Education for Social Justice

The Education for Social Justice works with a range of partners to engage in national and international research which interrogates concepts, ideas and practices inclusion, social justice and (in)equality.

Our interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange provides a critical and intellectual basis for individuals and communities interested in interrogating personal, professional and political understandings of inclusion, equality, social justice and the relationship of each with education.

Theme areas of interest include: special educational needs and disabilities, citizenship, equality, poverty, inclusion and inclusive education, ethnicity, social class, values, gender and sexuality. Our research partnerships, reports and publications cover all stages of life and all sectors of education and schooling. A core aim of the theme is to explore and develop the interconnections between theoretical ideas and their expression and operation in education policy, curricular and practices.

Contact from existing or new partners, including potential postgraduate students, are always welcomed and should be made with one of the theme co-ordinators.

Theme Leaders

Ralph Leighton, Andrew Peterson, Alison Body, and Claire Hughes.

An Online Calendar of Events is available that shows all of the events from each of our Themes.

Current Projects

Body, A., Durrant, I., and Lehane, M. ‘Evaluation Project: Working with 16-24 year old current and potential apprentices and trainees - Instilling Financial Capability’, West Kent Communities (£15,000)

The Project involves working with young people aged 16 – 24 living in Sevenoaks, Maidstone and the Medway towns, who have either left school, are preparing to leave school and/or are transitioning into independent living. The research questions are as follows:

(a) What elements of financial capability current and prospective apprentices and trainees believe are influencing their choices as to whether to take up and / or sustain employment opportunities like apprenticeships and trainee/entry roles?

(b) To what extent can we show that tailored small group learning and one-to one support helps this group to improve their financial capability?

(c) How does improved financial capability actually influence this group’s choices as to whether to take up and / or sustain employment opportunities like apprenticeships and trainee roles?

As evaluation partner for this project, we supported the lead provider recruit 150 people aged 16-24 years old in four cohorts across the year 217/18. Participants were made up of a balance between young people in work and young people seeking work and to get a good balance of ages, gender and locations. Each cohort for intervention had two different intervention groups and one control group.

Body, A. (2017-18) ‘Engaging Children’s Voices in Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate. (£4,500)

This project recognises children as capable and active social and political actors, who are experts of their own lives and experiences. As such, the project focuses on how Turner Contemporary can support and carry out research with children to evaluate their services and children’s experiences of the gallery.

Body, A. in partnership with the Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent (2018-onwards) ‘Voluntary Action in Education’.

Building on the scoping project, Voluntary Action in Primary Education, this project takes this research a step further exploring the type, quantity and quality of volunteer support and fundraising activity in Primary and Secondary Education across the UK. Within this work we aim to explore what motivates schools to engage in voluntary action, barriers and opportunities and social policy implications.

Davies, I., Peterson, A., Evans, M., Fulop, M., Kiwan, D., and Sim, J-B. ‘Changing characterisations of youth civic activism and education’. Leverhulme International Network Grant. Awarded March 2016 / project commenced July 2016 (£125,000).

This project starts from a recognition that developing civic activism has been a key aim of education and youth policy and curricula of most nations over the last three decades. Research about young people’s civic activism indicates that, for a variety of reasons including globalising processes and the advent of online social and digital media, the nature of civic activism is dynamic and continues to change. There has been little international, comparative research that accounts for how formal and informal educational processes respond to changes in how young people learn, understand and enact their civic activism and engagement. Across 3 key locations (north and south America; Europe; Asia-Pacific) this international network will explore the changing experiences of youth activism and how these impact on education and youth policy and practice (or on communities?).


Recently Completed Projects

Body, A. Hogg, E., and Holman, K. (2016-2017) Voluntary Action in Primary Education. (£4,500) – Pilot project to examine the distribution of voluntary action activity across primary schools in Kent. The research highlighted an uneven distribution of voluntary action across schools, with schools in areas of deprivation having significantly less additional resources than schools in wealthier areas.

Peterson, A., Durrant, I. and Body, A. ‘Impact evaluation of the Jubilee Centre approach to character education in schools’. Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. May 2017-November 2017 (£9,600).

The purpose of this early impact and influence evaluation will be to review the extent to which, and ways in which, the Jubilee Centre’s approach to character education is being enacted within schools. Focusing on a sample of 10-12 schools, the evaluation will draw predominantly on qualitative data to answer the following research questions:

  1. What approach to character education, if any, did the schools employ before their engagement with the Jubilee Centre?
  2. In what ways have the schools engaged with the Jubilee Centre and its resources?
  3. To what extent may it be claimed that the schools are following a ‘distinctive’ Jubilee Centre approach to character education?
  4. What has been the impact of such engagement within and beyond the schools?

Peterson, A. and Davies, I. ‘Character education and citizenship education: Draft statement and consultation event’, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. Project commenced September 2017. (£7,500; £3,500 to CCCU).

The purpose of the project was to write a draft statement on the relationships between character education and citizenship to form the basis of a Jubilee Centre consultation at Windsor Castle in May 2017.

Peterson, A., Meehan, C., Durrant, I. and Ali, Z. (2016) ‘Inclusive educational provision for newly-arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children: A study in a single school in Kent’, Funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England as part of the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach programme, and commissioned through the Kent and Medway Progression. (£25,000).

The research explored of the work of Hartsdown Academy in Margate, Kent, an 11-18 co-educational state school. In recent years Hartsdown Academy has developed a particular intervention programme My New School for EAL pupils enrolled at the school, and has extended its provision to include newly-arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children through its Ready for School programme. The study focused particularly on the perceived social and cultural outcomes and benefits (including any notable challenges and barriers) of the school’s educational provision for newly-arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children. The study explored the following research questions: RQ1: What practices and initiatives are employed by the school to support the inclusion of newly-arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children? RQ2: What perceptions of these practices and initiatives are held by school leaders, teachers, teaching assistants, and newly-arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children within the school, and what are the perceived benefits and challenges? RQ3: In what ways do, and could, the practices and initiatives relate to progression into further and higher education?

Body, A. & Hogg, E. (University of Kent) (2015/16) What mattered ten years on? Young people’s reflections on their involvement with a charitable youth participation project (£10,000)

Youth work in England is undergoing rapid and significant change. In the backdrop of austerity, welfare reform and altered commissioning arrangements, voluntary sector organisations involved in these services are having to realign services and reconsider their work with young people. Ultimately the national youth offer and youth work has changed radically, fuelling a debate about the very function and impact of youth work. This project makes an important contribution to this debate by presenting original research on what young people themselves prioritise as important, with a particular focus on youth participation work, and highlights the longer-term impacts voluntary sector organisations can have on the lives of more vulnerable young people. Working with a charity who have been delivering youth participation projects since 2003 to vulnerable children and young people, we carried in-depth semi-structured interviews with 10 former beneficiaries who had been involved in one or more of these projects between 2003-2008 and explored their experiences and perceptions of the impact this work had on their life journey ten years on. The findings suggest that beneficiaries felt the support they received was, in most cases, ‘transformative’ in their lives. However, they defined their experiences and the impact of a project through their relationship with individual staff and volunteers supporting them, and less so with defined services, projects or the wider organisation. Furthermore, the findings suggested the young people engaged in these programmes were very likely to go on to volunteer, have a strong desire to ‘give back’, are likely to engage in community participation and advocacy, and have an increased sense of social responsibility and supporting others. This paper highlights both learning for voluntary sector organisations working with children and young people, and academics and policy makers researching participation and youth work.

CReaTE (Canterbury Research and Theses Environment) was launched in July 2011 to provide a digital collection of the research output of the University. Due to compliance with international standards, materials deposited in CReaTE are indexed by Google services ensuring that they are easy to discover.

Any Canterbury Christ Church University member of staff or researcher can deposit material in CReaTE.

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Last edited: 14/05/2018 11:12:00