Education policy expert and Fellow of the British Academy Professor Stephen Ball delivered a highly engaging and thought provoking lecture on Wednesday 7th March exploring the challenges brought about by the “patchwork” of providers running state schools in England today.
The Foundation’s, Chairman of Grants, John Hall and Chief Executive, Richard Foley were joined by an audience of academics, policy makers, educators and third sector colleagues to learn more about Professor Ball’s argument that the state has interfered in English education both too much and not enough, and has perpetuated huge inequalities in provision and quality.
The lecture was proudly sponsored as part of the Sir John Cass’s Foundation lecture series at the British Academy which launched in 2013. Further information on past lectures can be found here https://www.britac.ac.uk/tag/sir-john-casss-foundation-lectures
Chaired by Professor Maggie Snowling FBA, President of St John’s College, Oxford and the Foundation is delighted to share the official press release form the British Academy below.
English education system “Victorian”, says leading education expert
The incoherent “patchwork” state of English state education is “Victorian” both in its diversity and inequality, according to education policy expert and Fellow of the British Academy Professor Stephen Ball.
In a lecture yesterday at the British Academy – the voice of the humanities and social sciences – Professor Ball argued that the state has interfered in English education both too much and not enough, and has perpetuated huge inequalities in provision and quality.
“Rather than an [education] system, we have – and have had since its inception – a rickety, divided, unstable and unfair but nonetheless overbearing educational apparatus,” said Professor Ball.
Nine different types of state schools currently operate in England, from academies and free schools to community schools and grammars.
“The sort of school your child may attend, and their experience of education, depends on where you live”, Professor Ball said.
As a result, he said, the current system is looking increasingly similar to the way schools were organised before the introduction of local school boards in 1870.
Before this time, schools were run by a mixture of church societies, voluntary organisations and philanthropists. Professor Ball argued that this mirrors the “patchwork” of providers running state schools today, and the growing number of academies which do not fall under local authority control.
The state education system that developed in the 19th century was segregated along class lines. Today the “relation between performance and poverty… is far stronger than the relation between schooling and performance”, despite the introduction of new schools supposedly targeted at areas of disadvantage, said Professor Ball.
Professor Ball also argued that the “performance by results” culture of education puts undue pressure on teachers and children.
More teachers are leaving the profession than are being recruited, with most of those leaving being of working age.
“Education policy has little to do with education”, he said.
“We need to start again, not tinker and reform, add and complicate, but start somewhere else”.
Drawing on a different aspect of 19th-century education, he suggested that “we might want to seriously consider a return to directly elected local school boards.”
The lecture was sponsored by Sir John Cass’s Foundation and was chaired by Professor Maggie Snowling FBA, President of St John’s College, Oxford.
Professor Stephen Ball is a Fellow of the British Academy and Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology of Education at the Institute of Education at University College London. He has 40 years’ experience in education policy research.
Notes to editors
1. Professor Ball’s lecture ‘The tragedy of state education in England: Reluctance, compromise and muddle’, takes place at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH on Wednesday 8 March 2018, from 6.30-7.45pm, followed by a drinks reception.
For further information or to request a press seat please contact the Press Office on firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7969 5273/07500 010 432.
2. The British Academy is the voice of humanities and social sciences. The Academy is an independent fellowship of world-leading scholars and researchers; a funding body for research, nationally and internationally; and a forum for debate and engagement. For more information, please visit www.britishacademy.ac.uk. Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.
3. Sir John Cass’s Foundation has evolved over its more than 260-year history to become one of the leading independent education charities in the UK. Founded in 1748 by City of London politician and philanthropist Sir John Cass (1661-1718), the Foundation has a rich history of supporting pioneering initiatives to promote participation and achievement for the most disadvantaged young people in the Capital – always with a focus on how successful interventions and research can be scaled at a national level. The Foundation continues to honour the mission of its founder through its grant making programmes, partnerships, research and delivery and sponsorship of influential and stimulating education focussed lecture series. For more information, please visit http://sirjohncassfoundation.com. Follow Sir John Cass’s Foundation on Twitter @SJCFGrants