As usual I went to the annual Social Policy Association Conference, this time held at the University of Sheffield. I always get a lot out of this conference, one of the reasons being that I can attend sessions on topics such as housing policy, welfare, pensions, health care, tax systems, and so on – topics that tend not to take up much of my intellectual time. There’s normally a smattering of education-related papers as well, which is good given education is a social policy (although less visible this year for some reason).   

But even if the papers aren’t strictly relevant to the education field, I would argue that it doesn’t do any harm to take a closer look at how other disciplines conduct their research and what kinds of themes are emerging from their disciplinary discussions. The Social Policy conference is excellent for this as it brings together a range of related disciplines – social policy, public administration, health, education, politics, social work, sociology, geography, urban studies, among others. Quite often you will find that education issues have strong parallels in other areas also – so it pays to explore how current educational concerns echo (or don’t) the kinds of debates that have come to the fore in areas such as social care, for example.

Anyway, see below for a Twitter pictorial representation of the conference – I might have looked goofy with my iPad in the air, but really I’m past caring about being cool 🙂 (stating the obvious) – thanks to everyone for a great conference – Mark