Over the last few years TSB2 research has found that working class boys, particularly from Quintile 1 communities, experience what we have termed ‘compounded educational disadvantage.’

We have developed this term to refer to the additional barriers for education and learning which arise for boys as a consequence of an intersection between poverty and socio-economic class, the current system of selective education, and narratives of hegemonic masculinities within school culture and troublesome masculinities within a post conflict society.

Linked to several of the key findings from the original TSB1 research, TBS2 research has found that boys who experience compounded educational disadvantage, thrive in an educational ecosystem that adopts ‘relational’ principles, pedagogies, and practices.

Our research identifies these boys as‘Relational Learners’ and through our case study data over the past year, TBS 2 has developed and began testing a set of holistic ‘relational’ educational principles aimed at igniting boys’ motivation, aspirations and attitudes towards education and learning.

Each principle and practice point has been informed by extensive qualitative and quantitative research findings and robust testing of the principles in a range of formal and informal educational settings.

While this set of principles has been developed from our research experiences with working class boys, it is our strong belief that the principles can be utilised to be of value in any educational setting, and with any young person, but particularly for boys originating from places of greatest social need.

Book Your Place

Conference Speakers

Mary Curnock Cook CBE

Mary Curnock Cook is an independent education expert serving in a non-executive capacity on a number of Boards.

From 2010-2017, Mary was Chief Executive of UCAS. Earlier in her career she held executive and non-executive positions in the education, hospitality, food and biotech sectors.

Mary chairs the governing body of the Dyson Institute, and the Access Project, a charity which helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds progress to selective universities.

She is a Council member at the Open University, and a non-exec Director at the Student Loans Company, the London Interdisciplinary School, the Student Room and Education Cubed.

She is also a Trustee at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI.  She has the role of Network Chair for Emerge Education, the leading edtech investor in Europe.

Mary has an MSc from London Business School and was awarded an OBE in 2000, and a CBE in 2020 for services to further and higher education. She is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck and Goldsmiths and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire.

Mr Barry Mulholland

Mr Barry Mulholland is the Chairperson of the Board of the Education Authority (EA), effective from 1 January 2021, following a successful public appointments competition.

Mr Mulholland was most recently the Chief Executive of the Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC). He previously served as Chief Administrative Officer in the Belfast Education and Library Board and subsequently as Chief Executive of the Western Education and Library Board.  When the Education Authority came into operation in 2015, he assumed the role of Regional Managing Director taking responsibility for the Western and North and Eastern areas.

Mr Mulholland has also served in a voluntary capacity on a wide range of public and community based committees, including BBC Children in Need (NI), BBC Appeals Committee (NI), the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Lurgan Credit Union and the Chief Executives’ Forum (NI).

Conference Programme - 20 October 2021





Welcome, introduction and overview of proceedings

Statement from TBS partners – CSSC, CCMS, and YANI

Prof. Brian Murphy, Director for Widening Access and Participation, Ulster University

Ms. Geraldine Duffy, Senior Education Advisor, Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS)

Mr. Mark Baker, CEO, Controlled Schools Support Council (CSSC)

Ms. June Trimble, MBE, CEO, Youth Action Northern Ireland

10:15- 10:35

A UK-wide perspective

Dr. Mary Curnock Cook, CBE, independent education expert and former CEO of UCAS


Video 1 – Boys’ perspectives on education


A perspective from the Education Authority

Mr. Barry Mulholland, Chair of Education Authority


Video 2 – Boys’ perspectives on education


Introducing Minister for the Department of Education

Prof. Duncan Morrow, Director for Community Engagement, Ulster University


Policy on educational attainment

Ms. Michelle McIlveen, MLA, Minister for the Department of Education


Video 3 – Boys’ perspectives on education




Taking Boys Seriously

Dr. Ken Harland, TBS Research Consultant


Compounded educational disadvantage, the ecosystem, and boys as relational learners

Ms. Susan Morgan, TBS Research Manager, Ulster University


Video 4 – Educators


Instructions for breakout rooms

Mr. Andy Hamilton, TBS Research Associate, Ulster University


Breakout groups hosted by facilitators



Next steps and getting involved in the trial

Mr. Andy Hamilton, TBS Research Associate, Ulster University


Conference close

Prof. Terri Scott, Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Operations & Portfolio Development

Guest Facilitators

Guest Facilitators




Dr. Mark Hammond

Ulster University


Ms. Debs Erwin


Youth Engagement Consultant

Mr. Andy Hewitt

Network Youth NI


Dr. Gail Neill

Ulster University


Mr. Joe Hawkins

National Youth Council of Ireland / YouthPact

Development officer

Ms. Eliz McArdle

Ulster University


Ms. Caroline Redpath

YouthAction NI

Asst. Director

Mr. Darryn Causby


General Sec

Ms. Nicky Kells

South Eastern Trust

Residential Child Care Worker/Youthworker

Mr. Mark McFeeters

Ulster University


Ms. Leighann McConville

Ulster University /YouthPact

Development Officer

Ms. Mary McGrath

Education Authority

Funding Support and Assurance Officer

Conference Report

Conference Recording