Gaming is wildly popular among young people, as teachers, carers and parents would agree, usually with a groan. Now the University of Reading is spinning these preconceptions on their head with an event at their campus that will highlight how computer gaming can actually help education. On 10th November, visitors to the “Playing Peace” event at the University’s London Road campus will be encouraged to talk about children’s rights and education in times of conflict as they explore the helpful, reflective side of gaming.

Gaming is in fact a popular theme in education already. Predictably, there are strong voices about this on either side of the debate. The University hopes to foster these discussions with teachers and parents, whilst raising awareness of how computer games can actually become an excellent tool in teaching and learning reflectively.

Event organiser, Dr Yota Dimitriadi of Reading’s Institute of Education hopes to encourage young people reflect on life and raise citizenship awareness through games. She said:

By playing on the excitement of computer games whilst discussing themes of child labour, children soldiers, consequences of forced migration, and education and conflict, we hope to foster positive contributions and change perceptions. We are inviting anyone with an interest in education, children’s welfare and development to come and play – and talk about children’s rights and education in times of conflict.

Inspired by a fundraising event organised by the charity War Child, “Playing Peace” is part of the 2017 Festival of Social Science organised by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).

  • Date: 10 November 2017 Time: 09:00 – 13:00
  • Where: University of Reading, Institute of Education, 4 Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX
  • Contact: Dr Yota Dimitriadi Email:
  • Register: via Eventbrite
  • Twitter: #ioeplayingpeace
  • Organised by: ACoRNS Network

Dr Karen Jones

Dr Karen Jones joins the blog to talk about being guest editor of a Special Issue of the journal Administrative Sciences, which brings together a variety of articles to provide perspectives on women and higher education leadership from countries as diverse as India, China, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United States and the UK.

Putting this collection of articles together was particularly interesting because each one provides unique insights and perspectives”, says Karen, who is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Management at the IOE.

Karen’s research interests include gender, women and leadership. She explained: “this is an important topic, since the significant under representation of women in higher education leadership can be observed in every country around the world. This has been well documented over the past decade in the research literature. While this research has led to a deeper understanding of the exclusionary structures, processes, and practices that collectively create obstacles for women at various career stages, higher education institutions are slow to fix the problem.”

A key contribution of this Special Issue is that it provides fascinating and unique socio-cultural insights. For instance, Kameshwara and Shukla discuss how gender relations are rooted in the socio-cultural matrix in India. Zhao and Jones draw attention to identity and Discourse as an important, yet under-researched, aspect of women’s underrepresentation in higher education leadership and they apply this to a study of female higher education leaders in China. Alsubaie and Jones, through a synthesis of existing literature, explore the complex mix of social, religious, cultural and organisational barriers for women in Saudi Arabia and make proposals for future research directions.”

The Special Issue also draws attention to structural and organisational barriers. For example, Burkinshaw and White, through two case studies – one with female Vice-Chancellors in the UK and, the second, female early career academics at an Australian university, argue that women’s growing resistance, particularly of the younger generation, reflects their dissatisfaction with higher education leadership communities of practice of masculinities. Vicary and Jones, through autoethnography, show how casual, non-permanent forms of employment that have become common practice in higher education can stifle leadership aspirations due to lack of career progression opportunities and lead to a sense of alienation from the target community of practice. Selzer, Howton and Wallace, in a co-produced autoethnography, provide a critique of a women’s-only leadership development programme in higher education in the


United States. Finally, Manifredi writes a compelling argument for positive action in recruitment and promotion to tackle women’s under-representation in senior leadership roles.”

To read more about these articles in the Special Issue “Perspectives on Women’s Higher Education Leadership from around the World” see:

We hope you will join us for a glass of Prosecco to celebrate the launch of the University of Reading’s new BA in Modern Languages with Qualified Teacher Status at our annual TeachMeet on 18 October 16.00-18.00. This is the third in Modern Languages’ series of teacher-aimed events and previous meetings have been ideal opportunities for sharing ideas and good teaching practice, as well as networking and socialising. Colleagues from the Institute of Education (IoE) and Department of Modern Languages will be on hand to chat, along with some of our current students. In our last session we considered topics suggested by teachers including: promoting diversity in the classroom, using digital media to teach, encouraging students to go beyond the curriculum and preparing for the new A-level curriculum. 

The new BA will see students reaping the benefit of expertise from both the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies and the IoE. It will equip them with high-level language skills and a sound knowledge of the cultures in which their language or languages of study are spoken. They will be trained by sector-leading educators at the IoE to develop classroom-based teaching skills that are strongly underpinned by the most recent and relevant research. Currently a £9,000 bursary is available to students during the fourth year of the Modern Languages with QTS course. Language teachers are in high demand in today’s schools and a Modern Languages degree with QTS offers job satisfaction along with competitive salaries.

If you would like to attend our event and/or would like to suggest a topic for discussion, please email Katy Green on

For more information on the new BA please see our webpage.


Only Connect: EM Forster puts it better, but the theory is that the mingling of experience and talents from different eras and areas lights a valuable spark that benefits all.

With this in mind, the University of Reading’s Alumni team has created THRIVE, a scheme that gives students an opportunity to establish a twelve month mentor partnership with a professional. During this period, the student will be exploring life and career goals based on the experience and perspective of a mentor who is already “out there”. Yet it is not just the student who gains from such a partnership. 

For the mentor, the benefit is not confined to seeing changes in their mentee student arising from their encouragement and support – though this is hugely rewarding of course. But, say mentors, spending time mentoring current students with their fresh ideas and creative approach has also been perspective-shifting and energising for them. Mentoring is, they enthuse, a two-way process and Alex Heavens of the University’s Alumni team is passionate about encouraging more professional alumni to give it a go.

THRIVE sees students testing ideas and getting into the workplace as they decide what sort of roles they see themselves in. Feedback from all sides suggests that support offered by a mentor during this period can significantly enhance students’ successful transitions into the graduate workplace. Another great asset for the mentees is the increased motivation and resilience they can bring to the sometimes harsh reality of the corporate workplace.  

Recruitment for the next year of the successful THRIVE mentoring scheme is now open.  Alumni and supporters can sign up today to help improve a current student’s career prospects and confidence after graduation. The University is also piloting a scheme to pair students working toward a postgraduate-taught degree with mentors in the Institute of Education to promote the skills gained whilst studying. Obviously, there are variations between undergraduate and postgraduate versions, but the benefits remain.

The University’s Alumni team said:

“We have seen students develop in ways which have directly related to their participation with the scheme. These include: the likelihood of them securing work experience or a placement, a greater ability to articulate their skillset as a young professional, their self-confidence and self-belief and generally a better understanding of themselves and what they would like out of a career.”

How to become a THRIVE mentor
Becoming a mentor is simple. You will need to fill out a sign up form before September and complete mentor training either online or in a face-to-face group session. Following this you will be matched with a student and should be available for an hour or two per month to work with them as a career mentor. Where possible mentors and mentees are asked to meet ‘face-to-face’ twice during the partnership to help build rapport: this can be via Skype rather than in person. For undergraduates, our scheme runs from the autumn term until the following September. For postgraduates, mentoring takes place between January and June of each academic year. Please note that we cannot guarantee all mentors will be matched immediately. Should you remain un-matched the team will suggest alternative volunteering opportunities in the interim.

To become a mentor we ask that you:

  • Hold at least a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Reading or another institution
  • Have at least two years of experience in your field following leaving full-time education
  • Are student focused with strong listening, questioning, empathy and motivational skills
  • Are willing and able to commit one hour per month to assigned mentees.

Some of the many benefits of becoming a Mentor:

In good mentoring relationships both parties will develop both professionally and personally.

Also, you can:

  • Gain knowledge about University students and how your organisation can attract them
  • Address any misconceptions about your occupation or organisation with students
  • Fine tune your empathy, rapport building, questioning, listening, motivating, facilitating skills and patience
  • Be challenged yourself and gain an alternative perspective on your work
  • Get a great sense of satisfaction from helping another human being
  • Take the opportunity to give something back to your University and department.


Becoming a mentor also means that you will receive exclusive invitations University events which are specifically for our alumni and graduate employers. There are plenty of opportunities for you to network with like-minded professionals throughout the year as well as opportunities to take part in further skills training to enhance your mentoring abilities.

Get involved
Complete our online form to become a mentor. If you would like to discuss the scheme with a member of the team, you can reach us by emailing the Thrive Career Mentoring team.


The University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) has introduced an innovative mentoring scheme which bodes well for trainee teacher development. Students praise the extra insight, knowledge and tips they receive through the scheme, alongside all the on-going support. The new scheme aims to nurture mentoring skills whilst boosting teachers’ and trainees’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD) – absolutely vital in the rapidly evolving world of education.

Trainee teachers from the IoE experience immense benefits in their training schools from the support they receive from mentors. It is a responsibility the mentors take very seriously, ensuring that by giving their mentees the kind of experience that smooths the transition to teach, these students will have a strong base from which to launch their careers and be the best teachers they can be.

Whilst being mentored, students are able to explore teaching life and career goals based on the experience and perspective of a mentor who is already ‘out there’. Yet it is not just the student who gains from such a partnership. For the mentor, the benefit is not confined to seeing changes in their mentee student arising from their encouragement and support – though this is hugely rewarding of course. But, say mentors, spending time mentoring current students with their fresh ideas and creative approach has also been perspective-shifting and energising for them. Mentoring, they enthuse, is a two-way benefit.

This is the backdrop to the IoE’s introduction of the new Mentor Certification Programme which nurtures teachers and practitioners in developing and reflecting on their skills for effective mentoring – ensuring an already robust and successful mentor programme continues to grow alongside the ever-developing world of teaching.

The new programme has been made specifically flexible to support busy professionals, with a further benefit arising from the support it provides for teachers’ and education practitioners’ career development: the strong element of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a key component of the new scheme.

Schools and settings have been enthusiastic about these skills-enhancement activities but have also experienced a different kind of positive from the scheme: research has shown a strong link between effective mentoring and recruitment and retention of teachers. Reading Partnership Teachers (RPTs) are regularly offered roles in their placement schools, so active engagement with the Partnership in training new teachers proves an excellent way for schools to recruit Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).

The Certification scheme has already drawn strong interest from colleagues in schools and settings wishing to cultivate their mentoring expertise. Those already mentoring in Partnership settings are being invited to join the new Certification programme at the level that suits their experience.

The IoE is ranked 3rd in the UK for Education (The Guardian University League Table 2018), with internationally renowned and award-winning academics. The Institute’s strong links with local – and not so local –  schools enables an outstanding Partnership that can create the next generation of exceptional teachers. 

The IoE’s high levels of pastoral care and the exemplary experience that students enjoy are regularly reflected in the annual National Student Survey (NSS), with 2017’s ranking the IoE a high 90% for satisfaction. Indeed, one of the Institute’s key strengths, as recognised by Ofsted, is the high quality of support it provides to schools, mentors and Reading Partnership Teachers (RPTs) on placement.

What Reading Partnership Mentors have to say:
“Mentoring….. it makes you think about your own teaching”
“Mentoring skills – really good for developing departmental policies”

Click here to discover more about mentoring and Mentor Certification from some of our Reading Partnership Mentors.

The Institute is keen to welcome experienced teachers and practitioners to the Mentor Certification programme, whether applicants are mentoring trainees, early years workers, students or Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).

If you would like to find out more about this aspect of the scheme, please contact your University link tutor, or Kate Malone, our Placements Co-ordinator.

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Students are at the heart of our Institute of Education (IoE). We aim to engage and challenge them, enabling them to reach their full potential to transform lives through education.

And so we’re delighted that our final year students have rated their educational experience so highly in the 2017 National Student Survey (NSS) published today (Wednesday 9th August), with a 90% satisfaction score for the IoE.

Students taking part in the survey are asked a series of questions about aspects of university life, including teaching, assessment and feedback, learning resources, and student voice. 

Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the IoE

We really value the results, as they help us to enhance the student experience at the IoE. They also help prospective students to make an informed choice about where they want to study.

The 2017 NSS was completed by more than 1,600 final year students at the University of Reading.

Overall satisfaction across the University remains strong, with our 2017 score matching the sector average at 84%.

Satisfaction also continues to perform well at departmental level, with eight departments, including the IoE, achieving a satisfaction score of 90% or above. 

Professor Gavin Brooks, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching & Learning at the University of Reading, said:

“It is pleasing to see that a number of our departments have achieved a satisfaction rating of over 90%.

“We are extremely grateful to all final year students who took the time to complete the NSS, and we look forward to using their feedback to help make Reading even better.”

Several changes were made to the wording and structure of the Survey this year and, as a result, The UK Student Information Advisory Group and funding bodies have agreed that the 2017 data is not comparable to results from previous surveys and have advised that such comparisons should not be undertaken.

The NSS is an important measure of student satisfaction. It is carried out annually by Ipsos MORI; it contributes to other independent league tables; and it has built a broader picture of the quality of higher education since it started in 2005.

The statistics are publicly available at HEFCE.

A conference on 13th July organised by Reading Borough Council celebrates a year-long project in which schools and settings have been improving the language of their early years children through engagement with parents, the environment and professional development. It gives delegates the opportunity to learn how to set up and run their own project to improve the language of their children.

Dr Helen Bilton

The RGC Hello 2 Celebration, which will run from 9.30 – 4pm at Reading’s Madejski Stadium, is set to inspire a group of professionals that is already remarkable for its dedication. The IoE’s Professor Rhona Stainthorp and Associate Professor Helen Bilton will bring their wealth of dedication, research and experience to the event as its two keynote speakers.

Early years professionals are typically very passionate about improving the outcomes for their children through language and literacy, which can come through many means, particularly through closer engagement with parents. The Celebration will offer these practitioners, who come from  early years setting and schools , the chance to mingle and discuss experiences and methods with peers, as well as hearing from the leading academics in their field. Vitally, they will also learn about the latest research outcomes that will underpin future developments in the rapidly evolving world of early years education.  

Helen has been closely involved with the year-long literacy project that culminates in this celebration. This project was based on the successful National Literacy Trust’s HELLO scheme which, with funding from the Department for Education, worked with early years experts to improve the communication, language and literacy outcomes of children from birth to age three across multiple settings in 2016.  

Professor Helen Bilton of the IoE said:

I am delighted to be involved with this happy and laudable day when we celebrate the great achievements in our field, and more specifically the remarkable progress we have seen on this year-long journey. It will be wonderful to chat to teachers and providers during the celebration, because it is their dedication and enthusiasm that drives us all forward. The people who devote themselves to our field are second to none and I look forward to talking to lots of them!” 

The RGC Hello 2 
Helping Early Language & Literacy Outcomes Celebration Conference

9.30am – 4pm Thursday 13th July 2017

The Conference Centre, Madejski Stadium

Registration, coffee & pastries – stalls open

Welcome & introduction to the project

Vocabulary matters – Dr Rhona Stainthorp, Professor, University of Reading

Break, stalls & networking

The role of the environment – Dr Helen Bilton, Associate Professor, University of Reading

Lunch & networking

How filming helped parents in supporting early reading – Miranda White, Cross Phase English Adviser & Gareth Tuck

The role of practitioners – measuring impact – Emma Mottershead, Senior Early Years Advisory Teacher

Prize giving


£90 for first delegate & second delegate has 20% discount – includes lunch & refreshments.

How to book




Have you considered becoming a Special Educational Needs Coordinator? 

The role of a SENCO is varied, challenging, and rewarding. You will need to have a love and enthusiasm for providing the best individual academic opportunities for all pupils with SEN. This vital role can be attained via our part time (12-36 months) PGCert SENCo which starts September 2017. It is required for all new SENCOs within three years of appointment and we are ideally placed to help.

Email or call us on 0118 378 5289 for a chat to see if this may be the career for you.·

Learn more about becoming a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)



Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos

The Institute of Education (IoE) at the University of Reading is celebrating a successful research year with its annual Postgraduate Conference entitled “Knowledge is Power” on Wednesday, 28th June 2017.

The conference is organised by the IoE’s Doctoral Researchers Conference Committee, supervised by Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos, Deputy Director for Postgraduate Research Studies.

Dr Kambouri-Danos said:

“This is a great tradition for the IoE, and I’m glad to have been able to support it and help to organise it for the last two years. All PGR students benefit a lot from presenting at conferences, and this internal PGR conference provides a safe environment for all students, no matter how far they are with their research, to practice, learn and develop.”

The main speaker at the conference is Dr Khalid Alshahrani (left), whose leadership in the field of technology in education has seen his work published extensively and contributes to his position as Academic Relations Lead at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. 

This end of year public conference is part of the IoE’s strong emphasis on working with international research colleagues to provide a rich research and networking environment for its PhD researchers. It gives IoE postgraduate researchers the opportunity to prepare abstracts for review, to present their work to IoE students and staff and to receive feedback from a wide range of specialists in their field.

The Committee’s work on the conference with its international speakers also gives the postgraduate researchers a vital real world experience of ‘live’ research events.

Coupled with the strength of expertise at the University of Reading in education, for which it is it ranked third in the UK in the Guardian University League Table, 2018, projects like this develop the crucial skills required to contribute incisive research to the public education arena.

Date: 28th June
Location: Institute of Education, London Road Campus

Admission is free, but please book via email:


The influence of education is not confined to the humans at London Road, as our trees have finally found their voice and are set to share their views during a special Treelaxation session today, 8 June, outside Building 33 between 1.15-2 pm . 

The trees will be in a reflective mood as they branch off into this new venture in which they will share their stories, leaf through their poetry canon and root among their memories.  

If you are stressed, tired or just in need of a break, don’t be stumped – instead, join us for some treelaxation under a couple of our more chatty trees. 

Brought to us by NatureNurture, a dynamic local charity, that engages in using technology outdoors, this immersive installation is part of our Secondary ITE Computing Outdoors Enrichment Project. NatureNurture partnered up with The Woodland Trust and presented the Talking Trees Project successfully in London at Potters Field Park last week.



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