Howard provided an update of the project to date – some headlines:
- The group has 27 members
- Research is being conducted in 15 countries (including several that are under-represented in social research terms)
- Over 40 case interviews have been undertaken with school principals
- Research is being presented at BELMAS, ECER and UCEA conferences BELMAS and ECER confirmed, UCEA still tbc).
The group gave consideration to our next steps – summarised as follows:
Phase 2 research – the Contextual Framework. It was agreed this was a good starter – and that we would seek to develop it within the project, but for now it will suffice (two suggestions – change ‘the school’ in the centre of the framework to ‘school leader’ – think about how a ‘middle tier’ (District) might be reflected – can the current Framework deal with it?). The Framework will be ‘presented’ at UCEA – but it was agreed that we should see between now and UCEA as a period of on-going discussion about the Framework [we will look at an online way of facilitating this debate].
The view was expressed, and generally agreed, that we should focus our efforts on strengthening the Framework – from which the next stage of the research (Phase 3) will hopefully become clearer.
There was some discussion of the purpose of the project, and how it relates to school principals (and how they might be involved, for example). There was agreement that this was a good thing in principle, but that we needed more substantial findings before we drew others into the project – this to be something considered in the future therefore.
Theoretical analysis/literature review – this has not yet been undertaken, but rather we have focused on data collection, starting from a very ‘open’ position (how do principals make sense of social justice?). How do we engage with the literature? What literature (policy literature, theoretical literature)? Who decides? There was a recognition that these were difficult questions to address. It was proposed, and agreed, that the best way to proceed is for each group member to produce a ‘personal position statement’. This is to be short (2-3 pages) and to be a personal statement based on ‘What social justice means to me . . . ‘. The form of this can be quite personal – but might include a statement of what each of us takes social justice to mean to us as individuals, any relevant information about what has informed that view and references to any literature (research-based or otherwise) that underpins that perspective. Statements are to be produced by July (before BELMAS) and will be stored centrally (Dropbox?) so that we can each read each other’s statements. The aim is to generate a dialogue about our own assumptions and views about social justice. The project has always avoided a simple approach to defining social justice, and no ‘one size fits all’ approach is implied by this activity – rather we recognise that we will proceed best when we understand each other better as researchers. This is a potentially fascinating element of this project (maybe this is Phase 3?) and it is to be hoped we will all make a particular effort to participate and engage. Howard to draft some guidelines for participation – and post on the blog – details to follow [watch this space].
It was also agreed that when symposia are presented in future, this should require the presentation of written papers – as it is through writing together that we will collaborate more effectively.
Group participation – this was judged to be working well. Rather than contrive meetings it was agreed that we should identify opportunities for collaboration (joint writing etc), from which increased communication would follow.