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.

“A Novel Night” with acclaimed author and illustrator Ian Beck


On Friday, 27th February, The Learning Hub hosted a special “Novel Night” with acclaimed author and illustrator Ian Beck, shown below signing the Elton John album whose cover he designed, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

ian beck signing

The evening celebrated The Hub’s successful restructuring as a unique resource that gives trainee teachers and schools the tools to provide children with the very best in literacy teaching and development.

The Hub incorporates the existing Teaching Resource Base and the National Centre for Language and Literacy. It provides teachers with access to a wealth of materiel, including an education reference library, and the opportunity to view a huge range of children’s publications before they are purchased for the school. It also houses a comprehensive range of reading schemes and resources for a wide range of curriculum areas.

The Hub also offers teacher trainees a variety of useful resources to aid teaching and lesson planning, including a broad selection of children’s literature, Big Books, puppets, games and posters, all of which are available for short-term loan

Karen Goulding, Learning Hub Director, said: “It’s wonderful to have two fantastic resources now under one roof, and in a new facility. The Institute of Education is one of the leading teacher trainers in the country. Our students now have access to top-class facilities which will support them in their journey to become outstanding teachers. The Hub will stimulate ideas that student teachers can use in their future classrooms, boosting academic success for not only trainee teachers, but also for the children under their care.

“Schools can ensure they are investing wisely by viewing books and packages of teaching resources, as well as receiving professional advice. Investing in materials is an important decision – not only financially but also because these decisions have a big impact on how literacy is taught. This ‘try before you buy’ system ensures schools are picking the right books for their institution.”

During the opening event, Ian Beck took part in a wide-ranging Q&A session. The audience also had the chance to view some original artwork of Ian’s Peter Pan, authored by Rose Impey.

Ian’s work includes Round and Round the Garden and gold award winners in the Best Toy Awards. Home Before Dark, Alone in the Woods and The Happy Bee. He also designed the cover illustration for Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album.

Ian Beck said: “I believe we are living through a Golden Age for Children’s Books at the moment. This despite the regrettable and short sighted Library Services cuts and the price cutting power of the behemoths of commercial book selling. Publishing has long realised the importance of stories for children. The publishers are of course operating for the benefit of their shareholders and for profit but the energy and commitment of the staff however within those commercial restraints is admirable.

“The individual imagination still triumphs and wonderful stories are still being told and drawn. They may have to struggle a bit harder to grow into the light, but grow they do. This is why a learning hub is so important. A place that is run with expertise and delight in literature. A place that carries the stock and resources to guide enthuse, explain, and recommend.”

ian beck3


What did the Romans do for education? And why did they have to scrape the dirt off after bathtime?

Why did Roman parents send their child to school with a slave? How did the Greeks and Romans learn each other’s languages? Any why did the Romans need a shower and a scrape after a visit to the bathhouse? The answers and other priceless insight into daily life in the Roman Empire are revealed by the first English translation of Europe’s most ancient children’s book.


The Colloquia of the HermeneumataPseudodositheana is the work of a leading classicist – Professor Eleanor Dickey of the University of Reading. The Colloquia were manuals written to help ancient Greeks and Romans get around in each other’s languages. They tell of a day in the life of a schoolchild and his teacher as well as containing numerous dialogues that shed light on daily life in the Roman Empire.

While much has obviously changed, some scenarios in the book will ring a bell now; from the daily tasks of shopping and banking, to a telling off for a husband returning home late a little the worse for wear.

Professor Dickey’s quest led her to libraries and museums across Europe to read medieval manuscripts and to decipher papyri. Professor Dickey then translated the original Latin and Greek text into English so that it could be used by a wider community.

In the process, her work has cleared up a mystery which has confounded historians – how Romans coped with the fact that the water in their public baths was often filthy.

Professor Dickey reveals: “After a visit to the baths, the Romans should not have needed more cleaning – or so you would think. But after bathing in several different tubs of water the characters in the colloquia take a shower and scrape themselves before drying with towels. It turns out the water at most bathhouse facilities was rarely changed, possibly only once a month. So a shower and a scrape were needed to rinse the dirty bath water off.”

The first volume of The Colloquia of the HermeneumataPseudodositheana was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012; the second volume was published on Thursday 12 February. The book combines an English translation of original ‘colloquia’ that Professor Dickey compiled from ancient manuscripts and books during a four-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, with a ground-breaking study of their origins.





Green Week – today’s events!

 Bus ticket top-ups from Campus Central shop

Today sees the launch of top-ups on campus, where you can top up your unisaver10’s at Campus Central.


Sustainable Travel Rewards

All week you can get rewards for travelling to campus using sustainable modes of travel by entering our online prize draw with your name, contact details and mode of travel here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/UoRTravelRewards2015 . Daily prizes including free bus travel, discount vouchers and free food!

green week


Inside out Bins

Spot the change on campus – some of the bins in the Quad are in disguise and have googly eyes… can you find them all? Also running in the London Road Campus Social space.



Find out how much litter is picked up on the Whiteknights Campus each and every day by visiting the display outside the Palmer Building.


Big Green Sofa

Finally keep an eye out for the inflatable green sofa which will be roaming campus. Come join us and tell us why being green is important to you. We have props to help you! Look out for us alongside other events over the week.


Tomorrow’s Events!

Tomorrow is Travel Tuesday so we have Dr Bike, Reward Your World and Readybike on campus to answer your questions about their special offers for Green Week. All will be outside Palmer from 11-3pm, or in the Palmer foyer if the weather is awful.


We will also be running Energy Busters! Spotted something wasting energy in your office or department? Get our energy busters to come and take a look at it. Email us at carboncountdown@reading.ac.uk and one of our Energy Busters will pop out and see you as soon as possible!


Finally we will also be holding a Shredathon! Do you have old paperwork at home which you really need to get rid of, but haven’t because it needs shredding? We are offering a free confidential waste shredding for staff and students. Simply bring your paperwork with you on Tuesday and visit the Shredding Station which will be on the path between the HumSS and Minghella buildings.