Dr Ruth Boyask

Dr Ruth Boyask

Lecturer in Education Studies

Plymouth Institute of Education (Faculty of Arts & Humanities)


 PhD (Cant., NZ), M.Ed (Dist), B.F.A. (Scul), Dip Tchg

Professional membership


British Educational Research Association (Elected Member of BERA Council)
British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society
American Educational Research Association
Centre for Culture, Community and Society, IHC, Plymouth University
Centre for Methodological Innovations, IHC, Plymouth University
Learning Outside of Formal Education Research Cluster, Plymouth Institute of Education

Teaching interests

Programme Lead Professional Masters in Education MA Education

Professional Doctorate in Education Thesis Manager


The role of higher education in the transition to civilian life amongst injured military personnel, Wendy Lambert-Heggs
The experiences of SENCOs engaged in Mandatory M level learning, Mike Murphy
How the curriculum offered at 14-16 reflects the values and ethos of co-operative schools, Tracey Downes
Social justice, democracy and the co-operative alternative for schooling in England, Sarah Jones
Is the home to school transport passenger assistant a professional role, Helen Riley-Humfrey


Attitudes as a contributory factor to modern foreign language decline at GCSE and A-level in the UK, Katie Roberts

Research interests

My interests are centred upon socially just educational/social policy within an environment of privatisation and individualism.

My main area of interest is how different institutions negotiate between economic and democratic values, and I am particularly interested in examples of practice that are attempting to mitigate the effects of competition and work towards more just forms of practice within a socio-political environment that does not readily support such endeavour. I have been investigating: schools with ties to the state loosened through deregulation and privatisation (e.g. independent, free and academy schools) but also have a commitment to some form of social justice (e.g. democratic, co-operative or community schools); how publicly funded arts organisations manage their commitment to the public interest in a time of financial constraint and high accountability; and how local authorities are addressing their responsibility to the public good through their services to schools.

My methodological interests are in the interface between research, policy and practice, especially the role of socially critical research in supporting more just educational policy.

Recent & Current Projects:

    • BERA Respecting Children and Young People: Learning from the Past, Redesigning the Future
      Supported by the British Educational Research Association (Sep 2013 - Feb 2015)
      Project Lead and Lead Editor

      The project is a joint initiative of 6 special interest groups within the British Educational Research Association who are together developing an alternative policy manifesto with equality and social justice for children and young people at its heart. You can read more about the project here and here. To start the thinking and discussion that will lead us to formulate policy recommendations we have commissioned a number of pieces of writing by members who are some of the leading educational researchers in the United Kingdom. These will be posted on our blog over the coming months. There are posts from Geoff Whitty, Diane Reay, Heidi Mirza and Stephen Ball and many others. Please visit the blog: http://berarespectingchildren.wordpress.com/

    • Social Justice in Privatised Schooling
      Externally funded British Academy/Leverhulme (Oct 2012 - Sep 2014)
      Principal Investigator

      This two year study investigates socially just education in a privatised schooling system. The findings are important for understanding social justice at a time when new state-funded schools are being established with weak ties to the state and blurred lines between the public good and private interests (such as international expansion in free and charter schooling). Looking to existing schools in the independent sector it identifies schools that are committed to social justice(e.g. democratic and consciousness-based education), and analyses the quality and nature of the education provided.

    • Participatory Learning in Young Explainers
      Funded by ICCI (Oct 2013 - July 2014)

      A collaboration with Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery to investigate transition from higher education to work in the arts and cultural sector.
    • New Relations between Local Authorities and Schools
      Externally funded BELMAS (Sep 2012 - Aug 2013)
      Principal Investigator

      This study contributes knowledge about the effects upon social provision of policies that enable privatisation of state services by identifying and analysing changes to Local Authorities‟ services to schools that have arisen through structural reform of local government and new forms of school governance in the South West region of England.

      Report Available for Download Here

    • Regional Education Project
      Principal Investigator

      A study of innovation in post-16 education:- The role of schooling in furthering the aspirations of, and for, young people in rural communities: Understanding contexts for educational change.

      Report Available for Download Here

    • Coherency, flexibility and connectedness in work-based learning
      Principal Investigator

      This research is part of a Teaching Fellowship awarded by the University of Plymouth. It is evaluating, developing and disseminating innovations designed to enhance students' work-based learning through enriching content, using flexible pedagogies and encouraging expansive learning.

      Other research

      Grants & contracts