UWE + Tart Cafe present Social Science in the City

Issue date: 01 March 2010

University of the West of England Exploding the myth of the 'bog standard comprehensive'
School choice and the white urban middle classes – Professor David James UWE
4 March 2010 from 17:30

The University of the West of England has teamed up with Tart Café in Bristol's Gloucester Road, to launch Social Science in the City, a series of café events inviting members of the public to join in lively debate on topical social issues of the day. The first cafe event will include a talk by UWE's Professor David James from the Bristol Centre for Research and Lifelong Learning.

Professor James will present his findings from a project on 'School Choice and the white urban middle classes'. His talk will form the catalyst for discussion and debate.

Social Science in the City is for everyone and will cover a range of subjects with a broad appeal. For example, are you concerned about the breakdown of communities; the work-life balance; the city as a space to think and dream as well as to live? Do you have questions about the role of education or the personal and social consequences of globalisation? ?

The Social Science in the City events will showcase and disseminate research and ideas pursued by UWE staff from across the university, including the Department of Sociology and Criminology and Centre for Psycho-Social Studies, the School of Education, the Bristol Business School, the Cities Research Centre;the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and the Faculty of the Built Environment, among others.

Organised by Dr Stella Maile from UWE's department of Sociology and Criminology,the café events offer an opportunity to elucidate and debate issues raised by current social research.

Dr Maile explains, “Science Cafes have been long running in Bristol with fantastic success and we thought it about time that we highlight some of the hot topics in social research in a sociable and congenial environment. Tart Café is a lovely venue and we're delighted that Jennie Bashforth has agreed to help us launch a new series of events. As social scientists we are interested in exploring the way we live now and we want to open up the discussion and engage the wider public.

“We kick off with a hugely topical debate about middle class choices for secondary education and we are grateful to Professor David James who has agreed to deliver the keynote. His findings are sure to engage. Professor James' research hit the headlines when it was first published with some brilliant insights into middle class choices for secondary education for their children. The topic has particular relevance in a city where around 25% of secondary age children are sent to private schools.

“Parents in the throes of making choices may be particularly interested in Professor James views. He left school with a handful of qualifications and worked in a factory, an office and as a musician. After an inspiring experience of the FE sector where he attended evening classes he returned to full time education in his mid 20's, gained a first class degree and has since gone on to co-lead a key research centre at UWE.

He argues that our reasons for choosing are often skewed by a lack of understanding and a perception that our children will not do as well in schools deemed to be 'performing' at below the national average. “

Tart Café and Food store opened on Gloucester Road's Promenade in 2009 and is run by a former Director of Social Services, Jennie Bashforth.

Jennie Bashforth said, "I am delighted that this series of seminars is running at Tart and that we are able to support such a worthwhile initiative. I hope that in addressing these important social questions in a non academic environment they can be made accessible to those who attend. The issues on the agenda affect all of us and I'm sure will provoke a lot of interest. We look forward to welcoming the UWE team to Tart."

Dr Maile added: “We are keen to open up a public forum of social debate and so welcome ideas for future café topics about the way we live in our society and communities.”

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