A seasonal ‘yo-ho-ho’ to all our BERA Blog readers here in the UK and around the world in this, our fourth end-of-year-highlights special edition. The BB continues to grow, with more special editions, more BERA Bites collections and even more unique page views – the latter up by 32 per cent on 2018. This is why, with more than 600 published articles, the BERA Blog has become the largest international blog on educational research, reaching an audience living and working in more than 223 countries and territories.
‘With more than 600 published articles, the BERA Blog has become the largest international blog on educational research, reaching an audience in more than 223 countries and territories.’
We continue to publish articles on the latest educational research, and our editorial team this year has been bombarded with blog fare on topics as diverse as artificial intelligence; humanoid robots; home schooling; early career research; ecology; gender wars and academic freedom; LGBTIQ+; the impact of the prevent duty on schools; and of course… wait for it… Brexit and the UK general election. But what else have we covered in 2019?
People have been talking about the curriculum again, according to Dominic Wyse and Yana Manyukhina, and the BB has joined that particular talkfest. For those interested in teacher agency and curriculum reform, David Egan, David Aldous and Anna Bryant’s article on curriculum developments in Wales is a must-read. From Northern Ireland, Sharon Jones’ champions the need for the curriculum to connect learning, times, cultures and people – an argument that chimes with that of the new editors of the Curriculum Journal, Mark Priestley and Stavroula Phillippou, who argue that the curriculum is, or should be, at the heart of educational practice. Jenni Sullanmaa, Kirsi Pyhältö, Janne Pietarinen and Tiina Soini write about curriculum coherence, school development and large-scale national curriculum reform in Finland. And there is a cracking recent article from Tony Breslin on the curriculum and the new Ofsted Framework.
We’ve also seen a rise this year in articles on practitioner research, with captivating contributions from Val Poultney, Louise Kay, John Leach and Kate Wall, and a special edition edited by Pam Jarvis. Fans of action research will find Victoria Door’s article on creativity, criticality and reflexivity essential reading. And, for those of us who carry out research within higher education, I recommend that you read ‘You don’t understand us’, by Sarah Quinton, who voices the frustration that many academics, including me, experience when seeking ethical clearance for their research.
A torrent of articles on educational technology has continued this year with contributions on educational robotics by José Antonio González-Calero and Ramon Cózar; on massive open online courses (MOOCs) from Fereshte Goshtasbpour; on the use of technology with children with cognitive disabilities by Maria Korozi, Margherita Antona and Constantine Stephanides; and a ‘call to action’ linking school teachers’ practice with research in educational technology by Melissa Bond. Other articles on technology particularly worth checking out come from Colleen Stieler-Hunt, David G. Grant and Yanyan Sun, and colleagues who are interested in the potential for educational technology to heal ‘liberated’ Iraq should read the article by Mayamin Altae.
More this year too, on education and mental health, with climacteric contributions from Jonathan Glazzard and Samuel Stones; Kate Russell; Darren Moore, Tamsin Ford and Jo Thompson Coon, and Michelle Jayman among many others. With statutory changes to sex and relationships education just around the corner, our readers were treated to articles on this topic from Danielle Pée and Laura Colucci-Gray. And I pray that our new government takes heed of my colleague Janet Hoskin’s call-to-arms against austerity in her daunting article on special educational needs and disability (SEND).
Early years education, as always, has stimulated significant BB contributions this year including those from Guy Roberts-Holmes, Siew Fung Lee, Mandy Pierlejewski and Elizabeth Wood on their BERA symposium on school-readiness, early years education and neoliberal subjectivities. Also worth reading are articles from Ruth Trundley and Helen Williams, Tom Lowrie and Kevin Larkin, and a fascinating contribution from China by Weipeng Yang and Hui Li.
David Lundie reminds us that much has been written, since the introduction of the duty on schools to promote ‘fundamental British values’ in the 2014 Ofsted inspection handbook, on the rights and wrongs of using education to promote ‘national’ values. Faith-based education invariably gets caught up within these debates, but Don Rowe and Anne Watson, in their article, take a relatively uncharted route which explores the faith-orientated beliefs of those who work in education and how their beliefs are enacted in, and impact on, their work.
Since we launched the BB back in 2015, teacher education has remained a dominant theme for many of our authors and readers. At a British Curriculum Forum event held in London in February of this year, teacher educators from the four nations came together to review the development of national and local curricula for early-career support. In their article, Beth Dickson, Gary Beauchamp, Moira Hulme and Linda Clarke give a flavour of the day and consider the progress made in advancing professional learning in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. James Noble-Rogers presents an inspired look at initial teacher education content in England and the work of the content advisory group. Other articles on this topic include those from Elizabeth White, from Stefanie Sullivan and Rupert Knight, and from Ellen Greaves, who poses the question, ‘Do trainee teachers harm pupil attainment?’
Those interested in post-compulsory teacher education must read Jim Crawley’s excellent article on the difficulties experienced by this particular professional group of teacher educators during the era of austerity. If you are after a concise explanation of the origins of further education in England and Wales then Ross Goldstone’s article is also a must-read. And it should come as no surprise that pedagogy provides our writers with scholarly inspiration, with worthy contributions from Geert Kelchtermans, Nazomi Sakata, Collette Murphy, Shrehan Lynch and Amelia Hempel-Jorgensen.
A huge thanks to my co-editors Alison Fox and Rachel Lofthouse, BERA publications manager Ross Fulton, BERA director Nick Johnson (for dreaming up the BERA Blog in the first place) and everyone at the BERA office for their work supporting this magnificent fully open-access publication. Most of all, though, we would like to thank all our authors – it is your creativity, your inspiration and your patience that has made the BERA Blog the success story it has become.
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 round-up, and apologise to our authors whose work could not be included here. However, we do hope that this round-up has given you, our 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.
Lead editor, BERA Blog