Back from a visit to the European Commission

Date: 15.12.2011

I’m just back from a visit to the European Commission in Brussels – exactly paralleling David Cameron’s visit and disgraceful performance. I was at the DG Education and Culture’s consultation symposium on ‘Measures to Combat Educational Disadvantage’, a two day meeting of 200 experts – researchers, stakeholders, policy-makers. The idea was to start assembling data for a new policy initiative to be launched next autumn, with a clear indication of the priorities the EU hopes member states will follow, and some money to support initiatives.

I was rather flattered and honoured to be ask to give the opening key-note address – a bit intimidating, but I gave it my best shot. I spent most of my time telling them about some research that we’d carried out at London Metropolitan in 2006-9, when we led a fourteen-nation study of Educational Policies Addressing Social Integration (= EPASI, because in best EU fashion we needed an acronym).

Carole Leathwood and I led a small team from the Institute for Policy Studies in Education, and coordinated six other country teams, in a survey of educational policies in 14 European countries, looking at seven kinds of disadvantage, and evaluating nearly 300 different projects and initiatives in these states … which is why it lasted two years! But – we were able to distil it all down to a set of recommendations about what made an initiative successful, and what were the best ways to approach these issues.

And this is what I gave them at the Symposium. Then we huddled into little expert groups, and came up with suggestions of good practice and policy … and our EPASI list seems to have hit most of the buttons. With a bit of luck – and some nudging – what may emerge in the next few months is a EU policy that reflects out research findings. It’s very satisfying when social research seems to be taken up by governments and helps to shape policy. I’ll keep you posted on how it unfolds.