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Education and education policy

We have a proven track record of leading international research on educational policy and practice across a number of sectors and phases of education.

The quality of this research placed us in the top 5 in the UK in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, which examines the quality and impact of research across UK higher education institutions.

We set public agendas and challenge general and popular beliefs about education, skills and the knowledge economy. Much of our research impacts directly on policy formulation in Wales, as well as in the UK more widely and across Europe.

Our research covers a range of educational settings including schools, further education, higher education and the workplace. Our researchers work across a number of education-related fields, including:

Education, skills and labour markets

Our research explores the political economy of education and skills formation in international contexts, as well as the relationship between education, opportunities and social mobility. Related work is concerned with skills in the workplace.

Children, culture and identity

Our research helps us to understand the challenges that contemporary childhood brings, including in relation to bullying, aspirations, sexuality, faith, technology enhanced learning, international student mobility and progressive and alternative perspectives on education. Our work in these areas benefits from multidisciplinary collaboration within the School.

Critical policy analysis

The critical study of education policy is a particular strength of the School. Principally located in WISERD Education, our researchers explore the implications of policy for the experiences of compulsory and post-compulsory phases of education. In particular, by establishing cohort studies, WISERD Education has facilitated ways of monitoring the progress of children and young people in Wales as they transition from primary school into further education and employment.

Research methods

Our expertise in quantitative methods complements our longstanding reputation for innovative qualitative methods within education research, particularly within WISERD Education and Q-Step.

We currently have current editorship of the British Educational Research Journal (BERJ) and the British Journal of Sociology of Education (BJSE).

Significant projects

  • WISERDEducation (£1m project funded by HEFCW) follows 1,200 pupils aged 5-17 years as they progress through their education.
  • WaterWatt (€1.7m Horizon2020 project) looks at water efficiency in heavy industry and explores the training and skills implications.
  • ER4STEM Educational Robotics for STEM (€1.6m Horizon2020 project) explores the role of robotic technologies for enhancing STEM education.
  • The Skills and Employment Survey (£1.5m ESRC/UKCES programme of connected research projects) centres on collecting data on the skills, training and employment experiences of working life in Britain.
  • Training in the Recession (£200K ESRC/UKCES study) examined the impact of the 2008-2009 recession on training activity.
  • Optimising Skill Mix in Dentistry(awarded £208k andHealth & Social Care Research Wales, the Research for Patient and Public Benefit programme)
  • The ‘Opencases: case studies of openness in higher education’ is a Joint Research Centre initiative of the European Commission, involving  some of our researchers
  • Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked after children in Wales’ (funded by Welsh Government)
  • The Greening Technical Vocational Education project (€700K Leonardo project) focussed on greening engineering apprenticeship education.

Centres and groups

A number of Research Centres and Groups are engaged in education related research: