Yuletide greetings and festive cheer to all our readers and authors, wherever you may be. In these challenging times we thank all of you for your continued support of and engagement with the BERA Blog. This year we published our 1,000th blog post, highlighting some of the most widely read articles published since the BB was launched back in 2015. Latest figures show that the BERA Blog has been viewed by people in 225 of the around 230 countries and territories that Google Analytics gathers data on, making it perhaps the largest international blog on education research.
Over the last 12 months, we have published four special issues on:
- wellbeing and being outdoors
- embedding sustainability education in practice
- teaching and learning in higher education for times of uncertainty
- #BlackLivesMatter and racial justice in the UK and beyond.
Our open-ended special issue ‘Covid-19, education and educational research’ was launched on 9 April 2020, and remains open to submissions that are explicitly Covid-related. Our downloadable BERA Bites teaching resources continue to grow in popularity with two more collections published this year:
- Researching education and mental health: From ‘Where are we now?’ to ‘What next?
- Exploring the impact of Covid-19: Pedagogy, curriculum and assessment.
This year’s cocktail of creativity raining down on our editorial team (Alison Fox, Rowena Passy and myself) is as diverse as ever with noteworthy posts on:
- teacher micropopulism on social media
- children as artificial intelligence programmers
- digital learning within custodial education
- the growing popularity of educational doctorates
- childhood bereavement
- the ability of yoga to foster non-violence in the classroom
- environmental sustainability
- outdoor learning
- the extent to which education is or is not a discipline.
But what else have we covered over the last 12 months? On 31 March, the UK government published the report from its Commission for Race and Ethnic Disparity, which spurred a personal and powerful post from BERA’s CEO Nick Johnson. Academic staff are, according to BERA’s president, Dominic Wyse, driven by the thrill of creating new knowledge – yet given the pressures and trade-offs, he asks, ‘Who wants to be an academic?’.
In developing the National Strategy of Educational Research and Enquiry, the Welsh government conducted several evidence reviews that sought to understand how to foster educational research capacity across education in Wales. Ross Goldstone’s blog post summarises insights from a mixed-methods evidence review that addresses the question, ‘What can government do?’
A topic close to my heart (one of many) is the extent to which children have a right to be involved in decisions about their future education and wellbeing –a subject dealt with beautifully by Carol Robinson. In a similar vein, both Amy Hanna’s powerful post from Northern Ireland focuses on the use of silence as a direct infringement on children’s rights and Yana Manyukhina and Dominic Wyse’s article on children’s agency are critically insightful pieces of writing on this topic.
The challenge of educating student teachers in taking an anti-racist stance is a constant one, as Anna Olsson-Rost, Yvonne Sinclair and Diane Warner point out. Jan Barnes, Charlotte Greenway and Catherine Morgan sought to understand the impact that the sudden, Covid-related shift to online teaching had on staff involved in initial teacher education (ITE) in Wales. Pete Boyd, unsurprisingly perhaps, writes about being a subversive teacher educator. Other standout posts we published on teacher education this year included those by: Sheine Peart, Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman and Clare Lawrence and Anne Parfitt and Paul Taylor-McCartney, and there was a terrific piece on distance learning and ITE from Nerys Defis.
With the pandemic transforming so many homes into places of formal learning, it is no surprise that we have seen an increase this year in articles about home-schooling, including those by:
Tharindu Rekha Liyanagunawardena and Shirley Ann Williams tackle remote learning in the UK and beyond in a post that is of interest to all those involved in teaching, be it in the home, school, college and/or higher education.
The curriculum continues to be a major theme of the BB, and it was the focus of many authors including:
- Kimberly Klassen and Lisa R. Miller
- Feyisa Demie
- Sinem Hizli Alkan
- Elena Lengthorn and Megan Asbury
- Adam Hart.
Nikki Fairchild, Louise Kay, Liz Chesworth, Nathan Archer and Nancy Stewart’s post on contemporary curriculum debates in early childhood education and care is a must-read. As is Dylan Scanlon, Antonio Calderón and Ann MacPhail’s wonderful piece on the role that teacher agency can play in enacting physical education in a period of curriculum change and reform in Ireland.
Francesca McCarthy and Kathryn Spicksley demonstrate how remote walking-and-talking events have the potential to relieve the isolation that many PhD researchers feel as a result of measures introduced to control the Covid-19 pandemic. And early career researchers get a terrific heads-up from Alison Pearson about the challenges of being a PhD student, in a post that arose from the January 2021 symposium in the series Overcoming Challenges in Educational Research, run by BERA’s Early Career Researcher Network.
The Early Career Framework (ECF) for teachers in England gets a critically shrewd handling by Georgina Gretton and Peter Wolstencroft. For Elizabeth Rushton it remains to be seen whether the ECF is sufficiently adaptable and responsive to meet the needs of those who have trained during the pandemic period. Her guide for secondary schools in supporting teachers who have trained during the pandemic is a valuable contribution to this debate.
We hope you have enjoyed this annual BB round-up and, we are sorry – particularly to the authors whose work could not be included here – that we can’t cover all of the many themes that the blog has engaged with over the last 12 months. However, we do hope that this overview has given you some sense of the diversity, depth and impact of the work we publish. A huge thanks to my wonderful BERA Blog co-editors Alison Fox and Rowena Passy, BERA’s superb publications manager Ross Fulton, BERA CEO Nick Johnson (for dreaming up the BERA Blog in the first place), and everyone in the BERA office for their work supporting this magnificent publication. Most of all, though, we would like to thank all our authors – your creativity, inspiration and patience lies behind the success story that the BERA Blog has become.
As always, we welcome future contributions from teachers, practitioners, academics, policymakers and all who have a stake in lifelong learning. And, while we continue to attract writers from the four nations of the UK, we also welcome contributions from all parts of the globe. If you have an idea for a future blog post, please contact members of our editorial team. The blog is open to anyone to make a submission, and our editorial team looks forward to working with an even more diverse group of contributors for the BERA Blog’s next thousand posts!
We wish all our readers and authors a safe, joyous and relaxing festive season, and look forward to 2022.