Join us to explore “Augmented Humanity”

How can we communicate our emotions using robotics technology rather than language? Can we program devices to share our emotions in non-verbal ways effectively? How do these codes then influence communication protocols? We will be using educational robotic devices such as BBC Micro:Bits, Code Bugs and paper circuitry with Chibitronics resources to explore these ideas.

So, join us to use robotics, develop simple programs & be ’emotional’ for the day.

Institute of Education,
University of Reading

Make:Shift:Do is a nationwide programme of craft and innovation workshops taking place on 27 and 28 October 2017

IoE academics and Reading Borough Council in innovative drive to improve language in early years children

Reading researchers and educators have been shining a light recently on improving the language of their early years children through engagement with parents, the environment and professional development. In July, Reading Borough Council and the University of Reading celebrated a year-long project in which schools and settings have been closely involved with the breakthrough work.

Dr Helen Bilton

Organisers are now working to further inspire a group of professionals that is already remarkable for its dedication. A HELLO2YOU website has been set up to continue to support those nurseries which took part in the project as well providing a valuable guide on how to run a similar project for other settings across the world. 

Reading Borough Council’s school improvement officers and the University of Reading will continue to develop their work together. The IoE’s Professors Rhona Stainthorp and Helen Bilton will bring their wealth of dedication, research and experience to continuing the good work. 

Early years professionals are typically very passionate about improving the outcomes for their children through language and literacy, which can come through many means, particularly through closer engagement with parents. The Project and its celebration offered these practitioners, who come from  early years setting and schools, the chance to mingle and discuss experiences and methods with peers, as well as hearing from the leading academics in their field. 

This project was based on the successful National Literacy Trust’s HELLO scheme which, with funding from the Department for Education, worked with early years experts to improve the communication, language and literacy outcomes of children from birth to age three across multiple settings in 2016.  

Professor Helen Bilton of the IoE said:

I am delighted to be involved with this happy and laudable project. We can celebrate the great achievements in our field, and more specifically the remarkable progress we have seen on this year-long journey. It is always wonderful to chat to teachers and providers because it is their dedication and enthusiasm that drives us all forward. The people who devote themselves to our field are second to none.” 

The projects during the year long drive focused on children who would benefit from further support with their speech and language development at a range of different nurseries.

Professor Helen Bilton was asked to participate in the project by visiting each setting to offer advice, attend events and help with the publication of the outcomes of the project.

Activities included filming parents and nursery staff to help develop their story telling abilities, Mark Making training where children experiment with scribbles and patterns to help develop early writing skills and workshops for parents highlighting the importance of vocabulary.

Ita McGullion, of Kennet Day Nursery, at the Civic Offices, said:

“The main thing that I have taken away from this project is the value of parental engagement through home/nursery liaison, in particular with families who we may have previously found harder to reach.”

Parents also gave positive feedback.

One mother said: “I expected to see my son’s world, but the experience was much richer as I got to see the world from my son’s perspective. I enjoyed the role play; the story telling aspect. I found that very useful in terms of getting new ideas on how to enhance story time.”

Another said: “I now understand the importance of mark making, vocabulary and story-telling and what we can focus on as a parent.”

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“It has been a great benefit for nurseries and parents to take part in this follow up project to the successful HELLO programme with the National Literacy Trust.

“From the comments I’ve heard from parents and staff who participated in the project, it is clear it has made a real impact.

“Good language and communication skills are essential for children as they start their school life and I hope what has been learned from HELLO2 can be shared more widely with parents across the borough.”

Game over? Dying to talk about death and life

Talking about death is a difficult topic. At these times of uncertainty and unrest, social scientists at the University and elsewhere are contemplating ways of supporting community healing in positive and sensitive ways.

To this end, the Institute of Education and Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) will be opening their doors to the public for a celebration of life and remembrance. Join us to discuss multicultural perspectives on commemorating the dead and celebrate life through a carousel of innovative, creative and interactive workshops with art, music and digital technologies.

We hope that this event will provide a platform for our community to come together, celebrate distinctiveness and share similarities through remembering their dead loved ones, and share cultural traditions around commemorating the dead in urban and rural areas and reflect about the significance of such traditions.

This event is an opportunity for the young people participating to find out more about traditions around celebrating life and mortality.

We present the event as an immersive experience at three levels:

  • Level 1 (un-scary) – aimed at younger audiences. Celebrating life and reflecting on oral histories about death; exploring ideas around social death through workshops and crafts
  • Level 2 (moderately scary) – discussing the idea of ‘good death’ in urban and rural settings through workshops, stories and digital workshops.
  • Level 3 (quite scary) – exploring ideas around after-death and digital rights; what research around terminally ill patients teaches us about ‘good death’.


Location: Reading
Date: 10 November 2017
Time: 15:00 – 20:00

Further information


University of Reading to host major new Train to Teach event for Department for Education (DfE)

On 2 November from 4.30 to 8pm, the Institute of Education at Reading will host a free Train to Teach Roadshow in conjunction with the DfE and the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). The roadshow is set to provide a wealth of information on how to get into teaching and how to apply for training courses

David Kerr, Reading’s Head of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) said:

Events like this boost recruitment of future teachers for schools across the Thames Valley and wider area at a time of challenging recruitment for local schools. This is a golden opportunity for those interested in teaching to meet all local training providers, including the leading teacher training institute in the area: the Institute of Education at Reading. We are ranked third in the UK for teacher training by the Guardian rankings 2018.”

Don’t miss your opportunity to find out more. Drop in at any time during the event at our London Road campus, allowing at least two hours to:

  • first attend a presentation from DfE on the different teacher training options – these will take place at 5.30pm and 6.30pm
  • speak to teaching experts to receive advice on your training options – please check your eligibility for teacher training before coming along to this event
  • receive personalised advice on your UCAS application – don’t forget to bring a copy of your personal statement with you
  • talk to practising teachers about life in the classroom
  • meet representatives from universities and schools that deliver teacher training in your region to find out about their courses and entry requirements

If you haven’t registered for the event yet, all you need to do is create a profile here book a place. Once registered, you can log in at any time to book places at other events near you or take part in our online events.

Venue information:       

University of Reading, Institute of Education, London Road Campus, 4 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX

Gaming for peace

Gaming is wildly popular among young people, as teachers, carers and parents would agree, usually with a groan. Now the University of Reading is spinning these preconceptions on their head with an event at their campus that will highlight how computer gaming can actually help education. On 10th November, visitors to the “Playing Peace” event at the University’s London Road campus will be encouraged to talk about children’s rights and education in times of conflict as they explore the helpful, reflective side of gaming.

Gaming is in fact a popular theme in education already. Predictably, there are strong voices about this on either side of the debate. The University hopes to foster these discussions with teachers and parents, whilst raising awareness of how computer games can actually become an excellent tool in teaching and learning reflectively.

Event organiser, Dr Yota Dimitriadi of Reading’s Institute of Education hopes to encourage young people reflect on life and raise citizenship awareness through games. She said:

By playing on the excitement of computer games whilst discussing themes of child labour, children soldiers, consequences of forced migration, and education and conflict, we hope to foster positive contributions and change perceptions. We are inviting anyone with an interest in education, children’s welfare and development to come and play – and talk about children’s rights and education in times of conflict.

Inspired by a fundraising event organised by the charity War Child, “Playing Peace” is part of the 2017 Festival of Social Science organised by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).

  • Date: 10 November 2017 Time: 09:00 – 13:00
  • Where: University of Reading, Institute of Education, 4 Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX
  • Contact: Dr Yota Dimitriadi Email:
  • Register: via Eventbrite
  • Twitter: #ioeplayingpeace
  • Organised by: ACoRNS Network

In our regular series by IoE researchers, Dr Karen Jones explores ‘Perspectives on women and higher education leadership from around the World’

Dr Karen Jones

Dr Karen Jones joins the blog to talk about being guest editor of a Special Issue of the journal Administrative Sciences, which brings together a variety of articles to provide perspectives on women and higher education leadership from countries as diverse as India, China, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United States and the UK.

Putting this collection of articles together was particularly interesting because each one provides unique insights and perspectives”, says Karen, who is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Management at the IOE.

Karen’s research interests include gender, women and leadership. She explained: “this is an important topic, since the significant under representation of women in higher education leadership can be observed in every country around the world. This has been well documented over the past decade in the research literature. While this research has led to a deeper understanding of the exclusionary structures, processes, and practices that collectively create obstacles for women at various career stages, higher education institutions are slow to fix the problem.”

A key contribution of this Special Issue is that it provides fascinating and unique socio-cultural insights. For instance, Kameshwara and Shukla discuss how gender relations are rooted in the socio-cultural matrix in India. Zhao and Jones draw attention to identity and Discourse as an important, yet under-researched, aspect of women’s underrepresentation in higher education leadership and they apply this to a study of female higher education leaders in China. Alsubaie and Jones, through a synthesis of existing literature, explore the complex mix of social, religious, cultural and organisational barriers for women in Saudi Arabia and make proposals for future research directions.”

The Special Issue also draws attention to structural and organisational barriers. For example, Burkinshaw and White, through two case studies – one with female Vice-Chancellors in the UK and, the second, female early career academics at an Australian university, argue that women’s growing resistance, particularly of the younger generation, reflects their dissatisfaction with higher education leadership communities of practice of masculinities. Vicary and Jones, through autoethnography, show how casual, non-permanent forms of employment that have become common practice in higher education can stifle leadership aspirations due to lack of career progression opportunities and lead to a sense of alienation from the target community of practice. Selzer, Howton and Wallace, in a co-produced autoethnography, provide a critique of a women’s-only leadership development programme in higher education in the


United States. Finally, Manifredi writes a compelling argument for positive action in recruitment and promotion to tackle women’s under-representation in senior leadership roles.”

To read more about these articles in the Special Issue “Perspectives on Women’s Higher Education Leadership from around the World” see:

Join us for a twilight serving of Prosecco and Modern Languages at our TeachMeet, 18 October

We hope you will join us for a glass of Prosecco to celebrate the launch of the University of Reading’s new BA in Modern Languages with Qualified Teacher Status at our annual TeachMeet on 18 October 16.00-18.00. This is the third in Modern Languages’ series of teacher-aimed events and previous meetings have been ideal opportunities for sharing ideas and good teaching practice, as well as networking and socialising. Colleagues from the Institute of Education (IoE) and Department of Modern Languages will be on hand to chat, along with some of our current students. In our last session we considered topics suggested by teachers including: promoting diversity in the classroom, using digital media to teach, encouraging students to go beyond the curriculum and preparing for the new A-level curriculum. 

The new BA will see students reaping the benefit of expertise from both the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies and the IoE. It will equip them with high-level language skills and a sound knowledge of the cultures in which their language or languages of study are spoken. They will be trained by sector-leading educators at the IoE to develop classroom-based teaching skills that are strongly underpinned by the most recent and relevant research. Currently a £9,000 bursary is available to students during the fourth year of the Modern Languages with QTS course. Language teachers are in high demand in today’s schools and a Modern Languages degree with QTS offers job satisfaction along with competitive salaries.

If you would like to attend our event and/or would like to suggest a topic for discussion, please email Katy Green on

For more information on the new BA please see our webpage.