Multilingualism (CeLM). Here she discusses her recent visit to Malaysia.
Recently, I travelled to Malaysia on a visit to Dr Tze Peng Wong, of the University of Nottingham, Malaysia (UNM), where we ran a two-day workshop “Language and Literacy Research in a Multilingual Context”. The trip was funded by a British Academy and the Academy of Sciences, Malaysia, Newton Mobility Grant and the workshop was held at the UNM Seminyih campus, near Kuala Lumpur.
This workshop involved a series of research talks by leading researchers from universities across the region, including the University of Reading, Malaysia and universities in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore. It was well-attended by academics, students and practitioners.
As well as discussing speakers’ recent research, there was a focus during the workshop on sharing information about newly developed tests of Malay and English language and literacy. These are appropriate for use in the region and essential to the development of research in this field.
Tze Peng and I also talked about a collaborative project we are currently carrying out investigating literacy learning in Malaysia’s highly multilingual context, and the extent to which cross-linguistic transfer can help children in their first year of primary school who are learning to read in a second or third language. I also ran a series of research methods training sessions as part of the workshop.
It was a very interesting experience and most satisfactory to discuss common themes with peers from different countries and environments. The trip has added an extra dimension to our on-going work at the IoE to explore Language and Literacy.
Speaking recently on International Women’s Day in her capacity as a female senior academic, Dr Catherine Tissot revealed her early inspiration and had some unusual advice for those embarking on a career in education, special needs and academia.
Catherine’s undergraduate degree in the USA focused on special needs teaching and that is certainly where she saw her future lying. She had no inkling then that she would become a teacher of teachers and ultimately the Head of one of the highest ranked schools of education in the United Kingdom.
Catherine’s childhood involvement in voluntary activities with kids in her local park confirmed to her from a very early age that her future lay in education.
She said: “I absolutely knew I wanted to become a teacher from earliest memory and I also became passionate about Special Needs teaching from a very young age.”
After High School (in the USA), Catherine enrolled at the renowned university for special education provision, Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Drawn as always to special needs, Catherine found herself helping out with SN children’s swimming programmes at University in her spare time. She loved her voluntary work and saw her future being in the classroom as a special needs teacher.
Fate thought differently. Travelling to live in France in 1990, following her husband on a work posting, Catherine as quickly formed contacts with local SN groups and began volunteering. Their next posting took the couple to the UK, where she picked up her charity work again. The connections she made at the local University through this led to her being offered a scholarship to pursue a PhD.
Catherine said: “I was so delighted and excited at being offered this unexpected opportunity.”
Focusing her research on how appropriate provision can be determined for the vast array of individuals on the various spectrums of special needs, Catherine examined the perspectives of school, parents and Local Authorities.
Fully absorbed by now, having finished her PhD, Catherine started lecturing part-time at Brunel University. After a brief foray back into a special needs school, she finally arrived at the Institute of Education at the University of Reading in 2008.
As Head of School since 2015, Catherine envisages a world where teachers are given the support and time to attend appropriately to individual children’s differing needs.
She said: “Each special needs child is unique, so teachers need to have the opportunity to make plans that suit the child’s own pattern of learning and well-being. Often the first plan may not work, so you will need to revisit and there needs to be provision for this level of flexibility in the curriculum.”
Catherine sees the academic community getting closer to understanding the causes of autism, but warns that it will be a complex network of causes, rather than just one. She sounds a further warning note about the future of teaching in general in the UK:
“The point I’d like to make is that we are rapidly approaching significant shortages of teachers. This is partly because we are not able to recruit enough new teachers to replace retirees. Sadly, another cause is that teachers are not staying in the field because of the work load. This is a problem that needs addressing at policy level and any solution will come at a cost.
“Another area where I’d like to see change is in the public perceptions of teachers. Remember that what you see in the classroom is only the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know of any good teacher who doesn’t work evenings, weekends and holidays to stay on top of planning, marking and paperwork.
“I’d like to see parents more involved too, shouldering their own responsibility of raising children who are school-ready, in the most basic terms. I was talking with a Year 2 teacher last week who was frustrated because a child was not yet toilet-trained, for instance. How can a teacher achieve meaningful results when facing such basic obstacles?”
Catherine’s other concern is the effect of new technology on children’s communication.
“They become consumed by it, addicted to it, and this impedes communication skills, real world skills, writing skills; in fact all the indicators of a successful future. It’s very sad.”
Does Catherine have any words of advice for young people setting out on a career in education?
She cites seizing opportunities when they arise as the secret to achieving life goals – even those goals you didn’t realise you had to begin with.
She said: “I’m now Head of School. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if hadn’t taken the chance the moment I was offered that scholarship. My confidence grew with the scholarship, and of course each stage of attainment gives you more confidence in yourself.
“I would say, be bold and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. Be sure to realise and recognise opportunities that may be right in front of you. And remain constantly reflective in your daily life. Take suggestions positively, seize opportunities and don’t be too risk averse.”
When she has time off from running the Institute of Education, Catherine absorbs herself in another kind of growth. Her allotment is her pride and joy and she describes the pleasure of growing all her family’s vegetables. Catherine also closely follows the fortunes of her favourite American football team, the Green Bay Packers and when she has a moment to spare, loves to swim with the group of lads who are her swimming buddies.
When asked whom she would point to as her career inspiration, she pauses for a moment.
“There are so many. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been helped by informal mentors throughout career and my family has a tradition of strong women! My most recent inspiration though has been the IoE’s own Professor Rhona Stainthorp. She is so very good at challenging me in a supportive manner and she always has an open door and cup of tea ready!”
On March 20th, 250 children from local primary schools met to perform a mixed programme of choral music at The University Great Hall. The event is supported by music education students from the Institute of Education, and directed by Dr Rebecca Berkley, who hopes that this concert will inspire children and their parents to join Universal Voices, a new, free community choir for children aged 7-12 from the Reading area which will meet from April 2017.
For further information please contact r.m.Berkley@reading.ac.uk.
Artists-In-Residence (AIR) is an innovative art project springing from the IoE’s lively and creative art department, headed by Suzy Tutchell. This inspiring spring exhibition for 2017 showcases the exciting and innovative work of our current artists-in-residence. As well as this insight into the eclectic and dynamic art produced by the artists themselves, the contemporary exhibition will also include a variety of work produced by undergraduate BA (QTS) Education Art speciality students, Fine Art students, tutors and visiting children from local schools, all of whom have been introduced to practices by the artists during workshops over the academic year.
The AIR artists are:
Emily Gillmor Printer-in-residence
Mei Ting Sze Ceramicist-in-residence
McAlistair Hood Sculptor-in-residence
We look forward to welcoming all to the AIR spring exhibition 2017 at the London Road Art Studios:
Institute of Education, University of Reading London Road campus, building L04.
Senior academics from the Institute of Education (IoE) have travelled to China to see students graduate from the University of Reading MA (English Language Education) programme at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS). Addressing the new graduates, Professor Jeanine Treffers-Daller of the IoE urged them to make full use of their new knowledge and skills. She added that through their shared experience, as well as their degrees, they will have gained a depth of knowledge and friendship with teachers and students that would be a foundation stone for their future.
The IoE has worked hard with his counterparts in China to link the two universities across the continents, resulting in the 2013 launch of the MA programme. Increasing numbers of students from many different provinces of China enrol each year and there has been great enthusiasm and commitment from all sides. This year’s graduation was a happy celebration.
Fostering international talent is an increasing feature of higher education. The Institute of Education has keen eyes on the global horizon and places enormous value on its strong and growing links with China. The IoE is particularly proud to have forged such a productive partnership with the esteemed Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, which is among the top three specialist foreign language institutions in China.
The University of Reading is ranked as one of the top 1% of universities in the world. The University has a particular strong tradition in applied linguistics and language education. It was on the Advisory Board for the development of Chinese College English Test (CET) Band 4 and Band 6 and has been supporting English language teaching in China over the decades. The IoE is one of the largest and leading providers of teacher education and educational research in the UK. Many of its graduates soon become leading figures in their respective schools.
The Faculty of English Language and Culture (FELC), Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, is renowned both nationally and internationally for its research in linguistics and applied linguistics. It is the only nationally designated Research Centre for linguistics and applied linguistics in China. It leads South China in the research of foreign languages and cultures, overseas economy, trade and international strategies.
After an extremely successful conference last March, the Institute of Education is delighted to present this third specially designed conference for those working with Early Years children. This year, the focus will be on process of intentional teaching and children being partners in their own learning.
Conference organiser Dr Helen Bilton said: “Last year’s conference saw delegates emerging feeling reinvigorated and refreshed. That is what we have planned for them this year – with a different focus.
Some of last year’s delegates said:
“The day was thought provoking, inspiring, great resources, friendly teachers.”
“I liked the mixture of keynote speech plus workshops, and the opportunity to share ideas and network.”
“The talk was inspiring, the workshops were useful, all great ideas.”
Intentional teaching, intentional learners: ensuring children are partners in their development
Thursday 16 March 2017 from 09.30-15.00 at London Road Campus, University of Reading
09.00 Refreshments, networking, workshop sign-up and welcome 09.30 Introduction 09.45 Keynote speech – intentional teaching, intentional learners: ensuring children are partners in their development 10.45 Break 11.15 Workshops* 12.30 Lunch with exhibitors 13.30 Workshops* (repeated sessions from morning) 14.45 Evaluation 15.00 End – you are welcome to stay and mingle with other delegates
*The same seven 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.
Being promoted to Senior Fellow is a significant honour: very few Senior Fellowships are awarded each year and the distinction carries international recognition. Senior Fellowship indicates a high level of esteem for Yota’s work in her field.
Yota, Catherine, Alison and Ilan’s route to their awards lay with the University of Reading’s FLAIR CPD scheme; an internal accreditation process that enables experienced staff to gain professional recognition for the work they do in teaching or supporting learning.
An independent, charitable organisation, the HEA is the UK’s national body that champions teaching excellence around the globe. It works with governments, universities and academics to nurture teaching excellence in higher education.