TAEDS’ Vicki Hobbs is off to new pastures

Vicki Hobbs leaves TAEDS after a five year career as academic tutor during which time she used her excellent teaching skills to develop the physical theatre work on the Programme.  Vicki had been a student on the Programme, 2002-05, and used her knowledge of and enthusiasm for the unique Course to support and enhance student work during her time here.  Perhaps her greatest legacy will be the Careers modules and work placement opportunities she has initiated and embedded within the Programme.  This is pioneering in what will be essential provision within the developing landscape of higher education.  On behalf of current students and alumni, colleagues and former colleagues we thank her and wish her well on the next steps of her life’s journey

Simon Floodgate



Vicki Hobbs (right) giving farewell speech, standing next to an international student
Vicki Hobbs (right) giving farewell speech, standing next to an international student

Deaf Learners’ Conference hosted by Ilan Dwek

Deaf Unity, set up by a young Deaf man, Abdi Gas in 2010, aims to reach out to all deaf learners not just in the UK, but all over the world, such as Qatar, Tunisia, etc. Reaching out to deaf youths in the Community, Deaf Unity acts as a gateway and guide to the world of Further and Higher Education, recognising the need for more transparency and support for those thinking about progression into college or university, this Deaf Learners project provides access to events across the country, detailed information and tailored support

Deaf Unity’s first Deaf Learners Conference was held on 28th May 2013 at the University of Westminster in London. The aims of the day were to facilitate discussion and share information about the future of deaf education and access to education in the UK. The conference was also a chance to discuss how to support deaf learners after education in jobs and training.

I was the host for the day and I discussed how to inspire change and empower the next generation of deaf learners through role models, networking and technology; emphasising the need for positive discussion and action.

There were several speakers. The first one was David Chater from The Department of Education, who spoke about what the government is doing for deaf learners. The title of his talk was ‘Breaking Educational Barriers: Providing Deaf People with access to information, resources and support that leads to sustainable achievements.’  i.e. closing the gap for deaf learners. He was then followed by Liz Sayce, CEO of Disability Rights UK, who presented a talk about ‘Breaking Work Barriers: Providing Deaf People with Employment Support to Find and Keep Jobs.’ She discussed the work she has done with Disability Rights UK, and how she has brought many different organisations together to work on breaking down barriers within employment for deaf and disabled people.

The third speaker was Rob Wilks, Deaf Lawyer and head of RAD Law centre, who discussed “Equality for Deaf Learners: Why is the law failing them?” He succinctly summarised the barriers facing Deaf people in accessing legal assistance and gave everyone something to think about in terms of making changes in this area. There was an afternoon speaker, Asif Iqbal, who recounted his education and employment journey, providing us with an example of what can be done with a ‘can-do’ attitude.

The afternoon was action packed, with four workshops with Jane Cordell (Successful employment), Penny Beschizza & Dr Marian Grimes (Communication needs in education), John Hay (History of Deaf Education), and Gary Morgan (Linguistics Research on Deaf Learners).

Four deaf learners gave their accounts of their education journeys during the afternoon session of the conference – which brought home how much deaf learners need the right resources, information and access to support. All four had different experiences but the common thread was that they have had to work hard to knock down barriers within education and society to achieve, even in the 21st Century.

Overall, the conference was a chance for organisations and individuals to come together and discuss how to change education and employment opportunities for deaf people for the better. We are proud to be involved in this work with our Deaf Learners project, providing information and looking for ways to improve the experience within education, and to support deaf learners into employment. We hope all who came had an informative and inspiring day.

Ilan Dwek


UK pupils get hands on with Robots, God and Genetic Engineering


 VC opens

University of Reading’s Institute of Education welcomed 300 pupils and teachers from across 13 British schools this week in a unique partnership with science and religious education secondary departments.

Pupils from across the UK gathered at the Institute’s Robots, God and Genetic Engineering workshop which was opened by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading. The day was scheduled to include acclaimed scientists from a number of universities, including Reading, who explored stem cells, robotics, ethics and philosophy with their young guests. Workshop sessions included building robots, cloning cauliflowers and discussion about the brain, the mind and free will.

Organiser, Dr. Berry Billingsley, Senior Lecturer in Science Education at Reading’s Institute of Education said:

“We are becoming increasingly aware as a training institution, that the pressure is growing on teachers nationwide to deliver globally and scientifically aware future citizens. Proposed new GCSEs are likely to have a heavy focus on genetics, and for the first time evolution is likely to be part of the Primary School science curriculum. So it’s not a surprise we have been inundated by schools from across the country wanting to take advantage of our free workshop, that sets out to nurture pupils to ask not only ethical questions but also bigger questions about life and what medical science can do for us and to us.”

 Prof John Bryant, a speaker on genetic engineering and bioethics, Dr Nick Hawes from Birmingham’s Intelligent Robotics Lab with robot ‘Dora the Explorer’, Prof Kevin Warwick, cybernetics expert and inventor of the robot rat complemented a frenzied day of activities for the enthusiastic teenagers:

Tim, 15, from City of Norwich School mused : “Although I googled the event the day before I wasn’t really sure what the day would bring. Now my head is buzzing with even more questions then I came with. It’s really made me think about and all the things I could do with my GCSE choices this year.”

Rob, a Science Teacher at Shire Oak Academy, Brownhills, Walsall said:

“Our academy is science based and our aim is to focus on the gifted and talented. Today’s workshop has not only opened our pupils eyes, but has made me think about all the ways our staff can get young people to engage in learning. The most significant part of today’s invitation is how many pupils have told me that they don’t think that going to University is boring anymore. That’s a really valuable aspiration to work towards.”.

This is the second event at the Institute of Education of its kind and is supported by the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at Cambridge.

To find out about forthcoming events, visit www.faradayschools.com or email the LASAR events coordinator, Janet Lake at lasar@reading.ac.uk