policy goals of promoting educational inclusion and raising standards.
This article reflects on lessons learnt from recent research and evaluation work in secondary schools operating in urban and challenging contexts in England. It is suggested that there is a common process that effective leaders follow in order to generate and sustain tangible improvements. Central to this argument are the incremental devolution of autonomy and the sequential development of meaningful interpersonal relationships within the organisation. In conclusion this article speculates that successful leaders in schools facing challenging contexts have a highly developed understanding of the necessity to achieve synergy between leadership approaches and the development phase of the organisation.
The relationship between race, social cohesion and citizenship has become an important issue in recent political and policy debates. In this paper these questions are explored in the context of the changing forms of ethnic minority political engagement and participation that have evolved in the past two decades. We suggest that there are growing tensions in policy debates about the boundaries and limits of multicultural policies, particularly focused around the issue of social cohesion.
We live, as some theorists put it, in a 'risk society'. Risks are diverse and new forms are constantly arising. There is an 'over-production' of risk. We face the brittle uncertainties of individual self-management, as Beck sees it, alone and 'fragmented across (life) phases, space and time' (1997, p. 26). This is a bleak and elemental social world. This paper takes a rather different view of risk, as having both collective and divisive dynamics and effects. It offers not so much an alternative view as one that is re-socialised. Focusing on middle class families and the 'risks' of school choice some key features of the 'prudentialist' risk management regime extant in the UK are examined. That is, those 'definite social exertions' that middle class families must make on their own part or face the very real prospect of generational decline are considered. Risks are perceived to arise from the engagements between the family and the education marketplace, and are embedded in the paradox wherein society becomes structurally more meritocratic but processually less so, as the middle class work harder to maintain their advantages in the new conditions of choice and competition in education. The paper is peppered with extracts from interviews with middle-class parents. These serve for illustration and discussion.
The purpose of this article is to outline a framework of explanation of the unique tradition of comprehensive schooling in Scandinavia. All the countries developed an all-through system of education from grade one to nine/ten with mixed ability classes for nearly all. This all-through system of education is a product of a long historical development. It will be argued that four factors shaped this development: strong state involvement, a relative egalitarian class structure, powerful Liberal Party and a strong Social Democracy.
Michael Hand's interesting analysis of the concept of intelligence crucially depends upon three assumptions: firstly, that there is an ordinary use of the term which, when applied to an individual is perfectly general and not context dependent. Secondly, that this use is best cashed in terms of aptitude. Thirdly, that the aptitude in question is to be explained in terms of theorizing. I shall argue in what follows that the first assumption may be true, but, if it is true, this presents a problem for Hand's analysis and not a path to a solution. That the second assumption is false but, even if it were true, it would sit badly with assumption one. And, finally, that the third assumption runs into too many difficulties to be acceptable.
Many arguments in favour of school voucher programs are based upon libertarian free agency principles. Viewed at the organizational level, allowing persons to exercise choice in education would seem to offer incentives for all educational organizations within that framework to improve overall product quality and thus more effectively obtain the education good for both individual and society. However, analysis from the transcending institutional level shows that supra -organizational forces will progressively reduce choice and quality as both private and public organizations relinquish their distinctive curricula and philosophies as a de facto requirement for participation within the broader educational institution or 'market'. Acknowledging the costs of, and designing policy to maintain, particular information are both essential to effectively producing the education good within a competitive institutional structure.
This paper explores the debate about the relationship between educational research and educational policymaking and practice. It considers why the translation of research into practice appears to be limited, and the policy implications that arise from these limitations. In this epistemic setting, aspects of the organisation of educational research in some western countries, and the contrasting position in some transitional countries, are considered. Demands on educational research in both settings, it is argued, are based partly on misunderstandings of what it can achieve. It is important to reach a clearer understanding of the possibilities if the benefits that are available from research are to be realised.
Schema for identifying the key characteristics of ABIs
Since coming to power in 1997, New Labour has adopted area-based initiatives (ABIs) as a key strategy to combat economic, social and (especially) educational disadvantage. This paper briefly outlines the history of ABIs within the UK and explores the discontinuities and continuities between recent initiatives and their earlier counterparts. It argues that while New Labour's ABIs incorporate distinctive, new characteristics, they are largely based on the same assumptions which underpinned previous ABIs. The limits of these models, and the somewhat patchy track record of ABIs, raise serious questions about their efficacy and the restricted policy repertoire of the UK State.
This paper is developed from concern that, despite a number of developments and initiatives in physical education over recent years, there has been little change in the teaching of the subject. This has resulted in many young people being alienated from physical education and therefore physical activity. The paper focuses on how initial teacher training (ITT) contributes to this lack of change by focusing on the development of knowledge for teaching and the technical competence to deliver this. It then considers ways in which ITT could contribute to developing 'knowledgeable teachers' who are able to make change. The paper focuses on two aspects identified as relevant for trainee physical education teachers: socialization and knowledge for teaching. It recognizes that the issues are complex and that change is difficult. It also recognizes that ITT cannot change things by itself. However, it argues that by maintaining the status quo, the subject will not develop so that it is relevant to today's youngsters.
This article examines how recent changes, leading to a diversified supply in Kenya's university education system, is reflected in prospective students' aspirations, perceptions and preferences to undertake university education. The results, based on a combination of a convenience and snowball sampling of settings, within which random samples of final year high school students were selected, reveal that aspiration to undertake university education is high among all social groups, and that state universities are preferred by a majority of the students in spite of the rapid growth in the number of private universities of acceptable quality. By examining the aspirations of students and college choice, the paper engages the debates around elite vs . massified higher education in Kenya's context.
Clusters of evaluative practice 
Implementation staircase 
This paper outlines a vision of evaluation and its place in social and educational policy and practice. It focuses on the 'presence' of evaluation in theory, organizational learning and internationalization and the 'voice' of participants in the evaluation process drawing on a range of examples of evaluation practice. It argues for an 'inclusive' evaluation stance from a moral/political standpoint and from the standpoint of sound evaluation design. It offers evaluation as a way of promoting and depicting the effects of social policy on its recipients and concludes by suggesting the way evaluations can promote 'provisional stabilities' for those experiencing rapid and complex change.
We develop a model that supports the rapid production and accumulation of knowledge in different sectors. The model combines two dimensions: the first is the mode of knowledge production, either scientific or humanistic; and the second concerns the strength of knowledge spillovers, generated by competition and/or cooperation. The model is then applied to the knowledge base in different sectors. The contrasting historical trajectories of knowledge production and dissemination in medicine and education in England are examined in the light of the continuing debate about the nature of educational research and the role of teachers within it.
Incl. abstract, bib. We develop a model that supports the rapid production and accumulation of knowledge in different sectors. The model combines two dimensions: the first is the mode of knowledge production, either scientific or humanistic;and the second concerns the strength of knowledge spillovers, generated by competition and/or cooperation. The model is then applied to the knowledge base in different sectors. The contrasting historical trajectories of knowledge production and dissemination in medicine and education in England are examined in the light of the continuing debate about the nature of educational research and the role of teachers within it.
An emerging wave of 'ambient' technologies has the potential to support learning in new and particular ways. In this paper we propose a 'trail model' of 'navigational learning' which links some particular learning needs to the potentialities of these technologies. In this context, we outline the design and use of an 'experience recorder', a technology to support learning in museums. In terms of policy for the e-society, these proposals are relevant to the need for personalised and individualised learning support.
Many families employ private tutors to help children with their schoolwork, thus participating in a 'shadow education' system that supplements normal schooling. International surveys show that there is wide variation in the extent of tutoring in different countries. This paper considers reasons for this variation and evaluates evidence on the prevalence and effectiveness of private tutoring. The effectiveness of tutoring is mixed, with some well-designed programmes achieving large gains in attainment, whereas surveys show little impact. Some of these discrepancies arise from weak conceptualisation and methodological issues. It is argued that quality indicators should be added to analyses of survey data to provide more reliable estimates. Evidence from research on extra-curricular activities is used to explore the 'penumbra' between public and private sector involvement. Systematic monitoring of the shadow system is recommended. Policies should be developed, as it is likely that the prevalence of private tutoring will increase.
Incl. abstract, bib. This paper argues against two models for privatizing schools in the UK: contracting out the management of schools to private companies, and voucher schemes. Contracting out cannot yield the efficiency benefits that are claimed for it, because the contracting process cannot be sufficiently competitive and the government cannot have sufficient knowledge of what makes schools successful to manage the contracts well. Vouchers will not work because the private sector in the UK will not be willing to participate in a scheme which incorporates regulations designed to achieve a minimal level of social justice.
The involvement of special schools and centres in curriculum policy initiatives has been remarkably limited both in the UK and internationally, and research investigating students' perspectives on the curriculum and teaching and learning in such centres is practically non-existent. The views of students on curriculum and pedagogy attending three special schools and a secure unit are explored and four key themes that emerged are discussed. It is proposed that aspects of the provision at the four special centres contribute to inclusive education practices.
In addressing educational disengagement, government policy in England focuses primarily on raising the age of educational participation, promoting vocationalism and directing resources at the population of young people not engaged in any education, employment or training (NEETs). However, 'disengagement' is a more fluid and dynamic concept than policy allows for and is visible within a wide range of students, even those deemed to be engaged by their presence in education and educational settings. This paper presents students' accounts of their educational experiences which suggest that the context of the classroom, student–teacher relationships, peer relationships and pedagogical methods used in classrooms are salient factors in understanding engagement.
Certain policy areas with considerable impact on young people's educational experiences and achievements, notably assessment and qualifications, do not involve consultation with young people to any meaningful extent. Findings from a national study, which included focus groups with 243 students in the 14–19 phase, are presented with respect to student consultation and participation in such policy areas. A lack of meaningful consultation regarding what students see as 'higher level' policy agendas was found (such as qualifications provision, choice or structure). Students are therefore 'voiceless' in relation to major qualifications reforms.
Access to careers education for young people has been in decline under the Conservative–Liberal Democrat Coalition Government due to changes in regulations and funding. Therefore it has become vital to deliver the commitments made in the Youth Contract to provide careers advice through Jobcentre Plus advisers. At the same time, other policy changes have put Jobcentre Plus advisers increasingly in the role of benefit enforcers. This paper explores how these two roles interact with each other and influence the experience of young people trying to access careers advice. We propose a framework that would encourage the development of a Jobcentre Plus fit for the purpose of the Youth Contract.
As a contribution to the history of higher education in English further education colleges, two policy episodes are sketched and compared. Both periods saw attempts to expand courses of higher education outside the universities. In the first, ahead of policies to concentrate non-university higher education in the strongest institutions, efforts were made after 1944 to recognize a hierarchy of colleges, with separate tiers associated with different volumes and types of advanced further education. In the second, soon after unification of the higher education sector at the beginning of the 1990s, all colleges in the further education sector were encouraged to offer higher-level programmes and qualifications, with a reluctance or refusal on the part of central government to plan, coordinate, or configure this provision. The two episodes highlight very different assumptions about what types of institutions should be involved in what kinds of higher education. They are a reminder too of how short is the policy memory on higher education within modern-day governments and their agencies.
The school curriculum is a vital battlefield on which versions of the ‘good society’ are fought over. For much of the past five decades, the educational left has been losing that battle. Optimistic calls for a curriculum to support a ‘common culture’ fragmented in the face of economic, social and cultural changes. This article charts debates about curriculum and culture, focusing on the work of the sociologist of education Michael Young, who spent his academic life at the IOE (Institute of Education), UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society (University College London, UK). It surveys the educational arguments of the New Left in the 1960s, the turn towards knowledge and control and neo-Marxism in the 1970s, the failed modernisations of the 1990s and the influence of postmodern culture on curriculum and school subjects. Finally, it assesses recent moves to reassert the importance of knowledge over skills and processes. The crisis in curriculum is reflective of wider crises in British society, and, it is suggested, Young offers a guide to what comes next.
A seminar to reflect on David Watson's many and varied contributions to higher education policy, scholarship, and practice was held at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London on 12 November 2015. The principal speakers were Paul Ashwin, Bahram Bekhradnia, Mike Boxall, Rob Cuthbert, Brenda Gourley, Alison Kennell, and Peter Scott. This paper offers a summary of their talks and also attempts to reflect contributions from other participants. Given the extent of editorial licence needed to bring these varied contributions together in what I hope is a reasonably concise and consistent form, responsibility for what follows must rest with me.
This article expands on Aldrich and Woodin’s contributions on the development of primary teacher education at IOE (Institute of Education), UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society (University College London, UK). It focuses on the Primary Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE); the years before it began and its development between 1977 and 1986. Relevant literature and first-hand accounts provide background and progress. Events leading to the establishment of the Primary PGCE at IOE are discussed, before describing the course itself with its vicissitudes and progress, and internal and external politics. Changes in emphasis and structure are reviewed, together with the influences of central government and its education departments. Demographics of population decline and growth are relevant to the progress of the Primary PGCE, which grew numerically and in stature. Key organisational and structural developments of the Primary PGCE are discussed. It will be seen how the IOE itself and Early Years and Primary courses, with its staff, influence policy and practice, internally and externally. The article concludes that the primary initial teacher education remains unfinished business.
Education has long been considered as playing a part in the construction or formation of self and identity. The processes of education and formation, being historically and culturally shaped, display the concerns and features of time and place. One of the distinguishing and influential features of contemporary western societies is communication technologies. Some features of the role of these technologies in self-formation and the construction of identity is discussed in this paper together with a reflection on the role that traditional forms of schooling might continue to play in rooting self and identity in a real, embodied world.
This article recalls the key concept of due regard in the Equality Act 2010 and outlines how it was increasingly ignored by the Department for Education (DfE) in England in the following decade. Further, it speculates that if the concept of due regard had been observed more rigorously across all government departments, the COVID-19 pandemic would have been less tragic and traumatising in its effects, and less responsible for deepening inequalities throughout British society. It concludes that the Act should be revisited, revised and re-emphasised.
Changes in school-level income per pupil 2009/10 to 2013/14 (real terms 2009/10 prices), by FSM band (excluding academies).
Gaps between proportions of FSM and non-FSM students achieving different thresholds at GCSE, 2006-2014
School spending (current) 2009/10 to 2013/14, real terms 2009/10 prices (£bn)
Trends in key attainment measures by FSM status 2010 to 2014
Summary of trends in ECM framework indicators, from 2010 to the latest available data
The reduction of socio-economic inequalities in school outcomes was a major priority of the Coalition Government in England from 2010–15. In this paper we examine the Coalition's policies and spending, including an analysis of the distributional effect of its pupil premium policy. We also look at trends in outcomes up to 2014. We find that although the pupil premium had a modest overall effect of distributing more money to schools with poorer intakes, this was nested within a wider set of policies which have disadvantaged low income families and children, and that there is evidence of socio-economic gaps widening on some indicators.
This paper focuses on the review and subsequent revision of the primary curriculum that took place between 2010 and 2014. Three central contentions are made about the review process: (1) it ignored the need for dialogue and consensus among the various parties that make up the delicate and interlocking set of relationships in the English education system; (2) it at first purported to integrate the views of higher education and then ignored, marginalized, and dismissed them; and (3) despite claiming to be based on best practice in other 'jurisdictions', it failed to take account of alternative views about approaches to curriculum innovation and instead focused on a limited and instrumentalist view that was treated as being uncontestable.
This article examines whether the so-called 'London effect', in which London's schools improved rapidly and outperformed the rest of England on key performance measures between 2003 and 2013, has persisted through the high levels of change that have continued to characterize the school system in England since 2013. Using detailed analysis of educational attainment data, its primary focus is on determining whether the introduction in 2014 of significant changes to the primary curriculum and the national assessment frameworks in both primary and secondary phases affected the performance of London's schools in 2016, when the first examinations were taken under the new assessment systems.
Timeline of 2020/1 Covid-19 events linked to initial teacher education in England (Source: Authors, 2022)
Model of well-being (Source: Dodge et al., 2012: 230)
Themes and sub-themes identified (Source: Authors, 2022)
Those training to become teachers in England during the 2019/20 academic year were severely impacted by the first national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many missing school placements, giving them less time to build experience and confidence before becoming newly qualified teachers (NQTs). Their first year of teaching was also severely impacted by the pandemic. As part of a British Academy-funded project, we collected data from 2020/1 NQTs in England through their first year of teaching. This article focuses on the qualitative data from seven participants, utilising online interviews to understand the challenges and opportunities they faced within the sector during the pandemic. Our findings, while drawing on small-scale data, provide insights into how schools and training providers can support trainees in healthier times, and include the importance of relationships within school, support given by school leaders and the need to acknowledge the challenges of beginning a professional career. These findings may also be useful in future disruptive events for early teacher education.
Top-cited authors
Michael Fielding
  • University College London
Paul Temple
  • University College London
Jacquelynne S Eccles
  • University of California, Irvine
Ronald Barnett
  • University College London
James E. Cote
  • The University of Western Ontario