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:

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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?