Current Activities and Initiatives

8. Influencing the research agendas

Futures And Education Research - A project involving the National Education Research Forum (NERF) and - the Tomorrow Project (TTP)

Personalised Education Now had some input early on in the life of the Tomorrow Project and has been invited back again to join the debate regarding educational futures and educational research. Peter Humphreys has been representing Personalised Education Now in these consultations and using the opportunity to network and get further exposure for PEN ideas and materials.

The remit of NERF, which was established in 1998 by the then Secretary of State for Education and Skills, is to provide strategic direction for educational research nationally and to raise the quality, profile and impact of educational research. Its key objective is to oversee the development of a coherent strategy for education research. (See

TTP is a registered charity, whose role is to support organisations and individuals in thinking about the long-term future of people’s lives. (See

Following NERF’s decision to take part in the TTP programme of work, the two organisations are undertaking a project using futures methods to help ensure the best possible match between the needs for and delivery of education research – so fulfilling NERF’s declared intention of including a futures element in its work in support of those relating to funding, capacity and research priorities.

The project aims to help ensure that match by identifying the main, long-term pressures on the education system that require better knowledge and understanding through research. Its method is to use a set of societal trends as a framework within which to ask questions about those pressures, using TTP’s established consultative approach.

In the course of its work across a broad range of topics and organisations, TTP has evolved material on the main trends and drivers of change affecting the future of people’s lives. This material has been expressed by TTP in the form of an acronym, GLIMPSES, which is used in its work as a means of presenting and using these drivers as an integrated set:

Life course
Individuals and identity
Politics and government
Social exclusion

The eight headings in this set are being used as the basis of a series of consultations involving key players in education and research, with the aim of promoting questions and discussion.

The Generations Divide - The AGE Programme - Agenda on Generation Equity

Once again Personalised Education Now expertise has been invited into a new project. Peter Humphreys is involved in developing our ideas through in this emerging project.

Age concerns… sexism, racism and – childism?

We can see the damage and loss to the whole of society of sexual or racial prejudice. Yet children and young people are often vilified in the mass media, excluded and discriminated against. This seems to be so taken-for-granted that we do not even have a name, such as childism, for this stereotyping and discrimination against young people, simply because of their age. Without a word for it, it is harder to see how this prejudice harms all generations now and in the future.

Inequalities between adults and children are not simply to do with slow biological development. They need to be explained critically through Generation Studies. Children are as much affected as adults by most public policies and yet their views are seldom heard. Yet there is growing research evidence that children can be informed, reliable, competent and rational. In these ways, there is no clear difference between children, young people and adults. Babies are expert learners. Young children are deeply concerned with being fair and kind. Children cope bravely and sensibly with long-term illness or disability. They have clever ideas about how to prevent and solve problems in their lives, and how to improve their schools and communities.

AGE aims:

  • To report research about children’s and young people’s competencies and social contributions and ways to promote these;
  • To report research about the impact of structures and attitudes, policies and practices that discriminate against children, young people and future generations;
  • To produce regular research briefings to inform mass media and public debates, policy making and practice about the politics of childhood, youth and adulthood;
  • To move beyond concern with children’s needs, welfare and interests as defined by adults, to include children’s and young people’s own views, and beyond protecting and providing for them towards also promoting their participation;
  • To liaise with many concerned individuals and agencies, and with adult and young advisers.


Priscilla Alderson PhD FRSA, Professor of Childhood Studies
Childhood Research and Policy Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, 18 Woburn Square, London WC1H ONR, fax 020 7612 6400,
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