Dr Rene Saran

Dr Rene SaranDr Rene Saran has been a member of BEAS, then BEMAS and now BELMAS since the early 1970s. She read about the new organisation in the journal for tutors in adult education, the field in which she was then working. During the 1960s Rene had completed her doctoral thesis on secondary education and its reorganisation on comprehensive lines. Her interest in equal access for all children to a good education had led her to examine closely the post-war reform of education under the 1944 Education Act, and the way policy-making evolved subsequently. Her empirical research on national and LEA documentary archives coupled with extensive interviews of leading policy makers (politicians, councillors, civil servants, trade union and parent representatives among others) enabled her to analyse in depth seven major policy decisions between 1944 and 1970. In 1973 Rene’s first book was published: Policy-Making in Secondary Education – A Case Study (Clarendon Press, Oxford). Later studies included The Politics behind Burnham – A Study of Teachers’ Salary Negotiations (Sheffield Papers in Education Management No. 45, 2nd ed. 1989) and, edited with Derek Esp, Effective Governors for Effective Schools – roles and relationships (Pitman Publishing in association with BEMAS, 1995).

Rene became an academic late in life and started her doctorate even later. She had not dreamed of ever becoming a researcher. Having started her working life in industry, commerce and voluntary societies, she took her first degree in her late twenties. It was this personal background that led Rene eagerly to join BELMAS when it was first set up. She was particularly attracted to the bridge building in BELMAS between practitioners and academics, because her research was strongly orientated towards the study of actual practice within the framework of policy and theory. Rene has her feet on the ground! Many BELMAS members have helped her in her research, especially by giving introductions to people to interview usually in connection with particular case studies.

In all the years of membership Rene has missed very few Annual Conferences; was an elected member of Council; chaired the BELMAS Research Committee for 12 years until 2000; attended conferences of the European Forum for Educational Administration; and more recently has served as one of the Society’s Honorary Vice-Presidents. She retired from Polytechnic lecturing in 1986, published more after retirement than before, and now takes a back seat, enjoying seeing the emergence of younger colleagues in our activities.

Rene is also active in the Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy (SFCP). Under that umbrella she attends and sometimes facilitates Socratic Dialogues. Taster sessions have been offered regularly at the BELMAS Annual Conference, conducted jointly by Dorothy Moir and Rene. For information about Socratic Dialogue see www.sfcp.org.uk; alternatively see Rene Saran and Barbara Neisser (ed) (2004) Enquiring Minds - Socratic Dialogue in Education, Trentham Books.

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