Category Archives: Education

It’s time to get students back into lecture halls

When British universities compete for prospective students, they boast of state-of-the-art facilities, a vibrant social scene and accommodation designed to promote fun and friendship. Depending on where they are in the myriad ‘league tables’ designed to guide students through their decision-making, universities may also boast of excellent teaching, high levels of student satisfaction and holding a reputation […]

Back to school: The urgent need for ‘normal’

As England’s children troop back to school after an enforced two-month absence, there is intense speculation about the likely impact on the Covid infection rate. The major questions that should be preoccupying schools, colleges and universities are swept aside by a focus on infection control strategies and logistics – lateral flow testing, mask wearing, and […]

Letters on Liberty: Growing up in lockdown

In a contribution to the Academy of Ideas’ Letters on Liberty series, I argue that although the costs of lockdowns are tremendous, especially for young people, we should be wary of narratives that frame young people as especially vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. This framing robs young people both of agency and of […]

Book launch: The Corona Generation

Watch Emma and I launch our book The Corona Generation: Coming of age in a crisis, in conversation with Ella Whelan, on YouTube here.

Will our children ever trust us again?

In any other year, the next few months would be some of the most formative of Emma’s life. New classes, newer friends; at the very least, her second term in Sixth Form held the promise of A-Level mock exams. But with the Christmas holiday over and schools shut until at least mid-February, Emma — like […]

The potential and pitfalls of putting the ‘university experience’ online

Way before the upheaval of the COVID-19 crisis, universities were gradually moving some teaching activities online. Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) such as Moodle or Blackboard are well-established for providing access to course materials, including readings and lecture slides, and the submission and marking of student coursework. More recently, a head of steam has developed around […]

Don’t turn Britain’s schools into mental health centres

Britain’s schools are changing: not just in terms of what is taught, but also what we expect them do to help pupils. In June 2017, the Times Educational Supplement reported that the government had put £200k behind a plan to train ‘mental health first-aiders’ in every secondary school. The funding is intended to train 3,000 teachers and teaching […]

This strike reminds us what universities are for

Britain’s university leaders might feel that they had been through an ‘annus horribilis‘, said universities minister Sam Gyimah at last week’s official launch of the Office for Students. With scandalised reports of vice-chancellors’ pay, ongoing wrangles over university funding and student tuition fees, and now a large, sustained and well-organised lecturers’ strike paralysing dozens of pre-1992 universities, […]

What should schools teach?

In the UK, decades of political meddling in the curriculum have resulted in endless lists prescribing what – and how – teachers should teach. How refreshing then, that unlike many educational policy prescriptions, What Should Schools Teach? does not offer a dazzling list of innovative academic hybrids, along with an interactively inspirational flowchart of how […]

Schooling goes back to the future

‘A young person loiters vaguely by your door. His mum wants him to check his targets again, so you go over his last report for the third time. He seems satisfied with your explanation and conveys himself back to maths. When you asked him if he enjoyed maths he said he was doing better this […]