Institute of Education hosts Creative Multilingual Identities conference · Education, Language and Learning

By Dr Carol Fuller

Our identities are shaped in highly individual ways – and if you have more than one language, probably even more so! Academics, teachers, students, artists, poets and other interested parties came together on 2/3 February 2018 at Reading University’s Institute of Education  (IoE) to exchange ideas on creative multilingual identities. The IoE’s very own Professor Suzanne Graham strand leader for the Creative Language Learning section of the large-scale AHRC-funded  Creative Multilingualism  programme which the conference was part of, welcomed delegates to the first day. Suzanne introduced some splendidly varied presentations by early career researchers on topics such as translation, translanguaging (yes that’s a word,) language learning, and bilingual poetry and art. I flew the flag for the IoE with some examples of my research on how teenage German learners use metaphors  – see what I did there??

Professor Suzanne Graham introduces key note speaker Professor Jean-Marc Dewaele (Birkbeck, University of London) at the IoE-hosted Creative Multilingual Identities conference

A lively panel and audience then debated whether Modern Languages in the UK needs a new identity. No easy answers, but plenty of thought-provoking questions to think about.

On the second day, we heard about nature’s many languages, and how linguistic and biological diversity complement each other perfectly in the area of conservation. Professor Jean-Marc Dewaele  gave a highly entertaining and enlightening talk about diversity, linguistic and otherwise: culture cannot exist without it. Society needs people who don’t fit into the usual pattern.

There was not a dry eye in the house when Amerah Saleh and Bohdan Piasecki, Free Radicals’ from the Beatfreeks Collective moved the audience to tears for all the right reasons with their multilingual poetry in Arabic, Polish and English. Powerful stuff.

Next up were two hands-on workshops, which were also joined by many local teachers. Dr Anna Wolleb from Reading University’s Centre of Literacy and Multilingualism  helped delegates to explore the roles different languages have on the lives of multilingual speakers, and Carey Mayzes from the Association for Language Learning got participants to try out a new language as part of her talk on Language Futures, an initiative for primary and secondary schools to develop languages beyond the classroom.

Then Rinkoo Barpaga , an amazing storyteller and comedian, took the stage and had us all enthralled. Rinkoo is deaf and used sign language and an interpreter to communicate with the audience.

Finally, Professor Terry Lamb chaired a panel on community languages in schools. A lot of good work goes on here already which sadly does not receive much publicity, but it’s crucial that teacher education should support multilingual classrooms in the UK.

An inspiring two days passed by in a multilingual flash, but the ideas and connections made will stay with us for a long time. If you’d like to follow up on  conference contributions, have a look on the Creative Multilingualism conference page .

Heike Krüsemann is a recent IoE PhD student and current post-doctoral researcherClick here for Heike’s PhD blog


Heike Krüsemann on her PhD research (supervised by Professor Suzanne Graham, IoE) on adolescents’ motivation for language learning

Calling all UG students! Don’t miss your chance to have your say.

We want to ensure that you have everything you need to succeed in your studies and have a great time at university. That is why we take the National Student Survey (NSS) and other surveys extremely seriously – it means we can listen, understand and act on your views. 

We are listening!

“Every child has a right to achieve their full potential.” IoE researcher to be key speaker at Westminster symposium examining childhood equality

Dr Carol Fuller of the IoE

“There are unfair barriers hindering some young people,” says Dr Carol Fuller of the University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE).

The educational sociologist suggests that in the formal atmosphere of our current schooling system, with its focus on academic performance above all else, some children can feel they are a failure and just don’t belong.

She and other academics from the field of childhood learning will present a provoking symposium in February that will look at how greater equality can be promoted through education so that both children and society can benefit. Organisers will question the long term impact of our current education system that prioritises academic performance over other important skills.

Portcullis House, Westminster which will host February’s childhood symposium

Carol and her colleagues are set to share their important – and sometimes startling – findings on childhood equality and well-being at the event, titled “Promoting Educational Equality: from the bottom to the top”.

They hope that the discussions and ideas shared during the symposium at Westminster’s Portcullis House on 27 February 2018, will help start a movement that will eventually redress social inequality in children’s educational experiences. 

Carol says:

I am very much informed by my research and the idea that every child has a right to achieve their full potential. But there unfair barriers do exist and my work looks at how resilience, confidence and self-efficacy can aid children break down those barriers. Not only is it the right of every child to achieve their full potential but this naturally has benefits for society as they become contributing adults.

“In the research I am working on with the Ufton Court Education Trust, we are scrutinising the role of outdoor residential experiences on under achieving students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. We are exploring whether these activities have an impact on the children’s educational attainment. The impetus for this research was my longstanding ambition to help children achieve and become the best they can be.”

Carol is passionate about how children’s personal achievements can not only help the youngsters themselves but also benefit society as a whole, producing more resilient, productive adults. Raising the aspiration and achievement of all children and in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds must be achieved to reach a fairer and more balanced society, she believes.

Carol’s Ufton Court research has seen the study group of children developing the confidence to speak up and participate, sometimes to a startling degree, in a way they wouldn’t have in the traditional classroom.

What is powerfully interesting is seeing how these positive effects translate back in the classroom, producing statistically significant outcomes. Persuasive anecdotal evidence is also pointing to the activities having an all-round benefit to the children’s lives outside of school too.

The Promoting Equality symposium will focus on how best to encourage much greater equality via what organisers term a “bottom up approach to education as well as a more holistic approach to learning”.

This approach can be reinforced by resilience building activities such as those Carol is exploring in her research at Ufton Court. Not only could this improve educational outcomes, but in looking forward, it could also support children’s mental well-being – an increasing area of concern – and the character traits needed to succeed both at school and in adult life.

So how do we foster the qualities that support young people in meeting life’s changing demands? What skills and knowledge will they need to succeed educationally?

This research-led event will examine these issues closely and look at the value of alternative places and spaces for learning with a particular focus on children and young people who, for differing reasons, can face a future of disadvantage and marginalisation. The symposium will draw on a range of expertise to consider how to ensure a fairer future for all children.

Reserve a place to join these important discussions by emailing

Promoting Educational Equality: from the bottom to the top

Westminster Portcullis House

Attlee Suite

27 February 2018, 2 – 4pm

Music at Reading – Remembrance Festival: Ben Pedley memorial concert

Join the University of Reading Festival Voices and Festival Sinfonia to perform in Karl Jenkins The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace

on Saturday March 10, 7.30 pm, University Great Hall, London Road campus.

Please join the University of Reading Festival Voices and Festival Sinfonia as they perform Karl Jenkins The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace in the Ben Pedley Memorial Concert on Saturday March 10, at the University Great Hall. Students, staff, alumni and community singers and orchestral players are welcome to join for this performance of this modern favourite which depicts the horrors of war, and conveys the urgent need for nations to come together in peace.

The rehearsals for the Remembrance Festival are 9.30am – 4.30pm Saturday 10 February and 24 February at the University of Reading London Road campus. Parking is free, and drinks will be provided. Please bring your own lunch. The dress rehearsal is 2 – 5 pm, and the concert is at 7.30 in the University Great Hall. Participation fees are £15 for students currently studying at University or school; and £20 for University of Reading staff and alumni, and community participants. Click here to book your place to perform in the Remembrance festival. Tickets for the Ben Pedley Memorial concert are £12 / £8 (concessions) and may be purchased in the online ticket store

This concert is the culmination of our Remembrance Festival marking the centenary of World War One. We commemorate the life of Ben Pedley, a second year Chemistry student who died in a road traffic accident in 2017. We present music that was meaningful to Ben in the first half of the programme, celebrating his love of a diverse range of songs and piano music. The second half of the concert is a performance of Karl Jenkins: The Armed Man, A Mass for Peace, which is conducted by Patrick Barrett, the University Chamber Choir director.

Event organiser: 

Dr Rebecca Berkley       

Artistic Director Music@Reading, Director Academic Voices, Universal Voices

University of Reading, Institute of Education, London Road Campus, 4 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX | T: + 44(0) 118 378 2694 | E:| W: 



Discover your future at Train to Teach evening 21 February

Are you considering a career in teaching?

Perhaps you are a teaching assistant, a career changer, or even a qualified teacher looking to return to teaching. Or you may be one of the many excellent teachers trained overseas, looking to enter the UK market – or indeed you may be graduating in Summer 2018.

Whoever you are, you are warmly invited by the University of Reading (ranked 3rd in UK for Education*), TeachSlough** and Upton Court Grammar School in Berkshire to a special evening dedicated to those who wish to find out more about getting into primary and secondary teaching.

The evening will be mainly informal; once you have registered your interest in the event via the link below, please feel free to drop in, meet the team and to find out more!

Join us on 21 February 4.30- 6.30 at Upton Court to discover the fields of teaching opportunities available to you.

TeachSlough** has a wide range of excellent training opportunities for teaching, both in primary and secondary schools. The Train to Teach evening will showcase these prospects and encourage anyone who has an interest in teaching to get to know the field, chat to the experts from both Upton Court and the University of Reading and find out what route would suit them best.

Come along to our event to meet the experts:

  • University of Reading* tutors.
  • The TeachSlough team
  • Specialist mentors from our partnership schools as well as from other local training partnerships


Train to Teach Wednesday 21st February 2018, 4.30pm – 6.30pm Upton Court Grammar School Lascelles Road Slough SL3 7PR

Please confirm your attendance via this link

For more information, please contact:

Manni Sanghera Upton Court Grammar School Lascelles Road Upton Berkshire SL3 7PR /


*Guardian University League Table 2018: University of Reading ranked 3rd in UK for Education

**TeachSlough School Direct Teacher Training is provided in Slough Partnership schools, working together with the University of Reading. All courses lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). You can also opt to do the PGCE course, which leads to 60 Masters credits. You may be eligible for a salaried place, or a bursary.


Mathematics and stories? A transformative approach to teaching and learning mathematics


Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai

The idea of using story-picture books in mathematics lessons may sound eccentric to some, and yet this is precisely what Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai, Lecturer in Primary Mathematics Education at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE), has been advocating over the past few years. You can read more about Vincent’s research and the initiative that he founded in this series of monthly blogs highlighting key research activities here at the IoE.


Why mathematical story-picture books?

“You don’t learn to cook through having swimming lessons – why are maths and English different?” – I came across this interesting quote when I was going through questionnaire data of one of my pilot research projects, which set out to explore teachers’ perceptions on using stories in mathematics teaching. In fact, this teacher was not alone. Other teachers shared her view: “Tenuous links” and “It won’t happen, Maths and English don’t mix”. These perceptions are very important to me as a mathematics education researcher and as a mathematics specialist teacher educator because, in my view, they represent misconceptions that need to be urgently addressed.


These past few years, I have been communicating to as many in- and pre-service teachers as I can to highlight to them that story-picture books, when used effectively, can be an incredibly powerful mathematics teaching and learning tool. Specifically, the narrative component can help children to contexualise mathematical concepts in everyday scenarios in a way that children can become emotionally invested in, while page illustrations can help them to visualise the mathematical concepts in question. Meanwhile, children also have opportunities to practise using both mathematical terms and general vocabularies that they find in the story – an important connection to be made particularly when my other research project found significant correlation between children’s language abilities and their mathematical word problem solving performance.


What is

When I further explored the rest of the questionnaire data – this time with a focus on teachers’ perceived barrier to the integration of stories in their mathematics instruction, a large number of teachers in my study expressed that they had either never heard of the approach (i.e. the use of stories in mathematics teaching) or that they liked the idea, but did not know any mathematical story-picture books that they can use. These views prompted me to create, which contains the world’s largest database of recommendations for 500+ mathematical story-picture books. The website also features lesson plans, book reviews and exclusive interviews with some of the world’s most popular authors of these stories.  


In the short span of ten months since the launch of the website in March 2017, has now been viewed nearly 100,000 times by over 15,000 teachers and parents from more than 130 countries globally. Not only have I been amazed by these statistics, I have also been fascinated by the way teachers and parents actively help to promote my initiative and its website among their peers and fellow parents.


This blog entry is not intended to give you a detailed report of my research as it can be found elsewhere. What I hope to achieve, with this blog entry, is to simply raise an awareness of the potential pedagogical benefits of mathematical story-picture books. If you like what you have read so far, I should be grateful if you could help to promote the website in whichever way you can!  


You can find out more about this transformative approach to teaching and learning mathematics either on the website, or the upcoming Special Issue (Summer 2018) of The Mathematical Association’s Primary Mathematics journal that Vincent edits,  or from a book chapter called ‘Bringing Mathematics Alive through Stories’ which Vincent is the lead author in an upcoming edited book, titled ‘The Strength of Story in Early Childhood Development – Diverse Contexts across Domains’ to be published by Springer later in 2018.









Ready to recharge your batteries, meet other NQTs and receive some up-to-date training?  We would be delighted to see you at our seventh annual NQT conference, for primary and secondary NQTs.

Alongside opportunities for professional contacts with peers, the conference will provide you with valuable subject-specific workshops, as well as addressing different educational themes.  You will have the opportunity to visit MERL (The Museum of English Rural Life) and the renowned Learning Hub here at our London Road campus.

A great afternoon with lots of happy NQTs, who had fun meeting up with colleagues and staff, and who took away a plethora of good ideas from the workshops.” 

NQT Conference 2017

Stephanie Sharp, tutor and organiser, looks back on last year’s NQT Conference. 

Workshop selection may be made when the final Programme Workshops 2018, containing topics and synopses, is sent to you.


WHEN:  Wednesday 24 january 2018  |  13.00 – 18:00
WHERE: Institute of Education, London Road campus Redlands Road, RG1 5EX
COST (includes refreshments and lunch): 

£40 online if you book and pay on-line by credit/debit card:  

£50 if you require invoice: e-mail  with the subject heading: NQT Conference 2018 invoice request.


12:45    Lunch, registration, networking, workshop sign-up and welcome

13:30    Workshops Session One

14:45    Workshops Session Two

16:15    Workshops Session Three

17:15    Subject drop-in and networking with NQTs and tutors

18:00    End