Student-centred innovation wins IoE team highly competitive honour

Academics worked innovatively alongside their students to create a new module, propelling a team from the IoE to a prestigious honour; the 2018 University Collaborative Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning; one of only three winners of the award this year.

The winning team left to right: Kamilah Jooganah, Jo Elsey, Geoff Taggart, Maria Kambouri-Danos, Caroline Guard and Hilary Harris.

The highly competitive award recognises the talent, vision and sheer hard work that went into the winning projects and is a huge achievement for the project team, led by Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos and consisting of the BA in Children’s Development and Learning (BA CDL), the Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning (FD CDL) and also colleagues from the Centre for Quality Support and Development (CQSD). The idea was to develop a brand new module in the BA CDL – but this time, in close partnership with their students. The team felt that this would set “a useful exemplar to sharing good practice” and this approach to working in partnership with students was a core part of the project’s aim.

Dr Kambouri-Danos, Programme Director of BA CDL said:

“Empowering individuals it at the core of my practice, and this is what this project was about: Empowering students by listening to their voice and engaging them in the development of their own programme. It was hard work, but the outcome was definitely worth it; it wouldn’t be this successful if students as well as staff did not work together in the way they did. We cannot guess what our students need or think, no matter how hard we try. We need to actively engage them in curriculum development processes to ensure quality outcomes. On the BA CDL, our students are our partners, and this offers a very good example of how students and staff can work in partnership to improve, even further, the quality of a very successful programme.”

The team wished to go beyond feedback and further engage students by listening to their ‘voice’ while designing the module. In this way they felt they would, with the students, co-develop a more effective module with clear and student-friendly assessable outcomes.

Jo Elsey, Head of the Early Years Team at the IoE and a member of the team said:

“The most important element of this project is that students have had a real and positive impact on the teaching and learning content of the BA CDL. As a work-based programme it is very important that the programme reflects the children and young people’s workforce requirements in order for practitioners to be able to deliver the education and care that our children and young people deserve.”

The team work that was fostered by student-staff partnerships became a particularly important angle, especially in this programme which sees the majority of its students already juggling full-time family duties, full time jobs and attending University one day a week.

The close collaboration within the team ensured that these highly realistic and time-pressed students’ voices were heard and taken into account while developing the new module.  Their valuable input was further enhanced by going back to the whole BA CDL cohort, who were able to give feedback before the new module was approved and finalised, ensuring a diversity of views and ideas.

Evaluation showed the project’s positive impact on the student experience: all students agreed that it has been very beneficial to take part in this collaborative work, as it helped to develop a sense of belonging and feel part of the community of staff and students working together. The students recognised that the project had increased their engagement, improved the student-staff experience and increased a sense of ownership and sense of belonging for both students and staff.

Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the Institute of Education said:

“I warmly congratulate our winning team. All of us at the IoE are proud of their considerable achievement. Each member of the winning team has worked hard to drive this project forward and the combination of their considerable skills and knowledge has brought about this excellent result.”

The winning team behind the BA CDL’s new module:

  • Dr Geoff Taggart, Programme Director PGC in Early   Years Practice
  • Dr Kamilah Jooganah (from the Centre for Quality Support & Development)
  • Mrs Hilary Harris, Programme Director Foundation Degree CDL

We encourage enquiries about all aspects of our award-winning programme: please email for further information, an informal enquiry or details of how to apply.


Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos wins prestigious Fellowship


Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos

Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos has been recognised for her exceptional capabilities in teaching and learning in the 2018 University Teaching Fellowship (UTF) scheme. She joins the ranks of a number of other members of the IoE to hold this prestigious award, emphasising the excellent teaching and learning that the IoE offers.

The UTF is a competitive award that is conferred on an individual who has demonstrated individual excellence and contributed to the development of teaching and learning within the University. The Fellowship is designed to support staff to further develop and progress in this area. It recognises and rewards excellence in teaching and the support of student learning, and is open to both academic and support staff across the University.

On receiving the news, Dr Kambouri-Danos said:

“I’m very excited and honoured to receive this prestigious award. I’m passionate about student engagement and working in partnership with students is at the core of what I do. It’s great to see that all my hard work and commitment is recognised by the University. A big thank you to all the students and also colleagues that supported me and took part in the different projects, as I wouldn’t be able to achieve this without them.”

“How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Unique Theatre Arts, Education & Deaf Studies programme completes a 32 year history with a celebratory swansong.

The event, on Saturday 23 June, honoured the programme’s unique history and marked its legacy. Many current and former members of TAEDS and Theatre of the Deaf joined the celebration and were treated to the world premiere of this production of Moonbird, an adaptation of the children’s story by the deaf author Joyce Dunbar. Moonbird was performed most movingly by Handprint Theatre Company which was formed by programme alumni and employs deaf actors and workshop leaders.

Described by many attendees as “poignant”, “really perfect” and “chilled and magical”, the day achieved a fine balance between joyful celebration and the sadness that a goodbye brings. Students from the BA Performance in British Sign Language and English at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland sent a moving but lively filmed message of support which was warmly received. Programme Director Simon Floodgate commented on how interesting the various speeches had been, in which some deaf people explained how they had “found” themselves through TAEDS, while others described how their lives and careers had been informed by the programme. He said:

“It is the many, many deaf and hearing graduates who are, ultimately, the Theatre of the Deaf and TAEDS. They are the community that everyone speaks about and their work as actors, directors, teachers, sign language interpreters, LSAs and TAs, speech therapists and all of the other associated careers that all of the students have gone on to ARE the legacy of this unique course…in terms of MY working life I doubt there will be anything of which I will be more proud.”
Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the Institute of Education said:

“The TAEDs celebration was a fitting tribute to the wonderful legacy of the programme.  It was lovely to see so many graduates and hear of their successes since graduation. I want to thank Simon Floodgate and his team for creating such a fond memory despite the programme closing.”


Sir David Bell, VC said:

“It is, I know, a day of mixed emotions. Sadly, the course is closing but, on the other hand, there is much to celebrate. As well as paying tribute to the students from this year and previous years, I want to acknowledge the work done by Simon Floodgate, our Subject Leader for PGCE Drama and the Programme Director for TAEDS. I also want to acknowledge Cathy Wardale and, indeed, all of those who have contributed to the programme over many years.”


Theatre director and founder of Deafinitely Theatre, Steve Webb said:

“I never dreamed that the course would lead me to the place where I am now and the experiences that I’ve had, setting up professional theatre companies, Deafinitely Theatre and D-Live!, becoming a theatre director and writer and working with a large variety of mainstream theatre companies….

The TAEDS course leaves a legacy and an impact on the British Theatre landscape that should be celebrated.  We see many alumni who have gone on to become professional actors, writers, directors and theatre-makers and this is something to celebrate.” 


Professor Lib Taylor of Reading’s school of Film, Theatre and Television said:

“[From the first] time I worked with TAEDS students … I didn’t teach them, they taught me… they gobbled up every bit of knowledge and experience they encountered and they developed beautiful, creative responses to the material in their own theatre practice. I have taught Asian Theatre to many different groups of students now but none has understood it and connected to it in quite the way that TAEDS students have. They understand it fundamentally, its abstract forms of telling stories, its use of spectacular gesture and physicality and its calm restraint as inherent to its meaning.”


Stephanie Back, alumna of the programme, who started to go deaf in her mid teens, spoke very movingly about how TAEDS changed her life.

“There is a quote … from Winnie the Pooh…: ‘How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard’.

“But this is not the end of TAEDS … think of the image of a flower, and how one flower can make many flowers and it spreads and spreads and suddenly it’s not just one flower standing tall in the middle of a field, but 5000 flowers in every field all over the world. That is what TAEDS has done. We are a community and that is beautiful.