The policy studies and politics of education network met for the sixth time in Ghent at the ECER 2007 conference. The wide interest in the network was evident from the good number of proposal submissions as well as from the number of participants attending our sessions. This year we had 44 proposals for papers and 5 for symposia (three of them for double sessions). Of these, all symposia and 31 paper proposals were accepted. Later we agreed upon cosponsoring one symposium (double) and one roundtable, so our program consisted of 20 sessions, including the cosponsored sessions.
The symposia were on the following topics:
- Reflections about gender in the PISA study
- Professional work and life under restructuring: comparative studies of teachers and nurses
- Fabricating quality in European education
- Rethinking politics in adult education work
- Accountability in education: lessons to be learned
- How confidently should educational research guide educational policy? (cosponsored with Network 13)
Individual papers that were accepted, 31 altogether, were grouped into nine thematic sessions with three or four papers each.
The themes were:
- Research politics
- Market ideas and practices
- Identity, politics, education
- Local governance: policy and practice
- Politics of life-long learning
- Management and coordination: national and supernational issues
- Competitiveness and education
- Professionalism and teacher education
- Changes in school-based management and parent influence
As usual it is difficult to group papers together in that way. However, we believe it is much worthwhile to create such sessions because most of them have more consistency than if we would randomly assign the papers together into sessions.
- Language and the curriculum: Derrida, deconstruction and secondary school policy.
The quality of both presentations and discussion was generally considered to be good. Both symposia and paper sessions were very well attended and included audiences of about 50 people, although 20-40 was by far the most common attendance of any session. It was generally felt that the organisation of papers into themes had helped to foster coherence and lively discussion. Some paper givers failed to turn up without previous notification, but a few had cancelled on short notice for various unforeseeable reasons. In some of the no-show cases there were some unpreventable causes.
At the conference in Ghent, there was a network business meeting attended by a good group of convenors and other devoted participants that discussed ways of developing the activities of the network and put forward future plans. We discussed various ways to expand the activities of the network, both professionally as well as socially. We discussed the possibilities of a research or discussion workshop, as well as preconference help.
Nothing was decided on these matters, but there was strong support for an official informal invitation to a restaurant on behalf of the network.
At the business meeting we also agreed to list our expectations of convenors and put them on the website (as has been done). These are: to review proposals, to chair sessions, to create and coordinate symposia, to encourage colleagues to submit proposals and to be available to act as program chairs or assistant program chairs when needed.
Program chair for 2007 was Ingólfur Ásgeir Jóhannesson, University of Akureyri, who organised the programme with the assistance of Allyson Macdonald of the Iceland University of Education. There were nine reviewers. At the meeting, Ingólfur was reelected as a coordinating or link convenor and program chair for 2008, and he was asked to find one or two assistant program chairs if needed. It was also agreed upon that the 2008 business meeting would elect one to three individuals to act as program chairs for the next two or more years thereafter.
Immediately after the meeting, the convenors also decided to invite five individuals who all played a role in the 2007 program and its creation to become co-convenors. They all agreed so there is now a solid group of 16 convenors for Network 23.
Ingólfur Ásgeir Jóhannesson