Ethics in Contexts

7 March 2017, 9.40 AM - 7 March 2017, 3.00 PM

4.10, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol

This seminar explores Ethics in Contexts. We will reflect upon and discuss the ways in which the different contexts in which educational research takes place influences ethical decision making.  There will be a focus on research that takes place in the home, in the community, in schools and in international settings and we will explore related dilemmas and potential compromises that need to be considered as a project progresses. We will consider the implications of this kind of ethical practice for dimensions such as access, analysis, writing up research and wider dissemination of research findings. There will be opportunities to share experiences and learning about Ethics in Contexts through the use of case studies.

Eventbrite - Ethics Research Day


Time Title Speaker
9:50 - 10:00 Welcome

Wan Ching Yee

Chair of GSoE Ethics Committee

10:00 - 10:50 Doing Real World Research with Disabled Children, Young People & their Families.

Professor David Abbott

University of Bristol

10:50 - 11:30 The complexities of community research: messiness and making connections

Dr Debby Watson and Dr Roz Warden

Barnwood Trust

11:30 - 11:45 Refreshments (provided)  
11:45 - 12:30 The ethical dilemma: how to represent Chilean schools in my research?

Dr Bernadita Munoz Chereau

University of Bristol

12:30 - 13:15 Lunch (provided)  
13:15 - 14:00 Philosophy for teacher (P4T) - Developing new teachers' applied ethical decison making

Dr Janet Orchard

University of Bristol

14:00 - 15:00 Case Studies

Ben Simmons 

Jon James

Dulce Rodrigues

15:00 - 15:15 Closing  

Abstracts and Biographies


David Abbott, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Professor (Social Policy)

Doing Real World Research with Disabled Children, Young People & their Families.

Published accounts research with disabled children, young people and their families rarely outline the 'real-life' challenges involved. So whilst a research proposal or an ethics application may well set out the aspirations of good practice, there is often a gap with what happens in practice. This can be manifest in a whole range of ways including: around the realities of obtaining informed consent from disabled children; of organising privacy and confidentiality for children whilst carrying out interviews in busy family homes; and of making research encounters child focused whilst at the same time adhering to the research protocol and the need to collect 'good data'. This presentation will discuss these issues by drawing on the author’s own research, experience and reflections. It will suggest that greater transparency in the written accounts of how research is carried out would be beneficial to the wider community of researchers. More honest accounts of how disabled children participate in research which pay more attention to the context, place, space and interactions that are going on, could also help us make more sense of what they actually have to tell us about their lives.

Biography: David Abbott is a Professor in Social Policy at the Norah Fry Research Centre in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, UK. He has worked there since 1999 on a range of research projects relating to disabled children, young people and their families on topics including: residential schools and colleges, transition to adulthood, the experience of living with long term conditions, the use of direct payments and other forms of personal budgets, access to childcare and the impact/benefits of multi-agency working.

Dr Debby Watson, Research Manager, Barnwood Trust & Dr Roz Warden, Research Manager, Barnwood Trust

The complexities of community research: messiness and making connections

Research in community settings is inevitably a complex and ‘messy’ process. Members of the research team from Barnwood Trust will provide an overview of the work that they are beginning to do in capturing the impact, reach and process of the Trust’s activities, which includes both grant giving and community building strands of work. Examples will be drawn from some recent fieldwork with community groups that are run by and include disabled people and people with mental health problems. Barnwood Trust is in a unique position in that it has the resources to research its own practice and whilst this is a very exciting prospect, it also raises ethical concerns about ‘insider’ research. The presenters will discuss the approach that they are taking to these challenging but rewarding issues.

Biography: Debby Watson, Barnwood Trust, Research Manager: Debby Watson is a Research Manager at Barnwood Trust in Gloucestershire. She was formerly a research fellow in the Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol. She completed a PhD in Playfulness and children with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) in 2014 and has a background in social work. She is a member of the GSOE research ethics committee and has a keen interest in inclusive research.

Biography: Roz Warden, Barnwood Trust, Research Manager: Roz Warden is a Research Manager at the Gloucestershire-based charity Barnwood Trust. Prior to joining the Trust, Roz completed a PhD at Cardiff University exploring the social welfare of British Muslims, with a particular focus on mental health. She has also taught at the University of South Wales and worked as a service user involvement officer at an equalities charity.

Dr Bernadita Munoz Chereau, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol

The ethical dilemma: how to represent Chilean schools in my research?

This session will focus on the ethical dilemma of how to represent Chilean schools in my research. Drawing on the work of Pat Sikes (2010) concerning how we represent the lives of others through our research and writing, I reflect on the need to engage critically with my methodology by highlighting its limitations as well as with the local context of high-stakes policy under implementation in Chile in order to tackle the ethical dilemmas presented by my research.

Biography: Bernardita is a ESRC postdoctoral Fellow at the Graduate School of Education. Her postdoctoral project  “Levelling the playing field: assessing through equity the quality of Chilean schools” builds on her PhD work oriented to explore fairer and more accurate  ways of evaluating schools performance. Bernardita finished her PhD at the Graduate School of Education in 2013, and 10 years earlier, her MA at UCL/ ex-Institute of Education. Her background is in the related fields of psychology and education. Bernardita's research interests also expand to literature, where she has published academic articles and 29 children's books in Chile and the rest of Latin-America.

Dr Janet Orchard, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol,

Philosophy for teachers (P4T) – Developing new teachers’ applied ethical decision making

Teaching, irrespective of its geographical location, is fundamentally a relational practice in which unique ethically complex situations arise to which teachers need to respond at different levels of ethical decision making. These range from ‘big’ abstract questions about whether or not what they teach is inherently good, through to seemingly trivial questions about everyday issues, for example whether or not it is right to silence children in classrooms. Hence, alongside a wide range of pedagogical skills, new teachers also need to develop personal qualities, knowledge and understanding that will enable them to navigate successfully these professional ethical demands. ‘Philosophy for Teachers’, or ‘P4T’, is one promising approach to teachers’ pre-service professional preparation which has been piloted in England, adapted from the more familiar idea of “P4C” (Philosophy for Children). Drawing on the model of learning through dialogue within a community of fellow enquirers, an ethical retreat was set up which established a ‘‘community of practice’’, comprising new teachers, education studies students, teacher educators and philosophers. The purpose of the retreat was to enable new teachers to think ethically about dilemmas they had faced, based on their early experience of classroom practice. It enabled facilitators to blend theoretical perspectives on education and systematic ways of thinking about it at an introductory level with examples of complex and potentially difficult classroom situations cited by participants. The experience provoked a series of significant insights - in particular, that a characteristically philosophical concern with the ethics of behaviour management offers an important alternative perspective to the psychological approach which tends to dominate conventional teacher education in the English system. We identified an urgent need among new teachers for facilitating space and time for critical reflection away from the ‘busy-ness’ of school, addressing not only practical concerns but the existential anxieties which beginning teachers face when dealing with challenging behaviour by their pupils, including burnout, sustaining motivation and a sense of ‘moral purpose’.

Biography: Janet Orchard is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Education of University of Bristol. She is a philosopher of education, a member of the Executive of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB) and a member of the Editorial Board of its topical pamphlet series, ‘IMPACT’. She takes a particular interest in the relationship between philosophy of education and teacher education, co-author a paper concerned with the contribution of research to teachers' professional learning from a philosophical perspective commissioned by the BERA/RSA Inquiry into Teacher Education.  She also co-edited 'Learning Teaching from Experience' (2014, Bloomsbury) with Viv Ellis. In her most recent work she is exploring opportunities for ethical deliberation during teachers’ pre-service and early years professional preparation through a model adapted from the familiar idea of “P4C” (Philosophy for Children) which promotes dialogue on ethical issues within a professional community of fellow enquirers.

Case Study Presenters

Jon James, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol

Jon James holds a M.Sc in Science Education from the University of Bristol and is currently working on a Ph.D in the area of science teachers’ development of their knowledge for teaching.  His current research includes an EU 2020 Horizon project investigating the engagement of young people with science research through performance activities, and a project examining the development of approaches to teaching chemical concepts in the school classroom. More recently he has been involved in interdisciplinary work that has developed a project to teach climate change in local Bristol schools, and has written about the challenges of engaging young people with climate change and global issues.

He is a full-time member of the staff at the University, leading and teaching on several science teacher education courses. Prior to working at the University he spent over 20 years working in a variety of roles in schools and as a local government adviser for education.

Dulce Rodriguez, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol

Dulce is a 2nd year PhD student. Her research interests are digital cultures, intergenerational practices and ageing society. Dulce is currently designing an intergenerational informal learning environment in which children and seniors develop digital literacy. Finally, Dulce a member of the Knowledge, Culture and Society Centre (KCS).

Dr Ben Simmons, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol

Dr Ben Simmons is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and member of the GSoE research ethics committee. He currently leads a 3-year project exploring the lived experiences of children with profound intellectual disabilities who attend both mainstream and special school settings. This work builds on Ben's Scope & ESRC-funded PhD thesis (University of Exeter, 2010) which published by Karnac Books in 2014 (see "The PMLD Ambiguity").

Ben teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at the GSoE and the School for Policy Studies, Bristol. To keep up with his work you can follow him on Twitter: @bensimmons_phd

Contact information

Wan Ching Yee - 0117 331 4305 -

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