Tips plus sources of support and ideas for your children


Below you’ll find some tips compiled by IoE staff to help children stay engaged during COVID-19. 


  • Take your time to work out what works for you. Something that works well for one family or child, e.g. creating a timetable so that there is a clear structure for the day, might cause pressure and stress for another.
  • It’s also important to recognise anything that you have achieved together. Try not to worry about or compare with what other children seem to be doing or what they might have got done in a typical school day. Learning takes place in small, uneven steps over long periods of time and isn’t always immediately obvious!
  • Try to focus on what the child CAN do. If they see how the newly introduced material links with what they already know they will find it easier to learn, and what they learn will be more readily recalled.

Language learning:


  • Cooking could be used to teach maths by writing a recipe/ measuring out ingredients. 
  • Board games such as snakes and ladders and monopoly are all good for developing mathematical thinking. 
  • Creating subject specific questions and placing them around the house as a maths trail could work well too  e.g. if a child has been learning multiplication facts, they can then develop a trail around the house with clues and questions. This not only consolidates their learning but also develops problem solving! 
  • You could also use Lego to develop volume, area and perimeter. 
  • Using art can also be a good way to think about mathematics as well- e.g using geometry to create shapes through pictures and identify those shapes.  This can be linked with nature- if there is access to a garden. 
  • Questions about time linked with simple fractions could work for young pupils. Older pupils could be asked to look at journey times online and work these out i.e ask them to work out how to get from Reading to Edinburgh in the least costly and most timely way. 
  • Time conversions – asking what time will it be in another country if it’s 10:00 here, same as money conversions can help with arithmetic. 
  • For learning how to multiply, see if they can suggest more than one way to think about multiplying e.g. five threes, or three fives, or 3+3+3+3+3 or a rectangle with a 3cm side and a 5cm side etc. 

Further sources:

Women in Higher Education Conference 2020 round up by Dr Karen Jones


Dr Karen Jones, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Management, Institute of Education, University of Reading recently attended the Advance Higher Education (HE):  Women in HE Conference 2020 Conditions for change –how can we accelerate change that tackles the treatment and inclusion of women?

Held in London on 23 January 2020, it marked the first Women in Higher Education Conference held by Advance HE.  The conference brought together academics from a wide range of disciplines and professional roles, who share an interest in addressing the deficit of women in senior leadership, both within the academy and beyond. In this blog post Dr Karen Jones tells us about the key messages from the event.


The conference began with statistical reminder of disparities in the gender composition of UK university students and the professorial staff who teach them. Data from 2017-18 (Advance HE, 2019) shows the student population comprised of 43% males and 57% females, while the gender breakdown of postgraduate research students was 51.4% males and 48.6% females (Advance HE, 2019). Clearly this illustrates a healthy proportion of female students are participating in UK higher education. By comparison, in the same year, 74.5% of professors were male and only 25.5% female. Intersectional analysis of UK professors by gender and BAME/white identity reveals just 6.7% of professors were BAME males and 2.1 BAME females.


Of course, the picture is not all doom and gloom. As Alison Johns, CEO Advance HE, pointed out – we must celebrate the achievements of women like Baroness Valerie Amos, the first Black female Vice Chancellor in the UK and Professor Dame Janet Beer, the first female president of Universities UK, and Professor Louise Richardson, the first female Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Still, while many women are making it to the top echelons of leadership in higher education and many other sectors, Advance HE estimates that at the current rate it will be 170 years before parity for women is achieved across the world. This set the scene for some lively debates in the sessions that followed.


One topic of debate was the gender pay gap and occupational segregation. Although the gender pay gap has narrowed across the sector, figures for 2017-18 for all university staff show the mean pay of men was £43,348 compared to just £36,128 for women. This equates to a 16.7% mean gender pay gap. Occupational segregation is a key explanatory factor for this pay gap, because a higher proportion of female staff in higher education occupy lower paid roles such as administrative occupations (80%), cleaning and catering (60%), and a higher proportion of males occupy better paid roles. For instance, males are 74% professors, 67% academic heads, 69% heads of school/faculty and 64% vice chancellors.


Other critical issues debated by delegates at the conference include the poor value given to women’s work, unconscious bias, discrimination and sexual harassment.


Key messages from the conference, supported by research and statistics from Advance HE (2019), act as a call for action in the sector:


  1. There is evidence that women do have an appetite for leadership. Indeed, 86% of women take on roles in higher education that require them to have influence over others, but at the same time no authority. In consequence, women who go beyond the requirements of the role risk losing recognition.


  1. Many women are confident that they possess the relevant leadership skills, but greater support needs be provided to help women implement their skills in a political workplace.


  1. Too often promotion and development opportunities are opaque and poorly run. More needs to be done to create transparent and fair processes for career advancement.


In the meantime, real and perceived barriers persist for women seeking advancement in UK higher education.

Read more about these key messages from the conference here:

Equality in HE statistical report 2019:

Statistics on pay equality in HE and links to former ECU resources:

UCEA and new JNCHES resources on the gender pay gap and pay equality in HE: 

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 ( 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 (, 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

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,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.

Rowing with Olympians: trainee teacher represents Team GB while studying.

An athlete and trainee teacher at the University of Reading says he is grateful for the support that allowed him to compete alongside Olympians at the recent international rowing championships.

Francis Highton represented Team GB at the World Rowing Coastal Championships in Canada in October, after being given special permission to take time out of his studies by both the University of Reading and Wexham School in Slough, where he is carrying out his placement.

This allowed the 27-year-old to compete alongside high-profile athletes like Zoe de Toledo, the British rowing cox who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, and Louisa Reeve, who represented Great Britain at Beijing 2018 and London 2012, as well as winning bronze at two World Championships.

Francis is studying at the University’s Institute of Education and specialises in secondary Geography. He admitted juggling his studies and being a competitive athlete was a challenge, but was thrilled at being given the opportunity to do so.

When asked why he wanted to teach Geography Francis said: “Geography  interconnects with every subject – literature, languages, history, science, physical education, all of it. I’d like to help students realise this and use this knowledge to make a real difference!”

Francis, from Henley-on-Thames, continued: “It’s been a balancing act and it’s quite hard – harder than I expected. Lesson planning this year has been a lot more time consuming than studying, and I have that extra responsibility of focusing on my students. But I’m managing so far. Everyone is quite invested in how I’m doing and seem to really care.

As soon as I got the opportunity to compete in Canada I spoke to the University and Wexham School. Being given permission to travel earlier allowed me to give my all in the race. I was even given the opportunity to speak to the school about the experience.

It was quite humbling to be next to athletes who have made it to that level. Their knowledge base is really impressive so you can’t help but learn from that.”

Francis finished 7th out of 52 rowers in the Men’s Solo Single at the World Rowing Coastal Championships in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, between 11-14 October. He followed this up by helping his team to 4th place in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, US – the world’s biggest two-day rowing event involving more than 11,000 athletes – the following weekend.

The opportunity to compete at both events emerged after Francis was part of the Row Zambezi team that rowed 900km along the Kafue river in Zambia this summer. The charity mission was to raise awareness of issues faced by the Zambezi River Basin and the Kafue river. The team carried out water quality tests and made wildlife observations while raising money to help the WWF and World Rowing build a water research and rowing centre there.

Francis, who started rowing aged 15, said he was particularly pleased with his performance at the Coastal Championships due to his relative lack of experience of coastal rowing.

“It was great to race on the world stage in Vancouver,” he said. “I hadn’t done a lot of coastal rowing and the boats are much bigger and heavier. It was a fantastic experience. To finish seventh in the world at something so new and exciting was great.

Francis is back to studying now but continues to prepare for his next race.”I use the gymnasium at the University of Reading’s London Road campus to do circuit training, and when I am on site I like to go running along the river in Reading, as it is a beautiful town.”