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Education and Policy Analysis Research Group (ECS)

The Education and Policy Analysis Research Group (ECS) covers a wide range of research interests and disciplinary areas that address the needs of and demands on education in contemporary societies around the world. This includes a strong emphasis on the development of education policy and policy outcomes, situated learning (including classrooms and workplaces), the structures, organisation and participation of education, and the multi-faceted relationships between education, children, families and communities. We work closely with the Work, Employability and Labour Markets Research Group, the Childhood Research Group, and the Culture, Subject, Economy Research Group.

Three major current themes of our research are:


Education and Locality

There is a strong view within the research at Cardiff that locality is central to many issues in education. This is typified by research on the impacts of education quasi-markets, the conceptual development of learning trajectories, studies of young adults and social exclusion, the nature and impact of devolved governance, and on educational issues and challenges in the particular context of Wales (such as Welsh Medium education). This work has also been the basis of a number of methodological developments in education, including the use of GIS, longitudinal methods and ethnographic approaches. Based upon this work, and the skills developed, SOCSI provides the opportunity to explore even further, both theoretically and empirically, the role of locality in understanding educational inequalities, the impact of educational reforms and the complex nature of communities. In particular, we are well placed to study the changing relationships between educational institutions and their locales, the place of education within communities, schooling and the friction of distance, the erosion of neighbourhood, and improved explanations for changing patterns of educational provision and attainment. Through this work SOCSI will significantly contribute to a greater appreciation and understanding of the geography of education.


Public and Private in Education

Recent developments in education policy have ostensibly sought to blur the boundary between public and private provision. These have included increasing involvement of third sector organisations, the growth of public-private partnerships, such as PFIs and sponsorship arrangements and an increasing emphasis on private decision-making through the promotion of ‘choice’. SOCSI and members of ECS in particular have undertaken extensive empirical research on these developments. This theme will attempt to bring together and build on these studies to scrutinise whether current trends constitute the ‘privatisation’ of education, to explore the extent of divergence and convergence of public and private provision and the implications of any shifts for differentiated educational pathways and social orientations. Throughout these investigations, the contested and ideologically loaded language of what constitutes ‘public’ and ‘private’ within education will be interrogated.


Occupational Socialisation

There is a long tradition of ethnographic work on occupational socialisation in Cardiff. SOCSI offers the possibility of building creatively on this by bringing together this tradition with analysis of shifts in the social and institutional contexts within which occupational groups operate. An example of the latter approach is the ESRC project on working and learning in further education (Jephcote, Salisbury and Rees). The latter is concerned to explore the ways in which the way that social interaction (and teaching/learning) is constructed in the FE classroom is shaped not only by the institutional context, but also the biographies of participants. This general approach relates to some of the work carried out in the study of participation carried out as part of the ESRC Learning Society programme (Rees et al.). It also has the potential to link to other envisaged research on learning in the workplace and could involve a number of colleagues across the School in other Research Groups. The unifying framework conceptualises learning in the workplace (and elsewhere) as being shaped by the institutional context (specific to time and place) and the biographies of the individuals involved.


Aims of the ECS Research Group Seminar Programme

The Education and Policy Analysis Research Group meet every month through its lunchtime seminar programme. The aims of the seminar programme are:

  • To establish an agenda for developing a coherent research strategy and set of research objectives organised around the three themes above.
  • To bring researchers together, from across SOCSI, who share an interest in these three research themes.

The seminars are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 1.00-2.00pm. Education Policy and Analysis Research Group Lunchtime Meetings 2010-11, 'Using Large Scale Datasets for Educational Research':