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.
Dr Yota Dimitriadi , Subject Leader for the PGCE Secondary Computer Science, along with the PGCE Secondary Computer Science students recently created an online escape room comprising of a set of six lessons. These lessons with supporting videos, interactive games and classroom activities were specifically designed to help a wide range of students with special educational needs, particularly students from The Addington School whose work placements were disrupted due to COVID-19.
The project was part of the Google Education Professional Development Award on supporting cyber awareness for students from special schools to support their transition into the workplace.
The lessons are designed for both ‘in classroom’ and distance learning approaches with a range of scaffolding options that teachers can use to tailor the lessons to their specific students. All the games are available online on the cospace.io platform and have been tested on iMac, PC and iPad devices.
Whilst designed as an integrated series of lessons and activities, teachers may also consider using lessons individually to meet a specific learning objective. Further, access to the original project documentation and code is available through Yota Dimitriadi.
The project has been a collaboration between the University of Reading, Institute of Education Secondary Computer Science students and The Addington School, Wokingham, made possible by funding and support from the Berkshire Branch of the British Computer Society and Google Education.
University of Reading:
with support from Adrian Earle, Head of Dept, Furze Platt School
By the final summer term, the Y3 art specialists have completed their final placement, assignments and dissertations, and have five full weeks of studio practice leading up to an end of degree exhibition. This exhibition is the culmination of three years of hard work and committed visual research, which is celebrated by friends, families, IoE tutors, the wider university and local community on London Road Campus. With the onset of COVID-19, a term of contemporary, practical and innovative practice had to be re-imagined and transformed into a digital format.
“We were determined to create an adapted final ‘practical’ module which would celebrate who the students had become as artist-teachers and ensure the quality of teaching and learning would be intact. It was essential to retain their creative enthusiasm and drive, so that what they would produce online would be testament to their maturing identities and could still be celebrated by viewers, as it would have been in the studio.”
To that end, an alternative term was devised which comprised of online interactive group sessions, small group supervisory tutorials, paired and group critiques and digital sharing via a new website platform. All students and staff set about creating their own online portfolios, which served as a platform to document and exhibit work that was ongoing, as well as the process of making and creating the final virtual exhibition. Some students even tackled the subject of COVID-19 directly in their work, focussing on our environment and natural art forms.
A selection of the portfolios, will also feature on the National Society for Education in Art and Design website, modelling excellent practice for other university art/education departments; this continues to position us as a flagship of excellent art and education practice at national level.
Professor Brian Richards, Emeritus Professor of Education, said:
“I have spent several happy hours browsing the content. I usually go to the exhibition but the online virtual version has the advantage of being more permanent and you can dip in, take your time, reflect and go back for another look and think. Please congratulate the students on a particularly thought-provoking and inspirational collection. I wish I had been taught by people like them when I was at school in the 1960s—it was a rather uninspiring experience!”
The website production took over 6 weeks and throughout the entire process, students were able to dip in and out of each other’s websites, add in constructive comments to make suggestions, acknowledge some outstanding moments and, importantly, appropriate good DIY art ideas in order to learn from one another.
Imogen, a Y3 student, said:
“I actually really liked doing the website and I didn’t find any difficulty in it. I’d chat with Aaron like we were digital buddies rather than studio bay buddies! We all used messenger to make comments – it was buzzing.”
The developing process included the group as a whole attending live artists’ sessions and exhibition tours of galleries around the world. This added a further international layer to the art curriculum by enjoying global ventures on virtual tours and live artists performances in: Hong Kong, New York, Barcelona, South Africa and Sydney. It also fuelled the students’ ideas for their own websites. These were shared with all staff and students at the IoE and across the wider university, including the IoE Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, helping to raise the profile of the London Road studios as a lively hub of art activity – even remotely!
Emily Yearsley, Lecturer in Primary Art Education, said:
“Initially, both students and tutors were disappointed at the prospect of losing out on the exhilaration of the final exhibition but there is no doubt, the impact of what was produced and the process that was undertaken has enriched practice in a profound, thoughtful and reflective way.”
Molly, Y3 student, said:
“I think in the studio, I work with loads of things and then play around, but actually weirdly, I think the ideas I had for this term’s work were possibly stronger because I had more time to think before I did, so there was a lot of more intention and personal input.”
As a result of building on the successful experience of delivering small practical art activities online, Suzy Tutchell has been delivering weekly online art drop-in sessions for Alana House clients (Reading-based women’s community project); it is hoped this will continue throughout the summer and into the autumn term as she seeks a funding source to create a community project with student support and involvement.
Going forward, the adapted online portfolio model has set a new premise for visual/sound assignment work in the future; Y2 art and music students will collaborate over the next academic year to produce a Y2 creative arts digital platform as part of their specialisms in school.
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.
We are delighted to announce the launch of our new film!
For those who are interested here’s the script:
Education, education education
It’s the most powerful tool we have
It has the ability to change who you are
Enable you to be whoever you want to be
To stretch you and empower you
It transforms how we think how we feel and how we behave
It can create thriving communities
Unlock passions that you might never have discovered
It changes our contribution to society
Alters the course of your life
And no one can take it away from you.
How we educate the next generation is the key to our future
Not only as individuals but also as a society.
That’s why at the University of Reading we are really committed to developing caring and professional practitioners
Carrying out world leading research
Training you to transform lives.
Become part of our global community and share our passion.
At the Institution of Education we practice what we teach.
This script resonates deeply with us here at the Institute of Education as we want to provide this generation and those to come with the skills to truly develop and succeed at whatever they aspire to.
We asked Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the Institute of Education for her thoughts on the film and this is what she had to say:
“I’m really proud of this film as it captures the Institute of Education and who we are succinctly. This film shows the passion that staff here have for what we do best. It means a lot to us here at the Institute of Education and to me personally. My father used to say that education is the most powerful tool we have and that no one can take it away from you. This has stuck with me my entire life and it lies at the core of what we do here. I’ve shown the video to several people now and they all smile and sigh when the little girl says the line. It really is a powerful statement and she delivers it much better than I ever could!”
You may already know all about our filming this summer, with the images of school visits and film crews on our social media channels.
Our partners and staff went all-out to help us make this film and are due a big thank you, especially the fantastic partnership schools who helped us film: the Bulmershe School, Maiden Erlegh School and Christ the King Catholic Primary in Whitley.
Thanks also to two of our talented alumni: Laura Prime, now working as a Secondary Art and Design NQT and Tayla Sutton, a Primary School Direct trainee.
And very special thanks indeed go to the wonderful pupils who took part – we could not have made such a brilliant film without you!
Staff at the Institute of Education are often called upon to provide expert comment. They actively campaign for change so that passionate educational practitioners have the best environment to work in and that children continue to develop successfully.
Professor Helen Bilton was invited to London on Thursday 8 November 2018 to give her expert opinion on how to develop the early years education profession at the Westminster Education Forum ‘Next steps for early years education: developing the EYFS profile, assessment and priorities for strengthening the transition to primary education’
Read below what was discussed in Helen’s own words.
Last Thursday I was given the opportunity, alongside seven other panel members to address the next steps for early years education at the Westminster Forum.
Five minutes each isn’t a long time to speak but we covered a lot of ground and interestingly though we didn’t say the same thing, we did in a way.
We each took the subject from different angles but came to the same conclusions which are detailed below:
Listen to the experts, not the vested parties;
Value children by ensuring the national curriculum fits the early years framework;
We need to ensure we have the calibre and number of staff needed to continue with early years education properly;
The previous baseline assessment wasn’t workable or appropriate because it ‘didn’t tell teachers anything they didn’t know’.
Policy makers need to address poverty in this country and need to ensure families are paid a good wage and live in decent affordable homes;
We have a system that heavily values assessment rather than education itself, which needs to change;
There are great schools out there achieving great things with children while not having to forgo their principles.
Baroness Perry who chaired the forum was a force to be reckoned with, once Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools in England, she questioned how we have a system that trains teachers in one age phase to then be able to teach any age of child. We should value and keep those people who train in early years.
Although the DfE spokesperson couldn’t stay for the discussions after they presented, they mentioned changes that could cut the workload. I do feel if they had stayed however, they would have seen that not one person, audience or speaker, mentioned the high workload, rather they spoke passionately, demonstrating a deep care for children, wanting to preserve a good education for all.
On the other hand, the Ofsted spokesperson did mention self -regulation and that staff in settings need to articulate to inspectors their understanding of the children in their care.
Going forward, I think we all need to continue to speak to anyone and everyone about education using language that talks about children in terms of growth, development and maturity.
As the campaigning group declares, children are more than a score (www.morethanascore.org.uk). Moreover, we need to be discussing how we make schools ready for children and as a nation we need to consider what the priorities are for children.
Finally, we need to be pushing for quality professional education so all staff are knowledgeable about child development.
All in all, I came away impressed by the level of debate and the measured discussions. The early years sector has room to grow in strength. I feel emboldened to campaign for change.
Dr Rebecca Berkley, Lecturer in Music Education at the University of Reading started the Universal Voices children’s choir in March 2017.
Rebecca has run children’s and adults choirs for Berkshire Maestros, the Berkshire Young Musicians’ Trust; for Sing Up, Kennet Opera, and Sing for Pleasure, the National Singing Charity. She started Universal Voices so that students training as primary music teachers on the BA in Primary Education (QTS) programme could learn how to run a choir, develop their conducting skills and learn to teach musicianship.
“I wanted my students to have a conducting placement with an experienced mentor. We teach conducting on our BA Education programme and Masters Programmes but there’s a big difference between conducting fellow students who can read music, and teaching young children in a primary school setting who have mixed abilities and confidence.”
The choir was launched at the Institute of Education Partnership Concert: Songs and Stories in March 2017. With the support of Music at Reading and the Campaign and Engagement Supporters’ Office, this concert brought together 270 children from the Reading area, who sang alongside music education students who also managed the concert. Universal Voices began rehearsals in April 2017 with around 30 children, and membership has risen to 40 as more children joined. The choir has performed regularly at University events like the University Advent Concert, the Big Band Big Lunch, and Alumni Family Funday. In 2018-19 they will present a join concert with Christ Church Choir, and also complete in the Woodley Festival for the first time.
The second Partnership concert in March 2018 was a performance of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, with Universal Voices taking the roles of Noye’s children, a chorus of 250 children from partnership schools and BA Ed and PGCE students from the Institute of Education taking solo singing roles and playing in the orchestra. The whole event was project managed by second year students who got to work with Music at Reading to manage the concert and led rehearsals with our partnership schools. This performance was nominated for a Reading Cultural award as best Community Project of 2018, and won an Institute of Education teaching and Learning award.
March 2019 will see the next round of second year students lead a concert called Animal Crackers. The University Big Band will lead an animal themed concert featuring creative composing and performing projects from children from local primary schools, and songs from the Jungle Book.
This Choir is funded though the Campaign and Engagement Supporters’ Office and is free for children aged 7-13 to attend. Contact Universal Voices on firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow us on Twitter @UniRdg_UVoices
To find out more about what’s happening at the Institute of Education, have a look on the website and at our Instagram , Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) has introduced an innovative mentoring scheme which bodes well for trainee teacher development. Students praise the extra insight, knowledge and tips they receive through the scheme, alongside all the on-going support. The new scheme aims to nurture mentoring skills whilst boosting teachers’ and trainees’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD) – absolutely vital in the rapidly evolving world of education.
Trainee teachers from the IoE experience immense benefits in their training schools from the support they receive from mentors. It is a responsibility the mentors take very seriously, ensuring that by giving their mentees the kind of experience that smooths the transition to teach, these students will have a strong base from which to launch their careers and be the best teachers they can be.
Whilst being mentored, students are able to explore teaching life and career goals based on the experience and perspective of a mentor who is already ‘out there’. Yet it is not just the student who gains from such a partnership. For the mentor, the benefit is not confined to seeing changes in their mentee student arising from their encouragement and support – though this is hugely rewarding of course. But, say mentors, spending time mentoring current students with their fresh ideas and creative approach has also been perspective-shifting and energising for them. Mentoring, they enthuse, is a two-way benefit.
This is the backdrop to the IoE’s introduction of the new Mentor Certification Programme which nurtures teachers and practitioners in developing and reflecting on their skills for effective mentoring – ensuring an already robust and successful mentor programme continues to grow alongside the ever-developing world of teaching.
The new programme has been made specifically flexible to support busy professionals, with a further benefit arising from the support it provides for teachers’ and education practitioners’ career development: the strong element of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a key component of the new scheme.
Schools and settings have been enthusiastic about these skills-enhancement activities but have also experienced a different kind of positive from the scheme: research has shown a strong link between effective mentoring and recruitment and retention of teachers. Reading Partnership Teachers (RPTs) are regularly offered roles in their placement schools, so active engagement with the Partnership in training new teachers proves an excellent way for schools to recruit Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).
The Certification scheme has already drawn strong interest from colleagues in schools and settings wishing to cultivate their mentoring expertise. Those already mentoring in Partnership settings are being invited to join the new Certification programme at the level that suits their experience.
The IoE is ranked 3rd in the UK for Education (The Guardian University League Table 2018), with internationally renowned and award-winning academics. The Institute’s strong links with local – and not so local – schools enables an outstanding Partnership that can create the next generation of exceptional teachers.
The IoE’s high levels of pastoral care and the exemplary experience that students enjoy are regularly reflected in the annual National Student Survey (NSS), with 2017’s ranking the IoE a high 90% for satisfaction. Indeed, one of the Institute’s key strengths, as recognised by Ofsted, is the high quality of support it provides to schools, mentors and Reading Partnership Teachers (RPTs) on placement.
What Reading Partnership Mentors have to say: “Mentoring….. it makes you think about your own teaching” “Mentoring skills – really good for developing departmental policies”
The Institute is keen to welcome experienced teachers and practitioners to the Mentor Certification programme, whether applicants are mentoring trainees, early years workers, students or Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).
Speaking recently on International Women’s Day in her capacity as a female senior academic, Dr Catherine Tissot revealed her early inspiration and had some unusual advice for those embarking on a career in education, special needs and academia.
Catherine’s undergraduate degree in the USA focused on special needs teaching and that is certainly where she saw her future lying. She had no inkling then that she would become a teacher of teachers and ultimately the Head of one of the highest ranked schools of education in the United Kingdom.
Catherine’s childhood involvement in voluntary activities with kids in her local park confirmed to her from a very early age that her future lay in education.
She said: “I absolutely knew I wanted to become a teacher from earliest memory and I also became passionate about Special Needs teaching from a very young age.”
After High School (in the USA), Catherine enrolled at the renowned university for special education provision, Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Drawn as always to special needs, Catherine found herself helping out with SN children’s swimming programmes at University in her spare time. She loved her voluntary work and saw her future being in the classroom as a special needs teacher.
Fate thought differently. Travelling to live in France in 1990, following her husband on a work posting, Catherine as quickly formed contacts with local SN groups and began volunteering. Their next posting took the couple to the UK, where she picked up her charity work again. The connections she made at the local University through this led to her being offered a scholarship to pursue a PhD.
Catherine said: “I was so delighted and excited at being offered this unexpected opportunity.”
Focusing her research on how appropriate provision can be determined for the vast array of individuals on the various spectrums of special needs, Catherine examined the perspectives of school, parents and Local Authorities.
Fully absorbed by now, having finished her PhD, Catherine started lecturing part-time at Brunel University. After a brief foray back into a special needs school, she finally arrived at the Institute of Education at the University of Reading in 2008.
As Head of School since 2015, Catherine envisages a world where teachers are given the support and time to attend appropriately to individual children’s differing needs.
She said: “Each special needs child is unique, so teachers need to have the opportunity to make plans that suit the child’s own pattern of learning and well-being. Often the first plan may not work, so you will need to revisit and there needs to be provision for this level of flexibility in the curriculum.”
Catherine sees the academic community getting closer to understanding the causes of autism, but warns that it will be a complex network of causes, rather than just one. She sounds a further warning note about the future of teaching in general in the UK:
“The point I’d like to make is that we are rapidly approaching significant shortages of teachers. This is partly because we are not able to recruit enough new teachers to replace retirees. Sadly, another cause is that teachers are not staying in the field because of the work load. This is a problem that needs addressing at policy level and any solution will come at a cost.
“Another area where I’d like to see change is in the public perceptions of teachers. Remember that what you see in the classroom is only the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know of any good teacher who doesn’t work evenings, weekends and holidays to stay on top of planning, marking and paperwork.
“I’d like to see parents more involved too, shouldering their own responsibility of raising children who are school-ready, in the most basic terms. I was talking with a Year 2 teacher last week who was frustrated because a child was not yet toilet-trained, for instance. How can a teacher achieve meaningful results when facing such basic obstacles?”
Catherine’s other concern is the effect of new technology on children’s communication.
“They become consumed by it, addicted to it, and this impedes communication skills, real world skills, writing skills; in fact all the indicators of a successful future. It’s very sad.”
Does Catherine have any words of advice for young people setting out on a career in education?
She cites seizing opportunities when they arise as the secret to achieving life goals – even those goals you didn’t realise you had to begin with.
She said: “I’m now Head of School. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if hadn’t taken the chance the moment I was offered that scholarship. My confidence grew with the scholarship, and of course each stage of attainment gives you more confidence in yourself.
“I would say, be bold and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. Be sure to realise and recognise opportunities that may be right in front of you. And remain constantly reflective in your daily life. Take suggestions positively, seize opportunities and don’t be too risk averse.”
When she has time off from running the Institute of Education, Catherine absorbs herself in another kind of growth. Her allotment is her pride and joy and she describes the pleasure of growing all her family’s vegetables. Catherine also closely follows the fortunes of her favourite American football team, the Green Bay Packers and when she has a moment to spare, loves to swim with the group of lads who are her swimming buddies.
When asked whom she would point to as her career inspiration, she pauses for a moment.
“There are so many. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been helped by informal mentors throughout career and my family has a tradition of strong women! My most recent inspiration though has been the IoE’s own Professor Rhona Stainthorp. She is so very good at challenging me in a supportive manner and she always has an open door and cup of tea ready!”
After an extremely successful conference last March, the Institute of Education is delighted to present this third specially designed conference for those working with Early Years children. This year, the focus will be on process of intentional teaching and children being partners in their own learning.
Conference organiser Dr Helen Bilton said: “Last year’s conference saw delegates emerging feeling reinvigorated and refreshed. That is what we have planned for them this year – with a different focus.
Some of last year’s delegates said:
“The day was thought provoking, inspiring, great resources, friendly teachers.”
“I liked the mixture of keynote speech plus workshops, and the opportunity to share ideas and network.”
“The talk was inspiring, the workshops were useful, all great ideas.”
Intentional teaching, intentional learners: ensuring children are partners in their development
Thursday 16 March 2017 from 09.30-15.00 at London Road Campus, University of Reading
09.00 Refreshments, networking, workshop sign-up and welcome 09.30 Introduction 09.45 Keynote speech – intentional teaching, intentional learners: ensuring children are partners in their development 10.45 Break 11.15 Workshops* 12.30 Lunch with exhibitors 13.30 Workshops* (repeated sessions from morning) 14.45 Evaluation 15.00 End – you are welcome to stay and mingle with other delegates
*The same seven workshops will be offered both morning and afternoon. Delegates will be required to select two workshops at time of booking from the drop-down menu – one for the morning and one for the afternoon. Remember, you can choose the workshops in either order, so if your morning choice is full, simply book that workshop in the afternoon instead, and your other choice for the morning. See below for workshop titles, synopses and speaker biographies.