Ann Filer with Andrew Pollard1
The second half of the 1980s saw the conception and early development of a longitudinal ethnography of pupil learning and school careers, contextualized within the period of great educational change in the UK of the late 1900s. In 1987, with a group of 10 4-year-olds in a Reception class at Greenside School, their parents, teachers and peers, Andrew Pollard began research on the social influences on learning. Some 18 months later I approached Andrew to discuss some research I wished to undertake. So, in the Autumn term of 1989 I began researching in Albert Park School for a part-time longitudinal PhD study, which Andrew had agreed to supervise. My interest was in the tracking of the successive classroom assessment experiences of a group of 5-year-olds in the context of newly introduced national assessment procedures.
Though the substantive questions and main focus of the two studies were different, our shared research interest meant that both Andrew and I sought multi-perspective understandings of classroom events, which would include the strategies and perceptions of pupils and teachers and the dynamics of peer group action. The two studies were distinct in those early days of what was, in time, to become the ILP. In due course Andrew and I were to bring them together, informally at first, then later through a formal collaboration. 2 This enabled us to develop comparisons across the schools, which were situated in very different socio-economic communities. We also constructed theories and models of pupil learning and careers through the Greenside study, which we later elaborated with reference to assessment issues. At the time of writing, Andrew and I, with the support of a research student, Anne Malindine, continue to track the young people from Greenside and Albert Park schools through their ten different secondary schools. 3 This latter phase of the programme follows the pupils through to their GCSEs and sees them embarking on their 16+ careers in school, college and work.