Developing Children's Zones for England
Children who live in the most disadvantaged areas of England are much more likely to do badly at school and in other aspects of their lives than their wealthier peers. This report - from the Centre for Equity in Education, working in partnership with Save the Children - argues that English 'children's zones', which draw on the principles underpinning the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ) in New York, offer a way of improving the lives and future prospects of these children.
The report argues that English children's zones should not simply imitate HCZ. Rather, they should seek to embody HCZ's principles, but in ways which match the very different conditions in this country and which can be shown to work in particular areas. These zones should support children over time and across all the contexts in which they learn and develop.
Children's zones sit well with the changing nature of policy in this country. They are local developments at a time when the emphasis is shifting from national to local initiatives. They offer a way of bringing together local service providers in a coherent way at a time when provider autonomy is highly valued and they offer a potentially powerful way of improving children's lives without requiring extra resources.
- Developing Children's Zones for England (PDF Document, 810 KB)
- Developing Children's Zones for England - technical appendix (PDF Document, 550 KB)
Reviewing the field of school-community relations: Conceptualisations in the literature on school-community relations in disadvantaged areas
Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting, Vancouver, 13 April 2013
There is a considerably body of scholarly literature which explores relationships between schools and geographically-sited disadvantaged communities. This typically assumes that the development of closer school-community relations can promote the resilience, well-being and sustainability of these communities. However, the field is also conceptually complex, embodying widely different assumptions about the nature of disadvantage, the role of schools in overcoming disadvantage, and of how power should be distributed within school-community relations. This paper’s purpose is to surface the understandings and sets of assumptions embedded in the research literature and to make these subject to scrutiny. It reports the outcomes of a process of conceptual synthesis used to develop a map of the field. A mapping framework, which is intended as a heuristic tool for navigating and critiquing the literature, is presented. This framework is then populated with reference to the existing literature. Through this process, systematic biases are revealed, and the implications of these for research and policy are considered.
(This paper is based on a Connected Communities Scoping Study undertaken by the authors and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This is available online via www.ahrc.ac.uk)
- AERA 2012 A review of School-Community Relations (Word Document, 131 KB)
Taking Action Locally: Schools developing innovative area initiatives (Published November 2011)
Disadvantaged areas present their own unique challenges and possibilities. This report argues that area-based initiatives (ABIs) offer an important way to respond to these, creating opportunities to tailor action to local circumstances. With the growing policy emphasis on localism, schools, local authorities and their partners now have considerable scope to develop their own innovative ABIs. They can build on the best of their existing practice in extended services, children’s trusts, multi-agency working and community engagement, to develop locally-responsive, sustainable and long-term strategies. While these are challenging times with respect to funding, ABIs also open up the possibility of working in new ways. The report explores how schools and their partners might act within this emerging policy environment, and provides examples of innovative initiatives emerging at local level.
- Taking Action Locally: Schools developing innovative area initiatives (PDF Document, 922 KB)
Equity in Education: Creating a fairer education system. A manifesto for the reform of education in England from the Centre for Equity in Education at the University of Manchester. April 2010
Over the last five years, the Centre for Equity in Education has produced a series of annual reports charting the state of equity within the English education system. Focusing only on the state system, these reports have drawn together data from detailed local case studies and national monitoring systems. They have shown that, despite a serious commitment to enhancing equity and a huge range of well-intentioned initiatives, the most vulnerable children and young people still lose out most starkly, and established links between education and disadvantage have yet to be broken.
A change in government provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on what can be learned from this ongoing monitoring process. With this in mind, this particular report takes the form of a 'manifesto' for the equitable reform of the English education system, illustrated with examples from the Centre's wide-ranging programme of development and research activities. In it, we address the following questions:
- Why is the English education system unfair?
- What would a more equitable education system look like ?
- How can the education system move in a more equitable direction?
- Equity in Education: Creating a fairer education system (PDF Document, 1,512 KB)
Equity in Education: Responding to Context. The third report on the state of equity in the English education system from the Centre for Equity in Education, The University of Manchester. June 2008
This is the third report on the state of equity in the English education system from the Centre for Equity in Education based at The University of Manchester. Setting out to be challenging and constructive, it argues that efforts to create a more equitable education system are now at a strategic crossroad, trapped between a target-driven effectiveness and improvement model of service reform, and efforts to develop localised and co-ordinated responses to inequity. The report argues that if equity is to be enhanced, the space must be created for policies to be joined up locally and oriented to meeting community needs.
- Equity in Education: Responding to Context (PDF Document, 1,351 KB)
Equity in Education: New Directions: The second annual report on the state of equity in the English education system from the Centre for Equity in Education, The University of Manchester. January 2007
This is the second annual report from the Centre for Equity in Education, based at The University of Manchester. It holds up a mirror to the education system as it appears at the current moment, and in doing so, throws light on the inequities which scar the education system and prevent it acting as a route to social mobility. Reporting the views of stakeholders from across the system, we reveal a striking mosaic of issues - ranging from the negative impacts of current policies as they play out on the ground, to the innovative and challenging responses of some stakeholders. The report has been written to reflect their concerns, and offers a powerful provocation for reform from within the system. It considers what, in practical terms, a more equitable education system would look like, and details emerging equitable practices and the new directions for reform they indicate.
- Equity in Education: New Directions (PDF Document, 1,148 KB)
Equity in Education: Mapping the Territory: First annual report of progress within the English Education system from The Centre for Equity in Education, The University of Manchester. January 2006
The report focuses on mapping out issues around educational equity and evidence which might be brought to bear upon them. It presents some evidence both of problems and of promising approaches from within the education system. The report also sets out the basis for the systematic monitoring of the state of equity in education.
- Equity in Education report (PDF Document, 234 KB)
Measuring what we value: the development of a data profile for evaluating equity within education systems.
Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association annual conference, San Francisco, April 2006
This paper provides an account of a study that addresses tensions between national reform efforts aimed at improving educational achievement on the one hand, and a concern with equity and social inclusion on the other. It describes the development of a framework for monitoring equity issues in the English system and for doing so in a way which is intended to impact on policy-makers and practitioners.
- Measuring what we value: outline of paper (Word Document, 61 KB)
Developing a framework for analysing educational equity in the English education system
Equity is a pressing issue in education reforms in England, yet what is meant by equity is often unclear, and there are underlying tensions within the government's dual excellence-and-equity agenda. The argument put forward here is that for reforms to have wide-reaching and equitable impacts, they must be based on broader notions of equity and education than those currently prevalent at policy level. To this end, a framework for thinking about educational equity is developed, exploring notions of equity per se, and the range of educational arenas in which equity might be pursued. This framework is intended to guide the creation of a systematic evidence-base about equity in education which can, in turn, inform policy.
- Developing a framework for exploring equity in education (Word Document, 117 KB)
Towards a methodology for enhancing equity within education systems
Achieving equity remains a major challenge within education systems. Research has explored factors which contribute to educational inequities and policymakers have sought to target these. However, stark inequities remain. Evidence suggests the de-contextualised nature of many policy reforms have undermined their ability to challenge inequities in real-world settings. In this paper we report on an emerging methodology that draws on traditions of action research and research and development, and involves academics and teachers as co-researchers. Its focus on equity and the conceptual challenges this involves make the approach distinctive. We highlight the contribution this emerging methodology can make to reform efforts, and issues arising from its use.
- Towards a methodology for enhancing equity within education systems (Word Document, 4,230 KB)
Challenging inequities within education systems: some lessons from a development and research project
This paper reflects on an on-going development and research project aimed at achieving greater equity within an English school district. It shows how the role of evidence was crucial in changing participants' 'meanings' and how an initial focus on vulnerable groups of students gradually widened to a process of school improvement driven by notions of equity. The extent to which this happened was shaped significantly by the willingness of school leaders to allow these issues to be explored and by the wider culture of the school. The paper concludes that whilst development and research processes cannot compensate for hostile and aggressively-enforced national policies, they have the potential to create 'spaces' for the renegotiation of meanings and the development of practice.
- Lessons from a development and research project (Word Document, 175 KB)
Challenging patterns of inequity: the need for district-level responses
Social inequity tends to be concentrated in particular districts. In England, and the USA, educational reforms have been seen as central to challenging this situation. However, these strategies have not sought to engage with the complex ways in which patterns of inequity interact and impact on local contexts. This paper will present findings from a study of three districts in England which suggest that current education policies are not powerful enough to engage with spatial effects at the deep level needed to challenge inequities in education. Linking to similar research in the USA, we will argue that if there are to be significant gains in equity, co-ordinated responses at the district-level are needed. Some possible ways forward will be suggested.
- Challenging patterns of inequity: the need for district-level responses (Word Document, 72 KB)
Inclusion and social disadvantage in the English education system: the role of area-based initiatives
Paper presented in the international research forum, 'A Comparative Analysis of Equity in Inclusive Education', Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, U.S.A., 2-4 February 2009
This paper is concerned with social and educational inequalities understood as an issue of equity in the field of inclusive education. England can be understood as a socially polarised country, marked by significant inequalities. Because of a strong association between social background and educational outcomes, the English education system is also characterised by inequalities. Moreover, all of these inequalities are spatially patterned, with concentrations of poor social and educational outcomes in certain (urban) places. Successive governments have recognised this and have launched 'Area-Based Initiatives' (ABIs) aimed at breaking the link between education, disadvantage and place. The outcomes from these initiatives have been disappointing, and the paper explores the reasons for this. It argues that an important explanation is that ABIs have been based on an overly simplistic understanding of local areas and patterns of inclusion and exclusion within these. Nevertheless, the paper concludes that there are grounds for optimism. Drawing on illustrative case studies, it argues that there is space within English policy frameworks to develop approaches with a richer understanding of, and better co-ordinated intervention in, area dynamics. The paper concludes by considering the implications of this issue for the field of inclusive education research.
- Inclusion and social disadvantage in the English education system: the role of area-based initiatives (Word Document, 200 KB)
Childhood development, education and health inequalities
This document looks at what we know about the relationship between early childhood development, education and health inequalities, and considers what policy might do about this relationship. It is the report of a task group on early childhood and education led by Alan Dyson for the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England Post-2010 (The Marmot Review). Full details of the Review can be found on its website at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/gheg/marmotreview
- Early Years and Education (Word Document, 1,393 KB)