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About Research

What we are researching

The Cass School of Education and Communities conducts innovative, world leading, research on public pedagogy, mixed economies of childcare, social work, teacher education, HE, prison education and careers education. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, our school was ranked in the top 50 institutions in the UK for our research (41st in social work, 42nd in Education).  

Our research attracts funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council the European Commission, local authorities and charities. 

Research Centres and Groups

Research Centres

International Centre for Public Pedagogy
The International Centre for Public Pedagogy was the first research centre to be established in the world to focus on this aspect of pedagogy and society.  It conducts a range of research projects that have been funded by high profile bodies such as the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.  The centre’s current research portfolio includes projects on disaster education, internet radio, careers advice and critical pedagogy.

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International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare
The International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare is a multi-disciplinary research centre which brings together academics and students from across the university and other academic institutions nationally and internationally, as well as childcare business leaders, childcare professionals, national and local policy makers and politicians and representatives of unions and of private equity firms and other financial groups who share a common interest in the impact of the marketisation and privatisation of early childhood education and care provision.  It has had a considerable impact on government policy in the United Kingdom. Research from the centre is often featured in the media.

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Centre for Social Work Research (CSWR)
The Centre for Social Work Research (CSWR), in collaboration with the Tavistock Clinic makes a significant contribution to the generation of knowledge in social work, and widens the participation of social work practitioners in research. CSWR develops innovative methodologies and new thinking about critical issues in social work practice and social policy to enhance social work research and influence practice, professional training and policy.  

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Research Groups

The school hosts a number of research groups. The Teacher Education Research Group (TERG) offers a forum for informed debate and discussion on all aspects of teacher education promoting the work of this dynamic group of teacher educators and researchers. The Higher Education Research Group (HERG) brings together academics with multi-disciplinary interests in higher education, broader education philosophy, politics and policy sociology, and continuing professional development (CPD). The Early Childhood Studies Group (ECS) co-ordinates practitioner informed research for those involved in this vital area of educational development. The Mulitlingualism and Multiliteracies in Education Research Group 


Our innovative research in pedagogy, childcare markets, social work and practitioner issues has been used to offer consultancy services to business and government.
  • The Department for Education, DfID, the British Council, the governments of the USA, Kenya and Indonesia and the European Commission have involved Professor Jean Murray in consultancy projects over the last decade
  • The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) commissioned Professor Andrew Ravenscroft to conduct the Westfield Observation Exercise to test the readiness of London’s transport system prior to the 2012 Olympic games (2011)
  • CEDEFOP, Centre Européen pour le Développement de la Formation Professionnelle)  the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training have used the expertise of Professor John Preston to inform their thinking on the role of vocational education in creating social capital and social cohesion across European countries (2008 – 2011)
  • NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) appointed Professor Eva Lloyd to their expert panel responsible for providing public health guidance on social and emotional well being in the early years (2010 – 2012)
  • Health and social care organisations in the statutory and charitable sectors have used the expertise of Professor Stephen Briggs in various consultancy projects.

Impact on society and communities

Our work transforms communities and societies, making them safer, fairer and more inclusive.

Our work on disaster education has been used to advise central and local government.  Our guidance on public information has been cited by the Department of Homeland Security as good practice and we work to provide bespoke advice to policy makers and practitioners.  London Resilience used our expertise to add a community element to their ‘Anytown’ simulation exercises.   We have briefed private sector organisations, such as Vodafone, on the implications of our research on public behaviour in the event of an infrastructure failure.  Working with Essex Fire and Rescue we developed a unique set of resources to empower people with Autism in various emergencies.

We have developed a unique pedagogical and diagnostic initiative called Radioactive 101.  This is a highly innovative educational intervention that is being implemented across Europe. It uses primarily internet radio and also social media to promote inclusion, informal learning, employability and active citizenship in an original and exciting way.   RadioActive101+ is our new specialist intervention working closely alongside Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) as part of its Regulate programme.  We aim to help young people to think, challenge and better manage their behaviour and emotions through mindfulness and making radio programmes with RadioActive101.  Our work with young people (aged 11-16) and the CAMHS team in Tower Hamlets has been carefully planned and will complement RadioActive101’s objective of embracing psychoeducation.

UEL’s International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare’s interdisciplinary research, which is frequently cited in national and international policy documents, has contributed to policy debate within the European Union, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and other supra-national bodies, and informed the UK Government’s development of ECEC and child poverty policies.  

In Social Work, Clinical, observational and biographical research developed at UEL has produced and supported the novel application of a practice-near methodology adapted to evaluate social work practice and social problems.  This has addressed self-harm/suicide prevention and led to the safeguarding of children’s rights in London’s African communities. Those benefits accrue to practitioners, policy makers, community organisations and individual health and social care service users, and include: the delivery of training leading to positive changes in professional practice; and contributions to discussion, debate and policy and guideline formulation. 

Research projects

Over the last decade we have successfully delivered over £2million of research projects for funders including the European Commission, Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and numerous charities, governmental bodies and local authorities. 

Our recently completed research projects since 2014 include an Economic and Social Research Council funded project on Mass Population Response to Critical Infrastructure Failure, a European Commission project, Radioactive Europe (a cross national internet radio intervention), and an Arts and Humanities Research Project ‘Digging by Debating’.  We have also successfully completed projects focussing on East London including a longitudinal study of young women’s transitions in Tower Hamlets and on secondary career transitions. 

Our currently funded research projects (2015) are on improving outcomes for young black men in Hackney, on reducing adolescent suicides and developing consultant fellowships.

Our research degrees