Thank you to the Reading Alumni Fund for the specially designated shelf for PENPAL resources in the Learning Hub

penpalThe Learning Hub, part of the Institute of Education (IoE) is committed to education; inclusion is an essential part of this commitment. The Hub aims to enhance the IoE students’ understanding of inclusion and diversity by incorporating specific equipment and books that are designed for blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children. A recent development in this area is PENpal. PENpal books are very different to ordinary paper books; they use ‘sound spots’, invisible to the eye but located in the corner of each page. These sound spots use ‘tactile talking technology’; the spots are sensitive to the PENpal and when touched by the PENpal the sensors inside the page borders are activated. The result is the book effectively ‘talks’ to the reader. PENpal texts are available in 55 different languages.

The pens and books are quite unique, and by the incorporation of such novel resources within the Hub, Education students are given not only a sense of the difficulties presented to some young readers by conventional readers but also of how ‘good practice’ can be promoted through the use of less conventional resources.


Thank you, Reading Alumni Fund.

Stargazing update

Stargazers converged on IoE’s London Road campus on March 13th when the Reading Astronomical Society joined with the British Science Association for a fun filled evening of stargazing.

Space activities and workshops themed around the International Year of Light were combined with talks from space scientists and astronomers and of course plenty of chances to look through telescopes. The free event was attended by people of all ages and proved a fun and informative evening for

IoE’s Sarah Chorley’s mission to help beautiful but stricken Vanuatu

IoE’s Sarah Chorley is flying the flag for the stricken islands of Vanuatu following the recent devastating cyclone that hit recently.

Says Sarah: “This is no longer in the media, but it is still an urgent cause where a lot of people are desperate for a lot of aid. The country is made up of 82 different islands and within these islands are many pockets of communities, so delivering aid is not straightforward and a lot of their crops, shelters, schools and water supplies have been destroyed.Island Dress


“To start with, I am organising a cake sale on Tuesday the 24th of March at the London Road Campus of the University of Reading in the staff room of L16 (next to café!). I know we all do a lot for charity and for cake eating already, but I would be really grateful if everybody can help to raise money.

“The reason I want to help Vanuatu is because as a teenager I spent six months teaching English as a foreign language on the island of Pentecost. The people of Vanuatu (Ni-Vans) are the kindest, most generous and happiest people that I have ever met and whilst Vanuatu is one of the poorest countries in the world, the Ni-Vans are still incredibly happy. They are self-sufficient (or at least were before the cyclone), non-materialistic and proud of their culture. My friend has a donation page here, which is where I will send the money we raise to:

“Please share this and donate if you would like to. Any questions, email me on”

What’s it REALLY like to be an International Student at the IoE? Join our second live Q & A to find out.

International Students Despoina Kyriakidou and Inge O’Higgins (pictured below at the global hub of social media!) took charge of IoE Facebook and Twitter last Tuesday, answering questions that ranged from cultural to academic. There’s going to be another session shortly, time tbc soon, so send your own questions in to IoE’s Facebook or Twitter #ioeliveday anytime between now and then and we’ll get them answered for you. des and ing

Wherever you are in the world, drop by to quiz our student representatives on life at University of Reading. See you soon!

Eclipse 2015: take part in the world’s biggest eclipse weather experiment

Scientists at the University of Reading are turning the skies of Britain into a giant weather experiment as the country experiences a rare solar eclipse later this month – but they need your help.

Partial_eclipse625069_38333The British Isles will be plunged into twilight-like partial darkness at around 9.30am on Friday, 20 March 2015 as the country experiences a solar eclipse for the first time since 1999.

Meteorologists are planning the biggest eclipse weather experiment ever attempted. Now they are recruiting an army of citizen scientists across the UK to observe weather conditions such as clouds, wind and temperature.

Anyone, including children, can take part – even if, on the day, it is cloudy or raining. All the observations from across the UK will be combined with other data to provide the most detailed picture of the effects of an eclipse on the weather ever assembled. This will help scientists gain crucial insights into how our atmosphere, and our weather, works.

Organisers are particularly keen to get the help of school pupils, who will be able to learn first-hand about science by participating in a world-leading weather experiment.

The eclipse is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to conduct the experiment, as there will not be another partial eclipse in the UK until 2026.

DETAILS: Visit the Department of Meteorology website.

SCHOOLS: Details for schools and teachers on how to take part.

VIDEO: Watch the BBC School Report on the plans.

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about the experiment.

Long lost treasure discovered in magical University cupboard

A rarely seen collection of letters and illustrations by some of the UK’s most loved authors, including Quentin Blake, has been found at the University of Reading.

gorillaIt holds the responses of nine children’s authors to a letter sent 20 years ago asking for a list of books they would recommend to children marooned on a desert island. Although the authors’ picks are wide-ranging, it’s the iconic Treasure Island by R.L Stevenson that tops the list with three recommendations.

The collection includes beautifully sketched answers from Roald Dahl Illustrator Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes, as well as the creator of Gorilla Anthony Browne. The collection was found in a store cupboard during the relocation of literature to the University’s new Learning Hub.

In an illustration that echoes her ‘Chips and Jessie’ book, Shirley Hughes picks ‘Dogger’ for her own work.  Her desert island books included ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Fairy Tales of the British Isles’.  Anthony Browne’s Gorilla image says his favourite is Zoo and he’d choose ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘The Mysteries of Harris Bundick’ amongst many others.

Although Quentin Blake doesn’t name his desert island books his illustration offers a fascinating insight. Quentin picks Cockatoos as the favourite book he worked on because ‘it meant I could draw birds (which I like) and also all the things in that old French house (which I also like)’. He also reminds us that ‘picture books aren’t as simple as they look.’

The authors were replying to letters sent by the Reading and Language Information Centre in 1993, to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The letter asks children’s authors across the UK two questions – which work gave you the most pleasure and what novels would you give to an 8, 9, 10 year old child marooned on a desert island? The collection went on display for one day but has not been seen since then.

Karen Goulding, Director of the University’s Learning Hub and who found the collection, said: “It was a wonderful surprise – our own C.S Lewis magical wardrobe moment.  Although we can’t be certain, it’s likely that these letters and illustrations that hold the hand-written musings from some of the UK’s best authors, have only been seen by a handful of people.

“The sketches are beautiful, but what is particularly fascinating is the breadth of all the authors’ choices. It is also interesting to see that some of the books recommended are still highly prized today.  In a recent Guardian article the newspaper asked  top authors and former poets laureate to nominate their favourite children’s books. Neil Gaiman, named  Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In the Willows as one of his ‘classics’-  This novel was  also chosen by Michael Foreman in his handwritten letter in 1993.”

The collection was displayed during the official opening of the Learning Hub. This unique resource gives trainee teachers and schools the tools to provide children with the very best in literacy teaching and development. The University was delighted to welcome best-selling children’s author Ian Beck to the launch.

The University plans to put the collection on public display in the near future.

Exciting year ahead for BA Education (Music) students

We are excited about next year’s students coming to BA Education (Music Specialism) here at Reading. It’s going to be a really vibrant group. Recently, our current students performed an accomplished musical recital at the Palmer Building on the main campus. This is this sort of highly professional experience and exposure our students can look forward to on a regular basis.

 Listen to what our current students say about the course.Pg130_music

Our BA Ed (Music) students are immersed in a serious music degree as well as a professional primary education degree. We carefully nurture each student so they benefit from the highest levels of individual attention, meaning rich quality in small groups.

We are proud of the tuition we offer from outstanding professionals, and of course, there are the vast resources of the world-renowned Institute of Education to draw on.

It’s not surprising that 95% of students from this course are employed with six months of finishing and levels of student satisfaction are outstanding.