Education and Learning

Only a third of children in the world’s poorest households currently complete school. Two thirds of all illiterate adults are women and nearly half the global illiterate population lives in Southern Asia.

In focusing on education policy and the inequalities that are both built into education systems and perpetuated by them, our publishing responds to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education. Revealing and addressing some of the challenges in education, including those around technology and the digital divide, it looks to internationally-sourced evidence-based solutions, challenging traditional neoliberal approaches to learning.

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Education and learning, we aim to address the following goal: 

Education and Learning

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Education policy has a long tradition of political sociology, but the dominant trend continues to be sociological.

Drawing on data and analysis from the Education Policy Knowledgeable Polity (EPKP) project, supported by funders such as the British Academy and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), this book aims to restore the role of political analysis by presenting a new political sociology for framing, conducting and presenting education policy research.

In doing so, it will be the first in the field to connect political thinking from Arendt with sociological thinking from Bourdieu, producing innovative analysis for and about educational reform.

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In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In ‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.

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Following the 2008 global financial crisis, Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) have become a common feature of the urban landscape in cities throughout Europe. An emerging body of literature suggests that Fab Labs go beyond providing access to digital fabrication tools, and function as ‘third places’ as they enhance social connectedness. Drawing on a case study of a Fab Lab in the English city of Coventry, this article utilises the concept of ‘austerity urbanism’ to understand the changing nature of third places in England since the 2008 global financial crash. In doing so, we argue that a confluence of austerity urbanism and digital advancements has influenced both the emergence of new third places (such as Fab Labs) while simultaneously undermining long-established third places (such as libraries). As a result, vital aspects of social infrastructure are being shaped and reshaped in the contemporary era. The article reflects on what these changes mean for individual and community well-being.

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A Social Skills Ecosystem Perspective
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VET Africa 4.0 Collective

EPDF and EPUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

The transition to more just and sustainable development requires radical change across a wide range of areas and particularly within the nexus between learning and work.

This book takes an expansive view of vocational education and training that goes beyond the narrow focus of much of the current literature and policy debate. Drawing on case studies across rural and urban settings in Uganda and South Africa, the book offers a new way of seeing this issue through an exploration of the multiple ways in which people learn to have better livelihoods. Crucially, it explores learning that takes place informally online, within farmers’ groups, and in public and private educational institutions.

Offering new insights and ways of thinking about this field, the book draws out clear implications for theory, policy and practice in Africa and beyond.

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Redesigning Research Universities
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Are British research universities losing their way or are they finding a new way?

Nigel Thrift, a well-known academic and a former Vice-Chancellor, explores recent changes in the British research university that threaten to erode the quality of these higher education institutions. He considers what a research university has now become by examining the quandaries that have arisen from a succession of misplaced strategies and false expectations.

Challenging both higher education policy and leadership, he argues that the focus on student number growth and a series of research policy missteps has upset research universities’ priorities just at a point in the history of planetary breakdown when their research is most needed.

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The Role of Education in Bringing about Contemporary India
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India will soon be the world’s most populated country and its political development will shape the world of the 21st century. Yet Hindu Nationalism – at the helm of contemporary Indian politics – is not well understood outside of India, and its links to the global neoliberal trajectory have not been much explored.

This important book shows for the first time why it is education, not a failed political system, that led to the rise of Modi and the right-wing nationalist ideology of Hindutva. It provides in depth insight into contemporary Indian politics and wider societal acceptance of India’s Hindu nationalist trajectory, as well as examining the role of class.

The first five years of Modi rule failed to bring about the development that had been promised and have seen India’s rapid change from a largely inclusive society to one where minorities are denied their basic rights.

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Understanding Upper Secondary School Choices in Urban Contexts
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Transitions to upper secondary education are crucial to understanding social inequalities. In most European countries, it is at this moment when students are separated into different tracks and faced with a ‘real choice’ in relation to their educational trajectory.

Based on a qualitative driven approach with multiple research techniques, including documentary analysis, questionnaires and over 100 interviews with policy makers, teachers and young people in Barcelona and Madrid, this book offers a holistic account of upper secondary educational transitions in urban contexts. Contributors explore the political, institutional and subjective dimensions of these transitions and the multiple mechanisms of inequality that traverse them.

Providing vital insights for policy and practice that are internationally relevant, this book will guarantee greater equity and social justice for young people regarding their educational trajectories and opportunities.

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Over recent decades, national Higher Education sectors across the world have experienced a gradual process of marketisation.

This book offers a new interpretation on why and how marketisation has taken place within England. It explores distinct assumptions on the nature of graduate work and how the graduate labour market drives the argumentation for more market and choice. Demonstrating the flaws in these assumptions – which are based on an idealised relationship between Higher Education and high-skilled work – this book fills an important need by questioning the current rationale for further marketisation.

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A Multi-agency Approach

Schools play a vital role in safeguarding children and young people, yet there has been little research into how schools identify and respond to child protection concerns, and their engagement with local authority children’s services.

This book highlights the findings of a major ESRC-funded study on the child protection role played by schools, their decision-making processes and involvement in inter-agency working. Crucial reading for academics, practitioners and managers in children’s social care and education, it evaluates the impact of recent policy developments, including the Academies and Free Schools programme, as well as the restructuring of local authority children’s services.

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Pedagogies of Hope and Social Justice
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Based on the Transforming Lives research project, this book explores the transformative power of further education.

Outlining a timely and critical approach to educational research and practice, the book draws extensively on the testimonies of students and teachers to construct a model of transformative teaching and learning. The book critiques reductive ‘skills’ policies in further education and illuminates the impact colleges and Lifelong Learning have on social justice both for individuals, their families and communities.

For trainee teachers, teachers, leaders, researchers and policymakers alike, this is a persuasive argument for transformative approaches to teaching and learning which highlights the often unmeasured and under-appreciated strong holistic social benefits of further education.

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