Dr Rebecca Berkley on training the Musician in the Classroom


Dr Rebecca Berkley is a Lecturer in Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. She is the Subject Convenor for the BA in Primary Education (QTS) with Music Specialism, Deputy Director for the MA in Education and is also the Music Education Pathway convenor.

Rebecca’s main focus is to ensure trainee teachers at the University of Reading develop their expertise as teachers by being expert musicians in their classroom.

Read Rebecca’s reflections on musicianship and leadership and why this is applied to teaching at the University of Reading.


Every music teacher inspires children by leading practical music making in their classroom. They use their musicianship skills every day. Musicianship training is at the core of all the music education provision we offer in the IoE, and in Music at Reading’s choral and instrumental ensembles. Musicianship starts by training the musical ear through games and practical activities, linking movement, singing and instrumental performance with a deep understanding of musical sound as it is represented in music notation. It is a really inclusive way of teaching music, enabling all learners from 0100 to develop strong musical skills to support them in their lifelong music education.

A fundamental part of our teacher training programme for primary and secondary music teachers at the IoE is teaching them the skills of classroom musicianship and leadership. We believe that every music teacher should be an expert musician in their classroom, using their skills of singing, playing, improvising, composing and directing in every lesson to inspire their students through creative work.

Recently, I was delighted to hear from a year 2 Music specialist on the BA in Primary Education (QTS) that she had taught a series of successful music lessons on placement in the summer term built around singing and rhythm improvisation which the children really enjoyed. Her mentor, who was not a music specialist, described the way she led the children in part singing as being ‘like a magic trick.’ The mentor was so impressed by the student’s leadership that she asked the student to show her how to do the same kind of teaching, and also asked for the student to observe her and give some feedback.

Music teachers trained at the University of Reading have a deservedly strong reputation for having solid practical skills as musical leaders, as a result of this approach in our Initial teacher Education, and on our Masters programme.

For more information in about teacher training in Music at the University of Reading, take a look at our Music Secondary PGCE, BA in Primary Education (QTS) with Music Specialism and MA in Music

Education. To join any Music at Reading ensemble and find out about our events and concerts, please go to the website (https://www.reading.ac.uk/music/) or follow us on social media


drumkit in purple lighting

Encouraging inclusive Computer Science approaches: female participation in STEM

Dr Yota Dimitriadi

We are delighted to announce that Dr Yota Dimitriadi has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by Advance HE (previously the Higher Education Academy).

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme raises the profile of teaching and learning at a national level, recognising and celebrating individuals who make an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession.

National Teaching Fellows play an ongoing role in enhancing teaching and learning within their institution, the higher education sector and further afield.

As well as working with the next generation of Computer Science teachers, Dr Yota Dimitriadi helps students across Education programmes at the Institute of Education (IoE) to reflect on the uses of digital technologies to enhance classroom learning and self-care practices.

“I am delighted and humbled to have been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. The NTF nomination provided this amazing platform to celebrate collaborations with internal and external learning communities. My heartfelt thank you to the University for offering me this unique opportunity to share my story and to all, students and colleagues, who have supported me on my journey. As a recipient of this prestigious award and member of this amazing group of educational leaders I am inspired to pursue more opportunities for teaching and learning collaborations and community engagement”.

Dr Dimitriadi champions Technology Enhanced Learning in the Institute of Education, and supported Reading and other universities to respond to a shift in teaching from Information Communication Technology to Computing in 2014. In addition, Yota was involved in setting up the Computing Network of Excellence and helped establish the University of Reading’s Institute of Education as a key player in the policy and practice of teaching Computing at schools.

Dr Dimitriadi also contributes to international efforts to encourage more women to participate in STEM subjects. She worked as the Lead Academic in a pioneering Knowledge Transfer Project between the University of Reading and the World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which provided thousands of young women around the world with opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

You can find further information about all our National Teaching Fellows, here.

Roy Blatchford CBE: Postcard from Shanghai

Roy Blatchford CBE has worked in education for the past forty years. He has been a teacher, headteacher, school governor, government adviser, director of various educational charities, Ofsted inspector, national trainer and keynote speaker. 

More recently, he has helped establish inspection and school review systems in New York, Dubai and Mumbai. He is also a Visiting Fellow at The Institute of Education, University of Reading and presented the BA Education Studies annual lecture this year. Below you’ll find his impressions from a trip to Shanghai along with reflections about education. 


Over the past fifteen years I have reviewed and inspected over 1000 schools, colleges and faculties around the world. Most recently I was in Shanghai. Wherever I travel I write a Postcard From……- trying to capture my impression of place together with some reflections about education. 

My own adult education journey began as a graduate of Reading University in 1973. I have been in teaching ever since: in schools, colleges and universities, home and abroad. I am particularly proud to have been granted the title of Visiting Fellow in the Institute of Education at Reading, starting October 2019.

Away from its gridlocked, elevated highways the largest city in the world works. Shanghai: a modern, socialist, international metropolis.

Contrast frenetic New York, chaotic Mumbai, the bedlam of Cairo – Shanghai hums with purpose. Twenty-six million souls occupy countless high-rise towers cheek by jowl with the stylish housing and municipal legacies of the French, British and American Concessions. The Huang Pu river bends through the downtown like a proverbial dragon’s tongue.

Bicycles of all descriptions, electric scooters, trams, cars, buses, pedestrians rub along politely. While ‘partageons la route’ is a vain exhortation sign in France, here it is practised unfailingly. No horns, no red-light jumping, no unpleasant jostling for road space – just simple courtesies.

Spring in Shanghai reveals handsome boulevards bright with luscious cherry blossom. Parks and lakesides fill with walkers, card-players, early morning and evening Tai Chi groups, grandparents match-making their grandchildren. By night, the competing colours of the iconic tall towers, neon adverts and laser beams illuminate the Pudong skyline.

The foods on offer from China’s diverse provinces are eye and mouth-watering, served up in enticingly named restaurants. Lost Heaven features Yunnan cuisine; Crystal Jade specializes in Cantonese dim sum; Guoyuan has super spicy Hunan

dishes on the menu. All this is an increasingly cashless society. Even the few street beggars can accept a contribution through WeChat the ubiquitous, multipurpose messaging app.

Shanghai hums to the tune of a global future, rooted in a colourful history of welcoming peoples from anywhere and everywhere.

Like Russian dolls, new cities rise up annually within the megalopolis, each larger than a combined Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. I visit four schools in the new urban developments to glimpse China’s dazzling educational frontiers.

Where once the Chinese middle class sent their children to famous boarding schools in the UK and US, now those distinguished brands have come East, spawning hundreds of local for-profit and not-for-profit competitors. To meet the demands of the exponential growth in international and bicultural schools, Shanghai and Bejing alone need an additional 100,000 English speaking teachers over the coming decade.

The medium of instruction in lessons alternates between English and Chinese, frequently blending the two: humbling bilingualism at work and play. The country’s thoughts, culture and traditions properly lie in the core curriculum, just as they do in India and Arabia.

A student-led assembly invites teachers to share extracts from their favourite books in English and Chinese. The Principal is welcomed to the microphone to present a few prestigious awards won by students in recent pan-Asia competitions. In turn he challenges students to speak ‘English only’ on the corridors in the run up to the exam season. British and American English compete for students’ head-spaces. The anglophile, bilingual Head of Maths tells me she speaks fluent Chinglish and demonstrates in style.

Cambridge IGCSE reigns supreme in these impressive schools where student attainment is high, where IB scores are at their global best, where the students are MIT, Yale, Zurich and Oxford bound. I reflect on the political mugging of IGCSE in England. 

And Shanghai Mathematics is self-evidently in operation here, a reminder that context is everything, that a curriculum model cannot be readily imported in the way naïve UK politicians have contested.

In another school I encounter The Brain and The Oxygen Bar, attractive airy spaces for independent study. A number of classrooms have smart sofas and bean bags in part of the room, enjoyed by small groups of senior students to peer mark essays and plan oral presentations. QR codes are posted on doors for students to offer feedback to teachers and BYD (bring your own device) is embedded practice.

The co-curricular programme in a fourth school takes your breath away. Recent months have welcomed a world-class harpist, an international choir, national poets and artists of distinction. British leaders are pioneering an innovative, bilingual ‘head, hand, heart’ curriculum, fusing the best of Western and Eastern cultures for the 2 – 18 age range. And tasty lunch menus are something else: stirfried baby cabbage, pickle and egg soup, sautéed duck fillet and pepper.

The education market booms like a Californian gold rush. Entrepreneurs are in their element, Supermarkets proclaim Kumon Math, Saturday schools, tutoring agencies, university crammers. Education, anywhere and everywhere, is the investment the current generation makes in the next. In Shanghai there is no mistaking that imperative.

Teeming, urban China – through its young people – thoughtfully, optimistically modernizing without Westernising. The long march of the Silk Road continues.


Marvellous Mums and Marvellous Me Celebration

On 28 May 2019, we celebrated the inspiring women finishing the Marvellous Mums and Marvellous Me programmes (https://research.reading.ac.uk/education/marvellous-mums/), as they all received their certificates of completion from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort.

The programmes were created by Professor Carol Fuller and Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos, with funding from the University of Reading, and in partnership with Whitley Community Development Association, Sure Start, and the Reading job centre and with support from Alok Sharma.

Providing sessions, including goal setting and practical support, such as interview techniques to women from the local community, the overall goal of the course is to promote greater self-confidence for those on both programmes.

Professor Carol Fuller opened the certificate presentations with a few words:  

I am delighted we have funding from the University of Reading to run this programme and that we work with some amazing local organisations.”

She continued:

We are so happy to be empowering women to define their own paths in life. For me the work we do here is one of the biggest joys of my job and I’m lucky to have met you. I’m inspired by your stories and your drive on a daily basis, and feel so invested in your development. We are a community that support each other long beyond the end of the course and I’m always here for you all! We also hope that any children here today will see what you’ve accomplished and be inspired as much as we have been.”

Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice Chancellor of the University also said: 

University is for everyone and should be accessible by everyone. We are determined to make the University of Reading a University for Reading as well.”

Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos proceeded to call each member up to collect their certificates, in some cases the children present took the certificates for themselves which resulted in many giggles.



The event ended with lunch to further celebrate with Professor Carol Fuller and Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos and talk to the Vice Chancellor.

We’d just like to say congratulations once again to these Marvellous individuals. We can’t wait to see what you do next!


Catherine Foley on Publishing ‘Leading Primary Mathematics.’

Congratulations to our very own Catherine Foley on publishing her new book, Leading Primary Mathematics with SAGE.

Catherine Foley is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. She currently leads the school-based Primary School Direct programme and the mathematics teaching within primary post-graduate initial teacher training.
Her doctoral research focused upon the study of girls’ perceptions of mathematics, and she continues to work closely with schools.

When asked why she wanted to write this book Catherine said: “Subject leaders of primary mathematics do a difficult job, trying to balance keeping their own knowledge up to date, being accountable for a key subject area and supporting others alongside their own day job as a teacher. We wanted to provide something that helped them to see how they might make decisions that are evidence-based, allow them to draw on the latest curriculum innovation whilst understanding what it might look like in practice in their school and classroom.”

The book offers expert guidance and insight into ‘what mathematics leadership looks like in practice’ and shows readers how they can develop from a confident teacher into a curriculum subject leader. It does this through a careful blend of pedagogy and practical application, supported by a range of real-world case studies and opportunities to reflect critically on classroom practice.

Leading Primary Mathematics is of particular relevance to:
• Undergraduate (BA Ed, BA with QTS)
• Postgraduate (PGCE, PGDE, School Direct and SCITT)
• NQT seeking to develop into a curriculum leadership role
• Those leading mathematics in their school.

Check it out here https://bit.ly/2HXO28s

School partnership celebration event at the Institution of Education (IoE)

On 26 March 2019 we were delighted to hold a school partnership celebration event at the Institution of Education (IoE), supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s endowment fund.

This event provided the opportunity for us to get together and celebrate our partnership.  Although we could not invite all IoE staff or school partners, we were lucky enough to have a number of our steering committee members, key partners and staff at the event along with alumni and our wonderful Universal Voices community choir. The choir dazzled us with their singing abilities and had us all dancing to the bungalow song.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Fellowes welcomed everyone to the event, highlighting the importance of regional and local partnerships to the university. This was followed by Head of School Professor Cathy Tissot outlining some key points, including: 

  • We work with over 400 schools in our partnership within nine main local authorities (Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Surrey).
  • On average, we train around 400 teachers a year through undergraduate, Early Years, Primary  and Secondary initial teacher training programmes. 
  • Since  the 2012/13 academic year when we moved to the London Road campus, we have successfully trained well over 2,000 Primary and Secondary teachers and approx. 150 Early Years teachers within the partnership.
  • In the latest Ofsted, Initial Teacher Education inspection report, 2016 the inspectors recognised that The partnership makes a strong contribution to teacher supply in the region.”

As Cathy outlined, none of this would be possible without the strong partnerships we have with schools and we just want to take this opportunity again to thank not only those who were able to attend but our entire partnership for making it possible to help shape teachers that are sought after and inspiring.

A special thank you also to our speakers Mrs Lesley Godwin – Head teacher of Marsh Infant and Nursery School; Katie Ray-  a mentor from Prospect School; Elizabeth Langer a Primary PGCE student; and Sam Boseley, a Primary PGCE, SEN pathway trainee. Their inputs inspired us all and reminded us what our school partnership is all about. 


Primary and Secondary School Workers to Benefit from Free Online Courses!

We are excited to announce two new courses for supporting successful learning in schools, one for primary and one for secondary.  

These have been carefully curated by our Online Courses team and online social learning platform futurelearn.com,with the expert guidance of Professor Helen Bilton.

These courses draw on Professor Helen Bilton’s 35 years of experience in teacher training and education, including early years education, outdoor play and behaviour management.

Helen said “teaching assistants play an increasingly important role in the classroom. The courses are easy to participate in and available online so that there are as few barriers as possible to taking part.”

Helen Bilton’s goal in developing these free online courses is to provide  accessible, interactive and educational resources for primary and secondary workers, where they can discover and discuss ideas and examples of good practice with one another.

Helen has designed a range of activities so that Learners leave the course feeling more knowledgeable and ready to try what they’ve learnt within their work.  

Topics include how to manage a classroom and the psychology behind student behaviour. Learners will also hear first-hand from children and pupils about how they explore a learning environment.

Both courses are now open for enrolment by following the link below and will begin on 22 April 2019.