Important information: PGCE Places for 2016-17

As always, gaining a place to train as a teacher at the University of Reading and its Partnership Schools is competitive.  Due to changes and developments in the recruitment process across the sector, we are currently processing a large number of applications. If you are interested in applying, we urge you to contact us this week if possible, or certainly before Christmas to avoid disappointment. We are keen to see ALL of our potential applicants! More information here, or call 0118 378 5289 for a chat. Alternatively, get in touch via the form below:

Enquiry about teacher training at the University of Reading

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Turtle Song

Family, friends, staff and Music students came together in the grand surrounds of the Institute of Education’s Great Hall on 4th December, for a touching and heartfelt performance called “Sensations!” by the participants of “Turtle Song”.

A performance of Turtle Song is a special event that gathers people with memory problems and all forms of dementia plus their carers together with professional musicians, workshop leaders and music students to deliver a high-quality, challenging and enjoyable experience.

This special cycle of Turtle Song was a collaboration between Turtle Key Arts and students on the BA (QTS) Education, Music Specialism course at the Institute of Education. The group was particularly pleased to return to the University of Reading for a second visit at the invitation of Younger People With Dementia, and work once again with the fantastic and dedicated music students of the Institute of Education.

The Turtle Song group met with the IoE students weekly over the past 9 weeks to create Sensations! – a new song cycle inspired by our 5 senses. After the all-important tea, coffee, biscuits and chat each week, the groups would take a different sense as a starting point to initiate discussion, write lyrics, and develop music and dance using a variety of different techniques.

Turtle Song aims to seek out those with dementia who might be affected by isolation and depression and to encourage a positive outlook through music. The project enables participants to write and perform their own song cycle, and through this activity, improve and maintain cognitive pathways and raise self-esteem through empowerment.  It locates people living at home, or in care, and provides them with artistic and social stimulation through an enjoyable and shared activity.

The project is a collaboration between Turtle Key Arts, the Royal College of Music and English Touring Opera. The project was kindly supported by YPWD (Younger people with Dementia, Berkshire), the Henry Smith Charity and the Mark Armitage Trust.

BA(Ed) Music Specialism the Institute of Education

This programme creates and celebrates The Musician in the Classroom. It is a specialist course for students who want to train as a music subject leader in primary education. It is both a music and a professional primary education degree. Students benefit from the highest levels of individual attention, meaning rich quality in small groups. Hear our musicians in the classroom discuss their Programme

concert smallTurtle Key Arts

Turtle Key Arts unlocks creative potential in individuals, companies and communities, producing and devising original, ground-breaking, inclusive art to entertain and inspire.

To watch a short film about Turtle Song
please visit


Get children out of the classroom to improve exam results

A recent study suggests that the way to raise academic attainment in disadvantaged children is to get them out of the classroom altogether.

The University of Reading is to publish research that confirms outdoor learning and activity among this group improves exam results.

The three year study, conducted by Reading’s Dr Carol Fuller and the Ufton Court Education Trust, scrutinised the role of outdoor residential experiences on under achieving students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. They explored whether these activities had an impact on the children’s educational attainment.

The impetus for this research was Carol’s desire to help children achieve and become the best they can be. She asserts that children’s personal achievements benefit society as a whole, producing more resilient, productive adults.

This aim tallied closely with the mission of the Ufton Court Educational Trust, which is to raise the aspiration and achievement of all children and in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dr Fuller’s research spanned four years and involved her working closely with pupils from the John Madejski Academy (JMA), which has close links to the University of Reading and teaches many children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The study consisted of a mix of outdoor activities and learning, set against the beautiful backdrop of Ufton Court Educational Trust’s Elizabethan manor house in Berkshire.

Carol hoped her studies might help redress social hindrances to children’s learning achievements, like chaotic home lives, lack of resources and a resultant dearth of opportunity. Often children from this sort of background will not feel a sense of belonging at school. They may also suffer low self esteem and this combination can lead to them causing trouble or failing to engage – most likely, both.

Carol suggests that in the formal atmosphere of the classroom, such children can feel curtailed by their poor understanding of social conventions. The many unwritten rules can ensure that already disadvantaged children feel they just don’t belong.

At Ufton Court, the study group of children discovered freedom from society’s rules. They developed the confidence to speak up and participate, sometimes to a startling degree, in a way they wouldn’t have in the classroom.

Most importantly, the children had fun and benefited from the stability of their new opportunity, developing greater engagement with their work and those around them as a result.

What is powerfully interesting is seeing how these very positive effects translated back in the classroom.

Carol compared the outdoor group’s academic results with a second group that did not take part and found her anecdotal evidence strongly confirmed by GCSE results. For the active group, GCSE educational gains in terms of overall attainment, as well as attainment in GCSE English and Maths, showed much better results than the non participating group. Carol’s research also put a spotlight on the difference in attainment between the two groups and found it to be statistically significant.

Dr Fuller said: “This means that we can say, with some confidence, that these experiences have contributed in an important way to the overall educational attainment outcomes for the students in the research group.”

The key to this success is repeadness. “The effects of one trip can wear off, but making the trips a regular event continues to remind the pupils that they have done worthwhile things and are capable human beings. This increases their confidence in the classroom and probably in life afterwards,” said Carol.

Persuasive anecdotal evidence during the study also pointed to the activities having an all-round benefit on the children’s well-being.

There are several remarkable case studies that Carol brings to light, notably “Orlando” (a pseudonym) who at the start of the research was about to be expelled. By the end, he is an ambassador for his school, speaking to 500 prospective parents about why they should choose JMA.

Another poignant story tells of a shy girl who was too fearful even to leave her room at home. She displayed worryingly quiet behaviour and could not socialise with other children or participate in class. But during her field trip, the youngster managed to take part in a night-time woodland walk at Ufton Park. This experience enabled her to turn a corner and she found that her fear of going out had all but disappeared. She reports that she now goes out frequently with her friends back at home. That a tiny thing like a woodland walk can be life-changing exemplifies the value of this research.

Were these results translated to policy, discussion would have to revolve around building teachers’ confidence in outdoor learning. It would certainly focus on current teacher training and whether it can encompass the skills to lead outdoor learning activities. And fundamentally, should Ofsted be including a mark on levels of outdoor learning and activity?

Meanwhile, activities like those at Ufton Court are not part of the formal curriculum, nor are they Ofsted assessed. Yet these are extraordinary results that clearly show struggling young people turning their lives and educational attainment around. Can this be ignored by policy makers?

The University of Reading is hosting its second Early Years conference on 2 March 2016.

After an extremely successful conference last March, the University of Reading is hosting its second  Early Years conference on 2 March 2016. The Institute of Education is delighted to be presenting this specially designed conference for those working with Early Years children.

TICKETS FOR EYFS CONFERENCE 2016 (see below for full details)

This year’s conference will see us turning our attention to how to build resilience in the adults. We will be focusing on  ensuring they feel confident in all they do. Delegates should go away feeling reinvigorated and refreshed.

The programme will include a keynote speech and six workshops. There will be opportunities to network and browse the market. To tempt you, here is some feedback from last year:

‘The day was thought provoking, inspiring, great resources, friendly teachers’                                 

‘I liked the mixture of keynote speech + workshops, and the opportunity to share ideas and network’                                               

‘The talk was inspiring, the workshops were useful, all great ideas’.

toddler time at The Hub

Focusing on the adult: building resilience and confidence

Institute of Education, University of Reading, London Road campus

Wednesday 2 March 2016 from 9.30am- 3.00pm


9.00 Refreshments, networking, workshop sign-up and welcome

9.30 Introduction

9.45 Keynote speech – Focusing on the adult: building resilience and confidence

10.45 Break

11.15 Workshops*

12.30 Lunch with discussion group (bookshop)

1. 30 Workshops* (repeated sessions from morning)

2.45 Evaluation

3.00 End – you are welcome to stay and mingle with other delegates.

*The same six workshops will be offered both morning and afternoon. Delegates will be required to select two workshops at time of booking from the drop-down menu – one for the morning and one for the afternoon. Remember, you can choose the workshops in either order so if your morning choice is full, simply book that workshop in the afternoon instead, and your other choice for the morning. See below for workshop titles, synopses and speaker biographies.

Cost, which includes refreshments and lunch:

£95 if you book and pay on-line by credit/debit card: TICKETS FOR EYFS CONFERENCE 2016

£120 if you require an invoice

don't you dare, dragon

How to turn your dog into a dinosaur: poignant children’s poem wins prestigious prize

This autumn saw the University of Reading presenting its annual children’s poetry competition in honour of the brilliant educationalist Raymond Wilson (1925-1995), former Emeritus Professor of Education at the University. Sam Hazle, who is on the School Direct Primary programme with the Institute of Education, won the competition with his delightfully tongue in cheek poem; “How to turn your dog into a dinosaur”.

Judged by a discerning panel consisting of primary school children, an academic and a poet, the prize poem closely examines the dog-osaur transition. In a nod to health and safety, the first lines contain this brisk warning:

“This one’s a fun one but you have to get it right
If you don’t follow my instructions you’ll get an awful fright.”

The poem then goes on to explain the dino-evolution:

“Then we’ll need some spikes as all good dinos do
Use ice cream cones and tape them on or you can always use some glue”

The goofy charm and warmth of Sam’s poem was a hit with the distinguished judges. Comments from the younger ones included:

“It is comical.”

“They are like real instructions.”

“It rhymes and almost has a tune.”

“It’s playful, younger children than year 6 might like it too.”

Alongside their primary school collaborators were two other notable judges; Stephanie Sharp, BA Education (English) Course Leader at Reading’s Institute of Education and James Carter, the award-winning children’s poet, guitarist and writer-in-schools.

Stephanie Sharp said: “It is fitting that pupils from a local primary school chose this winning entry from our final selection and the children were thrilled to be working alongside the University as well as a real poet. This is a lively poem which would work very well as a piece of performance poetry. It is important that we celebrate poetry making, so many congratulations Sam.”

Sam’s prize poem is in the Raymond Wilson tradition of education, inclusion and humanity. Wilson was an exceptional educationalist, as well as an inspired 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.

Sam’s prize winning poem:

How to turn your dog into a dinosaur

This one’s a fun one but you have to get it right

If you don’t follow my instructions you’ll get an awful fright

First you need a dog, this part is vital

But I’m sure you guessed that, just look up at the title

Next get some paint, green is what I recommend

It’s a much more dinosaur colour and keeps up with the trend

Find the biggest paintbrush, cover the whole dog in green

Make sure you put a blanket down to keep the carpet clean

Then we’ll need some spikes as all good dinos do

Use ice-cream cones and tape them on or you can always use some glue

Now your dino dog should be starting to transform

You’ll need a roar, so that then your animal can perform

Depending on the dog the growl and roar will vary

But each animal’s noise is so unique, we just need to make it scary

If the roar is too quiet then you need to change this quick

Attach a microphone to its collar and that should do the trick

Now you should have a dogasaurus of your very own

Take him with you everywhere and you’ll never be alone



dinosaur dog small

Want to know how to get into teaching? Ask the experts!

The Institute of Education will be taking part in Bracknell Forest Partnership’s Get into Teaching Information Evening on 14 December 2015, 6:00 – 8:00pm. Visit us there and ask all your questions about any aspects of the many routes into teaching.

Venue: Garth Hill College, Bull Lane, Bracknell, RG42 2AD

Further information:

Further information on getting into teaching: jamesjoe_web629059_38562 don't you dare, dragon

Telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 2601

Guide Dog Adventure at London Road

We had some lovely visitors in the Institute of Education’s, London Road Campus, Learning Hub on Thursday 12th November, which was very kindly sponsored by the Specialkidz educational & social enterprise charity. Some furry (and non-furry!) friends from Guide Dogs came to raise awareness of mobility services for people who are blind or partially sighted in the UK.

Also, we hoped that it would support well-being throughout the University of Reading and the date was specifically chosen as it was a key time in the academic year; some students were handing in assignments, which can be stressful. Hopefully the Guide Dogs would relieve the stress that some students might encounter when completing course work. The feedback certainly seemed to suggest the session helped.

Karen Goulding, Director of The Learning Hub conducted a small research survey; students who were handing in their assignments were asked to complete a very short feedback sheet before and after they entered The Hub. The results were interesting; before entering the event most students were excited or happy but one was nervous and three were scared, this could have been for a variety of reasons. The same students, upon leaving felt thoughtful, excited but mostly happy; none were scared or nervous.

Karen Goulding, Director of The Learning Hub response was, “All the hard work and organisation was worth the effort to see so many happy faces on a day that is sometimes rather stressful and it would be interesting to complete the same short survey to see what the results would be on another assignment hand in, but without the presence of the Guide Dogs, I think they made a wonderful difference to general wellbeing, which is such a relevant topic at the moment.”

Throughout the event Institute of Education staff, students and visitors played with the dogs, talked to their trainers and owners and took part in activities to learn more about what it is like to be blind or visually impaired.

Dr Cathy Tissot Head of the Institute of Education said, “What a great opportunity for our students to meet the Guide Dogs and individuals that work with, and are supported by them.  It really gave students and staff the chance to have a limited experience of visual impairment and speak with those affected by it.  What a wonderful day and we hope to be able to invite the Guide Dogs back next year.”

The response and feedback arising from the event was amazing. One member of staff wrote: “This has been, without any doubt, absolutely the best morning at work ever – the dogs were beautiful, their owners/trainers really interesting and the visually-impaired activities a revelation. Thank you so much for organising this – please can this become a regular event? Do you want any volunteers?!”

Ken Carter who is the Chair & founded Specialkidz , was delighted to be involved in sponsoring this highly successful educational awareness event on a university campus of learning; and was really pleased that so many students and staff came along to support “Guide Dogs” and also learn something about the work of Specialkidz” .

The next day, Robert Macleay from Guide Dogs emailed with wonderful news; “Feedback from staff and volunteers has been great. They all really enjoyed the morning and said everyone was very welcoming. The students were very engaging and wanted to ask questions rather than just meet the dogs, which was fantastic! All in all the day will have raised around £650, from donations, which is excellent.”

It was a fabulous day, enjoyed by all who came. We hope to see the Guide Dogs team back on campus again soon!

Join our talented BA Ed (Music) students for Sensations! – a celebration of song, music and dance in collaboration with Younger People with Dementia and Turtle Key Arts. 11.30 am, 4th December, Great Hall.

Sensations! is the culmination of a nine week musical collaboration between our fantastic BA Ed (Music) students and Younger People with Dementia. Created by Turtle Key Arts, Sensations! is a sharing performance for “Turtle Song”, a concept created by Turtle Key Arts to bring music, movement and singing to people with dementia.

Turtle Song encourages artistic and social interaction, a positive outlook through an enjoyable and shared activity and gives the brain and body a bit of stimulating exercise. It also helps to enhance the professional development of the music students who take part in the project.

Alice Breary, one of our BA Ed (Music) cohort, who participated in the scheme said: “When the idea of the project was first put to us, I was unsure if it was something I wanted to do- a close family friend of ours has been a sufferer so it was very close to home but I am so glad that I have been involved: seeing everyone coming out of themselves through music has been such a touching and rewarding experience and I think the benefits of this project are very obvious when you see the performances!” 

Everyone involved in this fulfilling and entertaining project met once a week for ten weeks, and with the help of our music students, wrote lyrics and composed music for their own song cycle, ending in this live performance for friends and family on 4th December in our Great Hall.

Since the first Turtle Song at the Royal College of Music, London in 2008 it has been introduced in Cambridge, Wolverhampton, Dulwich, Suffolk, Oxford, Stockton-on-Tees, Leeds, Norwich, Croydon, Reading and Newbury; there are now on average three held each year. Read more at

IoE hosts important International Mathematics conference

On a beautiful autumnal Saturday in November, the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM) hosted its international conference among the lovely surrounds of the Institute of Education’s beautiful campus and cloisters. The 7th November conference proved a great success, with over 100 delegates travelling from universities in the UK, including Oxford, Cambridge and UCL London and abroad (Japan, Turkey and Portugal).12212321_1091396960878248_676556861_n

campus05In his role as the executive member and conference organiser of the BSRLM, Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai (Vince) is a strong advocate of the great value in hosting national and international conferences here at the IoE.

Referring to the recent BSRLM conference, Vince said: “We were able to foster professional networking between members of our mathematics education research community here at the IoE (both staff and postgraduate students) with key authorities in the field. We were also able to showcase some of our community’s research projects through presentations given by a number of our members of staff and to help increase the visibility of our research community at national and international levels.


“From our BSRLM database, Catherine Foley’s doctoral research presentation on girls’ perception of mathematics, for example, was the most popular at the conference in terms of having the highest number of big names in the field offering to convene her session. Finally, as the conference was hosted here locally, it was much more affordable for our staff and students to attend this type of academic event”.


Visit the BSRLM site for further information about their work.




Thinking about teaching abroad… or know someone who is?

The IoE and the Principal of the prestigious British School of Kuwait, Paul Shropshire are giving free sessions on how to live and teach overseas. Paul’s perspective is unique and thought-provoking.

The presentation relates to both Primary and Secondary teaching and asks: what are School leaders looking for in an application and at interview? What do International schools have to offer?  What’s involved in doing your NQT year internationally?

3 Dec 12.45 & 5.30pm; London Road campus, building L24, room G06

Come – and bring your lunch if you like!International Student Banquet and Flag Dedication 2008