Education and the Giant of Ignorance

Hosted by LSE Festival: Beveridge 2.0

Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building


Professor Nicholas Barr

Professor Nicholas Barr

Professor Howard Glennerster

Professor Howard Glennerster

Professor Sandra McNally

Professor Sandra McNally

Dr Kitty Stewart

Dr Kitty Stewart

Professor Anne West

Professor Anne West


Professor David Piachaud

Professor David Piachaud

Ignorance, though one of the Giants, was barely mentioned in the Beveridge Report, but addressed by the 1944 Education Act and 1963 Robbins Report. This panel identifies gaps that have emerged and ways to fill them, focussing particularly on equality of opportunity.

Kitty Stewart will discuss the importance of early education to children’s life chances, and consider how far current early years and childcare policy is well-designed to promote children’s development and to narrow gaps between children from different backgrounds. 

Anne West will focus on school-based education. She will outline how the  school system has changed since the 1944 Education Act, particularly since the academies programme was introduced. She will highlight some of the concerns that have been raised regarding the governance and financing of academies and outline proposals as to how these might be addressed.

Sandra McNally will address the state of further and technical education in England. She will look at the extent to which there are good opportunities within this type of education in England – and whether there is inequality of opportunity in who is able to access the more successful routes. The post-war assumption was that education should be tax-financed.

As higher education expanded both Howard Glennerster and Nicholas Barr advocated income-contingent graduate contributions. They discuss two contrasting futures: A return to old style, mainly tax-financed higher education, with a neglect of early education and vocational education, and resource constraints affecting the size and/or quality of higher education; or a forward-looking approach based on: a holistic view of tertiary education; a universal endowment at 18; a well-designed income-contingent loan; flexible pathways through tertiary education; and greater emphasis on education spending earlier in the system.

Nicholas Barr is Professor of Public Economics at LSE and the author of numerous books and articles including The Economics of the Welfare State (OUP, 5th edn, 2012), Financing Higher Education: Answers from the UK (with Iain Crawford) (Routledge 2005), and Reforming Pensions: Principles and Policy Choices (with Peter Diamond) (OUP, 2008).  Alongside his academic work is wide-ranging involvement in policy, including spells at the World Bank and IMF. He has been active in policy debates, particularly on pension reform and higher education finance, advising governments in the post-communist countries, and in the UK, Australia, Chile, China, Hungary, New Zealand and South Africa.  View a range of his academic and policy writing.

Howard Glennerster joined the Higher Education Research Unit at LSE in 1964 after working in the Labour Party Research Department. He moved to the Social Policy Department in 1968 and went on to become Professor of Social Policy, Chairman of STICERD and co director of CASE. In his first year as an academic he wrote a key paper advocating a Graduate Tax. He modified the idea, together with Professor Barr, into something akin to the 2004 model of university funding. He is the author of over twenty books including Understanding the Cost of Welfare (2017).    

Sandra McNally is Director of the Centre for Vocational Education Research and Director of the Education and Skills Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE. She is also a professor of economics at University of Surrey. Her interests are in the economics of education. She works on evaluation of government policies, particularly in schools and in post-16 education.

Kitty Stewart is Associate Professor of Social Policy at LSE, and Associate Director of LSE’s Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. She has a PhD in Economics from the European University Institute, Florence. Her recent research interests have centred on the causes and consequences of child poverty, the relationship between income and wider outcomes, and policy for young children. Recent publications include Does money affect children’s outcomes? A systematic review (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2013, with Kerris Cooper); An Equal Start? Providing quality early education and care for disadvantaged children (Policy Press, 2015, coedited with Ludovica Gambaro and Jane Waldfogel); and Closing Gaps Early: The role of early years policy in promoting social mobility in England (Sutton Trust, 2017, with Jane Waldfogel).

Anne West is Professor of Education Policy in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. She previously worked as a research officer in the former Inner London Education Authority. Her research focuses on education policy, both in England and in comparative context; the financing of schools and early years education; and issues related to equality of opportunity. She has published extensively in the field of education policy. She is currently a member of the Conseil national d'évaluation du système scolaire (Cnesco) established in 2014 by the French Ministry of Education. In 2015 she held the Fritz-Karsen-Chair at Humboldt University.

David Piachaud is an Emeritus Professor of Social Policy in the Department of Social Policy.

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEBeveridge #LSEFestival

This event is part of the LSE Festival: Beveridge 2.0 running from Monday 19 to Saturday 24 February 2018, with a series of events rethinking the welfare state for the 21st century and the global context.

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