In wake of school-trip disappointment, one student teacher finds a way to bring Windsor Castle to his locked-down pupils

If the children cannot go to Windsor, then Windsor must come to the children, Kristian Greenslade decided, to the excitement of his young pupils.

Delighted to have been admitted to the Institute of Education (IoE) at the University of Reading to study BA Primary Education, Kristian describes his feelings as ‘super-excited’. Yet soon after his course began, the young trainee teacher was plunged into a world crisis. As the Covid pandemic unfolded, even qualified, experienced teachers faced immense challenges. Everyone was learning new ways of teaching in classrooms and online while looking after the mental and physical health of themselves and their pupils.

Pre-pandemic, one of Kristian’s school’s biggest plans had been to take the Year One pupils on a trip to historic St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married. Kristian’s pupils, all aged between five and six, were excited about visiting the Castle they had seen on television and in pictures. They had been learning all about its history, drama and current events. But then came the pandemic and the world shut down. The children were devastated.

Kristian had to think fast and find a way to transform his pupils’ disappointment into excitement. He talked to his wife Angelli, who is a talented hobby artist. Together, they came up with a brilliant way to show the wonder of Windsor Castle without being there in person.

They created a beautiful, metre-long model of the Chapel.

“I think for children who are five or six years old, learning about facts, dates and churches can be overwhelming. Some might just switch off. So I had the idea of giving them something visual and physical to see and be excited about, in place of their trip.”

By viewing all aspects of the Chapel online, Kristian and Angelli recreated the architecture of the chapel using recycled cardboard boxes, masking tape and a hot glue gun. They finished it off with acrylic paints, creating an effect that is startlingly good.

“I was so pleased to bring it in for the children. It introduced St. George’s Chapel to them, which was something really exciting during lockdown. Due to the pandemic, these children had not been able to enjoy the normal visits that would fire up their imagination and inspire their learning.

“There were other years doing the same topics and I was very happy that their teachers asked to use the model. All the key stage one kids got to enjoy it in the end.

“Kids absorb things in a cool kind of visual way. Having that taken away from them by lockdown was really sad. I thought it was important to give them something physical to examine and explore. Engaging the children means their minds absorb concepts naturally and enthusiastically.”

We have all read about the psychological effect of lockdown on children, which can be even harder for those with added challenges.

“With something like this model, kids who find it hard to engage; who maybe have a learning difficulty; handling and seeing the model draws them in more. Also, my class has a high number of children with English as an additional language, and I think the model helped them understand more easily.

“The children would go up to the model continually, wanting to look at it and see what was going on, even in their break or after school, even the shy ones. When you see that reaction – well, that’s why I am in the field of teaching!

“This year has been very strange because of the pandemic. But for me, in terms of learning, it has also been a very good year; in fact it’s been so fulfilling and I’ve felt so supported by the University, that I can’t wait for next year. And that’s a great feeling!”

Martin Sutton wins RUSU Excellence Award

Picture of Martin Sutton on LRC campus

We are delighted that Martin Sutton has won a RUSU Excellent Teaching Award.

The RUSU Excellence Awards recognise University of Reading staff who display excellent and innovative teaching practice. They award the staff who students believe have gone above and beyond expectations, tirelessly working to improve the delivery of their teaching and learning experience.

Martin is the Subject Leader for Secondary Geography and Secondary Religious Education within the Institute of Education, University of Reading. He is also the Geography Education Lecturer for our Primary teaching programmes.

“I am genuinely surprised yet honoured to have won this teaching award. The Institute of Education (IoE) is a superb place to work with lots of amazing people. Thank you so much to the students that have said many kind things – you’re all worth it!” 

Celebrating World Poetry Day 21 March with a Willow Class Lockdown Poem

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. (United Nations, 2021)

Amie is one of our 3rd Year Art specialist trainee teachers on the BA Primary Education with Art (QTS) course. During her final placement, she has been working with her students at St Martin’s CE Primary School, Hants on a well being lockdown poetry session. This poem was a combination of lots of different groups verses woven together to make a free verse poem.
 
“I have just completed a well being lockdown poetry topic with my class. The personification verse nearly made me cry and I am very proud of Willow Class!”

 

We are so glad she shared this with us this World Poetry Day. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have. 

**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Lockdown was about the Google Classrooms

Filled with FaceTimes, meets and zooms.

We had no guests, so no money to spend

No family, no cousins, no friends.

It was cool to be sat on a stool

Scrolling through the online school.

The videos were short but long,

Our teachers wanted our brains to be strong.

As time went on, our brains were frazzled

The thought of school again left us dazzled.

The stress of ‘turning’ work in left us feeling boo hoo.

But in the end, we can all say WOO HOO!

 

Nothing to do, nothing to play

Online chatting saves the day

Tablets and laptops our virtual friends

To talk to your besties, just press send

Zooms and facetimes all the lot

That’s how we talk to our buddies on laptops

Coronavirus comes and goes

When will it ever leave us alone

The great google meet it has revived

These past few weeks when we’ve been on divide

Never screen-free, always online

Somehow we can all still go outside.

 

Selfless, super doctors and nurturing nurses,

Tireless work and exhausted minds,

Active physically, but drained mentally.

Claps and fundraising – showing our faith!

Vunderful vaccines creates an impenetrable shield.

The vunderful vaccine creating hope for the sick.

The undoubtedly, unbeatable army of the national health service

Remains undefeated.

The NHS superheroes – free of despair!

 

Successful scientists gather interesting information about the vital vaccine that will soon save societies.

Hope is key

We go on wonderful walks and draw rainbows in our windows

Hope is key

Sir Captain Tom Moore was not a bore

While we were talking

He was walking

Hope is key

We clap for the NHS

For freedom

For happiness

Hope is key

We will keep going

WE ARE SURVIVORS!

 

Waking up in the morning

Is always the same

Apart from pets and family

Lockdown’s pretty lame

 

Learning from a screen

No friends to be seen.

Going to the shops wearing masks

Then coming home to complete our tasks.

 

Washing our hands

About to cook with pans

Going on a run

Whilst listening to music and having some fun.

 

Sneakily snacking on sugary sweets

While all the siblings get more sleep

My mum cooks, while I read books.

Me and my dog play

Every single day.

 

We’re starting history on a new page,

We feel like a gerbil in a hamster cage,

Like a chicken in a coop,

A shark made into soup,

Like a cat on a fence that can’t jump down,

We feel like an animal trapped in a pound,

A rainbow butterfly fluttering around,

Spreading its wings to us on the ground.

Dogs in muzzles,

Birds in cages,

Unable to fly.

Birds that can’t show their feathers and glide,

A turtle that is not in the sea,

We finally understand them, when it’s happening to me.

By Willow Class, St Martin’s CE Primary School, Hants.

A new book on Teaching the Arts is coming soon with contributions from several IoE authors

We are delighted that Suzy Tutchell and Susan Ogier have co-edited Teaching the Arts in the Primary Curriculum.

This comes out May 2021 and is published by SAGE.

Teaching the Arts in the Primary Curriculum features chapters by Stephanie Sharp, Scarlett Murphy and Ali Silby (Poetry and the Arts), Rebecca Berkley (Music and the Arts) and Nasreen Majid (Maths and the Arts) also of the IoE. 

It brings Arts Education sharply into focus as a meaningful, learning experience for children of pre-school and primary age (3-11 years).  Based on many researched case studies, it reinforces the potential for the wide range of physical, mental and emotional development, through learning opportunities that engagement in arts practice facilitates.

It also provides an insight into how by providing spaces in the curriculum for children to engage in the arts, teachers can support children to consider contemporary challenges that face their generation.

Click here for more on Teaching Arts in the Primary Curriculum 

 

7th in the UK for Education (The Guardian University Guide 2021)

We are delighted to announce that we have been ranked 7th in the UK for Education (The Guardian University Guide 2021).

The Guardian ranks universities through looking at eight different elements. This includes what students say about their teaching, feedback and the course itself in the annual National Student Survey (NSS). It also looks at the sizes of classes through the student-to-staff ratio and how much universities spend on teaching per student, as well as students’ A-level grades, whether their academic performance improves at university (the value-added score), and how likely they’ll be to continue with their course. This year they’ve also added new data on how many students get graduate jobs or go on to further study 15 months after leaving university.

More info on how the scores are conceived can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/sep/05/how-to-use-the-guardian-university-guide-2021

Professor Carol Fuller the new Head of School commented:

“Whilst rankings can only tell us so much, it is a clear and evident indication that the students on our courses are happy students who enjoy the experiences they have with us. It is also testament to the excellent team of academics we have, who work hard to ensure a good experience.”

A more detailed breakdown of the statistics can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/ng-interactive/2020/sep/05/the-best-uk-universities-2021-league-table

At the annual student teacher Research Conference, there was an astonishing range of talent and also a fair hint of nostalgia

Programme Director, Nasreen Majid addressing the conference

The IoE’s annual ATP* Conference featured an inspiring array of our students’ research presentations. As always, there was also a little nostalgia as we waved off our class of 2018 into their bright futures.

These conferences create a stimulating environment in which our final year BA Primary Education (QTS) students can showcase their lively, interesting and thought-provoking research around issues in primary education. Above all, the conference is the culmination of three years of intense hard work.

The key note speaker is always a central part of this special day and this year we were delighted to welcome Dr Diana Sous of the Institute of Education, University College, London, who focused on three diverse Portuguese Early Years settings to illustrate how conceptual understanding of democracy reflect individual school philosophies. 

Our annual ATP conference is a happy day in the calendar, as Programme Director Nasreen Majid hears and sees the fruits of her students’ study and research over the last three years as the students demonstrate the sheer quality and variety of their projects. The research is broad and accomplished and the posters in particular visually appealing and lively. 

Nasreen Majid, Director of the programme, who leads the conference and research output on the BA Primary Education (QTS) course said:

The research project showcase the outstanding contribution to educational research the BA Primary Education (QTS) students undertake with us here at the IOE. Each project is developed with an eye on how the focus will make a direct impact on the students’ practice as a trainee and beginner teacher. The impact is further amplified as the conference is designed as a platform for peer learning for the part 2 students who are just starting their ATP journey. I am so proud of the confidence and authority of students presenting their work, this shows a great insight into the area they have studied and ultimately a passion for teacher education.”

Our key note speaker to the conference, Dr Diana Dos Santos Sousa, Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL, IOE, delivered a timely key note, closely linked to her career trajectory from an early years practitioner to teaching fellow at UCL, IOE. Her presentation used evidence from three diverse Portuguese Early Years settings that illustrated how conceptual understandings of democracy reflect individual school philosophies She noted the tensions of international comparative testing, closely linking this to the upcoming comparative testing for 5 year olds. 

The best ATP candidate was Anna Wheatley, who received The Professor Rhona Stainthorp Prize for outstanding achievement in undergraduate research.

After the ceremonies, everyone was finally able to kick back and relax over a picnic on our London Road campus’s beautiful green quadrangle, enjoying the chance to be together one more time before our fantastic Year 3 students head off into their bright futures.

We are proud of our five presenting students, who did such sterling work at the conference. Congratulations to you all!

The Institute of Education’s BA Education Studies (QTS) offers four specialisms in Art, English, Mathematics and Music. Please click the links for full information.

*ATP = BA Primary Education (QTS) Advanced Teaching Project


The five final year students who were chosen to present their work at this year’s annual conference represent a broad cross section of the type of research undertaken. Here the five are interviewed on their work:

Will Hatton
Project: The extent to which mathematics is enjoyed by higher and lower attainers and the impact of their teachers’ attitudes towards the subject.

Lauren Rose
Project: The perceptions of the social inclusion of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: How do the children perceive their relationships with their peers and how does this compare to the perceptions of the adults who work with them?

Bethanie Matthews
Project: What is it about mathematics that causes anxiety for pupils?

Anna Wheatley 
Project: How does music intervention impact the social development of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Ellie Walsh
Project: An Exploration into the Use of Appropriate Children’s Literature to Support Upper Key Stage Two Teachers’ Delivery of the English Writing Curriculum.

 

Inside the Beast: well-attended both off and on-line, the discussion by Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell in May focused on the politics and law of education

Sir David Bell cuts the ribbon to open the Student Support Centre at the London Road campus, home of the Institute of Education

Sir David Bell’s popularly attended recent BA Education Studies Annual Lecture reflected on where the power really lies within our education system. Drawing on his experiences as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, the Vice Chancellor gave an insider’s account of our education system during his presentation at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education on 10 May.

Watch the lecture here

Sir David’s talk, the Inaugural Lecture of the new BA in Education Studies, fielded questions from students past and present, as well as people across the globe, from Bangladesh to San Diego. 

The first in a series, these annual lectures will aim to shine a spotlight on the special interests posed by this new programme, which started in 2017 at the Institute of Education, currently ranked 3rd in the UK for Education, according to the Guardian University Rankings 2018.  

The programme’s strong focus on inclusion enables its students to explore issues such as creativity in learning, diversity, social justice and disability, as well as many fundamental moral and social questions in education, such as: Why are there differences in educational attainment for different students? Is there a link between health and learning? Do all citizens have the right to an education?

If you have any other queries about the lecture or the programme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: t.a.wilson@reading.ac.uk  or 0118 378 2641.

 

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

eventbrite.co.uk/e/train-to-teach-tickets-41105941979

For more information, please contact:

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

schooldirect@uptoncourtgrammar.org.uk / www.teachslough.org.uk

 

*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.

 

Coming into the final furlong of your degree? Thought about transforming lives through education? Remembered your alumni discount for further study here?

One of the most attractive career options available to students from almost any discipline is the University of Reading’s own Institute of Education. 

With us you have the advantage of your alumni discount; you can explore the many routes to becoming a teacher; discover short courses that convert your knowledge to teaching power; and engage in a career in one of the UK’s most rapidly expanding fields of expertise. 

Embracing the demands of the 21st century requires educated, engaged and active citizens; individuals with resilience and the confidence to tackle challenges. At the Institute of Education we have the research, the expertise and the passion to help develop you into one of these leaders.

The IoE is ranked 3rd in the UK for Education (The Guardian University League Table 2018), with internationally renowned and award-winning academics. Our highly reputable partnerships with over 300 schools enables us, together, to train the next generation of outstanding teachers.

Come and see us in London Road to find out more – it’s beautiful here!

CONTACT US: Email: ioe@reading.ac.uk, Telephone:  + 44 (0) 118 378 2601

Get children out of the classroom to improve exam results

A recent study suggests that the way to raise academic attainment in disadvantaged children is to get them out of the classroom altogether.

The University of Reading is to publish research that confirms outdoor learning and activity among this group improves exam results.

The three year study, conducted by Reading’s Dr Carol Fuller and the Ufton Court Education Trust, scrutinised the role of outdoor residential experiences on under achieving students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. They explored whether these activities had an impact on the children’s educational attainment.

The impetus for this research was Carol’s desire to help children achieve and become the best they can be. She asserts that children’s personal achievements benefit society as a whole, producing more resilient, productive adults.

This aim tallied closely with the mission of the Ufton Court Educational Trust, which is to raise the aspiration and achievement of all children and in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dr Fuller’s research spanned four years and involved her working closely with pupils from the John Madejski Academy (JMA), which has close links to the University of Reading and teaches many children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The study consisted of a mix of outdoor activities and learning, set against the beautiful backdrop of Ufton Court Educational Trust’s Elizabethan manor house in Berkshire.

Carol hoped her studies might help redress social hindrances to children’s learning achievements, like chaotic home lives, lack of resources and a resultant dearth of opportunity. Often children from this sort of background will not feel a sense of belonging at school. They may also suffer low self esteem and this combination can lead to them causing trouble or failing to engage – most likely, both.

Carol suggests that in the formal atmosphere of the classroom, such children can feel curtailed by their poor understanding of social conventions. The many unwritten rules can ensure that already disadvantaged children feel they just don’t belong.

At Ufton Court, the study group of children discovered freedom from society’s rules. They developed the confidence to speak up and participate, sometimes to a startling degree, in a way they wouldn’t have in the classroom.

Most importantly, the children had fun and benefited from the stability of their new opportunity, developing greater engagement with their work and those around them as a result.

What is powerfully interesting is seeing how these very positive effects translated back in the classroom.

Carol compared the outdoor group’s academic results with a second group that did not take part and found her anecdotal evidence strongly confirmed by GCSE results. For the active group, GCSE educational gains in terms of overall attainment, as well as attainment in GCSE English and Maths, showed much better results than the non participating group. Carol’s research also put a spotlight on the difference in attainment between the two groups and found it to be statistically significant.

Dr Fuller said: “This means that we can say, with some confidence, that these experiences have contributed in an important way to the overall educational attainment outcomes for the students in the research group.”

The key to this success is repeadness. “The effects of one trip can wear off, but making the trips a regular event continues to remind the pupils that they have done worthwhile things and are capable human beings. This increases their confidence in the classroom and probably in life afterwards,” said Carol.

Persuasive anecdotal evidence during the study also pointed to the activities having an all-round benefit on the children’s well-being.

There are several remarkable case studies that Carol brings to light, notably “Orlando” (a pseudonym) who at the start of the research was about to be expelled. By the end, he is an ambassador for his school, speaking to 500 prospective parents about why they should choose JMA.

Another poignant story tells of a shy girl who was too fearful even to leave her room at home. She displayed worryingly quiet behaviour and could not socialise with other children or participate in class. But during her field trip, the youngster managed to take part in a night-time woodland walk at Ufton Park. This experience enabled her to turn a corner and she found that her fear of going out had all but disappeared. She reports that she now goes out frequently with her friends back at home. That a tiny thing like a woodland walk can be life-changing exemplifies the value of this research.

Were these results translated to policy, discussion would have to revolve around building teachers’ confidence in outdoor learning. It would certainly focus on current teacher training and whether it can encompass the skills to lead outdoor learning activities. And fundamentally, should Ofsted be including a mark on levels of outdoor learning and activity?

Meanwhile, activities like those at Ufton Court are not part of the formal curriculum, nor are they Ofsted assessed. Yet these are extraordinary results that clearly show struggling young people turning their lives and educational attainment around. Can this be ignored by policy makers?