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News > ISP People > Staff stories: Mr James wins an award for his research in education policy

Staff stories: Mr James wins an award for his research in education policy

ISP's Mr James, otherwise known as JJ, talks about his Master's thesis on French and UK education policy and taking his research further.
7 Jun 2017
ISP People
Jonathan James is currently continuing his PhD studies at the University College London (UCL)
Jonathan James is currently continuing his PhD studies at the University College London (UCL)
This article was first published on the school's website news feed on June 7, 2017. 

  • Jonathan James, winner of the 2017 Master's Dissertation Award given by British Educational Research Association and International School of Paris' Secondary School teacher and PSE Coordinator
  • Born in London, England
  • Graduated from University of Sussex (undergraduate) and UCL Institute of Education (Master's degree)
  • Came to ISP in 2009
  • Has previously worked in a public school in the suburbs of London, plus countless other part-time jobs while he was a student.
  • Jonathan enjoys good food, sunshine, and cinema

The students may call him Mr James, but everyone at ISP knows Jonathan James simply as JJ. This year, JJ has many reasons to celebrate. In addition to his master's degree from the UCL Institute of Education, he can be proud of being the winner of 2017 Masters Dissertation Award given by British Educational Research Association. On top of that, he has been offered a great opportunity to take his research even further. We interviewed JJ about his thoughts on education, his research and plans for the future.

What was the topic of your thesis?
My thesis was about how concerns about terrorism and outbreaks of urban rioting feed into the debate on immigration in England and France, and how this in turn feeds into education policy. I was really trying to see if the fact that the UK and France have faced similar challenges in this area since 9/11 has meant that they adopt the same solutions.

What did you find out?
The most straightforward answer to the question is yes, the countries are adopting similar approaches, in spite of their differences. There's been an increased focus on civic education as a way to prevent terrorism in both countries. There have also been moves to train teachers to spot the signs of radicalisation and to take action to prevent it.

How might this improve students' learning?
The benefit of comparing policy trends in more than one country is to shed light in the ways in which different countries can learn from each other. It's complicated, because what works for one system may not work for another, but I think policymakers can learn a lot from these types of studies.

What was your motivation to do a Master's thesis?
I guess it came out of wanting to match up an interest in politics in general and immigration issues in particular with my experience as a teacher. The idea for the topic came to me just after the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015. I was very shaken up by the whole thing and wanted to understand the role educators could play in stopping something like that happening again.

ISP gives strong support and emphasis on research, as well as professional development of our faculty and staff. How did the school support you?
I was granted a sabbatical year, which allowed me to complete the degree programme, in the knowledge I had a job to come back to. The school also contributed financial support towards my fees.

What happens next?
I've won a scholarship from UCL to do a full-time PhD there for three years. I'll be taking my research one step further by looking at how schools in England and France are implementing anti-radicalisation and terrorism prevention policies. This means that although I'll be staying in Paris I'll be leaving my post as a classroom teacher at the end of the current academic year. Since I'll be in Paris, I hope to keep up with the progress of the staff, the students, and the school as a whole. I'll also be on the school's list of substitute teachers, so I'll be on campus every so often.

We are extremely proud of JJ's achievements and wish him success in his further studies on this important topic. He has recently published a book, 'Civil disorder, domestic terrorism and education policy: the context in England and France' (2019), co-authored with Dr Janmaat.

The book largely draws on the work from JJ’s master’s dissertation, which looked at the impact of civil disorder and domestic terrorism on education policy in England and France in the years since 2001. The central idea is to understand the differences and similarities in the ways that England and France have approached the same challenges.


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