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Education

Our research seeks out an objective view of standards of education in Britain. By doing so, we aim to offer an improved perspective on how best to deliver equitable and high standards of education for all.

We aim in particular to generate evidence-based policy, with realisable strategies for implementation. This includes a commitment to giving parents greater control over how government invests in their child’s education, as well as supporting independent teaching combined with a flexible curriculum.

This complements the practical education projects we run: Civitas Schools, for children who want out-of-hours support but do not have access to expensive private tuition, and Core Knowledge UK, our curriculum project which is being developed in partnership with a number of English primary schools.

 

Universal childcare

Universal childcare: Is it good for children?

Maria Lyons, February 2024

All of the UK’s major political parties have recently declared their intentions to significantly expand state subsidies for childcare outside the home, including for babies from the age of nine months. It’s frequently said that universal “early childhood education” is a way to “give every child the best start in life”. It’s believed this will improve children’s educational outcomes, reducing social… [Full Details]

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Civitas launches new Commission on the Future for Independent Schools

Civitas launches new Commission on the Future for Independent Schools

Civitas, January 2024

Civitas has begun work on a major commission on the future for independent schools in England. Independent schools are a significant piece of our national educational infrastructure, teaching 6.5% of school pupils in England; and one whose role has changed significantly over the centuries during which they have existed. Because of this, we want to take an in-depth look at what the future… [Full Details]


The Strategic Dependence of UK Universities on China - and where should they turn next?

The Strategic Dependence of UK Universities on China - and where should they turn next?

Robert Clark, November 2023

This study by Robert Clark investigates two overarching aspects of the dependence of UK universities on China. The first is the ability for UK higher education institutions, universities and academics, to financially de-risk from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in order to end the reliance on Chinese funding (in terms of international student fees, research grants and donations) made from Chinese entities… [Full Details]

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Breaking the Care Ceiling

Breaking the Care Ceiling: How many care leavers go to university?

Frank Young and Daniel Lilley, September 2023

This Civitas report provides new evidence on the number of care leavers who go to university in the UK alongside the first-ever league table of care leavers at UK universities. In 2022 the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care estimated the lifetime cost of poor outcomes for children with experience of our care system was over £1 million per child. This report by… [Full Details]

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BBC impartiality and the problem of bias

BBC impartiality and the problem of bias

Dr. Richard Norrie, August 2023

Dr. Richard Norrie (former director of the statistics and policy research programme at Civitas) examines bias and impartiality within BBC Bitesize and BBC Teach, the organisation’s educational output aimed at younger audiences. In this Civitas publication, Dr. Norrie uncovers examples of articles on the BBC’s educational websites that have potentially breached the corporation’s own Editorial Guidelines. According to Dr. Norrie, this content… [Full Details]

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Show, tell and leave nothing to the imagination

Show, tell and leave nothing to the imagination: How critical social justice is undermining British schooling

Jo-Anne Nadler, May 2023

Writer and broadcaster Jo-Anne Nadler provides a thought-provoking analysis of trends in UK schooling which she describes as a ‘Social Justice Educational Complex’ that threatens core values of impartiality and universality in our schools. Nadler argues that a ‘revolution’ delivered ‘largely by stealth’ is supported by a burgeoning industry of external providers and often self-declared ‘expert’ consultants on issues such as race… [Full Details]

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The Radical Progressive University Guide

The Radical Progressive University Guide

Dr Richard Norrie, January 2023

The Radical Progressive University Guide sets out to quantify the extent of ‘radical progressive’ policies at British Universities, including their curbs on free speech. Dr Richard Norrie (director of the statistics and policy research programme) uses evidence from media reports and university websites to compile a new ‘radical progressive’ league table of Britain’s 140 universities based on a series of measures such as declared… [Full Details]

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Family and state in education

Family and state in education: What role for parent's rights?

Professor Anthony O'Hear OBE, November 2022

This essay from Anthony O’Hear (professor of philosophy at the University of Buckingham) explores the issue of parental rights in education from a philosophical perspective, starting with the work of Plato and Aristotle before looking at more contemporary challenges. The 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states in unequivocal terms that ‘parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that… [Full Details]

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Inadvertently Arming China? One Year On

Inadvertently Arming China? One Year On: The Chinese military complex and its exploitation of scientific research at UK universities

Robert Clark, October 2022

Military expert, Robert Clark picks up one year on from ‘Inadvertently Arming China: The Chinese military complex and its potential exploitation of scientific research’ published in 2021. Inadvertently Arming China (2021) documented and analysed the extent to which some of the UK’s leading universities, research institutions, academics, scientists and researchers, collaborated with Peoples Republic of China (PRC) entities directly linked to either the Chinese… [Full Details]

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Free speech and decolonisation in British universities

Free speech and decolonisation in British universities

Dr Richard Norrie, October 2022

Attacks on free speech seem to be worsening, with recent examples including the attempted assassination of Sir Salman Rushdie and the Batley teacher forced into hiding by Islamist extremists. In our universities that are supposed to be bastions of free inquiry, we are seeing staff under pressure to conform to transgender ideology and in some cases, driven out of their jobs for expressing their scepticism… [Full Details]

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Discussion paper: China’s military education and Commonwealth countries

Discussion paper: China’s military education and Commonwealth countries

Radomir Tylecote and Henri Rossano, November 2021

With Barbados to become a republic and remove the Queen as head of state – a decision which, according to some sources, appears to have been influenced by China – interest in the extent and impacts of China’s diplomatic reach in Commonwealth countries is growing. This discussion paper by Dr Radomir Tylecote and Henri Rossano describes China’s expanding military training programmes for developing Commonwealth countries… [Full Details]

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Towards Strategic Coherence

Towards Strategic Coherence: A discussion of reform proposals following ‘Inadvertently Arming China?’

Radomir Tylecote and Roberto White, July 2021

A Civitas report, Inadvertently Arming China? in February this year revealed the widespread sponsorship of scientific research centres in UK universities by Chinese military-linked conglomerates and universities. It found research at some of these centres is being sponsored by the British taxpayer. Notably, some of these conglomerates produce Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear warheads. Others manufacture strike… [Full Details]

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Is the curbing of free speech in universities most prevalent in those with inflated diversity grievance bureaucracies?

Is the curbing of free speech in universities most prevalent in those with inflated diversity grievance bureaucracies?

Jim McConalogue, Jack Harris and Rachel Neal, July 2021

There is a strong connection between universities with inflated diversity bureaucracies and those that limit speech more generally on campus, researchers at Civitas find in a survey of academic freedom at universities. The Higher Education (Free Speech) Bill, introduced by the government earlier this year, is evidence of its steadfast commitment to upholding freedom of speech on university campuses in response to concerning developments in… [Full Details]

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Rethinking Race

Rethinking Race: A critique of contemporary anti-racism programmes

Joanna Williams, April 2021

By almost all statistical measures, Joanna Williams argues, society is less racist today than at any other point in the past century – a point which is rarely celebrated. Still less is this considered a reason to leave people to negotiate inter-cultural and inter-racial relationships for themselves. Despite there being less racism today, the message from the media, best-selling books, diversity workshops held… [Full Details]

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Inadvertently Arming China?

Inadvertently Arming China?: The Chinese military complex and its potential exploitation of scientific research at UK universities

Radomir Tylecote and Robert Clark, February 2021

Revised Edition; Updated 24.02.2021   There is a ‘pervasive presence of Chinese military-linked conglomerates and universities in the sponsorship of high-technology research centres in many leading UK universities and in their research relationships’, a think-tank report has found. In many cases, these UK universities are unintentionally generating research that is sponsored by and may be of use to China’s… [Full Details]

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Academic Freedom in Our Universities

Academic Freedom in Our Universities: the Best and the Worst

Civitas research team, December 2020

This report analyses over three years of campus censorship (January 2017–August 2020), examining the multiple policies and actions of all the 137 registered UK universities – including their students’ unions – to provide a detailed understanding of the state of free speech across UK academia. This study employs a unique approach, methodology and data to measure restrictions on free speech. We would like to acknowledge previous… [Full Details]

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How we think about disparity

How we think about disparity: and what we get wrong

Richard Norrie, December 2020

A government-appointed Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has been set up to address disparity between ethnic or racial groups in outcomes relating to health, education, employment and other areas. This follows numerous reviews conducted by various governments since 2010. Drawing on the full array of existing reviews, this report by the Director of the Statistics and Policy Research Programme at Civitas, Richard Norrie… [Full Details]

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What price lockdown?

What price lockdown?

Tim Knox and Jim McConalogue, December 2020

As the UK government publishes its cost-benefit analysis of lockdown, Tim Knox and Jim McConalogue attempt to quantify the estimated costs that have been incurred in a new Working Paper, The cost of the cure. Their estimates can be used as a benchmark against which the government analysis can be measured. They find that the cost per year of life saved (QALY) ranges from… [Full Details]

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The Racialisation of Campus Relations

The Racialisation of Campus Relations

Ruth Mieschbuehler, November 2020

The author of this report, Ruth Mieschbuehler, argues that there is a real danger that campus relations at universities will become racialised. The term ‘racialisation’ – referring to the process of emphasising racial and ethnic grouping – is discussed to show how higher education policies and practices implemented to address the ‘ethnic’ attainment gap are driving this trend. The result of these interventions is that students are… [Full Details]

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Covid Kids

Covid Kids: The response of schools to coronavirus

Joanna Williams, July 2020

In response to coronavirus, schools closed to all but the children of key workers on 20 March 2020. The majority of children did not return before the end of the academic year, meaning they will have spent over five months out of the classroom. Schools remained closed to most pupils for such a long time because of government social distancing requirements and the teaching unions… [Full Details]

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The Corrosive Impact of Transgender Ideology

The Corrosive Impact of Transgender Ideology

Joanna Williams, June 2020

In less than two decades ‘transgender’ has gone from a term representing individuals and little used outside of specialist communities, to signifying a powerful political ideology driving significant social change. At the level of the individual, this shift has occurred through the separation of gender from sex, before reclaiming biology through an innate sense of ‘gender-identity’. In this report, Joanna Williams argues that this… [Full Details]

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Social Mobility Truths

Social Mobility Truths

Peter Saunders, November 2019

Politicians of all parties repeatedly tell us that Britain’s social mobility rate is very low, much worse than in other advanced western countries, and that very few children from working class backgrounds succeed in landing good jobs.  They claim the professions and our top universities are largely closed to people from humble origins, that opportunities for bright working class children are even worse today… [Full Details]

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Why Academic Freedom Matters

Why Academic Freedom Matters: A response to current challenges

Cheryl Hudson and Joanna Williams (Eds.), September 2016

The issues of freedom of speech on campuses and academic freedom have become major talking points. Student politics, once something people left behind upon graduation, is now the daily fare of national, and even international, news coverage. Terms like ‘microaggression’, ‘trigger warning’, and ‘safe space’, virtually unheard of a decade ago, have entered mainstream vocabulary. Campus bans on everything from tabloid newspapers and fancy dress… [Full Details]

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The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools

The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools: A Debate

Anastasia de Waal (ed.), March 2015

Should secondary schools be allowed to select, and if so, on what basis? These questions have long been a battleground of the English education system and have too often yielded answers that reduce the issue to oversimplified dichotomies. The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools: A Debate gathers a diverse range of key thinkers to evaluate the modern scope of secondary school selection in… [Full Details]

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Progressively Worse

Progressively Worse: The burden of bad ideas in British schools

Robert Peal, April 2014

Since 1953, education spending in Britain has increased by nine times in real terms but levels of numeracy and literacy among school leavers have hardly changed. Today, Britain is the only country in the developed world where literacy and numeracy levels amongst 16 to 24-year-olds are no higher than amongst 55 to 65-year-olds. In this historical analysis, Robert Peal argues that… [Full Details]

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Prisoners of The Blob

Prisoners of The Blob: Why most education experts are wrong about nearly everything

Toby Young, April 2014

What is "The Blob" and what has a 1950s sci-fi movie got to do with education policy? In this hard-hitting pamphlet, the journalist and free school founder Toby Young explains how the education establishment has been sucked into a thoughtworld which will not permit reasonable discussion of the best ways to school our children. The adherence of teaching unions, local education authorities and… [Full Details]

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Boxing Clever

Boxing Clever

Tom Ogg, September 2012

Boxing Clever is Tom Ogg’s account of teaching teenagers who had been expelled from school at the London Boxing Academy Community Project (LBACP) in Tottenham, North London. The aim of the project was to make use of the strong relationships that boxing coaches have with wayward young men. "The prose is strong, the story compelling and the political implications profound... Tom Ogg has made… [Full Details]

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Liberal Education and the National Curriculum

Liberal Education and the National Curriculum

David Conway, January 2010

Professor David Conway traces the history of proposed school curricula from the liberal reformers of the 1860s to modern times. All children, whatever their backgrounds, should be introduced to 'the best that has been thought and said… [Full Details]

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From Two Cultures to No Culture

From Two Cultures to No Culture: C. P. Snow's 'Two Cultures' Lecture Fifty Years On

Robert Whelan, March 2009

In 1959, C.P. Snow delivered a lecture in Cambridge entitled 'The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution'. Snow warned of a gap that had opened up between scientists and literary intellectuals. The latter were not only ignorant of science, but contemptuous of it - as if scientific knowledge were unnecessary for a good education. In 1962, an influential literary critic, F.R. Leavis, launched an… [Full Details]

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The Butterfly Book

The Butterfly Book

December 2008

The Key to Early Reading Success 'The Butterfly Book' offers a self-contained course in reading and writing that introduces the 44 sounds of the English language and teaches children how to blend them into syllables and words. By the end of this course, a child will not just have learnt an essential vocabulary but will also have all the keys to unlocking the whole… [Full Details]

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Inspecting the Inspectorate

Inspecting the Inspectorate: Ofsted under scrutiny

Anastasia de Waal (ed.), November 2008

Today's cheap, short and 'sharp' inspection is by definition restricted to a superficial one-size-fits-all snapshot of school provision. Ofsted's tick-box criteria, drop-in mentality and frequently poorly-trained inspectors prevent the inspectorate from truly gauging the quality of schools. This collection of essays by educational insiders, including a practising Ofsted inspector, sets out the weaknesses in the current school… [Full Details]

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Swedish Lessons

Swedish Lessons: How schools with more freedom can deliver better education

Nick Cowen, June 2008

What we can learn from the experience of Sweden, a country with strong egalitarian values that has successfully incorporated the mechanism of choice into its educational provision? "As a primer for serious debate, it really is one of the best and more thought-provoking pieces of work you’ll read in a very long time." Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy… [Full Details]

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The Corruption of the Curriculum

The Corruption of the Curriculum

Robert Whelan (ed.), June 2007

Subjects in the school curriculum used to be regarded as discrete areas of knowledge which would be imparted to pupils by teachers motivated by a love of learning. The contributors to this book argue that we need to return to the traditional view of education as a means of transmitting a body of knowledge from one generation to the next, and that academic rigour and… [Full Details]

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Inspection, Inspection, Inspection!

Inspection, Inspection, Inspection!: How Ofsted crushes independent schools and independent teachers

Anastasia de Waal, December 2006

Since 2003 Ofsted has been tasked with inspecting many independent schools. Although private schools are theoretically free to devise their own curriculum and teaching methods, Ofsted can and does pressure these schools into conforming to a standardised template. Looking into the way independent schools inspected by Ofsted are penalised for operating outside the Ofsted box, Inspection, Inspection, Inspection exposes the inspectorate's inability to truly… [Full Details]

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