Posted by & filed under Author blogs.

By David Scott

There have recently been calls to adopt approaches to the study of the social world that deny the need to address ontological and epistemological issues. Advocates for these approaches give the impression that they are operating outside of and in opposition to philosophical framings about the nature of the world and how it can be known. They are being disingenuous, since reality, as we know it, is always concept-dependent. Their purpose is to support and strengthen a particular ideological view of human behaviour, which favours those forms of research and judgement that can be described as empiricist and technicist. Ontological and epistemological beliefs, then, underpin the development and use of strategies and methods by empirical researchers. In contrast, proponents of a pragmatic position – using this term in its ordinary language sense – argue that it is possible to separate out these beliefs from the adoption of methods and strategies. These methods and strategies are determined by how useful they are, and even by whether they are fit for purpose. This is not a coherent position to take.

‘A proper examination of these social categories is an essential starting point for understanding how equalities and inequalities are formed and how they operate in modern England.’

Knowledge about, for example, the social categories of gender, race, religion, dis-ability, intelligence, sexuality and class are always framed by sets of ideas and moral ordinances, and as a consequence should not be treated unproblematically, as it frequently is by politicians, journalists and many academics, not least in the field of education. This is what our newly published book, Equalities and Inequalities in the English Education System (Trentham Books, 2018), is about. The book is an exercise in knowledge-development, and it seeks to shed light on the workings of these social categories, because a proper examination of them is an essential starting point for understanding how equalities and inequalities are formed and how they operate in modern England. These categories are discursive constructions. However, what needs to be said time and time again is that a discursive construction can never be a simple determinant of identity, behaviour or action. Discourses are structured in a variety of ways, and both this meta-structuring and the forms it produces are relative to time and place. This meta-structuring refers to constructs such as generality, performativity, reference, value, binary opposition, representation and legitimacy.

Nothing in this book proscribes a social dimension to the development of knowledge, and in turn our contention is that this has to be carefully recorded by those committed to some form of truthful enquiry. Research, which is the principal mechanism for knowledge-development, is both descriptive (understood in a non-representationalist way) and developmental and prescriptive – that is, it both gives an account of reality and in the process changes the nature of that reality, though not in every instance. It redescribes and reformulates the object of the investigation, and in some cases this is quite clearly its intention. It is incumbent on us, however, to treat all knowledge development as work in progress, as the philosopher Karl Popper was inclined to do.

All the ideas expressed here are discussed in greater detail in Scott D and Scott B (2018) Equalities and Inequalities in the English Education System, London: Trentham Books.

David Scott is professor of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment at University College London, Institute of Education. His most recent books are: Scott D and Scott B (2018) Equalities and Inequalities in the English Education System, London: Trentham Books; Leaton-Gray S, Scott D and Mehisto P (2017) The European School System, London: Macmillan Palgrave; Scott D, Posner C, Martin C and Guzman E (2017) The Mexican Education System, London: University College London Press; Scott D (2016) Education Systems and Learners: Knowledge and Knowers, London: Macmillan Palgrave; Scott D, Husbands C, Slee R, Wilkins R and Terano M (2015) Policy Transfer and Educational Change, London: SAGE; Scott D (2015) Roy Bhaskar: A Theory of Education, Dordrecht: Springer International; Scott D (2015) New Perspectives on Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, Cham: Springer; and Scott D and Hargreaves E (2015) Sage Handbook on Learning, London: Sage.

Published on the BERA blog on the 28th March 2018. For all the BERA blogs, upcoming events on every aspect of educational research and how to submit a blog visit



Posted by & filed under Author blogs, New books.

By Linda Milbourne and Ursula Murray

Civil Society Organisations in turbulent times’ highlights the central theme in this recently published book and its focus on rapidly changing times. The political turmoil surrounding us during its completion has only served to accentuate this message: the 2016 EU referendum, a snap election, a new Conservative government, and the US presidential elections, with governments seemingly unmoved by austerity, health or housing crises experienced by large numbers of the population. Significant changes, including a rise in populist and anti-establishment movements form a turbulent backcloth for issues explored in the book, highlighting the challenges and acute dilemmas now facing civil society and voluntary organisations.

The book starts allegorically, underlining the potential entrapment implied by A Gilded Web?

‘All that glitters is not gold.’ Familiar …fairy tales encourage us to adopt ethical behaviours. Yet current society promotes the idea that we should chase all that promises gold. These allegorical stories invariably illustrate that entrapment, whether in a web of deceit an impenetrable forest, or a prison with no doors, follows from this pursuit of mythical gold, which also turns out to be worthless. In the stories, escape …from an elaborately woven web is sometimes achieved via a magic wand.’

But this book is no fairy tale. It is about real society and people, and specifically, civil society organisations ‘finding ways back to ethical paths in turbulent times’.

Lured into dangerous liaisons

A growing culture of competition in society and the loss of care and altruism among civil society organisations delivering what should be ‘welfare’ services, are key issues explored in the book. Different chapters highlight the complicity of many ‘welfare’ service providers in current arrangements, now motivated more by growth and resource acquisition than altruistic motivation, so that they are no longer fit for charitable purpose. This raises questions about the extent to which larger charities and voluntary service organisations will ‘wake up’ and challenge their current compliance in competitive, contract driven cultures and form part of emerging challenges.

Equally, questions about the loss of democratic freedoms to speak out or act freely – now restricted by law, contracts and ideology – emerge from the different studies presented, and lead to questions about the increasingly punitive nature of recent neo-liberal governments. These growing restrictions on civil society freedoms in the UK resonate internationally with concerns about (albeit harsher) infringements on freedom of voice, movement and actions around the world, which are often, mistakenly, regarded as separate.

While much of the book’s research paints a negative picture of the effects of changes on contemporary civil society organisations and their powers to effect social change, not all is doom and gloom, and later chapters discuss how workers’ unhappiness with the way things are, is starting to prompt questions and criticism. Later chapters also identify a rekindling of movements seeking change, with dissent growing in groups that cross generations and in broad alliances. While the book explores the forms of this growing resistance emerging, it also challenges assumptions that civil society organisations are necessarily benign, providing evidence from recent and past history of socially damaging and exclusionary movements.

How is this book different? 

The book draws on a series of studies which explore diverse service fields, large and small organisations, infrastructure and grassroots organisations, campaign, black-led, women’s and faith based groups. It also explores possibilities for challenge and alternatives to dominant arrangements. The book illustrates a rare pedagogic achievement in involving chapters written by eight of the editors’ post-graduate students, who were simultaneously practitioners, researchers and authors. The range and depth of information from these chapters, which together include some 30 case studies and over 70 participants, make for powerful insights into the complexity of experiences that the book explores.

It also differs from most research and writing in this field by adopting a critical approach to studying the actions and behaviours of civil society organisations. Equally, it challenges the separation of research on civil society organisations engaged in delivering services and that on grassroots groups and wider social action, arguing that this narrows the frame for analysing and criticising what’s currently taking place. This means that the book draws on a much wider range of theory than is often applied to studying the UK voluntary sector, locating organisations within wider political, social and economic changes in society. This led the key authors to ask what has happened to ideas of altruism and the voluntary sector’s ethical roots, also prompting a discussion of the conflicting roles that organisations adopt – whether conforming or confronting dominant arrangements – engaging in dangerous liaisons or seeking alternatives.

Reimagining 21st century civil society roles?

The book has broken new ground its field, with fundamental questions about the roles and directions civil society organisations should take if they’re to be part of a more just society, contributing to a more caring and less individualised future world.

In the 21st century we’re in danger of losing sight of the reasons for sharing, rather than individualising, wealth, advantages and wellbeing across society: in part, wealth is socially, not individually, created, and wider wellbeing across a population creates a healthier, safer and more economically productive society as a whole. This book reminds us that there are alternatives and that civil society has a crucial role in seeking these. As it argues in closing, if we omit to make these connections between civil society organizations and wider social conditions, we narrow the value of research and writing and exclude crucial debates and experiences that are currently challenging society – especially concerning the erosion of democracy, wellbeing and freedoms. Unlike fairy tales, there will be no magical rescue.

Buy now: Civil Society Organizations in Turbulent Times: A gilded web?  edited by Linda Milbourne and Ursula Murray.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Congratulations to our authors!

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our book – Guiding Readers: Layers of Meaning by Wayne Tennent, David Reedy, Angela Hobsbaum and Nikki Gamble – is the winner of the UKLA’s 2017 Academic Book Award!



‘The committee was impressed by the level of scholarship and the clarity of the summary of research evidence on reading comprehension. The chapter on text selection was seen as an important and distinctive element. We felt that the book redefined ‘guiding’ in the context of reading and reading comprehension, and that this was illustrated in a thorough and detailed manner. No doubt about it, this book is a prize-winner!’

We would like to thank the chair, Guy Merchant, and all the members of the panel for this wonderful appraisal and very much look forward to celebrating this prize-winning book at the UKLA International Conference, June 30th – July 2nd in Glasgow.

Buy the winning book

Read the UKLA press release

View the 2017 Shortlists



Posted by & filed under Author blogs, Author Q & A, New books.

By Suma Din

Suma Din shares her experiences as a Muslim mother in the state school system and describes what inspired her book Muslim Mothers and their Children’s Schooling – a study that gives voice to more than fifty women from a wide range of African, Arab and Asian backgrounds and all social classes, some of them immigrants but many born in the UK.

Could you tell us a little about your professional background?

I read English Language and Literature at UCL and went on to do a PGCE at the IOE, after which I combined ESOL teaching and writing educational books and resources across the humanities curriculum. I moved into Adult Education and worked in the Family Learning sector, running courses for parents to achieve national literacy or ESOL qualifications as well as courses that helped them support their children’s literacy learning at school. Alongside writing and teaching, I’ve always been heavily involved with local voluntary roles such as being a primary school governor and with interfaith work.

What inspired your book?

There were several stimuli that inspired this book, which were equally important, and I outline these in the book’s preface. Of those, the two following areas in particular stand out.

Having been involved with my children’s schools, and as a parent-governor, I appreciate the partnership between the home and school that’s required for the whole school community to progress. However, there are often gaps in this relationship, and in some cases, there is no partnership at all. While there is a body of research on the ways minority parents are interacting with their children’s schooling, I found the experiences of Muslim mothers was submerged within the general narrative of parents, rather than specifically looking at their position. Given that Muslim children constitute the largest faith minority presence of 8.1% in state schools in England and Wales (Sundas, 2015), it seemed only logical to share their mothers’ perspectives on education and their contemporary experiences.

At the same time, out in the public domain, Muslim mothers receive a disproportionate amount of negative press. They are either situated as mothers of ‘jihadi-brides’ or ‘terrorist sons’, or oppressed victims of forced marriages, honour killings or FGM. As I state in the book, these acute problems require attention and robust challenging – but these are not the only lens through which this section of society should be viewed. Only seeing Muslim mothers in these ways does little to encourage better relations between students, staff and parents. Challenging these essentialized views was another incentive to interview mothers and hear what they had to say. When given the opportunity to define themselves, they showed, for example, how they wanted to correct misconceptions about their essentialized public image and explain who they really are and how they would like to be understood. This commonality was found across different ethnic, educational and socio-economic backgrounds.

‘I’m a Muslim woman and a Somali mother so my main identity is a Muslim woman/mother. This covers everything – my religion is a way of life, so, if I want to be a good citizen, mother, woman, I have to be a good Muslim…that’s what I think. That’s my identity.’ 

 – Hibaaq (Chapter 4, p. 51)

‘It’s that need to show, that I’m just a parent and that we’re not all the same, and perhaps undo some of the stereotypes.

Tahira (Chapter 4, p. 56)

As well as these reasons, the questions I was asked when delivering Islam & Cultural Awareness CPD to colleagues clearly indicated there were many misconceptions, for example around how Muslims view school festivals, education and the position of women in the family. One mother in the study illustrates the complexity in her narrative about playground dynamics and contemporary politics. She relates how, during the week the law against forced marriage was being passed, she was asked by another parent she was friendly with: ‘How d’you feel about your forced marriage?’ Their ensuing conversation in Chapter 5, titled ‘Relationships’, demonstrates the need for far more communication about everyday assumptions.

What do you hope readers will learn having read it?

I hope the narratives from the data help readers feel more confident about recognizing the plurality of Muslim families. A small study like this is a microcosm of the diversity among parents from a range of backgrounds. For instance, some participants were very critical about Muslim mothers in their own community; some questioned mosque education teaching styles and timings; others were reflective about their parent’s choices for their own education. This is just some of the variety readers will encounter.

I would like this book to be an introduction to more dialogue between practitioners and parents generally, and Muslim mothers in particular. ‘I didn’t ask as I don’t want to offend’ is a comment I’ve come across regularly when interacting with teachers and other professionals. I hope readers will find some answers to those unspoken questions. As one mother in the study reflected:

‘Every day in the staff room they bring the METRO in and the first page is someone did something. When the staff read this, the only thing they think is it’s not a good religion. Even though they know us as staff, as good, but they get bombarded with the negative. Even for us, as Muslims, what can we say? They never ask directly, but you can see in their eyes and I volunteer and say ‘this is not Islam’. When they have questions, I will go and explain, it’s part of my job’.

Zarah, parent adviser (Chapter 7,  p.114)

Ultimately, hearing mothers’ narratives at a time when there are loud voices of separation and division to compete with, should contribute to a more nuanced perspective for practitioners.

Reference: Ali, Sundas et. al. (2015) British Muslims in Number: A demographic, socio-economic and health profile of Muslims in Britain drawing on the 2011 Census. London. Muslim Council of Britain.

Buy now: Muslim Mothers and their Children’s Schooling by Suma Din.

Posted by & filed under News.

Thank you to all those who joined us at the 10th Harold Rosen lecture on 20th March 2017.

The evening was very well-attended, with over 200 people who filled the auditorium of the Cruciform building in London’s Gower Street.

Well-known poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen kicked off the event with a few words, followed by a moving introduction from Harold Rosen’s wife, Betty.

The main event was an eloquent lecture from the editor of the collection, John Richmond, who delivered a fitting tribute to Harold Rosen and his contribution to English teaching in the second half of the twentieth century.

In case you missed this wonderful evening, you can watch the video below.

The transcript of the lecture can be downloaded here.

Rosen and his colleagues forged and sustained a new understanding of the purpose and possibilities of secondary school English. Beyond the constituency of secondary English, Harold’s teachings, writings and activities illuminated many more people’s understanding of the relationship between language and learning in any context, whatever the age of the learner and the content of the learning.

Buy now: Harold Rosen: Writings on life, language and learning, 1958–2008 by John Richmond

Posted by & filed under News.

rosen_blogUCL IOE Press cordially invites you to attend the 10th Harold Rosen Lecture to celebrate the launch of Harold Rosen: Writings on life, language and learning, 1958–2008.

This new collection, edited by John Richmond, contains over 50 pieces of Harold Rosen’s writings, including some of his stories and poems. John Richmond will be giving the lecture, and will be introduced by Harold Rosen’s son, well-known children’s author Michael Rosen.

This special lecture takes place at 5pm on Monday 20th March 2017 at Lecture Theatre 1, Cruciform Building, UCL, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT.

There will be drinks afterwards in the Cruciform Café, with the opportunity to buy this title at a special 20% discount.

Please RSVP by Friday 10 March 2017 by contacting Sally Sigmund at or +44 (0)20 7911 5565.

Praise for Harold Rosen: Writings on life, language and learning, 1958–2008:

‘Those of us who knew Harold will enjoy hearing his voice again; those who have not yet met him will relish the wit, incisiveness and principle of this remarkable man.’
– Eve Bearne, United Kingdom Literacy Association


‘A reader of this collection will appreciate the great contribution Harold Rosen made to education, language and literature.’
– Professor Neil Mercer, University of Cambridge


 ‘This is a most welcome bringing-together of the writings of one of the most admired and influential thinkers and doers in the world of English teaching and language education in the second half of the 20th century.’
– Professor Ronald Carter, University of Nottingham and Cambridge Language Sciences, University of Cambridge

This is event is co-hosted by DARE, LATE and UCL IOE Press.

chop-batik-2-002     latelogo2

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.



We are delighted to announce the first issue of Research for All, a ground-breaking open-access journal that focuses on the importance of public engagement to research and provides a platform for creative thinking about how and where academic disciplines meet with real-world problems. Academic analysis, practical commentary and case studies provide critical reflection on how research can be conceived, developed, disseminated and applied in partnership with those not formally involved in the research community. Peer-reviewed contributions, many co-written by academic and non-academic partners, feature engagement in research carried out in any field of study, with collaborators in any chosen community, industry or organization and in any part of the world. Drawing on this rich field, Research for All launches with a bumper issue which, as editors Sophie Duncan and Sandy Oliver explain, introduces readers and prospective contributors to the range of content and thoughtful contributors that will define the journal. Research for All is free to write for and free to read. We invite contributions about engaged research in any area of study at any time. For more information, visit the journal website or contact the managing editor, Pat Gordon-Smith ( Research for All is a collaboration between the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), and is published by UCL IOE Press. Advancing a culture of public engagement is a central commitment for the NCCPE and for UCL.


Research for All 1 (1), Jan 2017: CONTENTS




PRACTICE-RELATED ARTICLES: Devices for engagement


PRACTICE-RELATED ARTICLES: Participatory approaches








We would like to thank the authors and associate editors who have worked so hard on the articles, and hope you enjoy this first issue. The second issue will be published in July 2017.


Sophie Duncan (NCCPE) 

Sandy Oliver (UCL Institute of Education)

Editors, Research for All


Pat Gordon-Smith

Managing Editor, Journals


07528 275646



Posted by & filed under Author Q & A, News.

According to The Department of Education, current statistics show that only 15% of primary school teachers in the UK are male.

Dr David Brody, chair of the Early Childhood Department and Academic Dean of the Efrata College of Education in Jerusalem, Israel, is the author of Men Who Teach Young Children: An international perspective. David reveals that the percentage of male teachers in Early Education ranges from 0.0043% in Israel to 11% in Norway.












Men Who Teach Young Children presents biographies of six talented men from Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel and the United States, who have all been working with the youngest children for many years. A cultural lens is used to understand their motivations and reveal the difficulties they faced in choosing the profession, getting trained, working with young children and their parents, and opting to remain in the field.

In an interview for the early childhood website, Storypark, David tells Megan from Mat Time why male teachers are needed in Early Education.

You can watch the interview here:

The role of men in teaching | Dr. David Brody

Posted by & filed under News.

Launch of Voices in the Air: Making sense of policy and practice in education by Chris Husbands

UCL IOE Press hosted a book launch party last Monday, celebrating the publication of Chris Husbands’ new book, Voices in the Air.

This dynamic new collection of journalism and policy commentary was written during Professor Husbands’ directorship at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Friends, colleagues and journalists turned up to the launch held at Blackwell’s Bookshop at the IOE.

The evening began with a warm welcome Chris Husbands Book Launchfrom Laura McInerney, the editor of Schools Week. Laura talked about how she picked up the book on her first day of holiday and was in ‘tears – and hysterics’ by the time she got to page 3. A wave of glee rose from the guests as Laura remarked on blog posts covering topics ranging from a 1940s Meccano manual to the case against grammar schools.

Laura concluded by asking, ‘What do school exams and phone hacking have in common?’ She advised the audience to read page 81 to find out.

Following Laura’s amusing presentation, Professor Husbands stepped forward to reflect on the art of blogging and his thoughts and experiences as Director.

Other guests at the launch included Becky Francis, new Director of the UCL Institute of Education, Mary Stiasny, Geoff Whitty, Titus Alexander and Hugh Starkey.


Professor Chris Husbands has been Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University since January 2016. He was Director of the Institute of Education between 2011 and 2015, leading the merger of the IOE with UCL.

Buy now: Voices in the Air