The Centre for Education Policy in Practice at Bath Spa was established in response to the Labour Government’s Every Child Matters agenda. It was intended to develop partnerships and research projects to identify the implications of this agenda for university programmes and student employability, and to enhance the university’s standing among children’s services professionals.
The change in government led to a reappraisal of the Centre’s role. The key foci remain: challenging inequality; supporting the active participation of children and young people; using the research strengths of the university to support individuals and organisations on the front line. However, the new political context has enabled a more critical focus on the legacy of the previous government, and the impact of new reforms, not only in the field of education and social care, but more generally in terms of economic and social policy, local governance, and the role of the citizen.
This paper considers the challenges faced in maintaining an overview of government policy and establishing partnerships in a swiftly changing political and economic environment, the links between projects, research and teaching, and wider relationships between the university, its students, and the local community. It concludes that this broader concept of partnership working enhances both the university as a whole, and the particular contribution of Education Studies, in terms of curriculum content and opportunities for students to engage with the wider children’s workforce.