“Every child has a right to achieve their full potential.” IoE researcher to be key speaker at Westminster symposium examining childhood equality

Dr Carol Fuller of the IoE

“There are unfair barriers hindering some young people,” says Dr Carol Fuller of the University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE).

The educational sociologist suggests that in the formal atmosphere of our current schooling system, with its focus on academic performance above all else, some children can feel they are a failure and just don’t belong.

She and other academics from the field of childhood learning will present a provoking symposium in February that will look at how greater equality can be promoted through education so that both children and society can benefit. Organisers will question the long term impact of our current education system that prioritises academic performance over other important skills.

Portcullis House, Westminster which will host February’s childhood symposium

Carol and her colleagues are set to share their important – and sometimes startling – findings on childhood equality and well-being at the event, titled “Promoting Educational Equality: from the bottom to the top”.

They hope that the discussions and ideas shared during the symposium at Westminster’s Portcullis House on 27 February 2018, will help start a movement that will eventually redress social inequality in children’s educational experiences. 

Carol says:

I am very much informed by my research and the idea that every child has a right to achieve their full potential. But there unfair barriers do exist and my work looks at how resilience, confidence and self-efficacy can aid children break down those barriers. Not only is it the right of every child to achieve their full potential but this naturally has benefits for society as they become contributing adults.

“In the research I am working on with the Ufton Court Education Trust, we are scrutinising the role of outdoor residential experiences on under achieving students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. We are exploring whether these activities have an impact on the children’s educational attainment. The impetus for this research was my longstanding ambition to help children achieve and become the best they can be.”

Carol is passionate about how children’s personal achievements can not only help the youngsters themselves but also benefit society as a whole, producing more resilient, productive adults. Raising the aspiration and achievement of all children and in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds must be achieved to reach a fairer and more balanced society, she believes.

Carol’s Ufton Court research has seen the study group of children developing the confidence to speak up and participate, sometimes to a startling degree, in a way they wouldn’t have in the traditional classroom.

What is powerfully interesting is seeing how these positive effects translate back in the classroom, producing statistically significant outcomes. Persuasive anecdotal evidence is also pointing to the activities having an all-round benefit to the children’s lives outside of school too.

The Promoting Equality symposium will focus on how best to encourage much greater equality via what organisers term a “bottom up approach to education as well as a more holistic approach to learning”.

This approach can be reinforced by resilience building activities such as those Carol is exploring in her research at Ufton Court. Not only could this improve educational outcomes, but in looking forward, it could also support children’s mental well-being – an increasing area of concern – and the character traits needed to succeed both at school and in adult life.

So how do we foster the qualities that support young people in meeting life’s changing demands? What skills and knowledge will they need to succeed educationally?

This research-led event will examine these issues closely and look at the value of alternative places and spaces for learning with a particular focus on children and young people who, for differing reasons, can face a future of disadvantage and marginalisation. The symposium will draw on a range of expertise to consider how to ensure a fairer future for all children.

Reserve a place to join these important discussions by emailing c.l.fuller@reading.ac.uk.

Promoting Educational Equality: from the bottom to the top

Westminster Portcullis House

Attlee Suite

27 February 2018, 2 – 4pm

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