Blog Series #3 Undergraduate Dissertation Research in SoE: Showcasing Psychology in Education Undergraduate Dissertations

By Dr. Amanda Williams  School of Education

This is the last entry in the series (Blog #1 and Blog #2) celebrating our 2019-20 Undergraduate Dissertations. In this post we highlight the research projects conducted by BSc Psychology in Education students Samantha Meyerhoff (supervised by Dr Charlotte Flottmann) and Sorcha Hewes (Dr Felicity Sedgewick). These projects apply psychological theory and research to better understand the lived experience of at-risk individuals in our community. Both have been executed with thoughtful integrity and present interesting findings.

We are very proud of Samantha and Sorcha for the excellent work they have produced. The projects are outlined in more detail below, along with advice for working successfully with dissertation supervisors.

The Role of Antenatal Classes in Parent Wellbeing- Samantha Meyerhoff

This project examined whether antenatal classes prepared participants to cope with being a new parent. Individual interviews were conducted with six parents who had attended NHS antenatal classes within the last 5 years. Thematic analyses of interviews indicated that while pregnant parents had high expectations for their antenatal classes, however postnatally they felt unprepared for the demands that birth and childcare placed on them. Parents did not feel that their antenatal classes adequately prepared them for the reality of childbirth and postnatal care, and this negatively impacted their wellbeing. Samantha argues that proving standardised classes with more realistic information about what to expect postnatally is likely to improve new parents’ mental health.

This project has foundations in Samantha’s previous experience working as a Nanny. In this role she would commonly have conversations with new parents about how unprepared they felt for birth and childcare, despite having participated in antenatal classes. The importance of this topic was solidified while completing a Q-step internship with a private antenatal company. In this placement Samantha was responsible for conducting a quantitative survey examining postnatal depression and well-being, during which she learnt about the mental health challenges that new parents face. Building on these experiences, Samantha focused her dissertation research on better understanding why, despite trying to prepare with antenatal classes, individuals struggle with the transition to parenthood.

According to Samantha’s supervisor Dr Flothmann, Samantha was passionate about this topic.  “The results from her research stand to make practical contributions to benefit professionals and empower new parents alike. This work is of real clinical significance.”

Autistic Women’s Experiences in the Workplace – Sorcha HewesThis project examined Autistic women’s perceptions of challenges and strengths in the workplace. Interviews with nine Autistic women from diverse occupations were thematically analysed. Participants indicated that after diagnosis, support in the workplace was easier to access but this didn’t go far enough to address their needs. Participants did not perceive Autism to be understood by their colleagues or management; even after explaining their needs these might not be addressed. This most likely reflects the fact that Autistic women the in the workplace appear to be coping well, despite underlying anxiety caused by this masking. Sorcha argues the need for general awareness raising about Autism in the workplace.

Sorcha’s interest in this topic was first piqued during her 2nd year work placement with Venturer’s Academy, when she attended a talk about teaching Autistic girls. During this presentation it became clear that Autism is manifested differently in women, resulting in a later diagnosis which can cause difficulties in women’s professional lives. This reality was reinforced in a lecture delivered by Dr Sedgewick for the Cognitive Psychology and Special Education unit. Sorcha next looked to twitter to see how this was manifested in lived experiences, fuelling her passion for the topic. In her dissertation research Sorcha used Autistic women’s authentic voices to examine the type of support workplaces should offer.

According to Dr Sedgewick, it was clear that Sorcha was passionate about her project, and this shone through her work. “Sorcha was very careful to make sure that she made her research a positive experience for her participants, who often had not had the chance to tell their stories before. Even when these were emotional or difficult, Sorcha prioritised their voices, and ended up with a thesis which was high quality, reflected her values, and will be appreciated by the community she worked with”.

Working with Your Supervisor: Advice from the Other Side

Students interviewed for this series each mentioned the importance of their supervisor for achieving a high-quality project. So how can students starting into the process facilitate a positive working relationship with their supervisor? Although this is a professional relationship (read: be prepared for your meetings and submit things on time), it is likely that your supervisor will take on more of a mentor role in order to best support you through the dissertation process. Here is what you should do to make the best use of your supervisor, according to the students interviewed for this series.

  1. Communicate with your Supervisor. Ask them questions and let them know if you are having difficulties. Estelle Wu notes that after expressing her confusion over case study designs, her supervisor was instrumental in providing methodological resources that solved the problems she was having.
  2. Take their advice. Use your supervisor’s experience to inform your own project. Samantha Meyerhoff encourages students to “Take their supervisor’s advice on-board. They are trying to help you.”

Concluding Thoughts

Our Undergraduates have produced impressive research projects, and we are very proud of them. Building on their individual passions and experience acquired over their three years of study, these projects stand to make academic and applied contributions. It’s clear that the scope of research would not be possible without supervisor support.

And so I will end with a note of thanks to our team of supervisors. Your enthusiasm for mentoring dissertation students makes this unit a pleasure to coordinate. Shall we do it again next year?

Blog Series #2 Undergraduate Dissertation Research in SoE: Showcasing Education Studies Undergraduate Dissertations

By Dr. Amanda Williams  School of Education

Building on the last post (Blog #1) singing the praises of our Undergraduate’s Dissertation projects and offering broad advice for getting started on a dissertation, this article will showcase two dissertations conducted by our BSc Education Studies students Estelle Wu (supervised by Dr Rafael Mitchell) and Leila Meredith (Dr Julia Paulson). These projects apply a critical education lens to better understand educative processes within and beyond schools. Both refuse to bend to the status quo and instead demonstrate how education can be used to improve lived experiences.

I am delighted to be sharing the innovative projects conducted by Estelle and Leila. More detail can be found below, along with advice for third year students beginning their own dissertation journeys.

Balancing National and International Expectations at an International School in China – Linjun (Estelle) Wu

Estelle Wu, School of Education

In this case study, Estelle examined how an elite International School in China with a large proportion of local students balanced the delivery of the national curriculum while striving to create global citizens. She reviewed school-level information available on the website (i.e., mission statement, curriculum offered, timetable, etc) and used this to inform her interviews with Chinese and expatriate teachers, and Headteacher in the school. She found that the case study school was predominantly Chinese in language and culture. She argues that greater government support – for example greater school autonomy in deciding how to deliver the national curriculum- is needed in order to result in a truly international educational experience for students.

This project was inspired by Estelle’s own experiences as a teaching assistant at an international school which was in the process of reform to develop a global citizen curriculum. Through this experience she came to recognise some of the practical challenges which schools can face in providing an international-oriented education within national curriculum requirements. She decided to explore this topic in more depth for her dissertation research.

Dr Mitchell nominated this dissertation for inclusion in our Undergraduate Research Showcase, and had this to say about Estelle’s project

“There’s a long tradition (going back 60 years or more in this country) of researchers studying educational phenomena through the lens of a single school case study. Doing this well requires a diverse skill set, balancing the technical skills required for rich data collection with the social skills required for gaining participants’ trust during fieldwork. Estelle did impressive work with both aspects of this, and her study offers an insightful account of teachers’ perspectives on what it means for a school to be Chinese and international, as well as school-level strategies for navigating these tensions.”

The Role of Critical Pedagogy within the Extinction Rebellion Movement- Leila Meredith

Extinction Rebellion protest

For her dissertation Leila examined the role of critical pedagogy within activism for challenging neoliberalism, and applied this to the Extinction Rebellion Movement. She adopted an Observer-as-Participant role when attending Extinction Rebellion meetings and then built on this by interviewing members of the movement. Leila found that critical pedagogy was implicated in both the movement’s outreach activities and internal organization. Extinction Rebellion was successful in engaging people in the movement and empowering them, using dialogue and art-based projects as a way of connecting people without conflict. Internally, there was a non-hierarchical structure that emphasized personal reflection and commitment to change at the individual and societal level. Leila argues through these activities Extinction Rebellion was applying critical pedagogy to activism; this is a model that could be transferred to other social movements.

This wasn’t the first dissertation topic that Leila came up with. But she attended a rebellion march around the time she was formulating her ideas and was excited about the impact the movement was having. In conversation with Dr Paulson she was able to devise a research project that was centred in her passion for climate change activism, by drawing on connections that already existed. This research topic expands on content delivered on the programme related to critical pedagogy; Leila was interested in examining whether this approach could be applied outside formal educational settings (spoiler: it can).

Dr Paulson nominated this dissertation for inclusion in our Undergraduate Research Showcase, and had this to say about Leila’s project

“Leila’s dissertation is impressive because it blends existing literature, especially theory around critical pedagogy and social movements, with the data she collected to make an original contribution to thinking about learning through activism. Leila also adopted a thoughtful and reflexive approach to research ethics and wrote about this passionately in her ethics proposal and in her dissertation. Leila found space for her own creativity in the writing of her dissertation, using poetry alongside academic writing. This worked really well and helped make the dissertation her own.”

How to get started on your Dissertation: Advice from the Other Side

Everyone can agree that the thought of completing a dissertation seems almost impossible at the start. Where does one begin? What should one do? We asked the four undergraduate students featured in this blog series what advice they would give to students starting in on their own dissertation journeys. Here is what they said:

  1. Chose a topic you are interested in. This is so important that it is worth repeating. Read in the area you are interested in to help inform your ideas. Leila recommends that you pick something you are passionate about because that will make it more interesting and fun. Leila also notes that it was through conversations with her supervisor that she was able to refine ideas to create a manageable research project that was feasible within the timeframe allocated. If you do find yourself modifying your ideas in conversation with your supervisor, make sure that what you end up with is something that you are genuinely interested.
  2. Organize your reading. Estelle recommended that students take notes on readings and organize them into folders by topic to more easily access information when it comes to writing up your project.
  3. Manage your time. Set a plan with your supervisor for when you will complete different sections of your project and then stick to your plan. Set soft deadlines for drafts of chapters throughout the year. For example, the literature review in January, methods in March, results and discussion in April. Working backwards from these deadlines, allocate time each week to work on the project. Leila Meredith said that this strategy kept her on-track and prevented her from leaving all the writing until the last two weeks of term.

Concluding Thoughts

Doing a dissertation is stressful. There is a lot of unknowns when conducting an independent piece of research – especially for the first time. It is typical for things to go right, as well as wrong, and sometimes students find they need to be flexible in order to complete their projects on time. In the School of Education dissertation students have two main points of contact for support: the unit tutors and more importantly your supervisor. In the next instalment in this series will provide some tips on working with your supervisor, in addition to showcasing some research projects by our Psychology in Education students.

Blog Series #1 Undergraduate Dissertation Research in SoE: Where to Start?

By Dr. Amanda Williams  School of Education

One of the most exciting things to happen in the academic year is our Year 3 undergraduates submitting their dissertation projects. This past academic year I, along with Dr Will Baker, had the privilege of co-leading the Undergraduate Dissertation Unit. In this role I delivered taught components that guided students through the process of their dissertation while they worked closely with their individual supervisor to complete their independent research project.

I must confess, I was unprepared for the variety and calibre of the research completed by our students. The supervisors, Dr Baker, and myself are immensely proud of what our students have accomplished this past year. Because of this, we have decided to share some of our student projects in a series of blogs. This first blog will focus on a general overview of projects, and students’ suggestions to future cohorts starting in on their own dissertations.  The second and third blogs will focus on projects completed by Education Studies and Psychology in Education students, respectively, and offer more targeted advice for completing a dissertation.

 Choosing a Dissertation Topic

The breadth of projects coming out of our recent third year students was staggering. The range of methodologies – from a Freirean analysis of secondary data to experimental designs and everything imaginable in between – reflected the research methods training delivered across the programmes. Topics reflected the diversity of research seen across the School of Education. We had students examine the impact of mindfulness training on attention spans; bullying in China; teachers’ perceptions of non-classroom-based interventions; attachment in twins; and the list goes on.

So how does one go about selecting their dissertation topic? The most important thing is to select a topic you are interested in learning more about. Millie Morfitt (Psychology of Education) studied LGBTQ+ students’ mental health. She suggests students “choose a topic you are truly passionate about and fascinated with.” Picking a topic that is intrinsically interesting is what students should focus on early in the dissertation process; research questions and methods will be refined through conversations with your individual dissertation supervisor.

Your dissertation supervisor will be able to help you decide your dissertation topic

Pinpointing a research topic that interests you can take time. I recommend that students read abstracts of papers in the general area as a first place to start. Once you have been allocated a supervisor, look at their staff research page to see if there is overlap in areas of interest. You may be able to capitalize on your supervisor’s expertise, resulting in a research project with the potential to push the boundaries of knowledge in your chosen field of study.

Starting a Dissertation Project and Staying the Course

As exciting as it is, a dissertation is a large piece of work. The prospect of starting and maintaining momentum can be daunting. Choosing a topic that you love is the first step. Between this and the submitted dissertation there are many things that need to be completed.  Sam Leitch (Education Studies) examined the experience of secondary students accessing Behaviour Support Units. He stresses the importance of breaking the project down into manageable pieces. “Think about writing a hundred words in thirty minutes, rather than 3,000 words a week”.  He also notes that building a body of knowledge on the topic by reading existing literature is instrumental when starting into the writing process.

Your supervisor will be forthcoming with the fact that research very rarely goes without a hitch; across the duration of your project there will be many highs and lows. Elisha Cruthers (Psychology of Education) focused on phonological awareness and reading comprehension in her dissertation. She stresses that research is a process and not everything will go to plan all the time. “Try not to worry too much about the blips in the road – we all had them and got through. This is just a part of doing research”. The key to a successful dissertation is being persistent and creative in the face of unexpected challenges.

Concluding Thoughts

Conducting an independent research project and writing this into a dissertation is … a lot. It pulls on all of the skills that students have developed over their three years of study. The research projects submitted this year have been a credit to the critical education students have received. It is bittersweet to see our first undergraduates – the class of 2020  – leave the School of Education; they will be missed. But we are confident that they will go on to do wonderful things. However, as educators we naturally look to the next academic year, and we can’t wait to see the dissertations that the class of 2021 will bring us.

An ADHD Teacher Toolkit – is there a need? 

By Dr. Simon Brownhill and Dr. Frances Knight, University of Bristol School of Education

A recent report (Moore et al., 2019) placed improving behaviour in schools as a central priority for education contexts. For young people with ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], the classroom can be a particularly challenging environment for them as they are often more inattentive (Kofler et al., 2008), and display more off-task (Imeraj et al., 2013) and disruptive behaviours (O’Regan, 2018). As such, young people with ADHD require more support from educators in the classroom, but this is typically hindered by a limited teacher knowledge of ADHD (Kendall, 2016) and of evidence-based ADHD-specific interventions, both in the UK (Moore et al., 2016) and internationally (Arcia et al., 2000). In a review of UK teachers’ own perspectives, Moore et al. (2017) recognise the importance of informed pupil-teacher interactions, and the need for evidence-based interventions to effectively assist educators in their daily practice in the classroom.

In light of the above, Dr. Simon Brownhill and Dr. Frances Knight at the University of Bristol School of Education have recently undertaken an exciting exploratory project which set out to establish the extent to which there is a need for an ADHD Teacher Toolkit for the classroom (March-July 2020). Funded by an award from the Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account 2019-23, the project built on research by Knight and Brownhill (2019) which explored professionals’ experiences of ADHD behaviours in the classroom (Knight et al., in prep) and identified both unsuccessful and successful behaviour management strategies to best support young people in reaching their potential (Brownhill et al., in prep).

This research revealed a distinct lack of ADHD-specific training for professionals, meaning that they found themselves unprepared to manage challenging ADHD behaviours and so had to ‘learn by osmosis’ in the classroom context. The need for an effective and evidence-based ADHD Teacher Toolkit emerged from this research. It was felt that the success of a Toolkit would only be achievable with the inclusion of experienced insights from a suite of professionals and people who were active in their support of young people with ADHD. As such, the following key stakeholders were involved in six interactive online workshops (one hour each) which were used to formulate the content, features and strategies that an ADHD Teacher Toolkit should contain:

  • those at a classroom level – class teachers, teaching assistants and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (11 participants),
  • those at an operational level – Educational Psychologists (4 participants),
  • those at a strategic level – Headteachers, members of the Senior Leadership Team, and Heads of Department (6 participants),
  • those who are experts in their child’s needs – parents/carers (2 participants), and
  • those for whom ADHD directly impacts on a personal level – young people with ADHD               (4 participants).

This rich and varied range of perspectives has helped to develop an underlying philosophy for the proposed ADHD Teacher Toolkit, as well as generating a suite of potential content in different formats that will ultimately help to shape an effective and usable classroom intervention which embraces an integrated, whole-school approach. Practical suggestions include:

A rigorous analysis of the data generated from this project, initiated by Jennifer Norris (Research Assistant), yielded a number of important conclusions and recommendations which are offered below in the form of ‘Key Takeaways’:

Looking ahead, Dr. Knight and Dr. Brownhill intend to use the findings from this project as a solid grounding for a large Nuffield Foundation Research Grant which would fund the physical development of an effective, evidence-based ADHD Teacher Toolkit (2021-24).

“The government gives me £35 a week to buy food… During the lockdown, my kids do not receive free school meals”

Blog post as told to Jáfia Câmara, School of Education.

As a refugee and single mother, lockdown in the UK is hard. #HumansofCOVID19

My name is Maria*. I am an asylum-seeker single-mother who escaped to the UK because I felt unsafe in my home country.

My life in the United Kingdom before the pandemic 

I arrived in the United Kingdom two years ago. It was hard for me because I am a single mother. I am alone with my two small kids. Initially, the accommodation and support I received as an asylum-seeker were horrible. I had to share a house with strangers who liked to drink alcohol and smoke. It was depressing. It was horrible. My living conditions are better now, but my children and I have faced many new difficult challenges.

Financial Insecurity 

The UK Government gives me £35 a week to buy food for myself and my two children. The Home Office has only considered giving money for food, but refugees and asylum seekers need other things too like hygienic products, especially for the kids. Also, I have to pay for my phone because I need my phone. My kids are growing up and they need more things. They are eating more, and the prices of food have increased. During the lockdown, my kids do not receive free school meals.

I think the Home Office should give a little bit more money. If they do not want to give more money, they should give asylum-seekers permission to work so we can support ourselves. Working would help me keep my mind busy and prevent me from thinking too much about my problems.

Education 

I have had the opportunity to go to college to learn English and I do not have to pay for this education. I just need to show proof that I am an asylum seeker and I can study English and Maths for free because the government pays for it. If I wanted another profession or career, I think I would have to pay for that. When I arrived in the UK, I did not speak any English. Just ‘hello’ and ‘how are you.’ That’s it. But I have been in college now for almost two years and I have learned a lot. I have met a lot of friendly and kind people from different cultures at the college.

The English classes are twice a week for 3.5 hours each day. But I would like to go at least four days a week because I would like to improve my English. I would like to study more, and maybe become a nurse. So, I would like to have access to more English language classes to improve my English. Improving my English would help me help my kids with their school homework and make it easier for me to talk about my health when I go to a doctor’s appointment. I would like to learn more, but I am not allowed to study more hours at the college as an asylum seeker.

There have also been difficulties at my kids’ school. My kids were doing well at school when they were going. They learned a lot and now they speak very good English. My kids like their school, but at the same time, they have faced many difficulties. They would like to participate in more activities at the school like their friends do. My kids want to do some extra-curricular activities that need to be paid for, but I do not have money to pay because I am not allowed to work. I would like my kids to do swimming class, football class, but it is hard for me to give that opportunity to my kids because I am not allowed to work. The support from the Home Office is just for food. It is sad because my kids’ friends do different activities, but my kids cannot because I do not have money to pay for them.

Many times, I asked their school if they can give additional support for children who can’t afford to pay for these activities, and they say they don’t have enough support from the government and they must charge for everything. The school charges for the uniform, if they plan a trip to the zoo or any other place, or to join a sports club they charge. The school charges for everything.

Asylum Process 

Sometimes, I want to leave this and go back to my country, but at the same time, I cannot do that. I cannot go back because my life and my kids’ lives are unsafe over there. I need to wait because I made the sacrifice of leaving my relatives in my country. I left my friends behind. I left everything over there. I left my life there and now I am here.

I was told to report to the immigration office every month. But the last time when I went there, I explained to them that it is hard because I must pay for my kids’ bus tickets, which are expensive. So, they told me they are going to ask me to report to the immigration office every six months.

Sometimes I feel like I want to kill myself, but I have my kids. I need to stay strong for them. It is so depressing this situation and to still be waiting for my asylum claim. I have waited for two years now. I waited for 14 months to receive the first decision about my asylum claim, which was a negative answer. I want to appeal their negative answer and had a court date scheduled for this. But I got a letter [from the Home Office] three weeks ago saying they will reschedule my appeal date. They do not know yet when the new date will be. Now I have to wait and report to the immigration office every six months. My court date to appeal the Home Office’s decision was cancelled because of the coronavirus and the lockdown.

Life in the United Kingdom during the pandemic 

My life has been difficult during the pandemic and the lockdown. When I was able to go to college to learn English, my mind was busy, and I did not have to spend as much time thinking about my problems. I was not depressed when I was studying because my mind was busy. But now in this situation with the coronavirus, and the difficulties with my asylum claim, it has been a horrible time because it is depressing and stressful.

My kids’ school is giving classes online. It is difficult for me and for my children because I do not have a computer, I do not have a laptop, and I don’t have a tablet. I just have my phone. I have been helping my children do their homework on my phone. It is difficult because it takes time for the kids to learn, it takes time to explain to them how to do their homework. I have two kids and they are in different classes. So first, I help one of my kids with homework, then we have to wait to start with the other one. It is hard with one phone and it means I need to top up my phone more often because the data goes fast. Before, when [my kids] were going to school, I needed to top up my phone for £10. Now I have to top up at least £20 pounds for two weeks. It is difficult for me and for my kids. I would like to get at least one tablet. So, one of my children can work with the tablet while the other one can study on my phone. It would be better for me, and for them.

It is very important for my kids to continue to learn online and do their homework. Their teachers give points if the homework is completed. The teachers said that doing homework and getting these points can help my kids pass to the next level. I believe the school will do a diagnostic assessment in September. If the diagnostic assessment says my kids are not ready for the next level, so maybe they do not pass, and they stay at the same level. The teachers do not keep in touch with me and my children. They just send an email with the homework assignments and instructions. We need to take pictures of the homework and post it on the online class website. The school knows about my situation. But I do not think they can do anything for me.

I would like my kids to continue to learn. They need to learn, and they need to study. But I am not going to send them back to school soon because the corona virus is still going to be here. Kids do not know how to keep distance from each other, they do not understand the restrictions. So, they will be close together, they will be playing together. Even if you explain these things to the kids, they forget, and they will still be playing together and in physical contact.

Social Support

Before the lockdown I could go to the local organisations that support refugees and asylum seekers. I could go to English class; we could talk to different people at the organisations. Now they are closed. They help us a lot. And not just with food. They help us learn English. They are like friends to us. I can talk to them, I can tell them how I feel, and they help with a lot of things. I was going to church before the pandemic and I have met so many nice people at church. I had never met people like that in my country, they are so kind, so friendly. There is a lady from church who calls me to ask how I am doing. They do the church online on Sundays and do Bible study online on Wednesdays, so that is good, but I only participate once every two weeks because of my internet. It has been sad because these places are closed. My kids want to go out and they want to learn more but it is so much harder now.

My life in the UK beyond the pandemic 

Now I have to wait for my asylum process, and I do not know about the future. I do not know what is going to happen, but I just want to keep going especially for my kids because I am mum and dad for them. So, I need to continue strong and stand up for them.

*As told to Jáfia Câmara. Maria is a pseudonym.

This article was originally published by openDemocracy. Read the original article: openDemocracy

Education and COVID-19: Is Ghana ready to return to the classroom?

Blog post by Kenneth Gyamerah, Chevening Scholar, Professional teacher, and Global Youth Ambassador for Education.

Introduction

In March 2020, the government of Ghana announced a countrywide shutdown of schools as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. In response, the Ministry of Education (MOE)  in collaboration with Ghana Education Service rolled out remote learning interventions to provide education for the students. Data from UNESCO as of 29th  May 2020  shows there are 9,696,756 children and youth currently out of school in Ghana due to coronavirus. Of this number, 1,852,028 are in Pre-primary, 4,549,875 are in Primary, 2,851,160 are in Junior High School (JHS) and Senior High School (SHS) and 443,693 are in the tertiary institutions. In this blog, I will examine the MOE’s education response to COVID-19 in Ghana.

Government response

In April, the MOE initiated the Ghana Learning channel a nationwide television station that broadcasts lessons from kindergarten to Senior High Schools.  Additionally, Ghana Education Service (GES) has introduced an online platform (www.icampus.gh)  for students in Junior High and Senior High Schools to access lessons, digital libraries, virtual laboratories, and past examination questions.

Higher Educational Institutions response 

The universities have moved online with a few challenges. Although with online education, there are few concerns from students about the cost of internet bundles, the majority of students I have interviewed said they use google classrooms which does not require broadband subscriptions. Also, the universities are leveraging the Moodle platform, zoom technology, and recorded video lessons to connect with their students.

Review of responses

Even though  MOE  and GES have made efforts to ensure learning continues, we have witnessed an extreme inequality given that the modes of learning currently in place for basic school students reach those from economically advantaged homes. Children who need extra support and attention especially those living with disabilities, children from rural and urban-poor settlements are excluded.

Also, there is limited data to track students currently accessing the TV Platform. Available data could help stakeholders better understand the number of students who are benefitting from remote learning. Also, it would help decision-makers to identify the time of the day that receives viewership to help them adapt the lessons to benefit the larger population.

Furthermore, I expected government, teacher unions, school leaders, and national policy actors to find some creative ways and involve teachers to forge collaboration with parents of students who require special attention. This collaboration would ensure there is available support, guidance, and supervision to augment the virtual lessons on TV and radio. A  growing layer of research suggests TV lessons are effective when strengthened with opportunities for interactive engagement and involvement of family members especially parents and older siblings, outreach programs from teachers and volunteers, and access to learning materials ( Mundy 2020). From the  review, these support systems have not been wholly utilised. Also, there are no mechanisms  that provide guidelines for supervision and assessment of students currently taking the TV lessons. Therefore, it is  difficult to  track  the overall  progress  made from the alternative learning solutions  that have been deployed. If data is available, it would  be easier to estimate the percent of learning loss that will be recorded during the school shutdown  which will be useful for policy programming in  the recovery phase.

Additionally, alternative education lessons rarely consider the socio-emotional needs of the students. For instance, TV lessons primarily focus on curricular goals. They do not include extra-curricular, fun-based activities, art lessons, social distancing learning protocols, wellbeing sessions, etc. These extramural activities usually stimulate the interest of learners especially in these times when most of them are stuck at home.

Are the students and teachers ready to return to the classroom?

The government is considering the option to re-open schools. The stakeholder consultation process is currently underway and a formal announcement to resume schools is expected soon. According to the Ghana Health Service, the country has recorded 7,303 COVID-19  cases with 2,412 recoveries and 34 deaths as of 29th May 2020. From this data, plans to reopen schools should be informed by research. School leaders and policy actors should ensure schools continue to provide a safe space for both teachers and their learners to function. The decision to open schools at a time the infection rate has tripled within a month, clearly shows that key actors have not learned from elsewhere; Ghana has not reached the peak of infections and there is a  possibility that we will record more cases in the coming weeks.

Also, the MOE  has not taken advantage of the bulk resources available in the field of Education in Emergencies (EiE). The coronavirus pandemic is not the first time education has been disrupted. The EiE community can offer lessons learned and good practices in cases where education is disrupted for a long period. From the review of past incidents, it is worth highlighting that in every emergency, plans for school closures last for several months, not a few weeks. For that reason, policymakers and stakeholders shouldn’t rush to re-open schools without putting certain basics- adequate training of teachers on health and first aid, availability of Personal protective equipment (PPEs) (because not every parent can afford nose masks given that the medical ones have to be changed every day to prevent kids from risks ), proper monitoring of the virus and its impacts on children, adequate testing of teachers and students etc.  The ‘new normal’ will require that schools improve their health and safety measures. For instance, in Ghana, at the Basic Educational level, many schools currently do not have access to clean water. Hence, school leaders should conduct adequate risks and safeguarding assessment before they resume schools.

Evidence from previous school  closures in Sub-Saharan Africa

In the past 25 years,  some parts of Africa have seen some form of conflicts, wars, natural disasters, and epidemics which caused schools to close for several months. For Ghana, a very classic learning experience is the 2014  Ebola epidemic. During the Ebola era, schools in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea were closed to 8 months. In educational terms, the success story of the neighbouring West African countries could serve as a useful comparison and guidance. In the case of Ebola, schools were closed between 5 and 8  months in the 3 countries. To return to the schooling routines, schools in these countries were fumigated systematically after the epidemic was brought under control. Moreover, teachers and school leaders were trained on proper monitoring and prevention measures, including taking students’ temperatures each day and requiring they properly wash their hands upon entering and leaving the school premises. The MOE and the stakeholders of education in Ghana should consider investing in mobile water stations in schools, ensure adequate training of health volunteers to identify at-risk groups and while ensuring proper isolation strategies. The government could possibly allocate school health officers to every basic school in Ghana for proper monitoring.

 

What can we learn from the  Education in Emergencies research community?

There is a relevant body of knowledge on schooling during prolonged crises. Over the last 20 years, research about education in emergencies has combined practitioner-oriented intervention by the international development communities and scholarly works by academics and institutions working in humanitarian aid and global education development ( Winthrop 2020). There is concrete and vast research developed, including technical guidance, new research for education in emergencies which may provide useful evidence and strategies to reopen schools’ post-crisis. During crises, education response and activities should not be designed as short-term ‘stopgap’ measures (Winthrop 2020), but rather as rapid response activities with longer-term developmental goals (UNICEF 1999). It is noteworthy that this principle is still relevant in this COVID-19 situation. Therefore, plans to reopen schools should be informed by science and driven by data with proper surveillance and risk assessments.

Conclusion

The blog reviewed the current education response to COVID-19 in Ghana. It was revealed that students in higher educational institutions have not been severely impacted. The students in the pre-tertiary levels are the most affected by the shutdown of educational activities. I argued that the government’s education response to COVID-19 has exposed the stark structural inequalities. That is, with the remote learning platforms, only a few students are able to receive some form of learning support. Children living with disabilities and those in underserved communities are not benefitting from the lessons. Therefore, I  recommend that the MOE, GES, and the various stakeholders utilize teachers, parents, and older siblings to provide supervision and guidance for at-risk, vulnerable groups of learners to help them learn from home. Also,  policymakers should consider the lessons from Ebola-affected countries in their policy planning especially now that they are exploring the option to re-open schools.

Additionally, the government should use this time to provide some infrastructural support, develop the capacity of teachers and center their decisions to resume schools  based on empathy and evidence. We  understand there’s pressure from parents and even from some students who miss their classmates, however, policy actors should validate all health and safety measures including the WHO, OECD,  UNESCO, and  GHS guidelines before they consider a possible reopening of schools.

Bibliography

Mundy, K. ( 2020). Equity-Focused Approaches to Learning Loss during COVID-19. Retrieved on 25/05/2020 via https://bit.ly/3eAOENP

UNESCO (2020) COVID-19 impact on education. Retrieved on  23/03/2020 via https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-emergencies/coronavirus-school-closures

Winthrop, R (. 2020). COVID-19 and school closures: What can countries learn from past emergencies. Retrieved on 29/05/20 via https://brook.gs/36DbIso

About the Author

Kenneth Gyamerah is a Chevening Scholar, Professional teacher, and Global Youth Ambassador for Education. He has an MSc in Education (Policy and International Development) from the School of Education, University of Bristol.

Twitter: @kennethgyamera

LinkedIn: Kenneth Gyamerah

 

 

Document Summary Service chart toppers Spring 2020

Blog post by Helen Aberdeen, Director of the Document Summary Service

What a Spring term it turned out to be for those of us in the education sector! In my role as a PGCE tutor I have been on a steep learning curve getting to grips with all things online. In my other role as Director of the Document Summary Service, things have carried on a more even keel. As we moved into March I had wondered if every report research and guidance report produced would be focussed on the current crisis, but this turned out not to be the case – interesting and useful reports continue to emerge from a wide range of sources. I should also mention that the summaries have become an invaluable resource as out student teachers move to working independently.

In keeping with my last blog, I would like to present a ‘Top Ten’ – the summaries which have received the greatest number of downloads over the last 3 months. There are always one or two surprises for me when I receive the statistics, but I love to see what interests my subscribers most.

Reports from Ofsted, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) each had two reports featured in the Top Ten. Two key reports from Ofsted – the first was the Annual Inspection report (summary 51) – always a popular download. The second, ‘Building Great Teachers’ (summary 41) reported on research by Ofsted to develop a new curriculum for Initial Teacher Training; it fed into the development of the new ITT inspection framework which will come into effect in September 2020.

Both reports from EPI focussed on mental health and wellbeing. The first (summary 49) looked at the wellbeing of the school workforce – not wall to wall good news, but an encouraging finding that ‘with the exception of teachers in further education, all educators, and especially teachers in mainstream schools, are happier, more satisfied with life, and find their lives more worthwhile than the average graduate’. A quotation to pin up on the staffroom wall, perhaps? The other EPI report (summary 45) explored children and young people’s access to mental health services, finding that although there has been some progress in recent years, we are still a long way from where we want to be.

A summary of the EEF report on behaviour (46) was our winner for the Spring quarter. A wide-ranging review of the evidence on what works and a great springboard for those wishing to explore the issue in depth. Also popular was a curricular guidance report on improving maths in the early years and key stage 1 (summary 64).

The DfE made it into second place in our Top Ten with a research report on attitudes to education (summary 53). Good to read that 47 per cent of the survey respondents in the research said that teachers worked too hard and 42 felt they were not paid enough. Perhaps after the current period of home schooling, many more will feel that our teachers are underpaid…

In addition to reports by Ofsted, we had a report about Ofsted in the Top Ten. ‘The Watchmen revisited’ (summary 62) by the Policy Exchange presents a critique both of Ofsted as an organisation and of the new Schools Inspection Framework. Subscribers obviously found it an interesting read!

In sixth place was a report from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) (summary 56) which explores the links between teacher autonomy, retention and job satisfaction. The main takeaway here – leave teachers to get on with it! And in 8th place was an interesting report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) which looked at students’ wellbeing (summary 65). Some interesting feedback here on a range of issues, including how the quality of teaching affects anxiety levels and life satisfaction – a ‘must read’ for teachers in the HE sector!

I hope that the above has given you a taste for what we at the Document Summary Service aim to provide in order to produce something of interest to educations across all phases. As I said in my last blog, we do want to be responsive – I am aware that in spite of extensive ‘summary mining’ there may be things which I miss, so any suggestions from subscribers are welcome, as is feedback. We did recently conduct some small scale research and were encouraged that the words which came up most frequently were

Do continue to follow us on Twitter @BristolUniDocs!

Rebuilding Bristol as a City of Care

Scene of Bristol harbour
Blog post by Dr Helen Manchester, Associate Professor Digital Inequalities & Urban Futures, School of Education and Bristol City Fellow.

I was today asked to speak at an event organised by the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees and the City Office team that brought together academics and other interested in rebuilding Bristol. I was asked to respond to the following question and thought people might be interested in reading the full text here.

‘Bristol, along with cities all over the globe, is facing an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis. This brings both a challenge and an opportunity to rebuild our city. If we do it well, Bristol will be more inclusive, more sustainable and more resilient in the face of future shocks. If we do it without thinking, falling into old assumptions (ie. badly), the opposite is true. How should we rebuild our city?’

In 5 minutes I can only hope to raise some issues and matters of concern. There are many present here today who will know a lot more than me about aspects of social justice- esp around race, disability and class and I hope they will join in afterwards with comments and concerns. This is intended to be a provocation for ongoing conversations that bring diverse knowledges and expertise together so that we can begin to rebuild our city to be more inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

We knew before this pandemic struck that many communities and organisations were facing an ongoing crisis – a crisis in which inequalities are growing, where austerity and a desire for growth at all costs had pushed cities around the world into a situation where social, economic and environmental justice were comprised.

The pandemic has helped to make visible where people and communities are falling through the cracks in our cities and illustrated more widely that a return to business as usual is not an attractive option for those of us interested in social, economic and environmental justice. It is not an option for those families living in crowded accommodation who don’t have enough food on a daily basis, it’s not an option for those living with disabilities or ill health who rely on inadequate, time rationed segments of care delivered by care workers who are undervalued and underpaid. It’s not an option either if we want to take our responsibilities to the planet seriously.

So what have we seen during this crisis that helps us to understand our challenges as a city and the assets that we have to draw on in rebuilding them.

  • We have seen the incredible efforts of the community and voluntary sector in the city who have built on established and designed new alliances to tackle their communities’ needs. These initiatives have gone way beyond reactively responding to the everyday, urgent needs of their communities. For instance, Knowle West Allaince, developed over the last 2years, brings together large and small community organisations- they have set up a community food bank, coordinated volunteers, communicated through digital and postal service with all community members, used the amazing Bristol Can Do platform to recruit volunteers and assign them to a brand new befriending service and committed to reflecting and learning as part of this discussion. The Support Hub for older people, set up in 2 weeks in order to bring together organisations in the city concerned with the needs of older people, were determined to draw on their collective expertise to provide a range of support for older people including practical and emotional support but also virtual activities. These examples, and many others, demonstrate how through working collaboratively across sectors and alongside our communities we can go way beyond provision of ‘crisis’ support. They have shown the value and strength of the civil society sector in the city in working alongside communities at the margins building on their ongoing, long term work and trusted relationships with the communities that they serve
  • We have finally appreciated and valued the key workers who support systems of care in the city – the care workers, teachers, food delivery workers and community development workers. Raising questions around how we might change our systems of value in the city,
  • Our neighbourhoods and streets have fostered intergenerational and cross cultural discussion and we have made new friends – we have come together in Whats App groups and through socially distant street gatherings to share our concerns, to provide care where this has been needed and, importantly, to laugh and cry together. A question we might want to explore here relates to how we might develop ‘community’ across our neighbourhoods providing the support we all need across generational and cultural difference, in and between hyperlocal areas?
  • Our green spaces have provided the space for those without gardens to enjoy fresh air and exercise, whilst socially distancing. Roads, free of cars, have provided new found space for children and families to play and cleaner air, particularly in those areas of the city where poor air quality is a particular concern. Lizzi has already suggested the need to capitalize on this in bringing forward environmental change in our city and globally.

I would argue that in Bristol’s response to COVID 19 we have seen that our city is a place resplendent with learning, creativity, innovation and care.

I want to pick up particularly on this last word which I think is highly relevant. I want to suggest that if we want to tackle issues of social, economic and environmental justice we need to retain a focus on the role of care in the city. I draw on the feminist scholar Jean Tronto’s definition of care as ‘everything that we do to maintain, continue and repair ‘our’ world so that we can live in it as well as possible. Feminist approaches to care foreground our interdependencies, and encourage us to take notice of peoples’ lived experiences, their existing knowledges and expertise and the stories they tell about them. They encourage us to do what Jane Jacob’s the great American City planner suggested – to take notice of the complexity of our city, to look closely ‘at the most ordinary scenes and events and attempt to see what they mean and whether any threads of principle emerge.’ (Jacobs, 161, p.23). I think we have seen a lot of these ordinary scenes during this pandemic but that we need to work quickly to recognise the threads of principles and new values that might emerge.

My suggestion is that we need to work care-fully together to build on the wide range of vital and lively existing learning, innovation and creativity in our cities. However, a word of caution. We must not make assumptions that there is consensus on what these principles or values might be and we need to recognize that ‘rebuilding Bristol’, especially if we want to challenge concerns around social, economic and environmental justice, will not be easy. We will need to continually ask ‘who is not involved?’ We will need to ensure that we work with others who are ‘not like us’ or with whom we disagree. We will need to design new processes and methods for this and we will have to be open to building new relational capacities in the process, with each other but also with the environment surrounding us.

I want to finish by saying this is a moment that we need to grasp head on drawing on the many assets that we have in the city, many of which have been made more visible through this crisis. We have achieved so much in the city during this pandemic which will support us to work differently to challenge questions of social, economic and environmental justice in the city.

 

The UK needs a new impact agenda

Blog post courtesy of Transforming Society
By Kat Smith Justyna Bandola Nasar Meer Ellen Stewart and Richard Watermeyer
Our new book, The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges, examines UK efforts to incentivise and measure research impact via REF2021 and research funding. It’s a strange time for a book to come out and we did think twice about promoting it. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is a startling reminder of both how important (how ‘impactful’) research can be, and also how vexed the relationship between research and policy decisions often is.

The UK’s current approach to measuring and rewarding research impact is flawed in multiple ways, and we make the case in the book for an alternative approach that focuses on engagement rather than impact. This blog situates the findings in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.The book begins by tracking the origins and aims of the UK’s approach to monitoring and incentivising research impact, noting the growing international interest in these developments. It summarises the raft of concerns that have been put forward by others and then draws on interview and focus group data to examine how impact-related changes that have been introduced in the UK are shaping academics’ lives and work, before turning to the views of those assessing research impact for REF. We end by outlining our recommendations for a new kind of impact agenda.

One of the most consistent critiques that social scientists have made of the UK’s impact agenda (see, for example, here and here) is that external events, over which academics have no control, massively increase/decrease the relevance (and therefore potential impact) of research. Virologists who have studied coronaviruses, epidemiological and mathematical modellers and historical analysts of previous pandemics have all recently been in the media spotlight. At the same time, there are plenty of researchers examining issues not currently in the spotlight but which may one day seem crucial, as new challenges and crises emerge.

Simply put, we have expertise in universities to help us deal with new viruses partly because these researchers were able to do some of that work in pre-COVID-19 times. So, paradoxically, the current situation shows us just how crucial it is for universities to protect spaces for research without apparent immediate benefit.

This does not mean there cannot, or should not, be any effort to encourage academics to engage beyond their ‘ivory towers’. Indeed, many of our research participants noted positive consequences of the UK’s recent concern with research impact. We heard, for example, widespread enthusiasm for research being well communicated to a range of audiences, stories of researchers across a wide range of disciplines engaging with potential users and publics, and reflections that the impact agenda did seem to have encouraged universities to better support researchers in quickly responding to current events and crises.

Yet, our participants also raised multiple concerns with the UK’s approach to research impact and it was clear that some participants were concerned about impact becoming an end in itself. Some of these concerns corroborated those in the existing literature, others were new. One fairly consistent message was that, especially as we can’t know in advance what future challenges will be, or which new discoveries will help, we need to ensure we protect exploratory research and research that is out of kilter with current policy trajectories. It was notable that our interviewees differentiated their own experiences of ‘real impact’ (research developed organically, often over long periods, which they felt had achieved meaningful impact – sometimes unexpected, often collaborative) and the artificial stories of ‘REF impact’ constructed to meet evaluation criteria.

Building on these debates, we end the book with the following eight recommendations:

  1. Reward impactful environments (not individual achievements);
  2. Value a wider range of activities (including public engagement);
  3. Protect spaces and funding for critical and discovery work (without obvious impacts);
  4. Reject simplistic notions of ‘excellence’ which denigrate the local;
  5. Weaken the link between original research and impact to encourage knowledge synthesis and collaboration;
  6. Consider the ethics of impact;
  7. Defend and promote academic rigour and autonomy;
  8. Create spaces in which valiant failures are celebrated and learned from.

This will be of interest not only to higher education policy makers and academics working in the UK, but also to those working further afield who are considering importing or adapting the UK’s approach. Higher education is beginning to chart a route through and beyond this exceptional moment. Learning from the past, and reimagining the future relationship between research and policy, is more important than ever.

Academic lives are in transition

A group of university academics set out to capture and profile academic lives-in-transition as a result of the pandemic. Here’s the results.

The physical closure of university campuses by the Covid-19 pandemic has almost overnight changed “how we do what we do” as academics, and the nature of our daily routines.

In an attempt to capture and profile academic lives-in-transition, we designed a large-scale international attitudinal survey coinciding with universities’ mass online-migration and for which we received an overwhelming response.

In total, an excess of 1400 responses were generated from academics working in higher education institutions across 40 country contexts. These are voices of experience representing all the major disciplinary areas and career stages from which transpire the enormous challenges that this pandemic presents to academic lives and careers.

What follows is their collective account; an account that will be familiar and, at least in parts, will resonate with each one of us as members of a global Academy under siege.

Within this account we find a recent history of turbulence and trauma – not unknown to academics – and evidence of the tightening grip of occupational precarity. So too, we encounter an evolving history of perseverance, survival and of critical solidarity. We find also an appeal for balance in avoiding the pitfall of hysteria and the unchecked anxieties of a future increasingly difficult to predict.

This then is a moving history of who we are and who we might be; of what has, what is and what may happen to our professional and personal worlds as a consequence of Covid-19.

Saying goodbye

We have been forced to abandon our places of work and formally reconstitute ourselves as home workers. We have – many of us – also simultaneously become home-schoolers and/or home-carers.

We have been forcibly decoupled from our institutional environs, both the material binds – and affordances – of our offices, classrooms, common rooms, kitchens, laboratories, libraries and the like. We no longer travel to work. We are no longer late for meetings or else are able to better disguise our tardiness. We are no longer required to practice presenteeism – at least of an in-person variety.

We no longer hold “normal” office hours – these have been radically extended. We no longer receive students knocking on our office doors outside of these office hours. We no longer have pigeon-holes to check. We no longer serendipitously bump into colleagues in corridors or at water-coolers or are invigorated by these chance encounters for inspiring new ideas. We no longer meet for coffee. We no longer dodge the gaze of colleagues whose requests we haven’t (yet) met.

Coping with loss

We are counting the cost of being shut away and cut off from our colleagues, cut off from our students and cut off from our scholarly homes. We are suffering from nostalgia. We are missing weekly seminars. We are missing (cancelled) conferences and the rigours of academic travel on a budget. We are missing fieldwork.

We are feeling anxious and conspicuous about what we think we are not doing and/or what we could be doing. Our administrative load has become gargantuan. Our research has ground to a halt – yet so too some of its technologies of governance. We are worried that we’ll be left behind. We are worried that our universities and their leaders may not care given the potential financial impact on the sector.

What about students?

We are concerned about our students. We are especially concerned for our international students and those locked-in to halls-of-residence and single-room dwellings. We are worried that they are severely lonely, thousands of miles away from their friends and families. We are worried that they are with each passing day increasingly vulnerable. We are worried about their mental health. We are concerned about how well we can attend to their pastoral needs. We are feeling the strain of their demands. We are suffering from being always on call. We are struggling with digital fatigue. We are worried about our own mental health. Our work-life balance has collapsed.

We are concerned about our colleagues. We are concerned about our children, families, neighbours and friends. We are contending with daily reports of death, presented as the showpiece headline news. People we know are ill and have died. We are dealing with grief. We are dealing with uncertainty. We don’t know what new horror tomorrow will bring.

We are scared about our jobs and that we will lose good colleagues. We are scared the job-market will bottom-out and any prospect of new starters has vanished indefinitely. We worry for the future of our doctoral students and those at the start of their academic careers. We are nervous that our students won’t return and with them new faces – especially from international climes – though we hope that recession will stimulate new demand. We wonder whether the education we are able to offer will still be wanted and whether students or funders will still pay. We fear our programmes will be pruned or closed, our departments shut down, and that some institutions may not survive. We are even more alert to market competition. We are deeply uneasy about the challenge presented by private – and potentially more technologically adept – higher education providers.

We are increasingly frustrated about what we can’t do. We are struggling in our efforts to compensate for physical distance with digital connectivity. We are overwhelmed by a sense of ill-preparation. We are far from confident in our knowledge of and ability to effectively operate as pedagogues in a digital space. We are worried that this will impact how our students think of us. We are concerned that student evaluations will turn sour. We are worried that our ratings will nose-dive. We are worried that our performance will be challenged.

Teaching

We feel like we’re no longer really teaching. We are anxious that our students are becoming disengaged with “emergency remote teaching”. We’re concerned that many of our non-traditional students will drop out. We are especially frustrated about the limitations of bandwidth and of the failings or inadequacies of our technological infrastructure that hinder our efforts to carry on as normal, which may be no bad thing. This is not normal. We are beginning to accept this is not normal. We recognise that things may not go back to being ‘normal’ for some time, if ever.

But beyond this we no longer feel quite so much policed. The intensity of a surveillance spotlight seems to have dimmed – if only just a little and regrettably not for all. We have at least somewhat slipped the radar. There are growing displays of kindness among colleagues.

We are (re)discovering collegiality and virtual coffee meetings. We are accepting of chaos, including the unanticipated interruption of family members – human and other – to our digital discussions. We are rethinking our priorities. We are embracing humility. We are focusing on what really counts. We are allowing ourselves to be more than just academics. So too are at least some of our institutions.

We are thankful for technology. We recognise its affordances and opportunities. We acknowledge its role in our society, culture and economy, and especially in our futures, even if we remain acutely wary and sceptical of plans for its overhaul of our teaching and assessment.

Yet, ultimately, we, a global academic community, remain relevant and must defend ourselves as such. We should resist immobilisation by doubt and doom-mongering despite the inclemency of current forecasts. Our students nevermore so need us – our communities too. The world in untold ways is reliant on academics to step up – and not only in the acquisition of an antidote. For all the existential panic, we are far from at an end.

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