The Mobility Problem

November 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Matters 

The Problem

Britain has a mobility problem. However, according to new research, the problem is not the one many have come to think it is. The study, conducted by Oxford University and LSE, has found that the political and media consensus on social mobility being in long term decline has been a misdiagnosis. Instead, the problem of mobility is more subtle, with more of us now at risk of moving down the social ladder due to an increasing lack of space at the top – a situation, says co-author Goldthorpe, that has “little historical precedent” with “potentially far-reaching political and wider social implications”. The study further found that inequalities in relative social mobility are significantly greater than thought previously, with a child whose father worked in a higher professional or managerial field 20 times more likely to end up in a similar job than a child with a working-class father.

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Can the wisdom of a WISE crowd avoid artless creativity?

November 17, 2014 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Education Matters 

In the last six years, the World Innovation Summit in Education, held annually in Doha, has grown into a giant amongst education events, bringing teachers, innovators and other edu-geeks together to discuss, share and provoke practice. Whilst concerned with all aspects of the global education agenda, WISE’s focus remains on the power of innovation in education, and the need to develop broader outcomes in young people.

When a journalist interviewing me at the summit asked the inevitable ‘why Qatar?’ question, my response was that this kind of gathering was needed, partly as a counter to more traditional corporate and governmental convening power of the so-called ‘Global Education Reform Movement’ (or GERM).  I didn’t mind who met this need, as long as they met it well. WISE, established by the Qatar Foundation, has become an important, risk-taking player in the global education landscape. As Ralph Tabberer, former Director General of Schools for the DfE, and now boss of Better, Broader, Deeper Education, summed up: ‘A very diverse set of people. Not overwhelmed by the West. Lots of networking, Fewer government people so it was all more applied.’ The Learners’ Voice programme is a key cog in the WISE machine, ensuring that the views of young people are embedded throughout the summit.

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Licensed to Create

November 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Matters 

Launched today along the RSA’s new publication Licensed to Create: Ten essays on improving teacher quality. 11 leading thinkers in education offer their thoughts on how we can improve teacher quality. The following excerpt is taken from teacher Lorna Owen’s essay.

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An antidote to Christmas

November 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Matters, Fellowship 

The last bangers are exploding. The crackle of fireworks is dissipating into the darkness.  We head inside braced in the knowledge that the commercial world is gearing up to unleash the full force of their festive advertising upon us.

We are promised that on spending our hard earned money on particular brands of clothing/food/wine/gifts we will reach nirvana, that unparalleled place: the best Christmas ever.

Now I’m as Christmassy as the next person but the thought of all that rampant consumerism, of all the plastic and rubbish destined for landfill and the pressure to have the-best-time-of-my-whole-life-and-that-of-my-friends-and-family-ever and is giving me the shivers.

So as the Oxford Street lights power up and John Lewis release their Christmas advert (since when was that a thing?) I’d like to offer a distraction from it all and provide an RSA style antidote our the impending future… Read more

Should we license our teachers?

November 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Matters 

Next week the RSA launches its Licensed to Create animation and publication.

Having all been through school, most of us have an intuitive sense of the importance of good teachers. It’s because of bad teachers that I decided to drop the idea of doing computer science at university (lucky escape!?), and it’s largely down to my 6th form history teacher that I am writing this now – having inspired in me a curiosity of how people live, putting me on my first tentative steps towards a job at the RSA.

Over recent years the education world has begun to recognise teacher quality as one of the most important factors through which to improve student outcomes. In Licensed to Create, Dylan Wiliams describes this as ‘a shift from treating teachers as a commodity (ie regarding all teachers as equally good, so that what matters is getting enough teachers at a reasonable cost) to regarding teacher quality as a key element in educational policy.’ Last week’s report by the Sutton Trust and Durham University looked at what makes great teaching and why it is important, demonstrating the damage caused by neglecting the professional development of teachers on social mobility.

While this shift recognises the importance of improving the quality of our teachers, there is little consensus on how we best achieve this goal. Labour’s Tristram Hunt recently proposed a teacher re-licensing scheme as a way to improve quality by encouraging teachers to continue to develop their professional learning and expertise over time. In Licensed to Create, the RSA has brought together a wide range of perspectives to explore this idea; eleven authors offer their unique insight from practice, academia and politics on how we could improve teacher quality. Read more

The art of storytelling

Thurston Hopkins died this week aged 101.  He was a photojournalist whose images captured British life and its humanity and inequalities in the 1950s.  They say a picture paints a thousand words.

Credit: Thurston Hopkins

Credit: Thurston Hopkins

This got me to thinking about telling stories.  A crucial skill that when effectively wielded has people hanging off your every word, increasing the chances that they will act on the information, which in the think tank world desirous of influence and impact is the holy grail.

Make no mistake though, storytelling is an art.  But being an art doesn’t make it unobtainable and esoteric, instead storytelling is the reverse: crafted and considered; engaging and entrancing; a clear and compelling message to pass on to its audience. Read more

RSA Academies students set to take over the RSA

October 21, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Education Matters 

One month from today, and for the first time, the RSA will be participating in the Children’s Commissioner’s nationwide Takeover Day. 60 students from our five Family of Academies, all based in the West Midlands, will be descending on the RSA to partake in a packed programme of activities and get stuck into some real decision-making. The aim of Takeover Day is to provide children and young people with experience of the world of work, while also giving them the opportunity to have a voice in the various organisations taking part – RSA Academies are very excited to be able to facilitate the active involvement of our academy students with the RSA in this way. Read more

Why a centralised approach to immigration policy doesn’t work in the UK

October 19, 2014 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Education Matters, Enterprise 

In our very first report, Metro Growth: The UK’s economic opportunity, the City Growth Commission presented an evidenced case arguing that economic growth is driven by cities. We’ve since set out to identify the ways in which cities in the UK can fully exploit their economic potential, whether it’s through investing in the progression of the low-skilled and low paid, or evolving our infrastructure for example. If there is a key takeaway here it’s that city-regions (metros) should have greater autonomy to do what’s right for them locally. More powers should be devolved to metros with a proven track record of good governance – and these should include new freedoms and flexibilities over immigration policy.

I’m not going to bury you in numbers or shout about all of the ways in which immigrants in the UK contribute to economic growth; these arguments are often drowned out, but are legitimate and should be taken as given. Also, while the numbers are important, the Commission considered more than just the math and the money when thinking about where we stand on immigration.

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Knowledge = (economic) power: how universities can strengthen city growth

October 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Matters, Enterprise 

Engine Shed Bristol

Engine Shed Bristol

In creating prosperity across the UK in coming decades, universities need to be front and centre of strategies for growth and competitiveness.

Universities produce research which stimulates commercial and social innovation. Universities generate spin-outs and entrepreneurs among their students, and provide adults with a range of high level skills which are increasingly in demand in the workplace.

Our university sector in the UK is a gem. With six universities ranked among the top 20 globally, the UK has the best publicly-supported system of higher education in the world. Research activities achieve significant bang for the buck against international comparison. One third of the productivity gains made between 1995 and 2004 were down to the rising number of graduates. Read more

Governing autonomy: local authorities and school admissions

October 15, 2014 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Education Matters 

Over the last few weeks, London buses have been adorned with adverts for secondary schools, vying for parents’ attention. Parents and their children have until the end of this month to state their preferences for schools. The tangle of oversubscription criteria that vary by school make this, by all accounts, a stressful process and something of a strategic game.

Yet for those who miss the ride and apply after 31st October, or try to move to a new school during the year, gaining a place at the right school may be much harder. I’ve been thinking about this group since handing in my Masters dissertation last month. Although my research was not focused on in-year admissions, in the process of answering a different question I unearthed evidence regarding what happens to these pupils in the admissions merry-go-round. As a non-expert on in-year admissions, I found the results both surprising and very worrying.

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    Joe Hallgarten is Director of Education. He was Director of Programmes for Creativity, Culture and Education from 2009 to 2011. Joe worked as a consultant to London 2012, and as an advisor for the Department for Education’s Innovation Unit and the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. Joe is a founding trustee for The Ministry of Stories, a children’s creative writing centre in Hackney. Follow @joehallg

    Louise Bamfield is Associate Director of Education. Louise was previously a senior research fellow at the Fabian Society, a senior policy adviser at the Child Poverty Unit and head of education at Barnardo's. She is currently governor of a primary school and a children's centre in Croydon, and has a PhD in the Philosophy of Education from Cambridge University.

    Selina Nwulu is Research Assistant and works across several projects in the Education team. Selina has previously worked for a number of non-profit organisations, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission. She is also a writer and is studying for an M.Sc. in Education, Power and Social Change. Follow @SelinaNwulu

    Alison Critchley is Executive Director of RSA Academies. Having started her career in the Department for Education, she then moved to local government, working in education and children’s services in four London boroughs. Alison is skilled in school place planning and admissions, including work to enlarge existing schools and establish new schools and Academies.

    Georgina Chatfield is Communications and Business Officer of RSA Academies. Previously Programme Manager of Citizen Power Peterborough and Senior Developer Arts and Society at the RSA, Georgina has worked for the Arts Council and with creative industries for many years and is excited to be learning about the world of education. Follow @georginachat

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