What the government’s report on race gets wrong about the education system

From ‘The Conversation’, by Leon Tikly, University of Bristol

The UK government’s recent report on race, drawn up by the Commission on Ethnic and Racial Disparities, has been roundly criticised for its findings. Its primary claim, as chair Tony Sewell writes in the foreword, that the British system is no longer “deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities” has drawn particular ire.

With regards to education, specifically, the report argues that “if there is racial bias within schools or the teaching profession, it has limited effect”. Sewell’s credentials as an education consultant appear to give special credence to that position. The problem is that it flies in the face of four decades’ worth of research.

As a former science teacher, a university professor and UNESCO Chair in inclusive education – with expertise at local authority, national, European and global levels – I am well placed to unpick quite how flawed Sewell’s statement is. (more…)

We need an evidence-based expert approach to the post-pandemic recovery of young people

Blog post by Patricia Broadfoot, University of Bristol; Roger Murphy, University of Nottingham

In December 2020, the Westminster government promised to set up an expert group to consider solutions to the huge variability of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on pupils’ educational experiences and progress. Two months later the Department for Education (DfE) announced that plans for this group had been scrapped. Instead, the DfE has appointed an education recovery commissioner to focus on so-called ‘learning loss’. Two successive children’s commissioners, the head of Ofsted and many others have expressed serious concerns about the current situation. There has also been widespread disagreement about the best strategies to employ and the resources required.

We need the best possible expertise to identify the issues that must be addressed if children are to flourish. We need experts to provide an integrated picture of the challenges that children face, and to suggest appropriate ways of addressing them. Without such expertise children could suffer lifelong impacts, as argued by two children’s commissioners and in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (Sibieta, 2021). That report drew the following conclusions, which reflect our key concerns.

(more…)

How does anxiety impact exam performance in adolescence?

Blog post by Lydia Titcombe, School of Education UG, Psychology in Education (BSc)

Many of us have experienced situations where we feel highly anxious. This can include physiological effects of sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat, which are adaptive responses to danger, and cognitive processes such as feeling worried and struggling to think clearly (Lowe and Lee, 2007; Stirling & Hellewell, 1999, p.80).

However, although useful when fighting an evolutionary threat, this is potentially problematic in the modern world where high-stress situations require quick thinking and concentration. (more…)

STEM Education and development of engineering identity

By Kevin Chow, School of Education EdD PGR (Hong Kong)

Since the inception of Hong Kong in the 1840s, over the past 180 years, local engineers have tirelessly demonstrating their diligence and enthusiasm in contributing their expertise to bring about safe, convenient and comfortable living for our citizens.1 Our engineers have also been rated not only as one of the best in Asia but also being highly recognised world-wide. However, following the transition of high-profile engineering positions to the management positions, and the inclusion of engineering into “science and technology” at an international level, the status and visibility of engineering have declined in the past few decades, leading to an inaccurate development of engineering identity among youngsters2 and difficulties in recruiting youngsters to join the industry. (more…)

No education, no protection

Blog post No protection, no education by Leanne CameronBlog by Leanne Cameron, School of Education. Originally published by Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

In April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, UNESCO estimated that more than 1.5 billion children and youth – nearly 90% of students worldwide – were out of school, disrupting the academic progress and social and emotional development that education provides. For nearly a year now, with schools closed across the world in response to the pandemic, many children and young people have traded classroom desks for kitchen tables.

For many millions, however, the reality of COVID-19 related school closures has been far less comfortable, leaving them unable to continue their education and exposing them to increased risk of exploitation and abuse. For children and young people in crisis-affected, post-crisis, and refugee hosting countries, school closures compound the risks and harm they already face from the effects of the crisis around them. (more…)

Introducing the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ Project

Someone writing in a diaryHello! My name is Lucy Kelly and I’m the PI (Principal Investigator) for the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ project, which explores diary-keeping and reflective practice as a positive tool for teacher wellbeing.

The pilot phase with Martyn Reah and Teacher5aday was launched at the end of 2020, so I thought it would be useful to share my experiences – and my own journey of using the Diary Toolkit – here.

Here’s a brief overview of the project. This is taken from a section I’ve written for Jamie Thom’s forthcoming book on supporting teachers experiencing anxiety. (more…)

Fintech + Inequality, and the need for education

Innovation or Inequality? Blog by Laura Gemmell, FARSCOPE PhD Student, University of Bristol

I love giving talks on payments technology (it was part of my job for over four years after all). I take one of my cards out (usually a Monzo or Starling due to the jazzy colours):
“Do you know how many generations of payments innovation are on these cards?”

It’s five:

  • Embossed card number (this is how the numbers are usually raised, in case civilisations collapse and shops need to return to tracing these with emboss machines. I’ve always thought this seemed silly, but 2020 has taught me anything could happen…)
  • Magstripe (these are still used in other countries, including the USA)
  • CHIP (for your CHIP and PIN transactions)
  • CVC (the card verification number, sometimes called CVV or CV2 – this is the 3 or 4 digit number usually on the back of your card which you type in when online shopping. It’s purpose is to make online shopping more secure)
  • Contactless (we can now pay using our phones using this technology).

(more…)

My Experience doing a Research Internship in the SoE

Ahanah Bhatnagar

Blog post by School of Education international student, Ahanah Bhatnagar.

Over this summer, Bristol University ran its first Widening Participation Research Summer Internship. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the internship transitioned to run virtually, which suited me perfectly well as I was based at my residence in Hong Kong. My research project was a qualitative pilot study, where I was assigned as a research associate to Dr Lucy Wenham as she is the School of Education Widening Participation Officer and this was the first WP intern in the School of Education. (more…)

Iftiin highlights educational issues facing Somali youth in Bristol

Ugbaad AididBlog post by Ugbaad Aidid and Robin Shields, School of Education, University of Bristol.

The brutal killing of George Floyd drew the world’s attention to the ways in which structural racist violence operates on a daily basis, but the tragic death of Shukri Abdi has gained comparatively little attention.

Twelve-year old Shukri, a Somali refugee who moved to the UK in 2017, drowned after she was forced to enter river waters by other students, who threatened to kill her if she did not. Her case highlights the social exclusion and racism faced by many Somali students across the United Kingdom. (more…)