Just Published – Educationalfutures Volume 14 Issue 1

Welcome to Volume 14 Issue 1 of Educationalfutures, our first volume for 2023. This is the second edition under the co-editorship of Zeta Williams-Brown (University of Wolverhampton) and Stephen Dixon (Newman University), and as ever we are extremely grateful to both Joe Gazdula, as Managing Editor for our journals and Stephen Ward, as publisher of the journal and as a member of the Editorial Board. We are delighted to be able to offer readers a full and varied edition, thanks to the hard work of the authors, reviewers and staff, with five journal articles and three book reviews.

Our first article is a wonderful paper School-led Initial Teacher Training: Why are schools so attracted to the idea of ‘growing their own teachers’? from Jo Hill, with a timely discussion on School-led Initial Teacher Training (ITT), and in particular the School Direct model. Whilst recognising that school-led ITT is nothing new, and that indeed there can be much advantage from schools ‘growing’ teachers, the article argues that such an approach gives insufficient consideration to training teachers’ needs. Contextualising the model against both theory/practice divides and a neoliberal government agenda, this qualitative study has a strong sense of participant voice, particularly in the sense of their being ‘moulded’ for schools’ individualised institutional needs rather than experiencing a more rounded form of professional teacher education.

There are many studies appearing which reflect upon the drastic and sudden changes to learning and teaching practice during the Covid-19 pandemic, and in this edition we include three. Our first is a fascinating opinion piece The changing face of higher education in a widening participation context during the Covid-19 pandemic from Heather Thaxter, which explores the behavioural and group dynamic changes amongst English students during lockdown in the UK (March 2020-May 2021). With the shift to fully online teaching, the article considers whether the frequency of telecopresence was a contributing factor to observable increased anxiety amongst students, examining issues of contested learning spaces (especially when these spaces are student bedrooms), the use of filters and the presentation of the self, and in particular how students adapted to these changes.

The study from Ayesha Lohar and Cathal Ó’Siochrú The implications for teaching and learning in Key Stage 1 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is another theoretical piece in which they argue that the UK government should consult with teachers to assess and evaluate the gaps in learning that have occurred and continue to occur in England as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors provide a strong case in highlighting the opportunity to consider children’s development through the lens of socio-cognitive theory, particularly as this may provide a significant step forward in evaluating and rebalancing education outcomes for children from underprivileged backgrounds. They also highlight the potential that digital tools may offer as resources to aid in children’s learning and development.

Education Studies is a diverse discipline, and our next article from Bethan Davies, Deborah Holt and Deborah Fry The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the professional practice of Scottish childminders examines the impact of the pandemic on the professional practice of Scottish childminders. Set against the decline in the number of active childminders in Scotland, this mixed methods study highlights the lack of economic support as a reason for many leaving the profession, with increased job insecurity being exacerbated by the pandemic. In a very full study, the authors show how many professionals feel both undervalued and underrepresented, as well as sensing that childminding somehow lacks legitimacy as a childcare service. As such, the authors make the strong claim that an improved understanding of the childminding role and its contribution to child development and educational practice is crucial in both raising awareness and improving perception of the childminding profession.

Our final article is a theoretical study Don’t panic (yet): The implications of ChatGPT for Education Studies in the UK from Stephen Dixon who brings us bang up to date with the issue of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential effects on the teaching and assessment of Education Studies. There has recently been a lot of anxious comment in the media about the possibility that AI will threaten the future of humanity, Stephen gives us an excellent survey of the technical aspects of ChatGPT, the current AI model and assesses the extent to which it might t be used by university students to submit high-quality coursework and achieve ‘fake’ results in their degree classifications. He tries it out, giving it some essay questions, and shows us that the answers that the AI machinery gives are nowhere near the quality needed to gain good marks. He ends by reassuring us that there is no need to panic about Education Studies – at least not yet! 

Finally, three members of the Executive Committee have kindly written book reviews for this edition. Ruth Mieschbuehler has reviewed The Conservative Case for Education: Against the Current (2017) by Nicholas Tate, arguing that despite not being a new text, it would provide a welcome addition to Education Studies literature. The book draws on the work of Oakeshott, Arendt, Hirsch and Eliot in expounding a conservative case for education with fifteen key principles, and as Ruth points out, succeeds in actually setting out the case for education per se, without the conservative aspects. Joe Gazdula has provided a review of A Student Guide to Writing Research Reports, Papers, Thesis and Dissertations (2022) by Cathal Ó’Siochrú, an accessible and wide-ranging text with particularly strong sections on both methodology and research results. Joe highlights how the book manages to bring research ‘to life’, arguing that its breadth of scope makes it suitable to a wide range of readers, from undergraduate dissertation students to early career researchers. Stephen Ward has reviewed A Guide to the Mental Health of Children and Young People: Q&A for parents, caregivers and teachers (2023) by Meinou Simmons, which, as he points out, whilst not strictly an Education Studies text, is a timely publication for all those working in education. The author is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, and has, Stephen argues, written a text with clear and authoritative guidance. There is clear explanation of complex psychiatry issues in a book that would be helpful to anyone with a commitment to student wellbeing.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Educationalfutures and we welcome contributions to our future volumes for any of our three sections: traditional academic articles, teaching excellence articles and book reviews. If you are new to researching and have an article or piece of work you think we might find interesting, then please contact Julia Everitt for her opinion on getting published in Transformations (contact details are available on our website). Furthermore, at the time of writing, we are very close to our Annual Conference, to be held at the University of Derby. The theme for the conference this year is Education in a Changing Society, and we would strongly encourage those presenting to convert their conference papers into articles for the next edition.