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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Previous Events

Special Interest Group (RCT) Seminar 1: 'Do aspirations and attitudes matter in education? Judging causal relationships in a very large review of the evidence' by Professor Stephen Gorard

16th July 2012, 12:30 to 14:30, F009, Wolfson Research Institute

The Wolfson Research Institue are delighted to host the first seminar from the Randomised controlled trials and systematic review Special Interest Group. To book a place on this seminar please contact Carole Torgerson.


Inter-generational social immobility, and intra-generational educational trajectories stratified by social class, are both key focuses of policy attention in the UK at present. The concerns are well-meaning and cross home countries, party politics and administrative boundaries. 'Proposed 'folk' remedies abound - from better parenting at an early age through raising aspirations and expectations for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to changing the admissions process to universities. Perhaps we need higher quality teachers, new types of schools under parental control, or a return to selection. Yet only some of these ideas have evidence in support. Money is being wasted on some approaches that do not work, some more promising avenues are relatively neglected, and most proposed interventions have not been tested at all. Which is which? Based on large-scale reviews of evidence, from recent studies conducted for the Joseph Rowntree, Nuffield and Educational Endowment Foundations and the British Academy, the answer has become clearer.


Stephen entered academic life in 1997, having been a secondary school teacher and leader, adult educator, and computer analyst. He moved to Birmingham from the University of York in August 2007. He has published nearly 1,000 books, papers, chapters and other reports on the effectiveness and equity of educational reforms, and on the quality of education research as social science. He has received funding from around 50 bodies including the ESRC, EU, Joseph Rowntree, Nuffield, British Academy, Spencer Foundation, Gatsby, Brookings Institute, TeachFirst, HEFCE, QCA, TDA, GTC Wales, Welsh Assembly, and the Department for Education. His work is frequently covered in local and international media stories. He is a member of the ESRC Grants Panel, and a methods expert for the US Institute of Education Science.

Stephen recently spoke at the HoC Education Committee on the issue of Attracting, training and retaining the best teachers.


12.30  Lunch for all attendees
13.00  Seminar begins
14.00  Discussion and refreshments

Contact for more information about this event.