IoE research leader’s impact recognised

Research by Professor Suzanne Graham of the Institute of Education (IoE) to improve modern foreign language teaching in schools was recognised at the 2018 O2RB Excellence in Impact awards in Oxford this April.

Professor Graham, Research Division Leader for the IoE, was highly commended for excellence in impact for her work to improve foreign language teaching in schools. Over many years she has conducted research into some of the factors that influence motivation for, and attainment in, language learning.  She is currently working on the Creative Multilingualism project to look at the way in which modern foreign languages are taught and is considering creative alternative approaches.

Professor Graham, centre, with IoE colleagues Dr Carol Fuller and Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the IoE to her left

The O2RB Excellence in Impact Awards are an opportunity for members of the University of Reading, the University of Oxford, the Open University and Oxford Brookes (together the O2RB) to come together to recognise and reward the successes of social sciences researchers who have achieved, or are currently achieving, excellent economic and societal impacts. 

Professor Graham, a Professor of Language and Education at the IoE, said of the award:

“I’m thrilled that my work with language learners and teachers over the last decade or more has been recognised in this way.  It will be a great boost for my current projects in modern languages classrooms, where colleagues and I are collaborating with amazing practitioners to bring about improved motivation for and attainment in learning another language.”

Chair of the O2RB Excellence in Impact Awards panel, Professor Mark Pollard of the University of Oxford (Associate Head of Division (Research), Social Sciences) said:

“The awards have been a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the exceptional impacts on society being made by social scientists from the four partner institutions. The panel has been impressed with the diversity and depth of the projects recognised, and hope that this will inspire even more social scientists to explore what impact might look like for their research, and the ways in which it might be achieved.”

The O2RB collaboration is designed to build and strengthen regional partnerships for research impact via Oxford’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA).



Book your free ticket now! Calling all who work with Children and Young People: 24 April, free workshop, lectures and networking.

We know that if you work with children and young people, you are a member of a vibrant, busy and vital group. We want to support you in your amazing work by providing a professional twilight event solely for you. This free event, which is on 24th April 6.30 – 8pm at our London Road campus, warmly invites all professionals working in the early years, education and play sectors to come and network, share practice and sample free lectures from our renowned academics at the University of Reading. 

Come and join us! Here’s how: fill in this form to ask a question or receive your free ticket.

Working with Children and Young People 24 April

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Further booking information will be placed on our events page, news feed and social media soon, so bookmark and follow if you haven’t reserved yet.

University of Reading to support trainee teachers with free workshops for compulsory maths skills tests

All trainee teachers, including those applying for Early Years Teacher Status and School Direct, have to pass the professional skills tests in numeracy before enrolling onto their teacher training programme. For some, this may seem daunting; they may feel rusty, a little unconfident or perhaps insecure on certain maths topics.

The University of Reading has stepped in to support these applicants with a scheme to tackle this confidence gap. By offering free mathematics workshops that are specifically designed to help candidates prepare for the skills test, they hope to boost confidence and also demonstrate their commitment to their trainees.  

Teaching staff at Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) are enthusiastic about the scheme. They strongly believe in their trainees’ abilities and have assembled a friendly and approachable team to support them in this essential part of their journey towards becoming a teacher.

The professional numeracy skills test is key for trainee teachers because it is designed to ensure they have the core skills needed to fulfil their professional role in schools. This includes having a good grasp of mental and written arithmetic and written data, alongside topics such as time, fractions, percentages, money and averages.

The free workshops have the added bonus of being held in the beautiful setting of the University’s historic London Road campus. Participants will be able to develop their skills in a welcoming, supportive environment, whilst enjoying the lovely setting of the University’s first home, which is a short walk to the town centre and station.

To book a place or ask any questions, please email us.



Quick link to booking a workshop


This initial taster session will ease you into preparing for your skills test. You will understand the process, become familiar with the style and format of the tests, and go away confident to begin tackling your preparation with advice and guidance to get you started.

Open to: anyone applying to an ITT programme


  • Saturday 12 May 2018 10:30-12:00
  • Tuesday 19 June 2018 18:30-20:00
  • Wednesday 18 July 2018 18:30-20:00Venue: London Road campus
    Cost: Free

    Book your place here




These workshops are designed for those needing a little more help in passing their numeracy skills tests.

With two linked sessions you will work through tricky areas, build your fluency and increase your confidence in tackling the mental arithmetic questions.

Open to: anyone who has accepted a place on a University of Reading postgraduate ITT programme and made one attempt at the skills test


  • Thursday 24 May 2018 18:30-20:00 and Thursday 7 June 2018 18:30-20:00
  • Wednesday 4 July 18:30-20:00  and Wednesday 18 July 18:30-20:00 

Venue: London Road campus
Cost: Free
Book your place here


For more information, please contact:

Institute of Education

University of Reading

4 Redlands Road

Reading RG1 5EX

(0118) 378 2601

Schools, teens, and feeling a sense of belonging: in research from the Universities of Reading, Oxford, Seville, and Vigo Professor Jill Porter asks, “What makes a Difference?”


As part of the Institute of Education’s regular research features on these pages, Professor Jill Porter asks: “What makes a Difference? Exploring the Relationship between Learning and the Feeling of Belonging.”

A number of children go under the radar- at least until a crisis point is reached. This includes children who are frequently absent from school, those with mental health difficulties, children who are carers. Additionally, children sometimes find it difficult to take part in school life and this can affect their learning. 

February 2018 saw the launch of a new collaborative partnership that will aim to understand better why this happens and what schools can do to change things. The study will include the IoE’s Jill Porter at the University of Reading; Jenni Ingram and Harry Daniels at the University of Oxford; Angeles Parilla Latas at the University of Vigo and Carmen Gallego Vega at the University of Seville. The researchers will be looking at how the views of pupils can best be gathered and used by schools to make changes.

Often the approach is to identify categories of learners and match them to particular interventions; however barriers are often shared across groups. Our previous[i] research has identified that it is the social aspects of schooling that particularly impinge on children, both in relation to the barriers they encounter but also the supports they receive.  This project is therefore underpinned by recognition of the interconnectedness between learning, relating and belonging. If we can identify and remove the barriers children should be more engaged with schooling and learn better. Exclusion data reveals that ages 13 and 14 are particularly turbulent times with the highest rates of fixed and permanent exclusions occurring during these years[ii] so years 8/9 are the initial focal groups.

The research will explore the barriers that are experienced within school that contribute to children’s disengagement with learning; we will work with schools to remove these barriers and then evaluate the outcome, including the change in children’s feeling of connectedness to school.

Our research questions:

  • What barriers are encountered by children who experience different levels of connectedness with school?
  • How can children’s experiences best be used to inform the removal of barriers?
  • How does the removal of barriers impact on the levels of connectedness within the school? Does the removal lead to higher levels among those who are disengaged?
  • What does a comparison with Spain tell us about different cultures of schooling?

We are currently working with 6 secondary schools in Oxfordshire and our colleagues in Spain are carrying out parallel research. This provides a unique opportunity to examine the utility of this approach across cultures that differ in their sense of community and the public scrutiny of performance data.  Our long term purpose is to support schools in responding to the needs of diverse learners. Given the rise in school exclusions this is a timely piece of research.

[1]  Porter  J. 2015 Understanding & Responding to the Experience of Disability. London Routledge

[1] DfE 2016 Permanent & Fixed-Period Exclusions in England: 2014 to 2015 SFR26/2016

[i]  Porter  J. 2015 Understanding & Responding to the Experience of Disability. London Routledge

[ii] DfE 2016 Permanent & Fixed-Period Exclusions in England: 2014 to 2015 SFR26/2016


The IoE’s International Women’s Day Icon, 2018: Kimberly George

Kimberly George’s miracle among historic hurricane devastation

Having spent a year away from home studying for a master’s in Education at the University of Reading, Kimberly George was excited to be returning to her home in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Finally she would rejoin her family and take up her new post as head of a high ranking local primary school. As she contemplated the future she’d worked so hard to achieve, Kimberly could have been forgiven a quiet optimism. She was looking forward to the challenges of her new role and the growth she could share with her pupils.

Then the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded hit land and ran an almost straight course through the British Virgin Islands.

 Such was the annihilation caused by Hurricane Irma, even the few trees that survived the onslaught found themselves shivering, stripped of every scrap of bark. Boats, cars, shipping containers and roofs performed a bizarre danse macabre as they cartwheeled around the islands.

And then, less than two weeks later, the islands were hit for a second time by Hurricane Maria.

“Down but not out,” said the authorities as they clawed their way out of rubble and onto Twitter. 

The situation Kimberly walked into was one she could never have imagined. Her island home was flattened. The school for which she was about to assume Headship, the Bregado Flax Educational Centre (Primary), was utterly devastated, filled with filthy flood water, its books, desks and chairs reduced to pulpy landfill.

Kimberly was faced with one of the most challenging situations a new Principal could imagine. While her section of the school could conceivably return to use, this would take extensive repairs over a number of years. And her pupils were waiting for her to open their school for the new term, desperate for a sense of normality to return.  

Kimberly had to find a temporary primary school for her charges. There was also a desperate need for equipment and teaching materials. Above all else, locals who wished to help were themselves traumatised, often bereaved and in a state of shock and grief for the pain that had been inflicted on their paradise.

In November 2017, just after the Hurricane, Kimberly said:

We have been hit really badly … the BVI is quite devastated now. No communication or anything. Most persons have lost everything. And are leaving the country. My family is well. We lost our roof and the things in our home but we are alive. Thank God. But we have lost more than half the schools in the territory.”

Today, less than four months after we last spoke, Kimberly and her cohorts have wrought no less than a miracle. Her school is a happy, clean, charming place, its cheerful atmosphere belying its home in a temporary hardbody tent.

Kimberly reports:

“As a team we have been making tremendous strides with getting students back to a sense of normality. We have received many generous donations from all around the world to get our students back on track with learning. They have been settling well and are happy to be in school.”

With her particular brand of serene resilience, she continued:

“Although challenging, I am happy that I became principal at this moment in time because I continue to learn and develop my skills in patience and resilience and I am proud to be giving back to my community in the field of education at a time such as this.”

The Institute of Education is also proud; proud of our MA graduate Kimberly George, who took her newly earned knowledge back home, faced unimaginable challenges and hardships and rose above them to give her community a school they deserve. That is why Kimberly is the IoE’s Icon of International Women’s Day 2018.

Kimberly’s tutor at the IoE, Dr Helen Bilton said:

 “It was a great pleasure to have taught and worked with Kimberly. She is a strong, influential and inspiring figure, as was plain during her time with us, and as has become clearly evident in her calm management of a nearly impossible situation in the aftermath of the devastating events in the British Virgin Islands. At the IoE, we are all wholeheartedly behind her in her remarkable efforts.

Newly launched: stand alone module, Developing Mentoring Excellence

Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) has launched a module that supports mentors in developing their theory and practice, whilst enhancing their professional development. Through this course:

  • Mentors can achieve significant Continuous Professional Development via this new distance learning course.
  • On successful completion of the stand-alone course, they will have 20 credits which can be used against a University of Reading Master’s in Education.
  • This short, intensive course will improve practice and add value for all those who mentor others.
  • Provided by Reading’s Institute of Education, ranked 3rd in the country by Guardian University Guide, 2018.

 The module will support mentors with their professional development in a range of mentoring roles as well as their wider professional practice.

They will explore mentoring from a variety of perspectives, starting from a definition of mentoring and moving on to consider theoretical models, best practice within mentoring and common issues. A range of contexts will be considered, including initial teacher education, as well as other settings including museums, adult education environments and care settings. Mentors will draw on their own experiences of mentoring in making links with current theory.

This is the final level of the new Mentor Certification Programme. Participants should be currently employed in a setting where mentoring is an aspect of practice.

  • Please get in touch to enrol asap.
  • Contact us for more information over a friendly chat or email.
  • Please do share this invitation with your mentoring colleagues who have an interest in Continued Professional Development.

0118 378 2641 / 07837 532172 /



Cancellation due to weather conditions: Education Studies Annual Lecture: Inside the beast; the politics and law of education, by Sir David Bell, 1 March 2018, 6pm

We regret that unfortunately, the decision has been made to postpone this lecture, due to the weather conditions and the forecast which indicates that it will be getting worse later on today.

We hope to reschedule at some point in the near future and will keep those who have registered informed by email and will post notices regarding this here on our news feed.

Many thanks for all the interest; the lecture was heavily over-subscribed, and we are very sorry to disappoint all those who wished to attend.

Join our free twilight information sessions covering our BA in Children’s Development and Learning, our Foundation Degree and our new BA Education Studies, which focuses on a wide range of careers with an educational influence.

Join us for these free, informal early evening events at our London Road campus, just 15 minutes from Reading railway station.

Our undergraduate education events cover our highly regarded Early Years programmes and our new, flexible education BA with a societal and world context.

Monday 9 April 2018 16.00 – 18.00

  • BA Education Studies

– Room location TBC

Monday 9 April 2018 16.00 -18.00

  • Foundation Degree in Children’s Development & Learning
  • BA Children’s Development & Learning
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Early Years Practice with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS)

Building L22, Room 102

Monday 14 May 2018 16.00 – 18.00

  • Foundation Degree in Children’s Development & Learning
  • BA Children’s Development & Learning
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Early Years Practice with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS)

Building L22, Room 102


To book a place on any of these events, please complete our information evenings booking form.

Or for any further information please email us:

Free Postgraduate Initial Teacher Training events

Please do come to one of our regular twilight information meetings, covering all routes into teaching for both Primary and Secondary Postgraduate programmes, are held at the Institute of Education, RG1 5EX.

Book or make an enquiry by email:;; or

Monday 5 March 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Primary L022-113
Monday 5 March 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Secondary L022-114
Monday 9 April 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Primary L022-113
Monday 9 April 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Secondary L022-114
Monday 14 May 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Primary L022-113
Monday 14 May 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Secondary L022-114
Monday 4 June 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Primary L022-113
Monday 4 June 2018 16:00 – 18:00 Secondary L022-114

 We look forward to welcoming you.

The University of Reading will host its fourth Early Years conference on Wednesday 7 March 2018

Following on from the Institute of Education (IoE)’s successful Early Years conferences of the last three years, we now turn our attention to ensuring change is sustainable and long lasting. This year’s Early Years Conference has as its theme, Sustaining change: enabling environments, skilled practitioners and partnership with parents.

Quick link to booking form 

Conference organiser Dr Helen Bilton said:

Dr Helen Bilton, conference organiser

“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.”

Previous 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.”

See below for full details, including booking links. For further information, please email


PROGRAMME (Various exhibitors will be with us all day)

09.00 Refreshments, networking and welcome

09.30 Introduction

09.40 In conversation/keynote

10.45 Break

11.15 Workshops

12.30 Lunch

13.15 Workshops (as above)

14.45 Evaluation

15.00 End – but you are welcome to stay and mingle!

How do I find out more?

If you are a subscriber, you will be sent a link to the booking form and a workshop timetable in October when bookings open. Otherwise, please visit

or email for further information.

Cost, which includes refreshments and lunch

£95 online if you book and pay on-line by credit/debit card

£120 if you require an invoice