The Network 23 attracted a good number of contributions for ECER 2015, with 100 papers and 9 symposia, of which two were double. In the reviewing process 12 submissions were redirected and 15 were rejected. A number of them were withdrawn. The contributions were organised in 32 paper sessions and 12 symposium sessions. A special feature of the conference this year was the joint symposia and paper sessions the Network held with other Networks. These were submitted to our Network with the proposal to be presented jointly with another Network or they were agreed afterwards between Link-convenors of other Networks. More specifically, in the conference programme there were included, as joint events, two symposia held jointly with Network 28, one with NW22, one with Network 26, one with Networks 3 & 7 and one paper session with Network 13.
The paper sessions were organised around themes such as:
- Assessment, standardisation and social justice
- Media and education policy making
- Democracy and education in performative regimes
- Policies and practices of parental school choice
- Policy borrowing and policy learning in education
- Inclusive policies in different education contexts
- Policies on early school leaving and participation in education
- Adult education policies and practices
- Policies & politics of exclusion and inclusion
- Accountability, (in)equality and social justice
- Research Policies and the politics of research
- Networks, privatisations and governance
- Globalisation, Europeanisation and education reforms
- Policy making and issues of school autonomy and control
- New forms of governance in school education
- Early Childhood Education and Care in the international context
- Policy reforms and the regulation of teachers’ work
- Curriculum reforms and teacher agency
- Policy reforms and teacher professionalism
The symposia covered the following themes:
- Community Education and the Politics of Resilience
- Societal Sustainability: The Contribution of Adult Education to Sustainable Societies
- From Welfarism to Neo-Liberalism. Conceptualising The Diversity of Leadership Models in Europe
- Tackling Early School Leaving in Europe
- Between Governance, Experience and Active Construction of ‘Europe’ as Educational Space: Building Critical Knowledge About Europeanisation.
- International Policies - Local Affects: Regenerating the Sociology of Basil Bernstein
- Nordic Educational Programmes To Assure Transition And Prevent Dropout
- Diversity as a System of Exclusion: Historical Notes on Contemporary Thought
- Curriculum Spaces and Strategies for Social Change Through Education
Sessions were well attended, with most sessions attracting 20-25 participants while a couple of sessions attracted over 100 delegates. The venue was excellent, with very good buildings and session rooms and facilities. There was plenty of space for the sessions, and very good spaces for people to meet afterwards. Participants reported that the quality of the sessions was very high and that the Keynotes and Plenary Sessions of the EERA conference as a whole were well attended and very satisfactory, enriching the experience of participating in ECER2015, Budapest for everyone.
Convenors and participants in the Network Meeting in Porto (ECER2014) had specified three main objectives concerning ECER2015 and subsequent conferences:
(a) Improve the quality of the reviewing process and the quality of presentations;
(b) fasten ties with other EERA Networks that have similar research interests or address similar topics but from different perspectives; and
(c) work on the idea and explore possible meanings that can be attached to “European Education Research”, which is what is special about the ECER conferences. We believe that the Network has improved and advanced on all three objectives.
Participants and Chairpersons reported that both attendance and quality of discussion and debate were better than other years. It is worth mentioning that besides the efforts of presenters themselves, the quality of the experience was partly due to the excellent work done by the reviewers of the Network whose names appear on the EERA Network’s website, as well as by the Chairing persons (mobilised mostly from the reviewers’ list).
The good quality of the whole process has been well summed up by a participant who wrote (personal communication): “For the record, I received very thoughtful, constructive and helpful refereeing, and the paper was programmed with two others that touched on similar issues through different theoretical lenses, so the session built a rich discussion across the papers, for which I am very grateful”.
Concerning the second objective, as mentioned in the previous section, there was improvement, at least in terms of the extent to which the Network looked outwards, towards other relevant EERA Research Networks. So in preparation for ECER 2015 and during the conference we strengthened our links with researchers working on common topics from similar or different perspectives, creating conditions for lively discussions and debates. Still it is a matter of monitoring this process so as to both sustain it in the future and make it more productive in the interest of the wider field of education research.
ECER 2015 gave also an excellent opportunity to think about the third objective, namely, the European dimension of education research. Related to the EERJ Moot refugees initiative: “We need to talk about Europe! Amplifying the voices of refugees”, a task was formed, forcefully and urgently, for the Network asking us to engage in deeper reflections about the multiple contexts (local, European and global) in which we frame problems and define situations. As stressed by the organisers of the initiative: “The main objective is not only to reflect upon what happens today, but to put what we are as (European) educational researchers to the test of what is happening today”. We surely have to respond to this challenge at the ECER2016 Dublin conference and beyond it.