Gerry Czerniawski

BERA Blog highlights from 2018

Gerry Czerniawski University of East London Friday 21 December 2018

A seasonal welcome to all our BERA Blog readers in the UK and around the world in this, our third end-of-year-highlights special edition. And what a year this has turned out to be. (I really will try not to mention either the ‘T’ or the ‘B’ words – I promise!)

‘Reaching a fast-growing readership across 223 countries and territories, the BERA Blog has become one of the largest international blogs on educational research.’

In the last 12 months the readership of the BERA Blog grew dramatically, with unique page views up by 71 per cent on the previous year. In less than four years since its inception, the Blog has published more than 500 articles and received over 950,000 ‘views’. Reaching readers in 223 countries and territories, and with almost a third of its readership coming from outside the UK, the BERA Blog has become one of the largest international blogs on educational research.

Over the past year a magnificent mélange of articles targeting policy, practice and academic arenas have bombarded and beguiled our editorial team. Robots in the classroom, genetic differences between students, sex education, teacher agency, LGBT and inclusion in schools, prison education and education against extremism are just some of the far-reaching topics that tantalised our academic taste buds.

Jeremy Rappley and Hikaru Komatsu provoked a ferment of blog activity with their article asking, ‘What if east Asia’s high achievement is not the result of longer hours of study, cram schools and exam pressure?’ High-stakes testing and early years education received similar levels of attention, with a blistering policy critique in relation to baseline testing authored by Gemma Moss; Harvey Goldstein, Pam Sammons, Gwen Sinnott and Gordon Stobart. Other notable pieces within this field came from Kristen Gregory, Helen Crompton and Diane Burke; Katie Jackson; Maria Hatzigianni; Lorna Arnott, Ioanna Palaiologou & Collette Gray; Tammy Campbell, Ludovica Gambaro and Kitty Stewart; and Lasse Lipponen, Jaakko Hilppo and Antti Rajala.

There has been a significant rise this year in articles about digital technology and education, with some particularly memorable contributions from Peter Goodyear; Helen Crompton and Diane Burke; Louis Major and Sara Hennessy; Maria Korozi, Margherita Antona & Constantine Stephanidis; Diana Tremayne; and Kelly Johnston, Fay Hadley and Kate Highfield.

In what Jim Hordern refers to as the ‘latest flurry of work focussing on the relationship between research and educational practice’, a string of contributions came from Ruth Dann; Giles Freathy; Iro Konstantinou; and Terry Wrigley. Readers embarking on doctoral studies in education will find the articles by Hieu Kieu, and by David Morris and David Cudworth, both comforting and useful. A number of articles on research methodology were also published this year, including those by Christine Davies; Emma Clarke; Keran McGrane and Stefan MeElwee; Suzanne Culshaw; and Kathryn Spicksley.

Vigorous debate and critical commentary on teacher education came from leading writers within the field. Moira Hulme offered our readers a clear and concise account of the House of Commons symposium on teacher education in February 2018. Other contributions on teacher education came from James Noble-Rogers; Bethan Wood; Gerry Czerniawski; Sue Cronin; and Helen Foster-Collins.

With the British Curriculum Forum going from strength to strength it is not surprising that there were a number of articles about the curriculum within and beyond the UK. Thirty years after the birth of the national curriculum, Mary James provided a magnificent two-part critical commentary on the curricular developments that have taken place in England since it was introduced. Other writers on the topic of the curriculum have included Alison Fox; Marlon Moncrieffe; Tim Cain; Karen McInnes; Ruth Dann & Chris Hanley; Megan Dixon; and an excellent piece on the development of a new curriculum in Wales from Nigel Newton. Jessica Mangione, Melissa Parker and Mary O’Sullivan wrote about the external provision of physical education in Irish primary schools, and further afield Dorothy Ofoha, Rotimi Ogidan & Rosemary Saidu examined the integration of a parenting education programme into the primary and secondary school curriculum in Nigeria.

One of the many difficulties in producing edited highlights is not being able to include all of our amazing authors, but I must mention some notable pieces on special educational needs and/or disabilities that came from Jonathan Glazzard; Darren Moore, Tamsin Ford and Jo Thompson; Peter Blatchford and Rob Webster; and Madeleine Stevens.

Neela Dolezalova captured the minefield of morals, rules, sensitivities, values and fears associated with sex education, following Justine Greening’s announcement that relationships and sex education will become statutory in primary schools in England. The topic of social, emotional and vocational learning was further developed in Aidan Clerkin’s wonderful piece on Irish secondary school education. One of the most moving pieces of the year came from Pat Sikes, who explored the perceptions and experiences of children and young people who have a parent with young-onset dementia.

I promised not to mention either the ‘T’ or ‘B’ words at the start of this round-up, but Pam Jarvis in her piece for the BERA Blog published earlier this month does both in her wonderfully reflective commentary about these precarious times of sociopolitical uncertainty.

Finally, during the course of this year the BERA Blog editors also announced the launch of a new series of publications: BERA Bites. These are edited collections of selected articles on key topics in education published on the BERA Blog. Each edition features an introduction by editors with expertise in the field, and each article concludes with questions from the authors that can be used in classroom discussions, seminars and homework preparation.

We are sorry that we can’t cover all the many themes that the blog has engaged with over the last 12 months in this annual round-up; we also apologise to those of our authors whose work could not be included here. However, we do hope that this has given readers some sense of the diversity, depth and impact of the work we publish. As always, we welcome future contributions from teachers, practitioners, academics, policymakers and all who have a vested interest in lifelong learning. And, as always, 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 piece please contact members of our editorial team.

We wish all our readers and authors a joyous and relaxing festive season.


Gerry Czerniawski is professor of education at the University of East London’s Cass School of Education and Communities, where he runs the doctoral programmes in education (PhD and EdD). In addition to his role as a researcher, author and teacher-educator he is the chair of the British Curriculum Forum, lead editor of the BERA Blog, and a trustee and council member of BERA. His email address is g.czerniawski@uel.ac.uk and his twitter handle @GCzerniawski.