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Students at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form queue to receive their A-Level results in London, August 2020. Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP via Getty Images.

In summer 2020, Ofqual, the body responsible for regulating the award of general qualifications in England, put in place arrangements to enable grades for GCSEs, A levels and BTECs to be awarded in the absence of the normal end-of-course exams being able to take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outcomes of this process, which relied heavily on the infamous algorithm or statistical model, led to much confusion and distress as pupils received grades sometimes many levels below those they had anticipated. …


This blog draws on a discussion held on 21 September 2020, jointly hosted by the Royal Society’s Living Landscapes programme and the British Academy, as part of a new programme of work on environmental sustainability, Where We Live Next. The discussion covered some of the key challenges around changing rural land use in the UK and considered which stakeholders and decision-making structures, both locally and nationally, are necessary for a just transition.

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Photo by Mike Kemp / In Pictures via Getty Images

The local is not confined to immediate surroundings. It is the arena of belonging, of feeling alive and in touch, and of caring and sharing with neighbours. The…


A new sustainability blog series from the British Academy

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A man and woman sit on a bench in Norton Park, Sheffield, May 2020. Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP via Getty Images.

“Places matter to people. They shape the way we live our lives, feel about ourselves and the relationships we have with others. Moreover places — not least because of their history, character and physical form — contribute significantly to personal and societal wellbeing.”

– from the British Academy Where we live now report

The UK has the potential to be a global leader on environmental sustainability, having set ambitious targets for net zero carbon emissions. …


A provocation paper

Professor Susan Golombok FBA

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Introduction

“What I’d like other people to know about my family is that we’re a happy family — we’re all really happy and joyful.” Mike, 9, child of a transgender parent.

New family forms, made possible by advances in assisted reproduction and changing social attitudes, have challenged popular myths and assumptions about the superiority of the traditional family in fostering children’s psychological adjustment. …


Judy Ling Wong CBE. Honorary President Black Environment Network

This blog post draws on a discussion held on 21 September 2020, jointly hosted by the Royal Society’s Living Landscapes programme and the British Academy, as part of a new programme of work on environmental sustainability, Where We Live Next. The discussion covered some of the key challenges around changing rural land use in the UK and considered which stakeholders and decision-making structures, both locally and nationally, are necessary for a just transition.

Someone as unconventional as the flamenco and Morris-dancing Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, a self-made Black farming millionaire, is not so much a role model as a flamboyant exception in…


A provocation paper

Dr Aude Le Guennec, Assistant Professor in Design studies / Fashion Anthropology, Heriot-Watt University, School of Textiles and Design

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Introduction

In one corner of the classroom stands a rail where fancy dresses are hanging. Their shiny, glittery materials appeal to the sparkly eyes of the dreamy pupils. Suddenly, all the stories to be imagined jump to their constantly stimulated minds. Learning through play invites itself into the classrooms. The creative child, as modelled by Maria Montessori[i] is constantly interacting with everyday material culture. Children manipulate, create, dream and, through their activities and games, reveal their spontaneous approach to the world. …


A provocation paper

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw FBA, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of York

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Child poverty in the UK is increasing and on present policies will increase further, sweeping away all the reduction achieved up to 2010. This is happening, despite unemployment being at a record low and real wages at the bottom of the distribution improving. Since 2010, £40 billion has been taken out of the working age social security budget, and the main driver of child poverty are these cuts to benefits and services.

Poverty affects child outcomes. Infant mortality increased in the last two years for the first time…


A provocation paper

Professor Peter Mandler FBA, Professor of Modern Cultural History, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge

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‘Even a decade ago, young people were told that maths and the sciences were simply the subjects you took if you wanted to go into a mathematical or scientific career, if you wanted to be a doctor, or a pharmacist, or an engineer. But if you wanted to do something different, or even if you didn’t know what you wanted to do, and let’s be honest — it takes a pretty confident 16-year-old to have their whole life mapped out ahead of them —…


A provocation paper

Dr Nadia von Benzon, Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Lancaster

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Introduction

Access for all

Richard Louv’s notion of the Last Child In the Woods[i] emphasises that children’s opportunities to spend time engaged in free play in the outdoors are reducing. This trend has implications for their mental and physical health, social and cognitive development and their independence and problem solving skills. …


A provocation paper

Professor Peter Kraftl, Chair in Human Geography, University of Birmingham

Child in the city
Child in the city

Building new urban places

Around the world, hundreds of towns, cities, suburbs and neighbourhoods are being built. Some are ‘smart’ — including integrated digital technologies and infrastructures. Others are ‘sustainable’ — built to embrace the latest engineering solutions for generating or saving water, energy or food. Others seek somehow to be inclusive — vibrant and convivial places for all of their residents. Indeed, some new urban places attempt to be all three. But whilst they are planned to be inclusive, are they really?

Repeatedly, it has been shown that children and young people are…

The British Academy

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