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Dr Chris Bagley on the 3 invisible "shadow cultures" that shaped our education system




Dr Chris Bagley is a man with a dazzling variety of hats. He is psychologist, writer and musician with an interest in youth justice, educational transformation and systems change. He is Director of Research at the social enterprise States of Mind, and a lecturer and doctorate supervisor at the UCL Institute of Education. He also works part-time for South Gloucestershire psychology service, primarily in a Secure Children’s Unit and Pupil Referral Unit.

Chris describes his purpose as being to co-develop psychologically healthy education systems alongside young people, families, professionals and creative thinkers. He started in education as a secondary school teacher and later trained as an Educational Psychologist. Chris developed a specialism in relation to Youth Justice, school exclusion and managed moves and practised as a specialist in a youth offending team for a number of years. He’s also an accomplished folk musician who has some really lovely music on his website - there are links in the show notes.

As Director of Research at States of Mind and in collaboration with UCL, Chris conducts participatory action research to gather young peoples’ insights and place their voices at the centre of education reform. States of Mind have recently launched the ‘Education Futures in Action’ movement which aims to bring together innovators who are actioning education environments that genuinely respond to the diverse needs of young people.

Chris is currently writing his first book - 'Shadow Cultures and the tyranny of school and state' - which is the topic of today’s conversation. It explores the history of UK education, and exposes some of the deeply entrenched, often invisible narratives that underpin the education system we see today.


Chris’s website:

States of Mind:

Chris’s talk on Shadow Cultures (and many other great speakers)

James’s TEDx talk ‘How to change the world’:

Making Change Stick:

Rethinking Ed Mighty Network:

The Rethinking Ed online conference (88 amazing talks):

James on Twitter:

The Rethinking Education podcast is hosted and produced by Dr James Mannion. You can contact him at, or via @RethinkingJames on Twitter.


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