IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Impactful educational research on global gender equality and science aspirations in BERA report

14 July 2023

Research from IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society is featured in the British Educational Research Association (BERA) report, Education: The State of the Discipline - high-impact educational research.

Balancing a ball on water. Credit: Muye Feng, UCL Mechanical Engineering. UCL Doctoral School, Research Images as Art Competition entry 2014-2015

Published in June 2023, the BERA report comprises of 16 case studies where research is making a significant impact on educational policy, practice and understanding, both in the UK and internationally, and across early years, primary, secondary and higher education stages. BERA’s Education: State of the Discipline initiative seeks to demonstrate the central role education plays in social and political policy across the UK. 

Case study: advancing global gender equality 

Professors Jenny Parkes and Elaine Unterhalter has been advancing global gender equality through educational partnerships. Their work has helped to create and sustain more gender-equitable, safe schools, with far-reaching effects on the safety and wellbeing of girls and boys in schools across eight countries in Africa.  

The researchers evaluated the Good School Toolkit, which was developed by Ugandan charity Raising Voices to reduce teacher-pupil violence. Professors Parkes and Unterhalter demonstrated that the toolkit has reduced gender-based violence in schools by 42% over 18 months. Their subsequent Contexts of Violence in Adolescence Cohort Study (COVAC), which followed up on the work on the Toolkit, has transformed how gender equality is understood and evaluated, influencing policy and practice and helping to secure over £800 million for related projects.  

Case study: young people’s science aspirations and engagement 

The Young People’s Career Aspirations in Science (ASPIRES) studies have inspired a new approach to delivering science teaching, to reduce barriers to science. The project, which began its first phase under Professor Louise Archer’s leadership at King’s College London, led to the researcher’s development of ‘science capital’ as a key concept in understanding gender, ethnicity and class disparities in science engagement.  

Now based at IOE, the work has provided the foundation for the design and implementation of new policies and practices aimed at widening participation to science-related courses and careers, including making science capital a key criterion in the Ofsted-endorsed Primary Science Quality Mark. 



Balancing a ball on water. Credit: Muye Feng, UCL Mechanical Engineering. UCL Doctoral School, Research Images as Art Competition entry 2014-2015.