Commentary – Education about Europe

April 9th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

“Education about Europe  promotes European identity but is not a panacea for all of Europe’s citizenship ills”


Avril Keating is an ESRC Future Research Leader and a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Social Science at the LLAKES Research Centre. She is the author of Education for citizenship in Europe: European policies, national adaptations and young people’s attitudes, which will be published by Palgrave Macmillan this month.

 

The European Parliament (EP) elections won’t take place until the end of May, but campaigning is already well underway. In Britain, much of the recent debate has focused on the impact of UKIP on the national political landscape, and its apparent ability to attract new voters and influence the electoral strategies of the more established political parties. While UKIP make for interesting headlines and analysis, this focus obscures the fact that turnout for these elections is likely to be low. Only 35% of people in England voted in the 2009 EP elections, and across the EU, turnout for EP elections has remained ‘stubbornly low’ and by some measures is even declining. Participation rates among young Europeans were even more alarming; only 29 per cent of young people aged 18-24 voted in the 2009 EP elections, a figure that is 14 percentage points below the European average and 4 percentage points less than young people in this age group voted in 2004.

This downward trend in youth turnout has prompted EU policymakers to redouble their efforts to raise participation among young European citizens. At times such as these, it is not unusual to hear policymakers and commentators call for young people to be taught more about European integration while they are at school. Knowledge among the general public about European institutions, policies, and citizenship has consistently been low (regardless of age), and this lack of information is believed to be one of the key reasons that EU citizens do not vote in EP elections. Providing information through schools would seem to be a natural and efficient solution. After all, schools are a key site of socialisation and citizenship learning, and nation-states have long used this forum to provide children and young people with the information, skills, values and norms of national citizenship. Likewise, the European institutions have for many decades encouraged their member states to provide a ‘European dimension’ to their school curricula and to teach young citizens about the history, culture, institutions, and languages of Europe. Over time, member states have gradually adapted to this proposal, and the latest Eurydice review of citizenship education found that all EU member states (and most candidate countries) now have a European dimension to their citizenship education, at least at lower secondary-level education, but often throughout formal schooling.

But does education about Europe ‘work’? We know that individuals with higher levels of education are more likely to vote and to support European integration, but in the past, few studies have examined whether introducing a European dimension to the school curriculum will have a similar effect. However, data from the 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) allows us to consider this question, and it provides a somewhat mixed picture.[1] On the one hand, this data suggests that students who have more opportunities to learn about Europe at school are more likely to report having a European identity and are more likely to report positive attitudes towards freedom of movement for EU citizens. Individuals with higher levels of European identity are, in turn, more likely to vote in EP elections and support European integration. Yet this data also suggests that in and of itself, education about European issues made little or no difference to students’ intentions to vote in EP elections in the future.

In short, if the goal is to create active European voters, simply including more information about European issues in the school curriculum is clearly not sufficient. Indeed, for a more immediate impact, policy activists may wish to concentrate their efforts on media and political campaigns, which have been shown to have a stronger relationship with voting preferences. This is not to say that education, and education about Europe, is not important. Rather, it simply underlines that education is not a panacea for Europe’s democratic deficit, and that simply tinkering with the education system, or simply proposing more education, will not bridge the gulf between the political actors and citizens of Europe.

Seeking to address this gap is particularly important at this critical juncture in the European political project. The financial crisis that started in late 2008 has damaged not only the European economy but also the relationship between governments, citizens and the European institutions. And it is worth noting that the decline in EU support has potential implications not just for European integration, but also for power and politics in the national arena. In particular, a rise in Euroscepticism is associated with an increased likelihood of voting for radical right-wing parties, who are skilled at exploiting dissatisfaction with European integration.

At this critical juncture, citizenship-projects are in an unusually high state of flux, and it is still too early to tell what the long or medium implications may be for the relationship between political institutions and their citizens, be it in national or European arenas. In this often tumultuous context, it is not clear that European citizenship will be viable or desirable project in the future. But regardless of its medium and long-term prospects, EU citizenship at least, is currently a reality and therefore its citizens deserve to be informed about their rights, how the institutions work, and how they can seek to influence these institutions. For this reason, then, we need to continue to seek to understand the role that education plays in this process – be it in schools, policy texts, or informational campaigns, and regardless of one’s beliefs about European integration and EU membership.

[1] ICCS is a cross-national study of civic attitudes, behaviours and learning among young people aged, on average, 14. This study was conducted in 38 countries around the world, and included a European Regional Module in 24 European countries to examine more specifically young European’s knowledge about, engagement with, and attitudes towards European issues.

Conference – The State and Market in Education: Partnership or Competition

March 21st, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

A conference entitled “The State and Market in Education: Partnership or Competition“, was organised by the Grundtvig Study Centre, Aarhus University, and the LLAKES Centre. The event was held at the Institute of Education on 20 and 21 March 2014.

The following presentations from the conference are now available.

Dr Michael Schelde, Grundtvig Study Centre: The University of London and the Academy at Sorø

Professor Andy Green, LLAKES Centre: Education and the State: What Happened to Education as a Public Good?

Professor Ove Korsgaard, Aarhus University: The Relationship between the State and the Private Sector in Education in the Nordic Countries

Jonas Vhlacos, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Stockholm: New Private Initiatives in Education: Free Schools in Sweden

Professor Gary Miron, Western Michigan University: Private and public partnership in Education: Charter Schools in the USA

Professor Simon Marginson, Institute of Education: Markets in Higher Education

Professor Karen Evans – lecture at Masaryk University, Czech Republic

March 17th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

Professor Karen Evans presented a guest lecture at Marsaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, on 4 March 2014. Her subject was: ‘Rethinking learning in and through the workplace: conceptual issues, changing perspectives and enduring challenges’.

Professor Peter Mayo – research seminar, 24 March 2014

March 3rd, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

“Migration and the Globalisation of the Mediterranean World”

Peter Mayo, University of Malta

3.00 to 4.30 pm, Monday 24 March 2014, Room 739, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H OAL

The Mediterranean has become a hotbed of human trafficking and carnage resulting from desperate attempts by people from Africa and most particularly sub-Saharan and North Africa to flee famine, civil wars and trade their belongings to trust their luck in crossing over to Europe in pursuit of a better life. Migration has, however, been a constant characteristic of this region of the world which has constantly raised a series of issues concerning cultural hybridization and the way different people are represented, as well as different forms of racism based on cultural and historical ignorance.

This presentation is based on a book (The Politics of Indignation, Zero Books, 2012) that focuses on contemporary issues within the context of Neoliberalism and colonial legacies, while exploring decolonizing spaces. It will focus on the contents of one chapter in the book, dealing with migration in the Mediterranean.

Peter Mayo is Professor in Sociology of Education and Adult Education at the University of Malta. He is also a member of the Collegio Docenti for the doctoral research program in education at the University of Verona  His latest authored books include: Politics of Indignation: Imperialism, Postcolonial Disruptions and Social Change; Learning with Adults. A Critical Pedagogical Introduction (with L. English – 2013 Cyril Houle Award winner for ‘outstanding literature in adult education’); Echoes from Freire for a Critically Engaged Pedagogy; Lorenzo Milani, the School of Barbiana and the Struggle for Social Justice (with F. Batini and A. Surian). He has just edited Learning with Adults: A Reader.

Attendance at the seminar is free; please book a place via llakesevents@ioe.ac.uk

Conference, 20 and 21 March 2014

February 6th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

The State and the Market in Education: Partnership or Competition?

Elvin Hall, Institute of Education, 20 and 21 March 2014

 This conference will address major changes in the relationship between the state and the market in education provision, historically and comparatively. The state has traditionally assumed the main responsibility for education, but over the last thirty years it has been challenged by private ownership and control of schools; even where the state still remains the main provider and funder of education, the numbers of public partnerships with private providers are growing. Allowing “market forces” into state education raises the question of the role of the state, and what is understood by education being a public good. The conference will explore this growing tension through the examples of privatisation of higher education in Europe and Asia, Free Schools in Sweden, and Charter Schools in the USA. Questions will be asked as to whether states are still weighty actors, and how they respond to globalization, positional competition in a world of reduced opportunities, and political pressure from the middle classes and corporate interests – all of which are driving the shift towards marketisation in education.

The conference is organised jointly by the Grundtvig Study Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark, and by the LLAKES Centre, Institute of Education. The programme is available here. The event is free to attend; please register in advance via llakesevents@ioe.ac.uk.

 

 

Research Seminar: “Western education with Chinese characteristics, or post-Confucian model? Reflections on state-shaped higher education in north-east Asia and Singapore”

February 3rd, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

Simon Marginson, Institute of Education

3.00 to 4.30 pm, Wednesday 19 February 2014, Room 736, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H OAL

In systems in the Sinic state tradition in East Asia and Singapore, higher education and science are developing at an unprecedented rate. In terms of the number of students and the volume of published science papers – though not yet in the number of world-ranked institutions – these university systems taken together already exceed Western Europe and the UK combined and will keep growing and improving. These systems exhibit a common political economy marked by accelerated growth, sustained by export economies and shared state/household funding and directed by ‘developmental states’ adept in internationalisation strategies (Green 2013). To what extent and in what ways is this political economy distinctive to East Asia and Singapore; and more generally, what is to be learned about the role of national and regional ‘cultural’ or ‘socio-cultural’ factors in state formation and educational development?

Simon Marginson is Professor of International Education at the Institute of Education where he commenced on 28 October 2014. Prior to that he worked as a professor at the universities of Melbourne and Monash in Australia. He is Joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal ‘Higher Education’. His inquiry is focused on universities and globalisation with much of the recent research in East Asia. ‘The Age of STEM: Policy and practice in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics across the world’ (coedited with Brigid Freeman and Russell Tytler) is published by Routledge in mid 2014.

Attendance at the seminar is free; please book a place via llakesevents@ioe.ac.uk

 

 

Skills of millions of England’s adults are still held back by their parents’ social class

January 29th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

Press release, 29 January 2014

Social class background is still exerting a powerful influence on the skills of England’s adults, according to a new study from the Institute of Education (IOE) in London, which is published today.

It shows how England’s exceptionally large attainment gap carries on into adulthood and demonstrates that the gulf between the highest and lowest achievers in literacy and numeracy is wider than in the great majority of the 24 countries recently surveyed by the OECD. The only countries with more unequal scores in numeracy are France and the US.

It explains how the education system itself has produced “exceptionally unequal skills outcomes” going back to the 1950s, which have been exacerbated by “an especially strong influence from social background” on children’s choices and opportunities. This is the primary cause of the relatively high inequality in adult skills in England today, it concludes.

The study, from the IOE’s Research Centre on Learning and Life Chances (LLAKES), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, finds that the relationship between adults’ skills and their parents’ education levels is especially high in England – and particularly extreme for the youngest. It means that millions of adults continue to be held back by their parents’ social class.

“The relationship between parental background and adult literacy and numeracy among those aged 16 to 24 is stronger in England than in all other countries except the Slovak Republic”, says the report.

For instance, the impact of social background on literacy attainment is twice as high as in the Netherlands, and on numeracy it is twice as high as in Spain.

Andy Green, Director of LLAKES, said: “These findings matter, because skills have well-known effects on labour market and wider social outcomes. Over the last quarter century the UK as a whole has experienced one of the fastest increases in wage inequality in the developed world.”

The study, co-authored by Professor Green, Professor Francis Green and Dr Nicola Pensiero, also shows that skills inequality is especially marked in numeracy among England’s 25 to 29-year-olds, exceeded only by the US.

This new analysis of data from three international surveys – including the recently published OECD Survey of Adult Skills conducted in 24 countries ­– shows that nations with high levels of adult skills inequality also tend have high levels of inequality in the qualifications gained from initial education. Taking 10-year age groups from 25 up, the report finds that for each group educational inequality is among the highest in England. For example, among 45-54 year olds, only Spain and Northern Ireland are more unequal in terms of educational achievements.

Editors’ notes

1. The study, Green, A., Green, F. and Pensiero, N. (2014)  Why are Literacy and Numeracy Skills in England so Unequal? Evidence from the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills and other international surveys, published by the Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies can be found at:

http://www.llakes.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Inequality-paper.pdf.

2. The research finds no support for three possible additional explanations for England’s high skills inequality:

inter-age group skills differences: these are low in England.

skills differences deriving from migration flows: the effects are small in England.

especially unequal adult learning: the inequality of adult learning is broadly middling in England; moreover, there is no observed tendency for countries with high inequality of adult learning to have especially unequal literacy and numeracy in their older cohorts.

3. To speak to Professor Green, for a copy of the report, or for more information please contact Diane Hofkins, d.hofkins@ioe.ac.uk / 07976 703455

or the IOE press office: Rowan Walker, r.walker@ioe.ac.uk / 0207 911 5423 or James Russell, j.russell@ioe.ac.uk / 0207 911 5556

4. The OECD report can be found here

5. The IOE: The Institute of Education is a college of the University of London that specialises in education and related areas of social science and professional practice.  In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, two-thirds of the Institute’s research activity was judged to be internationally significant and a third judged to be “world leading”.  Its performance places it in the top 10 universities nationally for research.  In 2013, Ofsted judged the IOE’s Initial Teacher Training provision for primary, secondary and further education to be ‘Outstanding’ across the board. In the latest QS world rankings for Education, the Institute is placed 7th; on the indicators of research quality and impact, it is placed 3rd, alongside Harvard and Stanford.  More at www.ioe.ac.uk

6. Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES): This Economic and Social Research Council-funded research centre investigates the role of lifelong learning in promoting economic competitiveness and social cohesion, and in mediating the interactions between the two. Key areas of research include: i) the social and cultural foundations of learning, knowledge production and transfer, and innovation, within the context of a changing economy, and ii) the effects of knowledge and skill distribution on income equality, social cohesion and competitiveness. It has a programme of multi-disciplinary and mixed method research which addresses these issues at the level of the individual life course, through studies of city-regions and sectors in the UK, and through comparative analysis across OECD countries. More at www.llakes.org

7. ESRC: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2013-14 is £212 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk

 

Press Release: Key New Labour Policies Narrowed the Achievement Gap, Study Concludes

January 23rd, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

(How) did New Labour Narrow the Achievement and Participation Gap?

The last Labour Government’s policies led to a small but important reduction in the attainment gap between children from deprived backgrounds and their wealthier peers, according to a new paper by academics at the Institute of Education (IOE), London. Closing this gap is the “holy grail” of education policy.

IOE Director Emeritus Geoff Whitty and doctoral student Jake Anders trawled the available research and concluded that, by most measures, “a small reduction did take place between 1997 and 2010, although it cannot be said to have matched the Government’s aspirations”.

They also point out that, although the gap narrowed in terms of the headline figure of students gaining five GCSEs at A* to C, it remained stubbornly large for more select measures. For example, between 2006 and 2010, the relationship between household deprivation and performance in GCSEs or equivalent qualifications, reduced by around 10 percentage points, as opposed to a 4 percentage point reduction in the association between household deprivation and performance in core GCSEs.

Their research paper, (How) did New Labour Narrow the Achievement and Participation Gap? is published today by the Institute’s Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES), which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Whitty and Anders pinpoint four policies in particular where there are “credible indications” of a positive impact:

The National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies (from 1998 and 1999) produced gains, at least during their pilot phase, in the test scores of participating primary schools, compared with non-participants. Evaluators noted stronger effects among children with lower levels of attainment than others.

Academies raised GCSE attainment compared with non-academies serving similar areas, some evaluations have suggested. But there are indications that academies created before 2008 increased attainment among already-able students more than others and that later ‘converts’ did not achieve the same improvements.

The London Challenge, introduced in 2003, was a partnership between central and local government, targeting intensive support on the capital’s most deprived boroughs. Between 2003 and 2006 the proportion of students with five or more GCSE passes at A* to C rose faster in London than nationally – and even faster in the disadvantaged boroughs.

Extended Schools offered childcare, homework clubs and other support services as part of an extended school day. An evaluation of pilot ‘full service’ secondary schools found the proportion of students achieving five good GCSEs rose faster than the national average, and that the achievement gap narrowed between students eligible for free school meals (FSM) and non-FSM students.

Other initiatives which appear to have particularly benefited disadvantaged children include the one-to-one Reading Recovery intervention that Labour incorporated into Every Child a Reader, and Teach First, the programme seeking to attract top graduates to teach in disadvantaged areas.

However, the authors comment that the quantity of initiatives launched by Labour – and the tendency to adjust them without robust evaluation – make it difficult to tell which were effective. Evidence on policies such as reduced class sizes, increased use of teaching assistants, Education Action Zones and Excellence in Cities is equivocal at best, they say.

Whitty and Anders add that Labour’s more promising initiatives relied on collaboration between schools, rather than competition, and that sustained improvements will need changes across a range of children’s services, not just education.

The authors will be speaking about their paper on Thursday 23 January 2014 at the London School of Economics at a seminar titled Education Policy, Equity and Social Mobility.

 The paper can be downloaded here.

For more information please contact the authors:  G.Whitty@ioe.ac.uk and jake@jakeanders.co.uk

 

Editors’ notes

 

The IOE: The Institute of Education is a college of the University of London that specialises in education and related areas of social science and professional practice.  In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, two-thirds of the Institute’s research activity was judged to be internationally significant and a third judged to be “world leading”.  Its performance places it in the top 10 universities nationally for research.  In 2013, Ofsted judged the IOE’s Initial Teacher Training provision for primary, secondary and further education to be ‘Outstanding’ across the board. In the latest QS world rankings for Education, the Institute is placed 7th; on the indicators of research quality and impact, it is placed 3rd, alongside Harvard and Stanford.  More at www.ioe.ac.uk

Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES): This Economic and Social Research Council-funded research centre investigates the role of lifelong learning in promoting economic competitiveness and social cohesion, and in mediating the interactions between the two. Key areas of research include: i) the social and cultural foundations of learning, knowledge production and transfer, and innovation, within the context of a changing economy, and ii) the effects of knowledge and skill distribution on income equality, social cohesion and competitiveness. It has a programme of multi-disciplinary and mixed method research which addresses these issues at the level of the individual life course, through studies of city-regions and sectors in the UK, and through comparative analysis across OECD countries. More at www.llakes.org

 ESRC:The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2013-14 is £212 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk

 

 

LLAKES Newsletter

January 22nd, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

The latest edition of the LLAKES Newsletter has been published. It is edited by Alison Fuller, and includes: an article by the Centre’s Director, Andy Green, on shortcomings in the English educational system; a record of a symposium on Vocational Education and Training, held to mark the retirement of Lorna Unwin; and introductions to the three new Research Officers who joined LLAKES in 2013.

 

Tara Fenwick – Research Seminar, 5 February 2014

January 10th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

“Materialities of Innovation and Learning in Everyday Work Practice: tensions and alternatives”

Tara Fenwick, Professor of Professional Education, University of Stirling

3.00 to 4.30 pm, Wednesday 5 February 2014, Room 826, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H OAL

Innovation is a powerful and pervasive discourse in workplaces these days. In both private and public sector organisations, innovation is promoted as the critical engine of growth, or perhaps just survival, in hyper-competitive global capitalism. But just what is innovation, and whom does it serve? In critical circles, important questions have been raised about this discourse for some time. What counts as innovative knowledge tends to be that which is considered novel, solves practical problems, and commands market value. But of course this is determined by very particular interests, which recognise and value most those ideas that yield maximum exchange value in networks of production. What tends to be overlooked are other forms of innovation. These include those everyday material improvisations that workers generate all the time in conjunction with objects, settings and technologies. What constitutes innovation in the material practices of employees’ everyday work? What do they recognise as innovation?

Tara Fenwick is Professor of Professional Education at the University of Stirling in the UK, and Director of ProPEL, international network for research in Professional Practice, Education and Learning. Her research focuses on understanding learning, knowledge politics and practice in professional work. Her most recent books include: Reconceptualising Professional Learning: Sociomaterial Knowledges and Practices (with M Nerland, Routledge, 2014); and Emerging Approaches for Educational Research: Tracing the Sociomaterial (with R. Edwards and P Sawchuk, Routledge, 2011).

Attendance at the seminar is free; please book a place via llakesevents@ioe.ac.uk

UA-9461766-2