Robert Jenrick was the cabinet member given the unenviable task of doing the media rounds today on the morning after the UK passed the grim milestone of 100,000 Covid-related deaths. His exculpatory approach was to blame a lot on ‘the Kent variant’ as if the UK had simply been very unlucky. It’s worth considering the extent to which the UK made its own luck. Let’s contrast our bad luck – being the crucible of a highly transmissible and possibly more deadly strain – with the good luck of, say, winning the lottery. If no one buys a ticket (ie. no one has the virus), noRead More →

What links oxbow lakes, metacognition and employability skills? We’ll get to that shortly.  But first, if you want to know what works in creating social opportunity through education, you’d be hard pressed to find a better expert than Lee Elliot Major, former chief executive of The Sutton Trust and now Exeter University’s professor of social mobility. Yesterday he gave a lecture at the Institute of Education (well, virtually) in which one slide pretty much summed up the toolkit produced by the Education Endowment Foundation and the content of his own book (with co-author Steve Higgins) What Works.  (Thanks to Lee for permission to use the slideRead More →

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’d got into a correspondence with teacher and author Matt Pinkett about whether young people – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – should aspire to university. Matt suggested that perhaps young people should set their sights on the career they want and, if they can’t make serious progress towards it as they leave school, then they should consider university as a back-up – a ‘failsafe’, as he called it.  After our previous discussions, he asked what I thought about this. This was my response (with a few edits to make it a blog more than a emailRead More →

Back in August, a teacher drew my attention to the following tweet and asked if I might be able to answer it: Can anybody point me to research regarding outcomes in later life for disadvantaged students who go to university vs. disadvantaged students who don’t? https://t.co/BiYatOdKMh — Mr Pink (@Positivteacha) August 1, 2019 The tweet was from Matt Pinkett (@PositivTeacha), teacher, blogger and author of Boys don’t try? Rethinking masculinity in schools. My thread of tweets in response sparked a correspondence between us and, in the end, Matt was kind enough to say I had challenged his whole perspective. He suggested others might be interestedRead More →

Last month, I was invited to participate in one of the debates that the Higher Education Policy Institute was organising at the Festival of Higher Education at the University of Buckingham. The motion was: “This House believes 18-year olds are still children and not adults.” Alongside journalist and author Jo Williams, I was opposing the motion against Nick Hillman (HEPI Director) and Chris Ramsay (Headmaster of Whitgift School).  The context was that there is an increasing concern about the welfare of university students and the role that universities should play in ensuring their safety. This is (allowing for extemporising) what I said: Let’s remind ourselves ofRead More →