About BESA /  Structure

What is the British Education Studies Association?

I. What it is

The Association, which came into existence formally in July 2005, is a subject association for all students, teachers and researchers in Education Studies within . Most higher education institutions have engaged in initial and inservice teacher-training for many years and many have now developed Education Studies as a degree subject in its own right.

In an age of uncertainty, formulating an area of subject knowledge is difficult and the world of educational theory is particularly diverse. Education Studies courses have a variety of sources and origins and have taken particular forms in different universities and colleges further education. Some educational associations and societies currently in existence have professional practice as a their main focus; others are concerned with wider educational theory, but not at undergraduate level; yet others provide for childhood studies and early years. This association provides the opportunity to develop theoretical frameworks for Education Studies which can be shared between institutions. The effect is a diverse range of curricula, student learning experiences and potential career outcomes.

The mission of the Association is to:

  • support the community of students, teachers and researchers in Education Studies
  • develop a rationale and theoretical grounding for the subject
  • promote the profile of the subject within higher education institutions

Its membership

The Association has two categories of membership:

1 individuals who are engaged in the teaching of, research into, or the study of Education Studies in higher education (such members are referred to hereafter as ‘individual members’);

2 educational institutions which have an interest in the teaching, research into, or the study of Education Studies in higher education and learned societies having among their principal objects the promoting of the study of Education (such members are referred to hereafter as ‘corporate members’).

Other Information about the Association may be found by clicking on the appropriate links on the left: its functions, its structure, its constitution, its formal launch in Chester and first Conference and AGM in July 2005.

II. The functions of the Association

The Association will seek to assist teachers and researchers in carrying out their duties of teaching and research, and departments (or their equivalents) in attracting students, providing teaching or pursuing research in Education Studies and raising the profile of the subject within institutions. It will assist students in their learning and research activities. It will organise conferences for its members on matters relating to the subject and its well-being.

It will seek to inform the academic and professional worlds about matters affecting the well-being of the subject, expressing views or making representations to appropriate bodies (e.g., funding councils, QAA, Escalate, the Training and Development Agency for Schools), and also, when necessary, lobbying government or MPs, or other relevant bodies. It expects to be consulted as an association for Education Studies about matters affecting the subject.

Its Executive Committee will seek to ensure that whatever it says on behalf of the Association does genuinely express the mind of the profession, by building channels of communication with the profession (including discussion of issues and policies at general meetings, a newsletter and website, and links between members of the Committee and departments). (The first Executive Committee will be elected at the Association’s Inaugural AGM in July 2005).

The Association will work to promote an understanding in the wider community of what Education Studies is and what it can offer to students in universities and other tertiary institutions.

In discussions about setting up the BESA, a list of the kinds of things it would promote was agreed:

1. Assisting those with responsibility for the well-being of the subject in their promotion and fostering of it:

(a) providing support for individual Education Studies staff, whether members of the Association or not, in performing their professional duties;

(b) assisting Education Studies departments in their role of ensuring the well-being of the subject;

(c) making services available to learned societies which may assist them in carrying out their purposes;

(d) supporting students in their learning and research activities in Education Studies.

(e) organising conferences on themes of interest and concern in Education Studies;

2. Speaking for the discipline within Higher Education:

(NOTE: It is expected that the Association will be recognised by appropriate bodies as the subject association for the discipline within higher education, to be consulted when a view is being sought from the profession on any matter relating to higher education.)

(e) responding to consultative documents, requests for information or for nominations for membership of committees, from funding councils, the QAA, Escalate – and submitting observations to such bodies, whether solicited or not, when appropriate;

(f) making representations, when deemed necessary, to government departments, appropriate official bodies, or political parties;

(g) pursuing particular matters of concern to the subject;

(h) keeping a watching brief on general trends and specific developments in higher education and elsewhere (e.g. in schools) so far as these may affect the work of members or the well-being of the subject, either immediately or in the long term;

(j) co-operating with official bodies, where it is judged appropriate and under carefully considered terms, to assist the latter in carrying out tasks they have been charged to perform;

(k) maintaining contact with other bodies with relevantly similar concerns.

3. Speaking for Education Studies within the wider community:

(l) Seeking to increase awareness of the value of Education Studies within the wider community.

4. Organisational:

(m) Keeping the membership informed of its activities, and of other matters bearing on their work and their interest in Education Studies generally, and maintaining good lines of communication – in both directions – with the profession generally (including the learned societies).

III. The Structure of the Association

The Association has two types of membership: individual members and corporate members: departments or equivalent units, and other learned societies. For information about becoming a member in one of these categories, click on the appropriate link on the website under ‘Joining the BESA’.

The Association’s affairs are run by an Executive Committee, elected for three-year terms (with a limited possibility of re-election) by the Association’s individual members at the Association’s AGM. (There is a provision in the Constitution for the Committee to introduce postal voting for this election.) To ensure an appropriate spread of representation, the Committee itself may co-opt up to four additional members to its number.

The Committee elects its own Officers – Chair, Secretary and Treasurer – who also serve as the Officers of the Association. The Committee will organise conferences for its membership, and take up issues of interest and concern to the profession, making submissions to appropriate bodies or individuals within higher education or beyond (including, as and when necessary, politicians or government departments).

Good communication between the Committee and the Association’s members will be ensured by its website.

The Association intends to seek charitable status in the future.

For fuller details of the BESA’s structure, see the Association’s Constitution on the website.