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ACRE 2018

10th Annual Conference for Research in Education

Social Justice in Troubling Times: What does it mean and what’s to be done?

Critical issues in socially just research and practice

Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University

Thursday 27th September 2018

This conference has been organised with the support of BERA, the BERA Social Justice SIG, CARN, and Educational Action Research Journal, who will publish a Special Issue following the conference.  Click here to access the journal.

UPDATED PROGRAMME (version 5, 27th July) 

Programme (vn 4) now available (via eshare).

Book of abstracts now available (hard copies will be available for attendees on the day).

Keynote Speakers:

Tina Cook

Tina Cook is a Professorial Fellow at Liverpool Hope University. At the core of her work is a focus in on inclusive practice in research and professional practice. Using qualitative research, particularly collaborative/participatory action research, she seeks ways of facilitating the inclusion, as research partners, of those who might generally be excluded from research that concerns their own lives. Her methodological approach centres on ways of fore-fronting voices of those directly involved in a situation as a means of improving the quality of their lives. She has published on both methodological issues in relation to the quality of participatory research approaches and issues related to research in practice. She is an Executive Committee Member of the International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research, the lead for the UK Participatory Research Network and an Editor of the International Journal of Educational Action Research. Her own research focus is with people who find themselves marginalised, particularly people with learning disability, people with cognitive impairment, and their family members.

Partnerships as mechanisms for disruption: putting relationships to work.  In this Keynote Provocation, she asks “Can we build an approach to partnership working that facilitates, through the centrality of a relational approach, diversity and dynamic challenge, as means to disrupt rhetoric and common consensus: can we find and establish new ways of seeing and acting for social justice?”

Tina’s session will provide prompts for group discussions.

Professor Liz Atkins Professor Liz Atkins

Liz Atkins is Professor of Vocational Education and Social Justice at the University of Derby. She has an international profile within the PCET sector in the context of both practice and research. Her doctoral research, published as Invisible Students, Impossible Dreams (2009) is considered ground-breaking in drawing attention to the issues around the education of young people with complex needs on low-level vocational programmes. This work, in common with all her teaching and research, is informed by a strong commitment to social justice.  She is currently working on a project evaluating the impact of a more socially just curriculum for young people on level 1 programmes at Guernsey College, and her new book, Research Methods for Social Justice and Equity, co-authored with Dr Vicky Duckworth, will be published later this year.

Reclaiming Social Justice For Education: walking the walk and talking the talk. This presentation draws on the forthcoming book Research Methods for Social Justice and Equity(Atkins and Duckworth, 2018) to explore what social justice means as a theoretical underpinning to research in education, and ways in which this may be enacted.

At the end of the conference, we will also have a formal Book Launch for Research Methods for Social Justice and Equity (Atkins and Duckworth, 2018), published by Bloomsbury.

This year’s conference aims to:

  • Explore socially just approaches to research and practice related to the education of children, young people and adults
  • Highlight the power of socially just research in Troubling Times, probing what it means and what can be done
  • Showcase the strengths of socially just research in challenging inequality in learners lives in and out of the classroom

Abstract proposals of up to 500 words should be made online by 2nd July 2018  ACRE 2018 Paper Submission

Conference Registration

Registration has now closed. Please contact [email protected] to be added to the waiting list for the event.


We live in a world of increasing complexity, in which in/equalities have become increasingly evident, for example between and within local communities at a micro level and the global north and south from a macro perspective. Living in ‘liquid’ and uncertain times (Bauman, 2007), in which the impact of the 2008 banking crash still resonates internationally (Dorling, 2015), we see political upheavals, and their consequences for people and the communities we serve and beyond (I4P, 2018).

In the United Kingdom, the gap between the richest and poorest has grown to its widest for several generations (Dorling, 2015). Indeed, cuts to welfare, wages, and public services under austerity programmes, have affected populations nationally and internationally in terms of widening inequalities, both in and beyond education.  These have been given greater imperative in the UK following the Grenfell fire which drew into sharp focus the ways in which less affluent working communities, as well as those characterized as marginalised, and can be denied access to safe, decent housing and led to wider debates about differentiated access to health, welfare and education (e.g. Hanley, 2017; OxfamBlogs, 2017; Duckworth and Smith, 2018; 19).

We are a pivotal point where research for social justice requires more than rhetoric – it demands us to direct our focus, energy and resources to generating genuine and sustained social and educational change. For many of us, it is simply too easy to ignore the plight of children, young people, and adults in our communities who have differentiated, ‘divided and divisive’ access to education. Indeed, the very structures of academia may be incongruent with social justice approaches, preferring instead research that generates income but without an authentic, socially just reach which address the complex social and political issues associated with educational in/equalities (Atkins and Duckworth 2018). However, it is vital to find critical spaces in which we can challenge the status quo, and connect with communities, practitioners, researchers and policy makers.

Educational researchers are uniquely positioned to unite global research communities through research and address some of the most important issues in the 21st Century.  This critical conference seeks to explore and address the multiple consequences of inequality in the lives of learners, and how they impact on different groups of people and communities.

The conference will provide a platform for exploring ways to move towards more equitable and socially just models of education and educational research. To do this it will explore the intersections of inequality and probe models of social justice that have a capacity to lead to a more socially just society based on humanity, care and equity.

Thus, papers are invited on research that explores, and has generated debate linked to socially just research and practice related to education and leaners communities.

This is the tenth ACRE event to be held at Edge Hill University, bringing together researchers and educational professionals to debate educational research and its impact. The conference is designed to attract a wide variety of papers and perspectives on interdisciplinary research and practice related to education and care.

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