Staff at the Institute of Education are often called upon to provide expert comment. They actively campaign for change so that passionate educational practitioners have the best environment to work in and that children continue to develop successfully.

Professor Helen Bilton was invited to London on Thursday 8 November 2018 to give her expert opinion on how to develop the early years education profession at the Westminster Education Forum ‘Next steps for early years education: developing the EYFS profile, assessment and priorities for strengthening the transition to primary education’

Read below what was discussed in Helen’s own words.

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Last Thursday I was given the opportunity, alongside seven other panel members to address the next steps for early years education at the Westminster Forum.

Five minutes each isn’t a long time to speak but we covered a lot of ground and interestingly though we didn’t say the same thing, we did in a way.

We each took the subject from different angles but came to the same conclusions which are detailed below:

  • Listen to the experts, not the vested parties;
  • Value children by ensuring the national curriculum fits the early years framework;
  • We need to ensure we have the calibre and number of staff needed to continue with early years education properly;
  • The previous baseline assessment wasn’t workable or appropriate because it ‘didn’t tell teachers anything they didn’t know’.
  • Policy makers need to address poverty in this country and need to ensure families are paid a good wage and live in decent affordable homes;
  • We have a system that heavily values assessment rather than education itself, which needs to change;
  • There are great schools out there achieving great things with children while not having to forgo their principles.

Baroness Perry who chaired the forum was a force to be reckoned with, once Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools in England, she questioned how we have a system that trains teachers in one age phase to then be able to teach any age of child. We should value and keep those people who train in early years.

Although the DfE spokesperson couldn’t stay for the discussions after they presented, they mentioned changes that could cut the workload. I do feel if they had stayed however, they would have seen that not one person, audience or speaker, mentioned the high workload, rather they spoke passionately, demonstrating a deep care for children, wanting to preserve a good education for all.

On the other hand, the Ofsted spokesperson did mention self -regulation and that staff in settings need to articulate to inspectors their understanding of the children in their care.

Going forward, I think we all need to continue to speak to anyone and everyone about education using language that talks about children in terms of growth, development and maturity.

As the campaigning group declares, children are more than a score (www.morethanascore.org.uk).   Moreover, we need to be discussing how we make schools ready for children and as a nation we need to consider what the priorities are for children.

Finally, we need to be pushing for quality professional education so all staff are knowledgeable about child development.

All in all, I came away impressed by the level of debate and the measured discussions. The early years sector has room to grow in strength. I feel emboldened to campaign for change.

Check out the forum here https://bit.ly/2zSjL4E

 

 

 

Dr Rebecca Berkley, Lecturer in Music Education at the University of Reading started the Universal Voices children’s choir in March 2017.

Rebecca has run children’s and adults choirs for Berkshire Maestros, the Berkshire Young Musicians’ Trust; for Sing Up, Kennet Opera, and Sing for Pleasure, the National Singing Charity. She started Universal Voices so that students training as primary music teachers on the BA in Primary Education (QTS) programme could learn how to run a choir, develop their conducting skills and learn to teach musicianship.  

“I wanted my students to have a conducting placement with an experienced mentor. We teach conducting on our BA Education programme and Masters Programmes but there’s a big difference between conducting fellow students who can read music, and teaching young children in a primary school setting who have mixed abilities and confidence.”

The choir was launched at the Institute of Education Partnership Concert: Songs and Stories in March 2017. With the support of Music at Reading and the Campaign and Engagement Supporters’ Office, this concert brought together 270 children from the Reading area, who sang alongside music education students who also managed the concert. Universal Voices began rehearsals in April 2017 with around 30 children, and membership has risen to 40 as more children joined. The choir has performed regularly at University events like the University Advent Concert, the Big Band Big Lunch, and Alumni Family Funday. In 2018-19 they will present a join concert with Christ Church Choir, and also complete in the Woodley Festival for the first time.

The second Partnership concert in March 2018 was a performance of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, with Universal Voices taking the roles of Noye’s children, a chorus of 250 children from partnership schools and BA Ed and PGCE students from the Institute of Education taking solo singing roles and playing in the orchestra. The whole event was project managed by second year students who got to work with Music at Reading to manage the concert and led rehearsals with our partnership schools. This performance was nominated for a Reading Cultural award as best Community Project of 2018, and won an Institute of Education teaching and Learning award.

March 2019 will see the next round of second year students lead a concert called Animal Crackers. The University Big Band will lead an animal themed concert featuring creative composing and performing projects from children from local primary schools, and songs from the Jungle Book. 

This Choir is funded though the Campaign and Engagement Supporters’ Office and is free for children aged 7-13 to attend. Contact Universal Voices on universalvoices@reading.ac.uk, and follow us on Twitter @UniRdg_UVoices

 

 

Congratulations to our very own Teresa Wilson on publishing her new resource guide with Routledge, Taylor and Francis. 

How To Develop Partnerships With Parent’s provides a practical took kit including e-resources to help settings, nurseries, preschools, children’s centres and anyone working within the early years foundation stage (EYFS) to reflect and develop the knowledge, skills and confidence needed for working effectively with parents, in order to ensure the successful development of their children.

Teresa Wilson is the Programme Director of BA Education Studies here at the University of Reading and has previously been Programme Director of the Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning which offers a module on working with parents. Teresa has extensive knowledge of building partnerships with parents having previously worked at the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners (NAPP), and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).

When asked why she wanted to write this book Teresa said: “So many things can go wrong with this type of relationship and without building trust with parents there can be detrimental effects on the children involved.”

She continued: “If you don’t have the buy in from the parents then this can cause challenges to developing a relationship with a child because you may lack important information about that child. For example, parents may not feel confident to share information about the child’s needs or home circumstances until they have trust in the practitioners.”

In short, forming a bond with the parents is vital to knowing how best to help that child. Teresa’s book is a brilliant pointer in the right direction.

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Academics worked innovatively alongside their students to create a new module, propelling a team from the IoE to a prestigious honour; the 2018 University Collaborative Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning; one of only three winners of the award this year.

The winning team left to right: Kamilah Jooganah, Jo Elsey, Geoff Taggart, Maria Kambouri-Danos, Caroline Guard and Hilary Harris.

The highly competitive award recognises the talent, vision and sheer hard work that went into the winning projects and is a huge achievement for the project team, led by Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos and consisting of the BA in Children’s Development and Learning (BA CDL), the Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning (FD CDL) and also colleagues from the Centre for Quality Support and Development (CQSD). The idea was to develop a brand new module in the BA CDL – but this time, in close partnership with their students. The team felt that this would set “a useful exemplar to sharing good practice” and this approach to working in partnership with students was a core part of the project’s aim.

Dr Kambouri-Danos, Programme Director of BA CDL said:

“Empowering individuals it at the core of my practice, and this is what this project was about: Empowering students by listening to their voice and engaging them in the development of their own programme. It was hard work, but the outcome was definitely worth it; it wouldn’t be this successful if students as well as staff did not work together in the way they did. We cannot guess what our students need or think, no matter how hard we try. We need to actively engage them in curriculum development processes to ensure quality outcomes. On the BA CDL, our students are our partners, and this offers a very good example of how students and staff can work in partnership to improve, even further, the quality of a very successful programme.”

The team wished to go beyond feedback and further engage students by listening to their ‘voice’ while designing the module. In this way they felt they would, with the students, co-develop a more effective module with clear and student-friendly assessable outcomes.

Jo Elsey, Head of the Early Years Team at the IoE and a member of the team said:

“The most important element of this project is that students have had a real and positive impact on the teaching and learning content of the BA CDL. As a work-based programme it is very important that the programme reflects the children and young people’s workforce requirements in order for practitioners to be able to deliver the education and care that our children and young people deserve.”

The team work that was fostered by student-staff partnerships became a particularly important angle, especially in this programme which sees the majority of its students already juggling full-time family duties, full time jobs and attending University one day a week.

The close collaboration within the team ensured that these highly realistic and time-pressed students’ voices were heard and taken into account while developing the new module.  Their valuable input was further enhanced by going back to the whole BA CDL cohort, who were able to give feedback before the new module was approved and finalised, ensuring a diversity of views and ideas.

Evaluation showed the project’s positive impact on the student experience: all students agreed that it has been very beneficial to take part in this collaborative work, as it helped to develop a sense of belonging and feel part of the community of staff and students working together. The students recognised that the project had increased their engagement, improved the student-staff experience and increased a sense of ownership and sense of belonging for both students and staff.

Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the Institute of Education said:

“I warmly congratulate our winning team. All of us at the IoE are proud of their considerable achievement. Each member of the winning team has worked hard to drive this project forward and the combination of their considerable skills and knowledge has brought about this excellent result.”

The winning team behind the BA CDL’s new module:

  • Dr Geoff Taggart, Programme Director PGC in Early   Years Practice
  • Dr Kamilah Jooganah (from the Centre for Quality Support & Development)
  • Mrs Hilary Harris, Programme Director Foundation Degree CDL

We encourage enquiries about all aspects of our award-winning programme: please email bacdl@reading.ac.uk for further information, an informal enquiry or details of how to apply.

 

 

Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos

Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos has been recognised for her exceptional capabilities in teaching and learning in the 2018 University Teaching Fellowship (UTF) scheme. She joins the ranks of a number of other members of the IoE to hold this prestigious award, emphasising the excellent teaching and learning that the IoE offers.

The UTF is a competitive award that is conferred on an individual who has demonstrated individual excellence and contributed to the development of teaching and learning within the University. The Fellowship is designed to support staff to further develop and progress in this area. It recognises and rewards excellence in teaching and the support of student learning, and is open to both academic and support staff across the University.

On receiving the news, Dr Kambouri-Danos said:

“I’m very excited and honoured to receive this prestigious award. I’m passionate about student engagement and working in partnership with students is at the core of what I do. It’s great to see that all my hard work and commitment is recognised by the University. A big thank you to all the students and also colleagues that supported me and took part in the different projects, as I wouldn’t be able to achieve this without them.”

The event, on Saturday 23 June, honoured the programme’s unique history and marked its legacy. Many current and former members of TAEDS and Theatre of the Deaf joined the celebration and were treated to the world premiere of this production of Moonbird, an adaptation of the children’s story by the deaf author Joyce Dunbar. Moonbird was performed most movingly by Handprint Theatre Company which was formed by programme alumni and employs deaf actors and workshop leaders.

Described by many attendees as “poignant”, “really perfect” and “chilled and magical”, the day achieved a fine balance between joyful celebration and the sadness that a goodbye brings. Students from the BA Performance in British Sign Language and English at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland sent a moving but lively filmed message of support which was warmly received. Programme Director Simon Floodgate commented on how interesting the various speeches had been, in which some deaf people explained how they had “found” themselves through TAEDS, while others described how their lives and careers had been informed by the programme. He said:

“It is the many, many deaf and hearing graduates who are, ultimately, the Theatre of the Deaf and TAEDS. They are the community that everyone speaks about and their work as actors, directors, teachers, sign language interpreters, LSAs and TAs, speech therapists and all of the other associated careers that all of the students have gone on to ARE the legacy of this unique course…in terms of MY working life I doubt there will be anything of which I will be more proud.”
Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the Institute of Education said:

“The TAEDs celebration was a fitting tribute to the wonderful legacy of the programme.  It was lovely to see so many graduates and hear of their successes since graduation. I want to thank Simon Floodgate and his team for creating such a fond memory despite the programme closing.”

 

Sir David Bell, VC said:

“It is, I know, a day of mixed emotions. Sadly, the course is closing but, on the other hand, there is much to celebrate. As well as paying tribute to the students from this year and previous years, I want to acknowledge the work done by Simon Floodgate, our Subject Leader for PGCE Drama and the Programme Director for TAEDS. I also want to acknowledge Cathy Wardale and, indeed, all of those who have contributed to the programme over many years.”

 


Theatre director and founder of Deafinitely Theatre, Steve Webb said:

“I never dreamed that the course would lead me to the place where I am now and the experiences that I’ve had, setting up professional theatre companies, Deafinitely Theatre and D-Live!, becoming a theatre director and writer and working with a large variety of mainstream theatre companies….

The TAEDS course leaves a legacy and an impact on the British Theatre landscape that should be celebrated.  We see many alumni who have gone on to become professional actors, writers, directors and theatre-makers and this is something to celebrate.” 

 

Professor Lib Taylor of Reading’s school of Film, Theatre and Television said:

“[From the first] time I worked with TAEDS students … I didn’t teach them, they taught me… they gobbled up every bit of knowledge and experience they encountered and they developed beautiful, creative responses to the material in their own theatre practice. I have taught Asian Theatre to many different groups of students now but none has understood it and connected to it in quite the way that TAEDS students have. They understand it fundamentally, its abstract forms of telling stories, its use of spectacular gesture and physicality and its calm restraint as inherent to its meaning.”

 

Stephanie Back, alumna of the programme, who started to go deaf in her mid teens, spoke very movingly about how TAEDS changed her life.

“There is a quote … from Winnie the Pooh…: ‘How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard’.

“But this is not the end of TAEDS … think of the image of a flower, and how one flower can make many flowers and it spreads and spreads and suddenly it’s not just one flower standing tall in the middle of a field, but 5000 flowers in every field all over the world. That is what TAEDS has done. We are a community and that is beautiful.

 

Click on the image to see the full programme

The event, on Saturday 23 June, will honour the programme’s unique history and mark its legacy. Many current and former members of TAEDS and Theatre of the Deaf are expected to attend and the world premiere of this production of Moonbird, an adaptation of the children’s story by the deaf author Joyce Dunbar, will be performed by Handprint Theatre Company, which was formed by programme alumni and employs deaf actors and workshop leaders.

This event begins at 12.30 in the Minghella Studio, Whiteknights Campus. Refreshments will be followed by speeches from past and current deaf and hearing staff and students. The Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell KCB, will also make an appearance. For more information please visit reading.ac.uk/AlumniAndSupporters/events/UpcomingEvents/A-Celebration-of-TAEDS.aspx

Please email the Campaigns and Supporter Events Team, at alumni@reading.ac.uk to confirm your attendance. 

 

Programme Director, Nasreen Majid addressing the conference

The IoE’s annual ATP* Conference featured an inspiring array of our students’ research presentations. As always, there was also a little nostalgia as we waved off our class of 2018 into their bright futures.

These conferences create a stimulating environment in which our final year BA Primary Education (QTS) students can showcase their lively, interesting and thought-provoking research around issues in primary education. Above all, the conference is the culmination of three years of intense hard work.

The key note speaker is always a central part of this special day and this year we were delighted to welcome Dr Diana Sous of the Institute of Education, University College, London, who focused on three diverse Portuguese Early Years settings to illustrate how conceptual understanding of democracy reflect individual school philosophies. 

Our annual ATP conference is a happy day in the calendar, as Programme Director Nasreen Majid hears and sees the fruits of her students’ study and research over the last three years as the students demonstrate the sheer quality and variety of their projects. The research is broad and accomplished and the posters in particular visually appealing and lively. 

Nasreen Majid, Director of the programme, who leads the conference and research output on the BA Primary Education (QTS) course said:

The research project showcase the outstanding contribution to educational research the BA Primary Education (QTS) students undertake with us here at the IOE. Each project is developed with an eye on how the focus will make a direct impact on the students’ practice as a trainee and beginner teacher. The impact is further amplified as the conference is designed as a platform for peer learning for the part 2 students who are just starting their ATP journey. I am so proud of the confidence and authority of students presenting their work, this shows a great insight into the area they have studied and ultimately a passion for teacher education.”

Our key note speaker to the conference, Dr Diana Dos Santos Sousa, Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL, IOE, delivered a timely key note, closely linked to her career trajectory from an early years practitioner to teaching fellow at UCL, IOE. Her presentation used evidence from three diverse Portuguese Early Years settings that illustrated how conceptual understandings of democracy reflect individual school philosophies She noted the tensions of international comparative testing, closely linking this to the upcoming comparative testing for 5 year olds. 

The best ATP candidate was Anna Wheatley, who received The Professor Rhona Stainthorp Prize for outstanding achievement in undergraduate research.

After the ceremonies, everyone was finally able to kick back and relax over a picnic on our London Road campus’s beautiful green quadrangle, enjoying the chance to be together one more time before our fantastic Year 3 students head off into their bright futures.

We are proud of our five presenting students, who did such sterling work at the conference. Congratulations to you all!

The Institute of Education’s BA Education Studies (QTS) offers four specialisms in Art, English, Mathematics and Music. Please click the links for full information.

*ATP = BA Primary Education (QTS) Advanced Teaching Project


The five final year students who were chosen to present their work at this year’s annual conference represent a broad cross section of the type of research undertaken. Here the five are interviewed on their work:

Will Hatton
Project: The extent to which mathematics is enjoyed by higher and lower attainers and the impact of their teachers’ attitudes towards the subject.

Lauren Rose
Project: The perceptions of the social inclusion of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: How do the children perceive their relationships with their peers and how does this compare to the perceptions of the adults who work with them?

Bethanie Matthews
Project: What is it about mathematics that causes anxiety for pupils?

Anna Wheatley 
Project: How does music intervention impact the social development of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Ellie Walsh
Project: An Exploration into the Use of Appropriate Children’s Literature to Support Upper Key Stage Two Teachers’ Delivery of the English Writing Curriculum.

 

Mums in Reading have shared their stories of success after taking part in an initiative aimed at improving their self confidence and prospects. A total of 15 mothers were joined by their families at a celebration event at the University’s London Road campus on Tuesday (29 May), where they were presented with certificates by Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell for completing the Marvellous Mums course.

Dr Carol Fuller

Dr Carol Fuller at University of Reading’s Institute of Education, who leads the Marvellous Mums course along with colleague Dr Maria Danos, said:

“We are proud of all the women who completed our first ever Marvellous Mums course, and pleased to see the success they are achieving as a result. This is one of several schemes we have introduced to equip people with the skills and confidence they need to make positive differences in their lives. Doing this allows them to change their own story, and ideally that of the community as a whole.”

The scheme, led by the University of Reading and Whitley Community Development Association (WCDA), aims to tackle social inequality by

Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos

building confidence among mothers in the Whitley area of Reading, as well as offering some employability skills sessions.

Shamyla Amjad, 29, has used the confidence gained from the course to complete a Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme and start her own jewellery business. She said: “I’m very excited and looking forward to a brighter future for me and my family. I’ve enjoyed attending the Marvellous Mums Unite programme. It’s been so inspiring and fabulous to attend.”

The 10-week Marvellous Mums course is supported by WCDA, HomeStart Reading and Workday. Participants meet weekly in Whitley Community Centre Café to discuss challenges they face and ways to overcome these, such as by engaging with local government or charities. Those struggling with unemployment are also put in touch with local employers.

 

“The effectiveness of the course was demonstrated by the fact we had a zero drop-out rate, and some of the mums have expressed an interest in returning as mentors to help future recruits.”

Funding has been secured to run further Marvellous Mums courses over the next two years. For more 

The marvellous mums

information on how to get involved,

contact c.l.fuller@reading.ac.uk  or m.danos@reading.ac.uk

 

TESTIMONIES FROM MOTHERS WHO ATTENDED THE COURSE

“I came to the programme as I was very devastated and stressed. I needed someone to talk to, build my confidence, meet new people and not to be isolated by myself. Now I can proudly say I gained self confidence” – Adama Jatta Camara


Shamyla Amjad, age 29

I came on this course to help me get my confidence back and to decide what to do for my future. So from attending the Marvellous Mums programme, which was for 10 weeks, was amazing for me and Carol has been my inspiration. She’s superwoman, always full of wonderful ideas and she’s been a great support and help for me. I have just recently completed the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme and submitted my business plan which was successful. I’m now in the process of starting my own jewellery business. I’m very excited and looking forward to a brighter future for me and my family. I’ve enjoyed attending the Marvellous Mums programme. It’s been so inspiring and fabulous to attend and all the other mums yet to come will enjoy the mums programmes as all us mums enjoyed doing.

Adama Jatta Camara, age 30

I came to the programme as I was very devastated and stressed. I needed someone to talk to, build my confidence, meet new people and not to be isolated by myself. Now I can proudly say I gained self confidence, feel loved by Marvellous Mums, learned so many things from wonderful ladies like Carol, Maria etc. They inspired me a lot. I used to think that I couldn’t achieve my goals but after attending the 10-week course I know that I can achieve anything that I want to achieve. I need to have the confidence and be strong.

Larissa Wiggins, age 28

I started this course because I was at a very low point in my life and a lot of issues going on. Even though I have my daughter and partner, I felt that I didn’t really have much for myself. Since joining this course, I’ve gained so much. It’s helped my relationship with my partner we have got a lot closer and are more happy. I’ve learnt more about who I am as a person and that there’s whole wide world out there for me to see and try new things. I know my worth and that I can do anything that I want to do if I just try hard enough. I’ve met some amazing people on this journey and some friends for life. I’ve gained so much confidence and feel so much happier within myself. Carol and Maria have done such an amazing thing for mums like us. I wake up every morning happy and knowing that I CAN do it no such thing as CANT DO IT.

Jennie Ashworth, age 35

I always worked around my kids. Mental health problems three years ago left me less secure in my abilities. HomeStart have help me rebuild, and introduced me to Marvellous Mums who have inspired me to chase my dreams and apply for jobs I wouldn’t have considered before.

 

James Lloyd, winner of the Raymond Wilson Poetry Prize

Every year, UoR students are invited to explore their creative side by entering the Raymond Wilson Poetry Competition. Held in memory of the late brilliant educationalist and Emeritus Professor of Education at Reading, the prize awards £200 for the winning poem.

This year’s winner, James Lloyd, is a Postgraduate Research student within the Classics department of the University of Reading. James’s poem, ‘April Shower’, describes in humorous detail the many things we can forget when April Showers strike. A poem like this helps make learning engaging, whilst also reflecting the daily amusements and challenge that children encounter in their gradual assimilation into the big wide world.

James Lloyd said:

“I am delighted to have won the 2017-18 Raymond Wilson prize. Thank you to everyone involved in the competition, especially the school children who helped to choose it! I hope that the poem has raised a few smiles, umbrellas, and hoods.”

Stephanie Sharp, the organiser of the competition at the IOE, commented:

“Children liked it because they understood it and thought that children everywhere would enjoy it.”

The competition is judged by children in a local school and their vote carries equal weight with Stephanie. This brings the perspectives of teacher, writer and young reader to bear on the judging. 

Raymond Wilson was an exceptional educationalist, as well as an inspired educational editor who introduced new editions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poetry and Jane Austen’s novels. Wilson was also well-known as an intuitive, sensitive critic and a prolific anthologist.

More information: s.sharp@reading.ac.uk(ext 2675). 

 

THE WINNING POEM

April Shower

 

When you hear the rumbling

Of storm clouds in the skies,

And rain drops come a tumbling,

And puddles start to rise,

 

You’ll wish you’d not forgot

To wear your anorak,

or have your favourite brolly

Stowed in your school rucksack.

 

So when you hear the rumbling

Of storm clouds in the skies,

And rain drops come a tumbling,

And puddles start to rise,

 

From their pitter patter

You’ll have no need to cower,

Because you’re well prepared

For this April shower.

 

James Lloyd, 2018

 

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