Tackling low educational achievement - major LSE research to launch this week
A new report, Tackling Low Educational Achievement: a report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation , by Professor Robert Cassen, the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE, and Dr Geeta Kingdon, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, will be launched with a seminar on Thursday 28 June at the Work Foundation. The report gives a profile of the tens of thousands of students who leave school every year with little or nothing to show for it, discusses the factors underlying low achievement, and addresses how the situation can be improved by policy. As well as conducting their own research the authors have reviewed the extensive recent research by others, so that their report is fully comprehensive.
Professor Cassen and Dr Kingdon's research was commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and will be published on Friday 22 June. The authors present their findings and outline their key recommendations in a public event, introduced and chaired by Estelle Morris, on Thursday 28 June. The event, at 9am for a 9.30am start, will be held at the Work Foundation, Asticus Building, 21 Palmer St, London SW1H 0AD. The event is free and open to all but registration is required. Please email Anna Tamas at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
This new book explores Britain's intensely urban and increasingly global communities as interlocking pieces of a complex jigsaw; they are hard to see apart yet they are deeply unequal. How did our major cities become so divided? How do they respond to housing and neighbourhood decay?
Jigsaw Cities examines these issues using Birmingham, Britain's second largest city, as a model of pioneering urban order and as a victim of brutal Modernist planning.
Through a close look at major British cities, using Birmingham as a case study, the book explores:
the origins of Britain's acute urban decline and sprawling exodus;
the reasons why "one size doesn't fit all" in cities of the future;
the potential for smart growth, mixed communities and sustainable cities.
Based on live examples and hands-on experience, this extremely accessible book offers a unique 'insider' perspective on policy making and practical impacts. It will attract policymakers in cities and government as well as students, regeneration bodies, community organisations and environmental specialists.
Anne Power is Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science; Sustainable Development Commissioner responsible for regeneration and sustainable communities; member of the Government's Urban Task Force; author of books on cities, communities and marginal housing areas in the UK and abroad.
John Houghton was head of the Communities Division at the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit; a visiting research associate at CASE; and currently a Harkness scholar at the University of Minnesota. John Houghton worked as Anne Power's assistant during 2002-03 while Anne was Chair of the Independent Commission on the Future of Housing in Birmingham.
This report was commissioned to help the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government "stand back and ask what role social housing can play in 21st Century housing policy". Its aim is to provide the background and analytical framework against which the implications of different answers to such a fundamental question can be debated both inside and outside government. Amongst other issues the report covers key questions raised by the terms of reference, in particular:
What can social housing do in helping create genuinely mixed communities?
Can the way we run it encourage social mobility and opportunities, including in the labour market, for people to get on in their lives?
Can social housing and other support be more responsive to changing needs and enable greater geographical mobility?
The report looks at the possible trade-offs between these and other objectives - but also, more encouragingly, at the ways in which achieving some of them may reinforce each other. The report assesses different objectives and implications for the direction of travel on reform, rather than making detailed policy recommendations. As will become evident from the evidence presented here and the conclusions which they lead to, there are important issues, affecting a crucial part of the lives of nearly four million households in England and the use of assets worth more than £400 billion, that require urgent debate. Specific policy responses would require careful design and consultation. This report is designed to contribute to the beginning of such a process, rather than be the conclusion of it.
The full report (CASEreport 34) and a summary are available to download free from the website:
Ann Owens is a PhD student in the Social Policy & Sociology Program at Harvard University. She is visiting LSE as part of the Inequality Program, funded by the National Science Foundation. Ann's research interests focus on how inequality affects educational outcomes, how working parents manage family responsibilities, and how social policy can address each of these issues. While at CASE, Ann is working on her masters' thesis, which examines how neighborhood and school contexts affect adolescents' educational aspirations, expectations, and likelihood to graduate from high school using a (US) national longitudinal data set. She is also developing a related qualitative neighborhoods project to be undertaken in Boston schools this fall. She is visiting until 10 July 2007.
Twenty-five years on twenty estates: Turning the Tide?
The Policy Press has just published a new report in association with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation; 'Twenty-five years on twenty estates', by Rebecca Tunstall and Alice Coulter.
The report covers developments in 20 less popular and more problematic English council estates, based on four waves of research since 1980. It presents unique evidence of the impact of 25 years of social change and policy from Thatcher to Blair, a period in which the number of British council homes has halved, and social inequality and the standard of public services have become key political issues.
Professors Nicholas Barr, Economics Department, and John Hills, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, have contributed articles to the latest issue of the Oxford Review of Economic Policy .
Professor Barr has written an overview of the issues, then jointly contributed an article, with Peter Diamond, on the economics of pensions. Professor Hills, a member of the Pensions Commission chaired by Lord Turner, writes on 'A New Pension Settlement for the Twenty-First Century? The UK Pensions Commission's Analysis and Proposals'. This issue was edited by Christopher Allsop and Nicholas Barr.
The education and employment of disabled young people
by Tania Burchardt
Improving educational attainment and raising employment rates among disadvantaged groups are key targets for the current government. This report shows that for one important group - disabled young people - these goals are far from being achieved. The report highlights the need for a new direction in careers advice and welfare to work programmes for disabled young people.
Improving educational attainment and raising employment rates among disadvantaged groups are key targets for the current government. This report shows that for one important group - disabled young people - these goals are far from being achieved.
The report analyses nationally representative data to show that:
parental background is more important than disability status in shaping young people's aspirations;
despite high aspirations, educational and occupational outcomes are significantly worse for disabled young people;
the gap between disabled and non-disabled young people's experiences widens as they get older.
The report argues that while mainstream and comprehensive education may have succeeded in raising aspirations for disabled young people, this has not been translated into real opportunities in early adult life. It also highlights the need for a new direction in careers advice and welfare to work programmes.
Frustrated ambition: The education and employment of disabled young people is essential reading for academics, policymakers and practitioners with an interest in the role aspirations play in education and employment.
Tania Burchardt is a senior research fellow at the ESRC Research Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, at the London School of Economics.
A more equal society?
New Labour, poverty, inequality and exclusion
edited by John Hills and Kitty Stewart
New Labour has taken poverty and social exclusion very seriously and made genuine progress in reducing disadvantage, especially among families with children. But an independent, in-depth assessment of the Government's record on social exclusion since it came to power warns that although the tide has turned in key areas, Britain remains a very unequal society. The new study, by a team of members and associates of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics, was launched at a seminar at 11 Downing Street. Its detailed review of policy areas includes education, employment, health and neighbourhood renewal, as well as economic disadvantage. It draws on more than 500 separate sources from evaluations of policy initiatives, government reports and statistics, and academic studies.
A More Equal Society? observes that in 1997, when New Labour was first elected, poverty and inequality had reached levels unprecedented in post-war history. The Government's commitment to tackling social exclusion has been in contrast to its predecessors and includes high-profile targets for cutting child poverty and ensuring ‘over 10 to 20 years' that no one will be seriously disadvantaged by the place where they live. Where Government has concentrated its efforts, the study suggests there is now clear evidence of progress. Child poverty has been reduced by its tax and benefit reforms. New analysis of spending patterns also shows that low-income families with children, who have benefited most from the reforms, have increased spending on goods for children, such as clothing, footwear, games and toys, as well as on food (but not alcohol and tobacco). But the study argues that there are gaps in the Government's strategy in other areas. For instance, the latest available figures show that poverty among working-age adults without children has reached record levels. While some vulnerable groups have been the target of special initiatives, others have not. And in the case of asylum seekers, government policies have actively increased social exclusion, especially in relation to employment, income and housing.
Prof John Hills , Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion and co-editor of the study, said: “There are substantial differences between the policies pursued in the years since 1997 and those followed previously. In some of the most important areas, the tide has turned and policy has contributed to turning that tide. This is no mean achievement. However, it does not follow that policy has already succeeded, or that Britain has yet become a more equal society. In virtually all of the areas discussed there is still a very long way to go to reach an unambiguous picture of success. Sustained and imaginative effort will be needed to make further progress and to reach groups not touched by policy so far.”
The study, published by The Policy Press, and its contributing research were supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council. A summary of findings is available from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Also published, to celebrate the Joseph Rowntree Foundation centenary, is One Hundred Years of Poverty and Policy, which can be purchased or downloaded from the JRF website.
Further details and order information is available from the Policy Press.