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Manchester Institute of Education

Projects

Our funders include the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), but we also work with charities such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Recent projects include:

  • Adult and tertiary education and poverty - A synthesised review of the evidence base about complex and variable pathways that link poverty to adult and young people’s life educational experiences.
  • Bridging the structure/agency divide: interdisciplinary approaches to disadvantage and education - This seminar series focuses on practitioner concerns and bring an in-depth dialogue and debate between scholars in education, plus new research and theory from fields outside education.
  • Education aspects of social policy in a cold climate – An exploration of educational policy changes and outcomes between 2007 and 2014.
  • Removal of spare bedroom tax subsidy - Identifying implications for children and schools of the ongoing reforms to UK housing welfare, including the removal of the bedroom tax.
  • The new private educational sector in Chile – an examination of the privatisation of the public school system in Chile.

Adult and tertiary education and poverty

The review made available an evidence base for how post-compulsory education might best contribute to a wider anti-poverty strategy. 

In particular, the review synthesised the evidence base about complex and variable pathways that link poverty to adult and young people’s life educational experiences. The focus was on the UK context, though the findings have wider international significance.

The review provides a resource for researchers, research-funders, policy-makers and practitioners.

Funder

  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation

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Bridging the structure/agency divide: interdisciplinary approaches to disadvantage and education

The background to the seminar series is what we see as a longstanding impasse in approaches to education and disadvantage between those who emphasise teacher and learner agency (the refrain that "poverty is no excuse") and those who emphasise the importance of economic, social, institutional structures. 

Contributing to this is the existence of many different perspectives and explanations of classroom processes and practices in disadvantaged settings, emanating from different disciplines and fields but rarely brought together so that tensions/synergies can be explored, nor in accessible ways for practitioners. 

Currently in the UK, certain kinds of knowledge and evidence are privileged, with an emphasis on identifying 'what works' (through quantitative measures)  and 'scaling it up' or 'rolling it out'.

The seminars - a series of eight events over three years - will focus on practitioner concerns and bring to these both an in-depth dialogue and debate between scholars in education and new research and theory from fields outside education.  The series aims to transform current polarised debates and take research, policy and practice in new directions.  The output is  a book that draw on diverse theoretical perspectives to complement 'what works' evidence by explaining the structures and processes that shape learning, enabling consideration of why 'what works' does work, and why 'what works' in one school or classroom might 'work' less well or differently in another, or might be capable or incapable of 'scaling up'.

Funder

  • Economics and Social Research Council

People

Education aspects of social policy in a cold climate

Since 2007, the economy, social policy and the welfare state have undergone a series of shocks and changes that can be expected to have substantial impacts on the distribution of incomes and wealth and the nature, extent and distribution of state provision, including for the poorest. These include:

  • the financial crash and recession
  • Labour’s step change upwards in public spending after 2007, followed by the deficit reduction programme of the Coalition government
  • major reforms in nearly all aspects of social policy, including working-age social security, pensions, the National Health Service, housing and education, under new ideologies of  'fairness', the 'Big Society' and 'localism'

There has also been a shift in the ideological ground in relation to measuring distributive effects, with the Coalition emphasising 'equality of opportunity' and 'greater social mobility' as being at the heart of 'fairness', and a desire to move to wider measures of wellbeing (rather than simply economic indicators) as indicators of policy success or failure (Field 2010; Office for National Statistics 2010). 

'Education aspects of social policy in a cold climate' is a large programme of research being directed by Prof Ruth Lupton and undertaken by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics (LSE). Its aims are:

  • systematically document policy changes under Labour (2007-2010) and the Coalition (2010-2014) across a wide range of social policies, including analysis of local variation
  • analyse changes in public spending across these policy areas against a variety of benchmarks, and provide a systematic analysis of the nature of these changes and associated outputs
  • provide a thorough and authoritative analysis of the way outcomes are changing for and within different groups of people using traditional economic indicators (e.g. employment, earnings and incomes) and associated outcomes (e.g. qualifications, life expectancy, neighbourhood conditions)
  • disaggregate these outcomes and changes by age, gender, ethnicity, country of birth where available, socio-economic group and type of area
  • present new evidence on what has been happening to social mobility and, to the extent possible, the potential impacts of changes on inequalities in opportunities
  • untangle, where possible, the relative impacts of the economic situation, public spending cuts, policy change, and demographic/compositional change, using various analytical tools including long-run analysis of indicators and trends and modelling of alternative tax/benefit regimes.

Funders

  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Nuffield Foundation
  • Trust for London

People

Removal of spare bedroom tax subsidy

The Coalition government has introduced a series of major changes to housing subsidies in the UK, with reforms that affect both private renters and social housing tenants.

One of these is the 'bedroom tax'. From April 2013, renters in social housing get a reduction in Housing Benefit if they are deemed to have more space than they need. The effects of the 'bedroom tax' are greatest in northern cities. An estimated 45,000 households are affected in Greater Manchester (New Economy 2013).

This pilot research project seeks to identify implications for children and schools of the ongoing reforms to UK housing welfare, including the removal of the bedroom tax.

Our exploratory research is investigating the impacts of this change on children, and on their schools and other children’s services; about one-third of affected households have children. We will be looking at the effects on children’s well-being, family life, social support and access to schooling for those who move to smaller properties, as well as the strategies that families adopt to avoid moving, such as cutting back on food, fuel or other household expenditures, or increasing working hours. Schools and children’s services may also be affected, through changing rolls or increasing demands.

The research is a pilot project within Greater Manchester, which will explore:

  • The scale of the issue and its spatial distribution, including the potential implications for school rolls.
  • The ways in which individual families are responding to the changes and their implications for children, with particular attention to how their strategies evolve over a six month period, through five family case studies in each of two affected neighbourhoods (across high & low cost rental), which from our preliminary investigations are likely to be Moss Side and Wythenshawe. The families will probably be identified and accessed through Housing Associations, and interviewed at two time points six months apart.
  • The range and volume of agency and professional interventions prompted by the reforms, as indicated through interviews with key agencies/professionals in the two case study areas.

The research will cover the housing welfare reforms in general, however, we expect that the main focus will be the 'bedroom tax', since this is having the widest impact in Greater Manchester.

The immediate outcome of the work will be empirical evidence on current impacts as indicated from these area and family case studies, which will be of direct relevance to policy and practice stakeholders in the city, for example, housing associations, local authorities, schools, third sector organisations.

It is also intended to establish the case for a more substantial and wide-ranging funded project.

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The new private educational sector in Chile

The research project explores the privatisation of the public school system in Chile. It asks:

  • What kinds of providers have established schools and why?
  • How are patterns of school provision related to the socio-economic geography of Santiago
  • How does the increasing diversity of provision affect what happens in schools – curriculum, pedagogies, professionalism, and responses to context?
  • How are both subsidised private and public schools responding to the Bachelet government’s reforms which are starting to re-regulate and in some ways ‘re-publicise’ this most private of public school systems?   

Part of the project has also begun to explore the measurement of public-ness and private-ness at a school level. 

Funder

  • ESRC Newton Fund

People 

Affiliates

  • Dr Alejandro Carrasco-Rozas and colleagues at CEPPE (Catholic University of Chile, Santiago)

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A forthcoming paper develops a public-private index, with which to compare change over time and within and between countries. Santiago and London are compared. Further papers and a book from the project are expected from 2018.