I have worked in, with and on state schooling for over 40 years. After teaching in comprehensive schools in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, I was an Officer in four LAs (Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Avon and the City of Bristol, where I was Director of Education for nearly seven years), a consultant and joint head of education at Amnesty International.
I joined Bath Spa in 2009 to teach on the undergraduate Education Studies programme, which I still do, but also teach on the Master's programme and have three PhD students. I have developed into an Education Policy specialism and led the undergraduate and Master's modules on the same.
Before commencing at Bath Spa, my previous university involvements have been at the University of Cambridge, where I was a Visiting Scholar 2002/3 and at the University of the West of England, where I have been a Visiting Fellow in the School of Education since 2002.
My scholarly and research interests have developed out of my personal and professional passions, from stepping off a teaching practice bus in the early 1970s to catch sight of my first comprehensive school to being a senior LA officer serving deprived schools, children and communities. How can schools get better? How can they improve the outcomes for all children, especially the disadvantaged? And how can schools contribute to making our society a better and more just one?
My academic path - including my teaching - has been shaped by these questions and has guided the preparation and writing of my three books, all published by Trentham Books, now at the UCL Institute of Education Press. My first, "Schools for Our Cities" (2003), explored the possibilities of a more flexible urban pedagogy in contrast to the prescriptions of the time, and examined what happens to schools when national policies such as marketisation meet the social and economic reality of middle class market strategies. My second, "Aspiration, Identity and Self-Belief" (2010), drew on over fifty live interviews and examined the social basis for the development of aspiration and how policy - and schools - can provide working class and more disadvantaged students with the advantages accruing to middle class ones from their place in our social structure.
My third one, "Equity, Trust and the Self-improving Schools System", was published in 2016 and, as the title suggests, considered how the developing schools system, sort of supervised by Regional Schools Commissioners, could reduce the still abysmal inequities of educational outcomes in England. At that time, with the prospect of all schools becoming academies by 2022, and the old system of LA involvement being replaced by a new, I concluded that this was more likely. In 2018, however, with the abandonment of a compulsory requirement on all schools to convert, the lack of any time in the legislative programme for education legislation concerning schools, and the apparent difficulties in implementing free school proposals because of site problems, all suggest that the system will continue to be "hybrid", with many schools, especially primaries, remaining indefinitely as local authority maintained.
My continuing and most recent research - and my recent professional experience as a board member of a Multi-Academy Trust - suggests that the nature of the education "system" or polity of which schools are a part now varies tremendously from place to place, even more so than under previous regimes. And whereas it has been argued that the new and developing system is professionally or headteacher-led, I would now argue that no one now either supervises or leads the developing schools system in England. Governance is neither systematic nor system-wide, except by accident. These findings will see their first outing in a conference paper in 2018.
Whatever the views of current arrangements for governance, it is still the case that, I would argue, the continuing high stakes accountability regime, and periodically increasing expectations of the schools system, are not sustainable in the long term. But evidence gathered by myself and others of developing school to school support (and challenge) should give rise to optimism that we can move towards a system based more on trust - of teachers and schools.
- BA Magdalen College, Oxford
- MA As above
- PGCE Madeley College of Education
- MPhil Bulmershe College of Higher Education
- PhD Bath Spa University.
- British Education Research Association (BERA) since 2002
- British Education, Leadership, Management and Administration Society since 2012
- Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) since 1999
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) since 2017.
Research and academic outputs
Riddell, R (2016) Equity, trust and the self-improving schools system. Trentham Books, London. ISBN 9781858566924
Riddell, R (2010) Aspiration, identity and self belief: snapshots of social structure at work. Trentham Books, Stoke on Trent. ISBN 9781858564654
Riddell, R (2003) Schools for our cities: urban learning in the 21st century. Trentham Books, Stoke-on-Trent. ISBN 9781858562933
Riddell, R (2019) 'Social mobility and education.' In: Simon, C.A and Ward, S, eds. A student's guide to education studies. 4th ed. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 51-62. ISBN 9780367276690
Riddell, R (2017) 'Placements in schools and other educational settings on a core undergraduate module.' In: Hordern, J and Simon, C, eds. Placements and work-based learning in education studies: an introduction for students. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 61-68. ISBN 9781138839069
Riddell, R (2012) 'Social mobility and education.' In: Ward, S, ed. A student's guide to education studies. 3rd ed. Routledge, Abingdon. ISBN 9780415809672
Riddell, R (2007) 'Urban learning and the need for varied urban curricula and pedagogies.' In: Pink, W.T and Noblit, G.W, eds. International handbook of urban education. Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 1027-1048. ISBN 9781402051982
Riddell, R (2005) 'Learning disadvantage and schools in challenging circumstances.' In: Clarke, P, ed. Improving schools in difficulty. Improving schools . Continuum, London, pp. 43-55. ISBN 9780826464736
System fluidity in English school governance: reflections on the implications for senior leaders of closed hierarchies
Riddell, R (2019) 'System fluidity in English school governance: reflections on the implications for senior leaders of closed hierarchies.' Management in Education, 33 (3). pp. 126-133. ISSN 0892-0206
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities reforms 2014: SENCos’ perspectives of the first six months
Curran, H, Mortimore, T and Riddell, R (2017) 'Special Educational Needs and Disabilities reforms 2014: SENCos’ perspectives of the first six months.' British Journal of Special Education, 44 (1). pp. 46-64. ISSN 1467-8578
Changing policy levers under the neoliberal state: realising coalition policy on education and social mobility
Riddell, R (2013) 'Changing policy levers under the neoliberal state: realising coalition policy on education and social mobility.' Journal of Education Policy, 28 (6). pp. 847-863. ISSN 1464-5106
Riddell, R (2009) 'Schools in trouble again: a critique of the National Challenge (2008).' Improving Schools, 12 (1). pp. 71-80. ISSN 1365-4802
Riddell, R (2006) 'Education inequalities and social structures.' Race Equality Teaching, 24 (3). pp. 44-47. ISSN 1478-8551
Riddell, R (2006) 'Understanding learning disadvantage.' Primary Leadership Today, 1 (2). pp. 15-17. ISSN 1748-8907
Government policy, stratification and urban schools: a commentary on the Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners
Riddell, R (2005) 'Government policy, stratification and urban schools: a commentary on the Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners.' Journal of Education Policy, 20 (2). pp. 237-241. ISSN 1464-5106
Riddell, R (2003) 'The curriculum and pedagogy of bottom strata schools.' Improving Schools, 6 (1). pp. 12-19. ISSN 1365-4802
Riddell, R (2018) Democratic optimism and authority in an increasingly depoliticised schools 'system' in England. In: British Educational Research Association Conference, 11 - 13 September 2018, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Riddell, R (2016) Speaking authoritatively about systemic policy-driven change in a time of austerity. In: BERA Annual Conference, 13 - 15 September 2016, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
The network round the school: Additional, Team and Lead Ofsted Inspectors and the work they do in and with schools in the ‘self-improving schools system’
Riddell, R (2015) The network round the school: Additional, Team and Lead Ofsted Inspectors and the work they do in and with schools in the ‘self-improving schools system’. In: BERA Annual Conference, 15-17 September 2015, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Riddell, R (2014) Education polity, England 2015: social justice and a ‘self-improving schools system’. In: BERA Annual Conference, 23-25 September 2014, Institute of Education, London.
Continuity and change: social and educational mechanisms for ‘driving’ social mobility under the coalition government
Riddell, R (2011) Continuity and change: social and educational mechanisms for ‘driving’ social mobility under the coalition government. In: BERA Annual Conference, 6-8 September 2011, Institute of Education, University of London.
Continuity of expectation: middle class parents, independent school and 'good' university, or, how social structure aids reproduction
Riddell, R (2009) Continuity of expectation: middle class parents, independent school and 'good' university, or, how social structure aids reproduction. In: BERA Annual Conference, 2-5 September 2009, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.
Riddell, R (2008) Aspiration, identity and self-belief in disengaged students. In: BERA Annual Conference, 3-6 September 2008, Heriot-Watt University.
Riddell, R (2007) Developing social capital for working class students: aspirations and identity. In: BERA Annual Conference, 8 September 2007, Institute of Education, University of London, UK.
Riddell, R (2012) Educationalist working in urban areas. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.
Modernising school governance: corporate planning and expert handling in state education [book review]
Mifsud, D, Riddell, R and Dewes, I (2018) Modernising school governance: corporate planning and expert handling in state education [book review]. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 16 (2). pp. 211-229. ISSN 1740-2743