Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

Identity – and intersectionality !

I went last night to an event on ethnicity and identity, part of the British Library's excellent series on Myths and Realities.   It was a pleasure to see a panel consisting of three women, from  Black Britain, US Asian and Lebanese backgrounds, and to listen to them talking about the complexities of understanding identity in the varied contexts of diverse cultures.  Much food for thought, especially on the shifting categories we use to classify people from different ethnic groups - and indeed how we identify ourselves.  (As the child of two migrants, one  from Scotland and one from Austria with a Jewish background, but with an entirely English upbringing, I…
Read More

Geoge Entwistle and the Peter Principle

I've liked what I've seen of  the ex-DG of the BBC.  He seemed to me not only intelligent and reflective  but straightforward and unpretentious, and although this wasn't exactly given much of a chance to show itself there was a good sense of humour lurking behind there.  I didn't think he should resign, although it's beyond me why having done one honourable thing he should then accept double the pay-off he was entitled to. Is Entwistle an unusually prominent example of the Peter Principle?   Did he rise to his level of incompetence?  We'll never know for sure, since he was hardly given time to demonstrate whether or not he really had what…
Read More

Going for it: the psychology of job application

I took part yesterday in a good event organised jointly by the Chartered Management Institute and Women in Management, under the joint leadership of Ann Francke and Sandra Pollock.   Ann interviewed Cherie Blair.  Cherie referred to studies which show that if a woman thinks she can do only 90% of a job she tends not to go for it, whereas a man who thinks he can do 60% will not hesitate.  I don't know of any research on this, but  from anecdotal conversations (for instance with recruitment agencies) had formulated something very similar, as part of the third PP factor: psychology/self-confidence.  My rule-of-thumb is that if men think they can do 70% of…
Read More

Postgraduates, pipelines and scissors

I've just read an excellent report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission.   It makes urgent points about the need  to integrate postgraduate education into our overall HE system, and not treat it as a discrete part, for instance on funding. Postgraduate  numbers are now roughly the same as undergraduate numbers 30 years ago. In terms of  social class the profile of today's  postgraduates strongly resembles the profile of undergraduates then - ie strongly favouring those from  better off backgrounds.    This is why the HEC report calls it 'the next frontier for widening participation' - ie the challenge is to broaden the social intake at this level (not that the challenge of broadening the social…
Read More