Kim on Channel 4 news – poverty not aspirations!

Written by Team. Posted in News

In case you didn’t see it, on Wednesday, Sir Michael Wilshaw – Chief Inspector for Schools (Ofsted) – released his annual report on the state of education in England.  Identifying major gaps and regional variations in educational attainment,  Wilshaw blamed low expectations and mediocre teaching while dismissing ‘real poverty’ :

I suppose what I would say to them [regions that are struggling] is to raise your aspirations and make your aspirations for your young people really clear and that poverty is no barrier to success and I think that is what London has proved more than anything. (BBC 11/12/13)

As you will know from our past blog posts, Wilshaw is the latest in a number of politicians and government figures who have explained educational differences through recourse to  individualised explanations rather than structural causes – ignoring both a raft of research (including our own) that reveals that young people from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds have no shortage of aspirations, and an international body of evidence that shows time and time again that unless income inequality and poverty are tackled, schools and teachers can only do so much.

Such comments come at a time of growing poverty in England – evidenced by the tripling of families using food banks, and growth of in-work poverty - arguably exacerbated by the government’s punitive welfare reforms.  To ignore the role of poverty in shaping young people’s lives and educational outcomes is not simply ignorant but irresponsible.

kim channel 4After a flurry of calls and cajoling from her university press office, Kim was interviewed by Channel 4 reporters on Wednesday afternoon. She appears very briefly in this Channel 4 report – aired on Wednesday night – challenging Wilshaw’s comments that poverty of aspiration rather than real poverty is to blame for educational inequality.

(Bit of a shame they spelt Kim’s name wrong but you can’t have it all…..)

What something did Tom Daley want to say?

Written by Heather. Posted in News

TD CakeTom Daley is one of CelebYouth’s case study celebrities so we were very excited when he hit the news last week after uploading to YouTube the direct-to-camera video ‘Something I want to say’. In it, Tom tells us that despite ‘dating girls’ in the past, he’d not had a ‘serious relationship’ until last spring, when he met someone who makes him feel ‘so happy and so safe … well that someone [pause] is a guy’. We love this video. Heather in particular has crossed the boundary from researcher to fan as she’s studied Tom’s media representation including, reading an autobiography and biography, following the news coverage of him across six months and enduring every episode of TV-celebrity-diving-competition Splash! Her colleagues marked her growing interest by getting her a Tom Daley cake to celebrate her 43rd birthday (pictured). In this post she looks critically both at Tom’s ‘coming out’ video and at reactions to it, suggesting that the ‘something he wants to say’ constitutes a new kind of sexuality story and one to which we need to listen attentively.

Racing for what?

Written by Heather. Posted in News

This is the third of a trio of posts about the Slow University that started life as presentations in a seminar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Durham University. In it, guest blogger Ruth Mueller, explores how the compulsion for speed in academia plays out in the lives of postdocs. 

Is Slow Academia Conservative?

Written by Heather. Posted in News

This is the second of a trio of posts about the Slow University that started life as presentations in a seminar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Durham University. In it, Heather argues that some calls for slowing down scholarship mask a conservative politics.

How have stories influenced my life?

Written by Heather. Posted in News

The CelebYouth study is about the role of celebrity stories in structuring young people’s aspirations. Given the fantasy elements in these tales, perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when fairy tales and superheroes came up as our participants asked whether Cinderella, Beauty Belle and Batman were celebrities. In this guest blog post, Sir George Monoux College student, Mahreen Safdar, talks about the significance of fairy tales in her own life.

Is Slow what the Slow University’s about?

Written by Heather. Posted in News

This is the first of a trio of posts about the Slow University that started life as presentations in a seminar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Durham University. In it, guest blogger Luke Martell, argues that we shouldn’t fetishise speed at the fast university. This distracts from what’s behind it. And we should ask whether slow is what the slow university’s really about.

Making research useful for practice

Written by Team. Posted in News

Our intention for this project is that it has genuine relevence beyond our academic communities; that the findings can be useful to those people working with young people or on issues that affect their lives – from education policymakers to youth and education practitioners.  As a team, we’ve written critically about how we are positioned in relation to the ‘impact agenda’ and the challenges we’ve encountered in communicating our research to the media and policy communities.  However, we have enjoyed and benefited from productive and generative conversations with practitioners who have engaged with the research – from teachers who have supported us on Twitter and came to hear our talk at the Media Education Association, to careers educators who attended our workshop at the CDI conference, and the many practitioners from across teaching, careers and youth work who came along to our interim workshop in October.  One participant at the workshop was Tania de St Croix – a researcher, campaigner and youth worker. In this guest blog post, Tania shares her thoughts on our emerging findings and the challenges in making these meaningful and useful to those working with youth in times that are challenging for both young people and the sector itself.

On being rejected

Written by Heather. Posted in News

In July, we submitted a proposal for a symposium at the 2014 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference. We know it’s big and corporate, so not exactly our ideal conference, but Laura went last year and enjoyed it so we thought we’d give it a go, plus we’d found some lovely colleagues to work with and secretly, wanted an excuse to visit Philadelphia. We’ve just been rejected. This is our first, but I’m sure not our last CelebYouth rejection. Rejections are a massive part of academic life. Yet we rarely talk about them. It’s as if they’re individual sources of shame to be hidden, rather than part of the collective practices through which we build our professional communities, things that need to be shared and debated in the open. In this post Heather reflects on our AERA rejection and what it says about educational research conferences.

What can Etonian Cameron learn from young people about social mobility?

Written by Laura (Researcher). Posted in News

The last week has seen first John Major and now David Cameron lamenting the lack of social mobility within UK society. Both have argued that what is needed to promote social mobility is for young people to work harder and have higher aspirations. As with so much government rhetoric, they paint a picture of UK youth simply not aiming high enough. Young people’s voices, as ever, have been missing from these recent pronouncements. In this post Laura argues that if Cameron spent more time listening to young people, he would discover that it is not their aspirations which are at fault. 

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