#017 – Research round up: aspirations, policy narratives and exclusion interventions

22nd February 2018

photo of sam and anna

In this episode Anna and Sam explore a selection of the research that’s been hitting our desks in recent weeks. We discuss a major study of young people’s occupational aspirations using visual methods, a discourse analysis of the ways in which policymakers talk about students in higher education, and a systematic review of the effectiveness of different types of exclusion intervention.

In this episode Sam and Anna discuss:

  • How seeing pictures of primary school pupils’ aspirations brought back happy memories of Sam’s own fieldwork
  • How gender stereotyping about jobs is set from a young age
  • How worries about the ‘match’ between young people’s aspirations and labour market opportunities are misplaced
  • How young people’s aspirations seem more or less stable over time depending on how you research them
  • How talk of ‘skills gaps’ is unhelpful
  • How our commitment to HE as an engine for social mobility is strictly limited to UK-born students
  • How hardly anyone talks about HE students as ‘learners’
  • Why it’s important to analyse policy narratives to help us identify policymakers’ real motivations and worldviews
  • How very little education policy is ‘something new under the sun’
  • What a ‘systematic review’ is
  • The types of school-based intervention that seem to have an impact on exclusion rates
  • How the effect of these interventions seems to be short-lived
  • Why it’s important to ensure that evaluations are as independent as possible

Resources/people featured or mentioned:


Show notes and links for this episode can be found here.

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Music credits:

‘Oui’ by Simon Mathewson and ‘Jump for joy’ by Scott Holmes both from http://freemusicarchive.org