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BERA Blog Special Issue ‘What are we educating for?


Although it has always been significant, the question of what we are educating for is now pa


rticularly important. There is growing consensus that the educational challenges we face require long-term solutions, while political imperatives tend to be focused on short-term priorities. The challenges facing the world are changing dramatically, including the climate and nature emergency, the development of generative artificial intelligence, and the changing nature of work. This has highlighted clear tensions between whether we are educating f


or employment, for credentials, for engagement in further studies, or for engagement with society more broadly.

This BERA Blog special issue started out as a seminar series in which policymakers, educational practitioners and researchers came together to discuss what we are educating for across the English educational system. The series examined this question in relation to the education system as a whole and then in relation to early years, primary, secondary, further and vocational, and higher education. By taking a fine-grained perspective on the different educational stages within a single educational system, the blog special issue builds on the seminar series and offers UK and international readers the opportunity to consider how these issues play out in their own setting.

The contributions to this special issue explore:


how educational researchers might engage in the policymaking process

  • whose views are prioritised in educational policymaking

  • the tension between childcare and education in early years education

  • an ethic of mutual care in early years education

  • what we could be educating for in primary education

  • who should determine what we are educating for in primary education

  • the political priorities for post-14 secondary education

  • how secondary education can help young people to develop agency and hope in the face of the climate emergency

  • further education for extraordinary people

  • what vocational education is for

  • higher education for the benefit of students and the public good

  • the tension between transactional and educative higher education.

The blog special issue includes:

  • An editorial, by Paul Ashwin and Charles Clarke, introduces to the special issue;

  • In the first blog post, Paul Ashwin discusses how educational researchers might engage in the policymaking process in difficult times;

  • In the second blog post, Jo-Anne Baird considers whose views are prioritised in educational policy making;

  • In the third blog post, Naomi Eisenstadt examines the tension between childcare and education in early years education;

  • In the fourth blog post, Jo Warin argues for an ethic of mutual care in early years education;

  • In the fifth blog post, Gorana Henry considers what we could be educating for in primary education;

  • In the sixth blog post, Marlon Moncrieffe considers who should determine what we are educating for in primary education;

  • In the seventh blog post, Charles Clarke examines the political priorities for post-14 secondary education;

  • In the eighth blog post, Nicole Walshe examines how secondary education can help young people to develop agency and hope in the face of the climate emergency.

  • In the ninth blog post, Ann-Marie Bathmaker examines further education for extraordinary people;

  • In the tenth blog post, Martin Doel considers what vocational education is for;

  • In the eleventh blog post, Nicola Dandridge argues that higher education is both for the benefit of students and the public good;

  • In the twelfth blog post, Peter Scott examines the tension between transactional and educative Higher Education.





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