Where was the colonial history in our education?

Reflections after an EdJAM dialogue between UK and Pakistan university students. Blog by Kerry Parsons, BSc Education Studies, School of Education.

Why is my knowledge limited about the colonial past, the violence and the colonial structural legacies that still exist today?

I am a mature student in Education Studies at the School of Education, University of Bristol. One of my second-year units, ‘Education Viewed from the Global South’, has broadened my understanding of the continued colonial structures through past and present education. Knowledge hierarchies and dominant narratives have been a prominent discussion in this unit. Each weekly topic focused on a different southern scholar from across the global south and we were encouraged to critically discuss the varied educational theories and lived experiences of colonialism. (more…)

Implicit Bias Training – What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing?

Blog post by Amanda Williams, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, School of Education

Although increasing population diversity presents many opportunities, it also introduces the challenge of prejudice and discrimination. Implicit bias training is frequently used to address workplace discrimination, but is this the best tool in our anti-oppression toolbox? (more…)

Educating the Ritas

By Sarah McLaughlin, BA(Hons), MSC. PGCE, School of Education, University of Bristol (Doctorate in Education student)

Educating the Ritas – My research into the interaction between habitus and field for working class women on an Access to Higher Education (HE) course.

Willy Russell’s (1981) play ‘Educating Rita’ presents a biography of Rita – a white working-class woman who returns to education as a mature student and faces conflict with her sense of self as she embarks upon a journey of self-discovery and erudition. Rita has her eyes and mind opened through her studies yet struggles as she becomes aware of her social class identity, and her role as a working-class wife starts to conflict with the educated woman she emerges into. Rita’s social class identity is reconstructed, and she rejects the gender roles and expectations put upon her by her marriage and class. Rita struggles with how to inhabit her time at university compared to her time at home and at the pub with friends. This causes inner turmoil as she straddles two different worlds. For Rita, education provides power and emancipation but not without a struggle or crisis of identity. Rita’s story is familiar to many of my own students. (more…)

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.

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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…)

COVID-19, education and the immediate policy response

Post written by Victoria Bowen, PhD Researcher in Education, University of Bristol.

On 12th March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to be a pandemic.  What followed this announcement was to become the largest global disruption to education in history.  1.6 billion learners in 190 countries were affected, as nations implemented regional lockdowns and school closures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 (UN, 2020).  Since then, as the virus circulated widely in society across the globe, school closures have been implemented nationally, regionally, locally, and reactively based on infection rates.  This article follows on from my presentation on ‘COVID-19, school closures and inequality’ at the TLC roundtable event (March 2021).  It summarises the immediate education policy response relating to COVID-19 in English schools. (more…)

Phase 3 ‘Reimagining the Diary’: taking stock and looking ahead

Blog image phase 3 reimagining the diaryBlog by Dr Lucy Kelly, PI (Principal Investigator) for the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ project, which explores diary-keeping and reflective practice as a positive tool for teacher wellbeing.

So despite another national lockdown, it’s been a busy start to the year for the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ project. Myself and Martyn from Teacher5aday are now working with 82 teachers across the country, each of whom has received a physical Diary Toolkit (pictured below) to chart their wellbeing journey over the term. It’s been lovely hearing such wonderful feedback on the Toolkits. I think receiving something so beautiful during lockdown had a really positive impact – symbolising connection and a new chapter for everyone – and I’m looking forward to seeing how this phase progresses. (more…)

SoE undergraduate students Q&A: Molly and Simona

In this week’s blog, the School of Education spotlights two of our current undergraduate students, Simona Chen (BSc Education Studies) and Molly Fowler (BSc Psychology in Education).  Simona and Molly tell us why they chose the School of Education, their future plans, and offer tips for those thinking about studying education in Bristol. (more…)