A floppy hat, a sense of occasion and the delights of the UWE Education Doctoral (EdD) Programme

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Tuesday 27th November 2018 was the culmination of over four years of work – the awarding of my Education Doctorate at Bristol Cathedral alongside fellow students. The Cathedral echoed with the voices of many students, parents, friends and supporters all celebrating a mixture of academic success, resilience, personal struggle and the joy of learning.  The floppy hat and gown worn at the ceremony added to the sense of occasion, tradition and the special nature of the event: it isn’t often you are able to don such a hat and it isn’t everyone who can!

The smiles and congratulations were a product of this unique award that recognises the professional knowledge, skills and practice of the student and this is foregrounded in the way the doctoral programme runs and how the student’s research is guided and located.

My research was titled ‘An Illuminative Evaluation of the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check: Listening to the Voices of Children and their Teachers’ and it was situated in my long history as first, a primary school teacher then deputy head, Teaching School Manager and Initial Teacher Educator. I knew that the Phonics Screening Check was the area I wanted to research: it was impossible to ignore the anecdote of a friend, a Head Teacher of a diverse inner city primary school who related the story of a number of children in her school in the year the check was introduced. The Phonics Screening consists of 40 words: 20 real and 20 pseudo words that children sound and blend to read. One of the real words in the check was the word ‘nigh’.  A number of children didn’t recognise the trigraph ‘igh’ (three letters that make one sound) and sounded the word as ‘n-i-g-hur’. Rather than blend the sounds to make the word the children were confused and upset: if they blended this word they would say a word that was considered offensive, a word that their teachers and fellow classmates knew as rude and inappropriate. The same story was recounted by a number of teachers across schools in the city. Prompted by the initial stages of the EdD programme, I was able to begin to frame this as an unintended consequence of the Check and so an area that needed to be explored further.  

The Education Doctorate has an initial taught phase which guides, prompts and challenges the wide range of professionals that embark on the doctoral journey. The first part of the EdD encourages reflection and critical positioning and so enabled me to identify my doctoral thesis focus. What is distinctive is the variety of educational professionals on the programme: in my cohort this included a prison educator; an Early Years Centre Manager; secondary, F.E and H.E teachers and lecturers; an air traffic controller trainer and a teaching assistant and learning mentor in a local primary school. It is this diverse group that enables each person to think beyond the usual professional considerations, to view issues in new ways to “make the familiar strange” (Jackson and Mazzei, 2012).

The programme challenged my approaches to thinking about ethical considerations in research and led to my thesis that foregrounded the voices of those “normally silenced” (Greene, 1994) in educational evaluation – in my case, the children who took the Phonics Screening Check. The EdD programme also pushed me to reflect on theory and in my research, the myriad of theories that impact on the practice of the teaching of early reading. A study unit on policy shone a light on the different ways that policy can be analysed which drew me to the work of Gemma Moss and the evolution of Literacy policy. All of this was in Part One of the EdD programme and this provided the springboard to progress to Part Two– the research itself. Guided by challenging supervisors who questioned, recommended and pushed me to explain and explore beyond my usual comfort zone, the thesis took shape. This was a period of delight in the wisdom of the five year olds I talked to in my focus groups; despair in the multiple writes and re-writes of different sections and moments of the type of ‘flow’ that Csikszentmihalyi describes, the total absorption in the task at hand.

I would recommend the UWE Education Doctorate to any educational professional who wants to lay bare an aspect of practice, to approach it from different viewpoints, to dissect it with forensic care and to challenge their thinking beyond the everyday. And of course – there is the lure of the floppy hat to keep you going!

Dr. Jane Carter is a senior lecturer in education and childhood.

BRIDGE Paired Peers Twilight Event

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BRIDGE is pleased to invite you to the Paired Peers Twilight event. This event is on 14 Feb, 16:30-18:30, Room 2S704, Frenchay Campus, the University of the West of England.

Critical perspectives on transitions into, through and beyond university: Learning from the Paired Peers project

Dr Richard Waller, Associate Professor of the Sociology of Education, Dept of Education and Childhood.

The phenomenon of people’s access to and experience of higher education being informed by their social class position is by no means new. Yet despite numerous policy initiatives and interventions in the last few decades, significant inequalities remain between working and middle class young people regarding their chances of progressing to higher education, the type of university attended, their student experiences and their graduate outcomes. The Paired Peers project was a two part longitudinal study (2010-2103 and 2014-2017) funded by the Leverhulme Trust which followed an initial cohort of 90 undergraduates studying at either of the two universities in one English city. The University of Bristol is an ‘elite’, research intensive institution and a founding member of the Russell Group. The University of the West of England is an ex-polytechnic, a post-1992 institution generally lying around the middle of HE league tables and which prides itself on the quality of its teaching as evidenced by the recent Gold TEF award. The project matched pairs of students by social class, gender and subject discipline both within and between the two institutions, and followed them from induction to graduation and for several years beyond into their post-university lives and careers. The project explored not just what class based inequalities existed in terms of access to university, the experience of going through higher education and the transition into the workplace, but also the processes by which these significant inequalities were established and maintained.     

The presentation will be followed by a discussion of the implications of the project’s findings for the practice of academics and university professional services staff alike.

This event is free. However, registration is required. To register click here. Refreshments will be served. 

Please share widely. 

BRIDGE Education Research Seminar – Technologies to support inclusion and learning: Working with young autistic people

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The Department of Education and Childhood, Bristol Inter-disciplinary Group for Education Research (BRIDGE) invites you to this seminar on 21st Jan 2019 — 12noon-1pm — Room 2S602. This event is open to everybody.

Ms Dimitra Magkafa, Doctoral Researcher, Department of Arts and Cultural Industries, UWE

In recent years, there has been much research into the potential of technology programs to support and facilitate a variety of skills for children with ASD and, in some cases, access to services. From a museum perspective, digital services are a means of extending the network of visitors and of enhancing visitor experiences with object rich collections. Having these perspectives as a starting point, the aim of the talk is to present briefly the overall process for the design and evaluation of a museum-based app for children with ASD. The purpose of the study was to develop a digital platform that would promote the inclusion and foster the engagement of children with ASD in a museum environment. This  study aimed to understand the impact of a digital museum experience, through collecting and analysing qualitative data. The results obtained from different perspectives revealed the positive influence of the museum-based app by presenting emotions of enjoyment, engagement, and satisfaction among the children. This study provided some important insights into the importance of the use of digital services, in this case, a touchscreen-based app, as a mediating tool to offer opportunities for interactive experiences and create an inclusive environment for diverse user communities in the museum community.

Dr Nigel Newbutt, Senior Lecturer / Researcher Department of Education, UWE

In this talk I will provide some context to using head-mounted display (HMD) technology with autistic groups; the potential benefits and why this technology has/is being applied. In addition, this session will provide insights from research and practice in using technologies in classrooms for autistic children. I will look at virtual reality and examples of how this has been applied with autistic children in their education (and specific support needs more generally) for positive gains and outcomes. This talk will showcase some examples and responses to using virtual reality in schools while also covering some of the key challenges and barriers that have been reported in taking VR into classrooms. With the benefits of VR-HMD technology clear (from a research perspective), I will discuss the ways to best overcome some challenges that lie ahead and how practitioners and researchers can work collaboratively to help ensure technology can be applied in real-world settings.

Aspirations, expectations and rethinking outreach

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This post was originally published on The British Educational Research Association on 18 December, 2018.

‘Aspirations’ are a wonderfully simple concept. The problem is that it’s becoming increasingly clear they are of little worth in terms of understanding pathways towards higher education, as we argue in our new article in the British Educational Research Journal (Harrison and Waller, 2018).

In it we explore how higher education outreach activities are conceived and delivered through the eyes of two generations of practitioner-managers: those leading the national Aimhigher programme (2004–2011), and those now working in English universities. The first group, comprising 10 former directors of the programme, participated in extended telephone interviews, while data from the second group was collected through an online survey.

One notable theme within our data is the ubiquity of the discourse of ‘aspiration-raising’. While the Aimhigher generation were generally critical of it, contemporary practitioner-managers are much more committed to the idea. It’s where they feel their work is successful, and it underpins many of the activities that they manage.

‘Aspiration-raising is touted as the silver bullet for social mobility. The problem is that it simply doesn’t stack up, as the evidence demonstrates.’

Indeed, this discourse of aspiration-raising has long pedigree. The argument runs that many disadvantaged young people don’t participate in higher education because they lack ambition: they seek careers that don’t match their academic potential, and they are satisfied with less. Aspiration-raising becomes the silver bullet for providing social mobility – a commonsense ‘quick win’.

What do the data say?

The problem is that it just doesn’t stack up, as has been demonstrated by several recent large-scale studies that explored the aspirations of young people. Firstly, disadvantaged young people do not have notably lower aspirations that others (Baker et al, 2014). Secondly, if anything, some young people’s aspirations are unrealistically high (St Clair, Kintrea & Houston, 2013). Thirdly, there is no strong evidence that aspirations drive motivation or attainment (Gorard, See & Davies, 2012).

Turning to expectations

So, where does this leave us? We argue that we need to refocus our attention on young people’s expectations. Contrary to aspirations, there is good evidence for a link between expectations and disadvantage (Archer, DeWitt & Wong, 2014).

This is not just a semantic turn. Expectations are substantively different to aspirations. They embody not just what a young person wants to be, but also a subjective assessment of challenges and constraints. Many young people aspire to be professional sportspeople or entertainers, but few expecttheir lives to turn out that way.

Young people’s expectations are forged through the people who surround them – the everyday messages about what they can or should do, or what they cannot or should not. Teachers and parents exert a strong influence on how young people see the world, yet outreach programmes rarely engage extensively with these influencers.

An agenda for policy and practice

Higher education outreach needs a rethink. It needs to abandon the vapid discourse of aspiration-raising and consider expectations instead. We make three broad suggestions.

  1. Work with young people earlier, while expectations are still forming. We found a shift towards a recruitment-friendly focus on the over-16s, but the previous generation of practitioner-managers felt the most transformative work stretched down, even into primary school.
  2. Work more directly with teachers and parents to challenge their own expectations and those they transmit to children. In some communities, the link between educational success and life chances has been eroded by limited opportunities and needs rebuilding.
  3. Work to realise aspirations, shifting away conceptually from assuming that aspirations are low to acknowledging that young people may need help in meeting them, through rethought careers activity, work experience programmes and mentoring, allowing them to explore what they might want to be and, crucially, how to get there.

This blog post is based on the article, ‘Challenging discourses of aspiration: The role of expectations and attainment in access to higher education’, Challenging discourses of aspiration: The role of expectations and attainment in access to higher education’, by Neil Harrison and Richard Waller, published in the British Educational Research Journal. It is free-to-view for a time-limited period, courtesy of the journal’s publisher, Wiley.


Archer, L., DeWitt, J. & Wong, B. (2014). Spheres of influence: What shapes young people’s aspirations at age 12/13 and what are the implications for education policy?. Journal of Education Policy, 29(1), 58–85. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02680939.2013.790079

Baker, W., Sammons, P., Siraj‐Blatchford, I., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E. C. & Taggart, B. (2014). Aspirations, education and inequality in England: Insights from the effective provision of pre‐school, primary and secondary education project. Oxford Review of Education, 40(5), 525–542. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03054985.2014.953921

Gorard, S., See, B. H. & Davies, P. (2012). The impact of attitudes and aspirations on educational attainment and participation. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/impact-attitudes-and-aspirations-educational-attainment-and-participation

Harrison, N. & Waller, R. (2018). Challenging discourses of aspiration: the role of expectations and attainment in access to higher education. British Educational Research Journal, 44(5), 914–938. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/berj.3475

St Clair, R., Kintrea, K. & Houston, M. (2013). Silver bullet or red herring? New evidence on the place of aspirations in education. Oxford Review of Education, 39(6), 719–738. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03054985.2013.854201

Neil Harrison (@DrNeilHarrison) is deputy director of the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford. His research interests are focussed on social justice issues in secondary and higher education, especially for marginalised groups such as care-experienced students. He is the co-editor of Access to Higher Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges, published by Routledge in 2017.

Richard Waller has worked in further and higher education for over 20 years, and is currently associate professor of the sociology of education at the University of the West of England. His research interests focus on the intersection of education, identity and social justice, and he has published widely in the area.

Did you know you can change a life? Changing a life is easy.

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Changing a life is easy.

Start by watching this short film.


Changing a life is as simple as sharing a book with a child. This is the message that has engaged and enthused  a team of librarians, academics, family workers and local authority education specialists from across five European cities who are part of the Erasmus Plus project ‘Open the Door for Reading’

There is a growing body of research that provides the evidence about the benefits of reading aloud to a child: whether you are a parent, caregiver, teacher or from a whole host of professions working with children and families.  The research by Shahaeiana et al (2018) offers a comprehensive overview of the benefits,

Results indicated that early shared reading was associated with children’s academic achievement directly and indirectly through receptive vocabulary and early academic skills. Also, the frequency of early shared reading predicted the outcome measures, over and above other home learning activities. Associations were stronger among low and middle socioeconomic status groups compared to the high socioeconomic status group. We conclude that shared reading offers unique opportunities for adults to teach young children new words and concepts

Gothenburg, in Sweden had for some time been troubled by the apparent decline in caregivers reading to and with children, and the city embarked on an initiative to promote reading – to be “The City Where We Read for our Children”. Their research had suggested that only four in ten parents read with or to their child.

To develop the project further Gothenburg applied for Erasmus Plus funding for the ‘Open the Door for Reading’ Project launched with cities that had a similar focus: Turku in Finland; Brussels in Belgium; Milan in Italy and Bristol. Each city faces particular challenges and has similar issues with families who have traditionally been harder to engage in education or social services.  Details of the project can be found on the website. The cities have met three times now and have learnt from the practice in each country. Exciting ideas like cloakroom libraries in Gothenburg; bedtime story book shelves in early years settings in Turku and using UWE teacher training students to read with children in Bristol have ignited the imaginations of participants. Gothenburg also shared the short film linked at the start of this piece. It was produced to promote reading to caregivers. It is a powerful reminder of the impact of reading for both the child and the caregiver.

The Bristol team, Debbie Miles and Cerys Stevens (Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders), Kate Murray (Head of Libraries) and Jane Carter have been working on the projects’ output: a practitioners’ guide to supporting caregivers with reading. This guide is full of practical ideas and tips for non-education focused professionals in ways to encourage first steps in communication around a text. It is hoped that midwives, social workers, family workers and early years professionals will become ambassadors for reading in the knowledge of its life changing effects.

The team is also now trying to gather support for a Gothenburg style initiative in Bristol and has begun to plan ‘Bristol, a reading city’. The city’s councillors are interested in the project as are many stake holders who attended a first meeting a few weeks ago to plan possible first steps in the project. Representatives came from local businesses, charities, city council services (Early Years; Family Support), the museum, libraries and schools. We are currently exploring funding avenues and hope to establish the first Bristol Cloakroom libraries along with community reading ambassadors. I am planning for UWE students to be involved in this exciting initial step and with the ‘Bristol a Reading City’ when funding is secured. Watch this space!

Author: Dr Jane Carter, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education and Childhood, the University of the West of England.


Bristol Inter-disciplinary Group for Education Research (BRIDGE) Seminar

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Bristol Inter-disciplinary Group for Education Research (BRIDGE) invites you to a lunchtime seminar on 13 December, 12-1pm, Room 2S601. Our speakers are Laura Manison Shore, PGCE Primary and EY Programme Leader and Partnership Manager, Department of Education and Childhood; and Dr. Maryam Almohammad, a Research Associate at the Department of Education and Childhood.

Laura Manison Shore: EdD student (part 2) Title of EdD thesis:

Is teaching a classed and gendered profession? Exploring the narratives of female primary school teachers

 This research explores the experience of female trainee primary school teachers during their first year at this university. It is set against a backdrop of perceived class identity, developing professional identity, and choices made that led them to train to be a teacher. My overarching interest is in the notion of class and how this impacts self-perception and emerging professional identity and asks, is primary school teaching a classed – and gendered occupation? Through narrative enquiry as a methodological approach, I listen to trainees’ ‘stories’, and unpick and develop the themes that I have foregrounded in my research questions and engage with my participants to co-construct themes and meaning from the narratives they share. I am particularly interested in the experiences and subsequent impact on habitus of women who are first generation university attenders. My theoretical position is framed by Bourdieu’s notions of capital; I am interested in how these capitals might be both explicitly and implicitly demonstrated by my participants. My particular focus is around the area of cultural capital and the assumed nature of certain forms of knowledge and practices. My interest in both the substantive research focus and the choice of methodology is embedded in my own ‘life history’, and self-consciously reflecting on my own experiences is a way of reflexively understanding my research where I have recognised that how, in the context of my background, becoming a teacher imbued with me a level of perceived ‘respectability’ which impacted my own personal and professional identity and subsequently shaped and informed my research interests.

Dr. Mariam Almohammad

Performing Identities and Negotiating Positions in the Syrian Workplace: Access, Learning and Evaluation


Literacy practices are always enacted in specific social arenas where language and the field dynamics reshape the social experiences of actors. This paper explores how three Syrian graduates navigate their internship landscape within the context of TESOL in Syria. The internships are part of a training programme in a Higher Education Training Institute. The three trainees negotiate their positions and access of the internship workplaces using social, educational and linguistic resources. In both internships, access and positioning are a source of identity struggle. Language and other forms of capital play a role in reproducing the interns’ professional identities within the internship multilingual arenas. This research adopts an ethnographic approach and analyses data from interviews, internship reports, documents and self-narrative. Drawing upon Bernstein’s theory of pedagogical codes and pedagogical device, the paper discusses the complex process of knowledge production, reproduction and distribution, as a result of the dynamic interplay of structure and agency. The paper traces the processes of accessing workplaces, learning (about positions and discourses) and finally evaluation of the internship. The findings reveal that evaluation takes place when the consciousness of the three trainees develops towards assessing the possibility of knowledge transfer and mobilization of literacy practices.


For more details contact: Maryam.almohammad@uwe.ac.uk


The art of the possible: supporting progression to higher education

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Encouraging disadvantaged young people to participate in higher education has been a priority for successive governments over the last 20 years.  Often the focus for this work has been on ‘aspiration-raising’ – built on the idea that they have low aspirations for education or their future lives.  We are increasingly understanding that this approach is deeply flawed, as I have explored in two recent articles (one with Richard Waller).

Most importantly, there is no evidence that the aspirations of disadvantaged young people are low.  The evidence for several recent large-scale studies is that they are generally high and that more young people want to go to university than actually do.  There seems little purpose to raising aspirations that are already high.

A possible (selves) solution

In the two papers, I seek to shift the discourse away from aspiration and towards the theory of possible selves – first advanced by Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius in the late 1980s.  The theory has been successful in explaining behavioural change in a range of social settings by encouraging people to think about their lives in the future and develop strategies for meeting their long-term aims.

Crucially, this approach takes account of the importance of the sociocultural context in which the young person is immersed.  It starts from understanding that we all have a pool of possible selves that we can imagine, both positive and negative.  From these, we decide which are desirable and assess which are probable.

However, the selves that we can imagine, and our assessment of them, are forged in the worlds that we inhabit – our communities, the physical spaces we visit, the labour markets of which we are part, the schools in which we study and so on.  Some young people grow up thinking it is likely they will be solicitors or doctors, others hairdressers or bricklayers.  Crucially, this is not about an aspiration, but a simultaneous assessment of what is possible and what is likely in their context.

Markus and Nurius argue our possible selves give us an impetus to act: we are motivated towards becoming ‘like-to-be’ visions of ourselves that are desirable and appear probable – or to avoid those that are undesirable.  The likelihood of achieving a possible self is as important as its desirability: young people may want to be a professional sportsperson, but few expect to do so!

Evidence from the US

The work of Daphna Oyserman has explored how a possible selves approach can work, based on after-school interventions in a disadvantaged area of Detroit.  She has rigorously demonstrated how a focus on helping young people to consider their possible selves has a positive impact on their motivation for school and their educational outcomes – indeed, this impact was found to persist for several years and to act in the absence of parental engagement.

Importantly, this approach is not based on influencing young people to see particular futures valued by adults (e.g. higher education) as desirable, but rather to help them to widen the pool of possible selves they hold in mind, to understand what’s needed to achieve them and to support them in devising their own strategies for meeting (or avoiding) them.  This focus on the individual and their ‘roadmap’ sets it aside from traditional outreach work based on aspiration-raising.

A new framework

Drawing on the theory of possible selves and Oyserman’s work, I have proposed a new framework for devising and delivering outreach work designed to increase the numbers of disadvantaged young people participating in higher education.  The grey arrows denote possible intervention points – these might be spaced over a period of time or clustered within a single extended activity:

Point 1: Activities for young people to learn about adult futures, especially those not familiar within their sociocultural context, thereby adding to the palette of possible selves from which they can choose.  This might include those predicated on higher education, but this would not be emphasised.

Point 2: Focused activities, probably over a period of time, designed to (re)establish a belief in their ability to exercise control over their future and their ability to succeed at tasks that are important to them, sometimes referred to as locus of control and self-efficacy, respectively.  They would emphasise a reflective and metacognitive approach to understanding how they develop their agency, even in the face of challenges.

Point 3: Developmental work to help young people to devise strategies for achieving things that are important to them – their like-to-be selves.  Importantly, this is not about adults dictating ready-made solutions, but facilitating young people to make agentic decisions that are authentic for them and their sociocultural context.  Part of this is likely to involve giving young people the chance to ‘try on’ possible selves through mentoring and work experience programmes.

 Point 4: Experiential opportunities to be exposed to a campus environment, involvement in inspirational experiences, collaboration with current students, information about graduate careers and other opportunities to envisage oneself as a student and/or graduate.  While these activities are more similar to traditional outreach activities, here they are the culmination of earlier work.

More information

This article is intended only to give an outline of how and why the theory of possible selves is likely to be useful for widening participation in higher education – for more information, see:

Author: Neil Harrison

Creating Welcoming Learning Environments: Using Arts-Based Methods with EAL Learners

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What’s the project about?

Dr Jane Andrews and Dr Maryam Almohammad at the University of the West of England, Bristol have been working on a 12 month research project since September 2017. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council who have “translating cultures” as one of their current research themes. The project is a collaboration between teachers, local authority and school staff who specialise in supporting children developing English as an additional language, creative artists and the researchers. Together we are aiming to develop and trial some teaching techniques which combine arts-based methods and supportive techniques for celebrating children’s languages and developing their English language skills. The project is working with school-based staff in both primary and secondary schools. Colleagues who work at Integra, South Gloucestershire (Lois Francis and Dominique Moore) are collaborators on the project.

Why this topic?

The focus for the research comes out of the arts-based methods used in a larger 3-year AHRC-funded research project entitled Researching Multilingually at Borders . In that project researchers from different academic disciplines (global mental health, anthropology, law, modern languages, intercultural communication, education) worked together with creative artists working using drama, poetry, music and textiles. The project explored the role of language in contexts where people experience pain and pressure at times of migration. The sites for the research included the Islamic University Gaza, the Lira district of Uganda, the border state of Arizona, USA, Scotland, the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria and Ghana. The current project was funded by the AHRC to extend the reach of the 3-year project to explore how arts-based methods can be combined with work celebrating children’s linguistic diversity and supporting their developing English.

What has the project done so far?

We have developed our way of working which has collaboration firmly at its heart. We have built on the work of Julian Edge who proposed a model of CPD named “co-operative development” which seeks to ensure that all participants are empowered to share their knowledge and expertise while learning with and from others. Using this approach we have offered a series of one day workshops in which participants have i) shared their current approaches to supporting children’s developing English and celebrating their different languages, ii) taken part in a hands-on workshop experiencing one or more creative arts techniques and iii) planned how the techniques experienced could be adapted and transferred into the specific school contexts in which they are working.

In our first workshop, the creative arts inputs have been provided by Katja Frimberger (freelance) who demonstrated drama techniques for use in class including singing in different languages and setting up a “Bristol’s got talent” friendly competition. Katja also shared a film she had made in which students and staff at Glasgow University spoke to camera in their different languages as a way of extending exposure to the institution’s shared languages.

Maryam Almohammad shared the work of the UNHCR with the use of cartoons to convey refugees’ stories:

Film making projects were planned in two schools. One school has audio recorded children and young people making announcements for the school day (for use on the tannoy system) in their own languages other than English.


In our second workshop, Lyn Ma (a lecturer at Clyde College, Glasgow) provided input into how crafting techniques such as collage and model making can be used to provide young people with opportunities to express themselves in ways that they choose to their peers and teachers. In the workshop we as participants created our own decorated suitcases and explained how and why we had chosen to decorate them as we did. Jane Andrew created a suitcase in which she included a map of Somalia and the connection with the Somali community in Bristol.  Jane has not been to Somalia but feels the connection because the Somali community forms a great part  of the British societies.


In our third workshop, Naa Densua Tordzro and Gameli Tordzro (University of Glasgow and Pan Africa Arts, Scotland) introduced participants to using musical instruments in an exploratory way to generate a sense of community. Naa Denua and Gameli also shared with us traditional Adinkra symbols from Ghana whose meanings we learned about and discussed. We then chose symbols we wanted to print using silk screen printing techniques.


Our fourth workshop was on Poetry and the Spoken Word with professor Allison Phipps and poet Tawon Sithole from the University of Glasgow. Allisson and Tawon  did activities which include the use of material object and spoken word through a process of reflection. After reflection and contemplation on objects, teachers wrote a poem about these objects. The whole team got involved in the co-writing of a multilingual poem.


Teachers transformed and contextualized the art-based activities in their school environments according to their students backgrounds, needs and practicality. Then we ran a conference for teachers and school-based staff on “Creativity and EAL” where ideas tried and tested in schools was shared on Thursday 12th July at UWE, Bristol.

How can I learn more and get involved?

There are a range of ways in which you can get involved, contribute and find out more.

  • We have a twitter  where we share our activities and events.
  • We launched a website and we will be uploading video clips from the workshops so visitors to the site can find out more. The website is new and we are planning to add resources for teachers on the use of art in language leaning and teaching.
  • We are planning a book gathering together teaching ideas about how to connect creativity, multilingualism and EAL to be published by Multilingual Matters. Please get in touch if you’d be interested in contributing to our book.

For more information contact the authors.

Authors: Jane Andrews and Maryam Almohammad

Gender, Sexuality, Bodies and Identity Research Conference

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University of the West of England (UWE) December 4th 2018

The aim of the conference is to bring together leading researchers from the South West of England and guest speakers from the United States in the field of gender, sexuality, bodies and identity. This conference will showcase some of the work of the presenters and the groups, centres and universities they represent. It will offer an opportunity for researchers and scholars to meet and discuss cutting edge theory and knowledge with the intention of promoting research and scholarly connections in the field. A series of 15 minute presentations will be followed by an open question and answer session where members of the audience can further explore research and innovations in the field of gender, sexuality, bodies and identity.  The conference aims to be inter-disciplinary in its focus and hopes to attract academics, researchers, practitioners, and post-graduate students. It will be followed by a showing of the ‘Rape of Recy Taylor’ which is a cutting edge:

‘documentary about a 24-year old black mother and sharecropper who was gang raped by six white men in 1944 Alabama. She spoke up at the time and identified her rapists. The NAACP sent Rosa Parks, their chief investigator (and civil rights activist) to look into the case. Her representation and the community’s rallied support triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice. She spoke up long before the #MeToo movement.’

The day will end with a panel discussion of this film and be followed by a drinks reception offering the potential to meet presenters from the day and other interested professionals, academics and students.

Throughout the day and in breaks, we will be running on video loop the work of Helen Bovill, Kieran McCartan, Richard Waller and UWE Student Inclusivity and the SpeakUp campaign; Finn Mackay’s TEDXtalk on feminism; CAR podcasts.

Abstracts of the presentations will be sent to delegates nearer the time.


12.00-1.00       Lunch and meet and greet.

1.00-1.15        Dr Helen Bovill Bristol Inter-Disciplinary Group for Education research (BRIDGE)

Dr Kieran McCartan and Dr Finn Mackay Social Science Research Group (SSRG)

Dr Emma Halliwell Centre for Appearance Research Centre (CAR)

5 minutes introduction from each about the relevant work of UWE research groups/centres: BRIDGE SSRG and CAR.

1.15-1.45         Key note speech:  

Dr Victoria Banyard, Professor at Rutgers School of Social


Dr Sarah McMahon, Associate Professor and Director, Centre on Violence 

Against Women and Children Rutgers School of Social Work, New Jersey.

Building better campus bystanders: Future directions for preventing

gender based violence.

1.45-2.00         Dr Katie Edwards, University of New Hampshir

Working internationally on violence prevention.

2.00-2.15         Dr Helen Bovill, UWE.

Theoretical insights into gender and sexual violence for university students in the UK.

2.15-2.30         Dr Kieran McCartan, UWE.

Perpetrators and sexual violence.

2.30-2.45         Dr Emma Halliwell, UWE.

  Strategies to reduce self-objectification in young women: Interventions in schools and universities.   

2.45-3.00         Dr Finn Mackay, UWE.

Female and Queer Masculinities in a Post-Trans Landscape.

3.00-3.15         Dr Emma Williamson, University of Bristol.

Justice, inequality and gender based violence.

3.15-3.30         Dr Jennifer Thomson, University of Bath.

The continued absence of abortion rights in Northern Ireland.

3.30-3.45         break tea and coffee.

3.45-4.15         Q and A open session with key notes and presenters.

4.15-5.45         Showing of Modern films: ‘Rape of Recy Taylor’.

5.45-6.15         Panel discussion of the film.

6.15-7.00         Drinks reception and networking.

For more information please contact Dr. Helen Bovill or Dr Maryam Almohammad

To register please click here.



Children as Engineers shortlisted for STEM Inspiration Awards

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Children as Engineers, a collaboration between the UWE Bristol Department of Education and Childhood and Department of Engineering, Design and Mathematics run by Fay LewisJuliet Edmonds and Laura Fogg-Rogers, has been shortlisted for an Inspirational STEM Engagement Project Award in the 2018 STEM Inspiration Awards.


Funded by HEFCE, the project paired student engineers and pre-service teachers to undertake engineering design challenges in primary schools. Research shows that children (particularly girls) develop their attitudes towards STEM as a potential career before the age of 11, yet only 5% of primary school teachers have a science related degree. Children as Engineers aimed to improve teachers’ attitudes to science and engineering, leading to a positive impact not only on children’s performance, but also on their engagement and enjoyment.

The project built on previous research  funded by the Engineering Professors’ Council, Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology and supported by Mazak. Children as Engineers also developed a UWE Bristol undergraduate degree module called ‘Engineering and Society’. This pairs engineering students with teachers to bring hands-on science programmes into primary schools, aiming to address science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills gaps in primary schools – for teachers and children.

Winners will be announced at the STEM Inspiration Awards celebration event in the House of Lords on 1st November 2018.