Spotlight on the Education & Childhood Research Group

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Formerly known as BRIDGE, the Education & Childhood Research Group (ECRG), is a large, diverse research group made up of researchers, associates and doctoral researchers.

The research group has four main strands:

Equity in Education

Strand Leaders: Prof Richard Waller and Malcolm Richards

 Members of this inter-disciplinary community share a common interest in researching the inequities that persist in societies through critical enquiry. We engage with our local-global students, teachers, and community, to collaborate on exciting research, knowledge co-production, and impactful outcomes. Members of this inter-disciplinary community share a common interest in researching the inequities that persist in societies through critical enquiry. We engage with our local-global students, teachers, and community, to collaborate on exciting research, knowledge co-production, and impactful outcomes.


Strand Leaders: Dr Benjamin Knight and Mandy Lee

Pedagogy is a broadly interpreted and broadly applied umbrella concept covering many aspects of education and overlapping with a wide range associated educational and social concepts. In the Education and Childhood Research Group (ECRG), the Pedagogy research strand specifies a focus on classroom teaching and learning. The strand has two key elements. The first investigates interpretations of what it means to ‘learn’, what learning looks like, contexts in which it occurs and factors which influence it for individuals and groups. The second element investigates teaching and instruction with a view to developing insights about the most useful ways of organising and configuring teaching in the interest of learning. Research within this strand is predicated on the belief that we have much more to learn about learning and teaching, and that novel insights and new theories are there to be uncovered. Seeking effective and innovative approaches to teaching, appropriate for the 21st century, is a central aim of this research strand.

The Childhood, Children and Young People

Strand Leaders: Dr Sarah Chicken and Dr Tim Clark

This strand focuses on research into children and young people’s experiences, rights, voices, perspectives, and related policy and practice. The strand is underpinned by a construction of children and young people as agentic meaning makers who are experts in their own worlds and there is a privileging of research with, rather than on this often overlooked group.  The strand aims to showcase work in this area and provoke critical discussion about research with children. 

Sustainability in Education

Strand Leaders: Dr Verity Jones and Dr Tessa Podpadec

Research on sustainable development creates knowledge and influences practices to shape sustainable futures. The strand members’ research incorporates sustainable development questions about diverse local, national and global contexts. For example: how can society approach responsible and ethical consumption? and, What is the role and function of education in this? UWE Bristol recognises the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The core purpose of this research strand is advancing knowledge in economic, social and environmental dimensions to solve sustainability challenges, create opportunities and shape our communities across the region and beyond as set out in the UWE Bristol Strategy 2030.

Group Leader and Associate Professor of Education Policy in Critical Education, Dr Alpesh Maisuria, commented on the group:

“The forerunner to ECRG was BRIDGE, which was hugely successful and delivered excellent REF results. With being appointed successor and alongside the university’s move to Colleges and School structure, I wanted to evolve the Research Group to more closely align with the College. I also wanted to reflect the new staff expertise that had come into School.

The research group was large and I felt would benefit from a Distributed Leadership model, and so I implemented a structure that included Strands of research, each with Co-Leaders to establish the research themes.

It was also important for me that ECRG has a role  in developing future research leaders in the School, and strand leadership is an opportunity for colleagues to gain experience in a high profile role to steer our research ambitions and excellence.”

To find out more or join the group please email Dr Alpesh Maisuria. Please submit any general enquiries to Ella Rees

Women’s History Month in Research, Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol

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March 2023 marks Women’s History Month.  

An important month in which we seek to recognise the value that women bring to individual communities, professional spheres and collectively to the world. A month also to spotlight women who have paved the way for others.  

Women have been the cornerstone to progress for voting and civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, childrens rights and equality in the workplace.  

We want to take the opportunity to amplify and celebrate women’s phenomenal successes in the fields of Research, Business and Innovation. We will be spotlighting women who have had significant impact and contribution to research excellence, to real world business, civic and societal impact and to ground-breaking innovation and entrepreneurship here at the university and across the wider region.    

Importantly, the month also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. 

The 8th March will mark International Women’s Day. This year’s campaign theme is #EmbraceEquity. We can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Collective activism is what drives change – from grassroots action to wide-scale momentum.  

We call on our research, business and innovation communities to collectively celebrate, to amplify and importantly to all embrace equity.  

The Serious Leisure Podcast

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How do we create space and identities for ourselves outside work, and with so many pressures should we even try?  In this blog post, we highlight the Serious Leisure Podcast, founded by a UWE Bristol academic, which showcases the importance of a work-life balance.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent months have caused many of us to revaluate our lives and search for more joy in the form of hobbies. The importance of a work – life balance has become more prevalent as the lines between work and home have blurred more than ever before.

After suffering from a sudden illness, Associate Director of Academic Practice Petia Petrova decided she needed to work harder on achieving a better work – life balance and set about finding herself a new hobby. This led her to taking an improv class. Just as she was getting into her new leisure pursuit COVID hit and we were all confined to our homes. This caused Petia to reflect about how many people were people experiencing traumatic health events, suffering from Covid, or losing loved ones and how finding joy was now more important than ever. Petia reached out to a few colleagues to see what could be done to highlight the importance of leisure to our mental and physical health and the Serious Leisure Podcast was born.

I was just very lucky. Professor Steve West connected me with Kat, and a former colleague suggested I reach out to Sam. I have not met Kat before, and I have not seen Sam for over a decade (we started our academic careers together in the early 00s). The moment the 3 of us met, and started talking, we just clicked. This has been such a project of love for the three of us since.

Petia Petrova

Petia co-hosts the podcast with Kat Branch from UWE Bristol’s Centre for Music and Sam Elkington from Teesside University.

“If you‘ve ever thought you need to find a hobby but not sure how to make time, or if you‘ve not had a chance to unpack why your leisure is so important, this is for you.”

The Series Leisure Team.

The podcast has become a space for sharing stories about balancing working lives with a serious commitment to leisure. The guests on the podcast talk about their passions and hobbies and how their lives have been transformed as a result.

“As a both a musician and Head of Centre for Music understanding how leisure impacts us and what it takes to make time for what for what we enjoy is essential both personally and professionally”

Kat Branch

Although light-hearted in nature, the podcast is a scholarly space and draws on the insights and evidence base from the vast literature on the topic of serious leisure. This is where co-host Sam’s expertise shines, having co-authored a book on the topic of serious leisure.

“The Serious Leisure concept and associated framework offers an accessible way of looking at leisure activities and how people experience them everyday. As a lens for conversation, it provides an alternative language that really gets at the heart of why people end up taking certain leisure (or non-work) activities seriously.”

Sam Elkington

Previous episodes have included discussing the joys of gardening and outside space; the euphoria and relaxation of spending time DJing; the wonder and magic of the art of puppeteering; and the mysterious world of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, where lifelong friendships are made whilst co-creating epic escapades together. As well as creative pursuits, the podcast has also covered the joys of sporting hobbies like netball, ultra running and trying something new like a “Couch to 5k”.

The podcast has also explored when a hobby becomes a job and the idea that you can combine work and leisure interests into a single meaningful approach to life. The podcast has discussed how to bring the joy from your hobby into your work life, such as the academic who explains the transition of her quilting activities from a deeply personal way of processing her PhD to boldly integrating visual methods into her academic life.

Each episode is different but the theme of how beneficial a leisure pursuit can be is strong throughout. The podcast does not shy away from discussing how difficult it is to find time for leisure, but strongly emphasises how rich the benefits can be when we do.

You can find all the previous episodes on SoundCloud.

If you have a hobby you have recently discovered or if you have a story about your serious leisure, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team:

UWE Bristol Researchers contribute to the SAGE Handbook of Graduate Employability

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The SAGE Handbook of Graduate Employability has launched this month, with 64 contributing authors from 18 countries and 30 chapters this new publication paves the way for improving how we handle Graduate Employability.

Not only have UWE Bristol academics come together to write two of these chapters but the Co-editor of the Handbook is none other than John Neugebauer, a Visiting Fellow of Bristol Business School.

A founding co-editor with Dr Miriam Firth, Manchester University. SAGE invited him to prepare the Handbook based on his previous publications and expertise. Other editors of this publication, Dr Yuzhuo Cai Tampere University, Finland; Professor Emma Hunt, Falmouth University, and Professor Tania Broadley, Canberra University; came from across academia and were chosen for their knowledge within this field.

The handbook brings together the latest research on graduate employability into one authoritative volume. Dedicated parts guide readers through topics, key issues and debates relating to delivering, facilitating, and evaluating graduate employability. Showcasing positions and voices from communities, industries, political spheres, and cultural landscapes; this book has been created to support the research of students, researchers and practitioners across a broad sphere of social science areas.

The first UWE Bristol submitted chapter ‘Learning through Uncertainty: Team Learning and the Development of an Entrepreneurial Mindset’ comes from Hugo GaggiottiSelen Kars, and Carol Jarvis of Bristol Business School. The chapter draws on research conducted with staff and students at Bristol City Robins Foundation and looks at their BA Sports Business and Entrepreneurship programme.  The programmes approach explores team coaching and team learning through doing, encouraging students to develop as active participants responsible for shaping their own learning and project opportunities. The Bristol Leadership and Change Centres’s Blog gives more information on this chapter.

The second chapter of the Handbook that has had UWE Bristol input is ‘graduate transitions to the workplace’ by Jenny Chen Senior Lecturer: Human Resource Management.

Many graduates leave their first post graduate job after less than one year. In this chapter Jenny Chen looks to improve our understanding on new graduates’ role transitions by asking key questions that explore why graduates may succeed or fail. She does this by asking what are key rescores that can help facilitate and prepare them to adapt successfully into functioning, professional employees more effectively and, what could we be doing at each step of their journey to make their transition as smooth as possible.

You can find out more about the Sage handbook of employability and the chapters we have written in it here.

UWE Bristol launches new set of short courses designed for lifelong learning

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UWE Bristol launches new set of short courses designed for lifelong learning, skills development and levelling up, which for the first time can access student loan funding

UWE Bristol is partaking in a nationwide pilot of the forthcoming government initiative the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE), offering professional short courses in the subject area of architecture, urban design, and the engineering of zero carbon buildings.

All LLE short courses meet the standard required to be credit bearing, can count towards related degree qualifications, and can be undertaken by UK citizens free-at-the-point-of-delivery through Student Loan Company funding, which is offset against future earnings.

Each course is worth 30 credits (a quarter of a full-time year of study), is delivered as one half-day of teaching a week for 24 weeks.

Learners are registered as UWE Bristol students and will have access to our related support services

For applicants new to higher education, or new to the topic of urban design, architecture and construction, UWE Bristol is delivering two taster courses that will be delivered face-to-face:

For applicants with existing knowledge of both Higher Education and the built environment, UWE Bristol also offers more advanced courses aimed at developing skills in the design and management of zero carbon buildings. These will be delivered as evening (6-9pm) courses both in person at the Arnolfini campus, and available to access online.

On completion of the courses participants can advance onto further learning opportunities and careers in property, planning, advanced design, retrofit coordination and energy management.

See the course links above for entry requirements and details on how to apply. These courses align with the University’s commitment to transform futures: powering the future workforce.

UWE Bristol positive action internship wins outstanding partnership award

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The Strive Internship scheme, a partnership between UWE Bristol, Hargreaves Lansdown and Bristol City Council, has recently won the Institute of Student Employers Outstanding Partnership Award at their annual awards.

Inspired by the ambition of the national #10,000 Black Interns initiative, Hargreaves Lansdown in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Bristol City Council and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) launched the regional Strive Internship scheme.

Drawing on recommendations from McGregor Smith’s 2017 Race in the Workplace Review, this five-year long positive-action scheme aims to have a long-term and sustainable impact on the lives, career and earning trajectories of young Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students and recent graduates in the region.

The programme created 45 paid internship opportunities, across 20 organisations in the region for Black students living or studying in the West of England.

The positive-action initiative offers Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students living or studying in the region the opportunity to gain valuable paid work experience across a wide range of sectors each year, providing critical training and development opportunities, mentoring and sponsorship. Their aim is to have organisations from across the region join together to have positive conversations around diversity and inclusion.

Jessica Tomico who sits on the board for the Strive Internship and is a Business Development Manager at UWE Bristol commented “We are delighted that the excellent work of the Strive Internship has been recognised at the Institute of Student Employers awards. The initiative is a great example of how organisations in the region can work together to have a lasting positive impact on the careers of young Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students and recent graduates.”

Find out more about the internship.

UWE Bristol celebrating world Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Day 2022 

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UWE Bristol are proud to work with many Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the region. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for up to 90% of businesses, 60% to 70% of employment, and they account for half of global GDP, according to the United Nations.  

To celebrate World MSME Day 2022 we are sharing some recent work and projects with MSMEs.  

In this short video, we highlight three SMEs we worked with as part of our Scale Up 4 Growth Scheme. In partnership with NatWest and Foot Anstey, we gave SMEs access to grant funding and business support to help them scale up. In the below video we hear from The Bristol Loaf, Wiper and True and 299 Lighting about how the funding has helped transform their business.  

Spotlight on Bristol 24/7  

Bristol 24/7 are one of many MSMEs we are supporting through our Skills for Clean Growth programme and our Digital Skills programme.  Below is some feedback from Meg Houghton-Gilmour, Community and Memberships Manager.

Tell us a bit about what you are doing as an organisation to support sustainability goals in the region? 

At Bristol24/7 we’re really proud to be in the process of recruiting a dedicated climate and sustainability editor. We are the first local media organisation to do so as far as we know, and we’ve created this role to engage conversation, inspire people to take action, hold authorities and companies to account and report on the positive work already ongoing in Bristol.  

This is alongside our work to become more sustainable as an organisation. We are currently working with Action Net Zero to assess our carbon footprint, from which we will set goals to minimise our impact on the planet.  

We believe that working together is the best way to tackle the climate crisis. One of the defining values of our Better Business network is sustainability and we share ideas, opportunities and resources with our business members at our quarterly meetings.  

What steps have you taken to ensure you have a diverse workforce to drive forward these aims? 

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of all of Bristol24/7s plans. We recognise there are considerable barriers to working in journalism and we are aiming to level the playing field at every opportunity. We are continuously improving our recruitment process to make it welcoming and accessible to all those who are interested in working with us. We have redesigned our work experience programme and we are working to introduce a career ladder so that those who have their first taste of journalism with us are invited back for longer placements and interviews for entry level positions.  

We work with the most underrepresented areas of Bristol to train new journalists in our community reporters programme. Our entire team take part in setting our goals and strategy for the year ahead and every voice is heard; we believe this allows for more robust decision making and creativity which are essential when tackling problems such as the climate crisis.  

What support have you received from UWE Bristol, and how has it contributed to these aims? 

We’re extremely grateful to UWE Bristol for their support. Over the last 12 months, our team have benefitted from Digital Skills support and training which has informed our membership strategy. We now also have a stronger marketing strategy which helps us capitalise on the support from our community and grow our membership – the result of which is that we can offer more work experience placements, train more community reporters and work with charity partners. 

More recently, members of our team have also taken part in the Skills for Clean Growth workshops. We already feel more confident in addressing our own carbon output, and we look forward to attending more workshops as we set our new goals, induct our climate editor and take the next steps on our sustainability journey.  

What successes have you seen as a result of the above work? 

In the last year we have seen a 30% growth in our membership, which has provided us with the resource to grow our team, including interns from UWE Bristol, and increase our social impact work. 

Workshops for MSMEs 

Are you a Gloucestershire business looking to scale?​ 

Digital Scale-Up for your Business

Hosted in the Advanced Digital Academy at Gloucestershire College in Cheltenham on Monday 11 & Tuesday 12 July 2022.  

Find out more and register

Growth through Innovation workshop 

5 & 6 July 2022, 09:00 – 16:30 

Business Cyber Centre, Chippenham 

A practical workshop to support your business in creating, communicating and funding innovation, free to SMEs in the Swindon & Wiltshire area. 

Find out more and register

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships  

The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. We embed a recent graduate within your business and give you access to our academic expertise to help you transform your business.  

View some of our KTP case studies

Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship  

We recently supported more than 70 young people to complete the first stage of a transformational ‘first of its kind’ green skills training programme. 

The programme aimed to provide access to green jobs, training and business opportunities to Black, Asian and minoritised young people (aged 18-28), and recent graduates living in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset. 

Get in touch  

We are always keen to work with MSMEs so please do get in touch to discuss how we can support you and your business  

Community STEM Club connects local community, engineering students, and industry professionals

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The Old Library Community STEM Club has become a well-established weekly event in Eastville since it was first launched in September 2021: every Thursday after school, children and their parents or carers make their way to the Old Library Community Hub to take part in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) based activities, and to play and socialise.

The Old Library is a community led and run project, based in the former Eastville Library, which was closed down in March 2016 after council budget cuts. It now serves as a hire space for workshops and activities, including a community café, workshops, crafts, quiz nights, music, book clubs, a repair café, and the weekly STEM Club.

The Club was co-developed with the team behind UWE Bristol’s DETI Inspire, a programme designed to connect children from all backgrounds with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for STEM careers.

It gets further support from Industry professionals via the STEM Ambassador Hub, and UWE Bristol Engineering students, who regularly support and run activities.

A club for the whole community

The sessions vary every week: children have built balloon- and sail powered cars, electric circuits, bike pump powered paper rockets, water filtration systems, and they even designed their own city, using recycled materials. They also had the opportunity to build and programme their own robots using Lego Mindstorms, and they digitally re-designed Bristol in Minecraft sessions led by the  DETI Inspire Team at UWE Bristol.

The Club is aimed to be as accessible as possible, which is why it is run on a free, drop-in basis. There are also healthy snacks on offer alongside the activities, and the grown-ups can relax with a cup of tea or coffee, or choose to get involved in the activities themselves.

What’s next?

For the upcoming sessions the children will be building model boats which will be raced at the Bristol Harbour Festival on Saturday 16 July. Boat building is taking place on 16 of June and 7 July and supported by the My Future My Choice programme and Industry volunteers.

Lego Mindstorms will be making a comeback on 23 and 30 of June: instructed by UWE Engineering students, the children will learn how to build and programme Lego robots.

There are also plans for wind turbine building, though the exact dates are still to be confirmed.

The last STEM Club session of this term is planned for Thursday 14 July, and then the Club will pause for the summer holidays, with a return planned in September, for the start of the new school year.

For updates check the Old Library Facebook page or email should you have any questions.

UWE Bristol academic appointed Adjunct Professor of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation at the University of Southern Denmark

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Associate Professor in Rheumatology and Self-Management Emma Dures has recently been appointed Adjunct Professor of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation at the University of Southern Denmark and the associated research institution at the Danish Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Sønderborg.

This honorary post will last for five years, during which Emma will visit Denmark twice a year to give talks and collaborate on research.

Emma commented:

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to build on my collaborations with Danish colleagues, including Professor Jette Primdhal and Professor Ann Bremander.

This appointment will support us to develop an exciting research agenda centred on psychosocial support for people living with inflammatory arthritis”.

Emma is part of the Centre for Health and Clinical Research (CHCR) at UWE Bristol. CHCR brings together researchers working in the fields of long-term conditions, palliative and supportive care, and emergency care, to inform knowledge mobilisation across the lifespan.

Their vision is to conduct excellent research and support its broad application to benefit the health and wellbeing of individuals and society. They actively involve patients and the public at all stages of their research and evaluation activities.

UWE Bristol Apprenticeships: Meet the apprentice

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UWE Bristol offers of wide range of apprenticeship programmes and we regularly catch up with our apprentices to hear about their experiences.

In this Meet the Apprentice we caught up with one of our Professional Policing Practice Apprentices working with Avon & Somerset Police.

What attracted you to becoming a Higher or Degree apprentice?

At the time of applying to be a Police Officer, the Degree Apprenticeship was not set up. I had little idea or thoughts about it until I enrolled on the programme. I simply accepted it, as this was the route to doing the job that I wanted to do. Now that I am on the course and in the role, I am really glad I made the leap. The course has not only developed how I learn for the better, but given me a great understanding for the issues that affect our community as a whole.

Thinking about your apprenticeship experience to date, what have been the main benefits to your career development?

Avon and Somerset is a diverse area that is culturally rich, densely populated and has busy cities such as Bristol & Bath. True legitimacy and confidence, requires an ongoing and consistent dialogue with all of our communities to ensure we maintain those Peelian principles of approval and respect. Without the publics support in our actions as a Constabulary then we cannot legitimately Police society. The current idea of the PCDA program is to create a new kind of Police Officer that is a reflective practitioner and a critical thinker.

Police actions have come under scrutiny in past years with the appalling circumstances leading to the murders of George Floyd and Sarah Everard. According to works by Rinehart & Kochel in 2011 and Bottoms and Tankebe in 2012 “The police now more than ever need to ensure that their actions are procedurally just and work to build legitimacy with the entire population that they serve. In this, the police must acknowledge that the ‘community’ is made up of several communities that are not homogenous and may require nuanced policing”. Thinking about this critically we as Officers need to have an understanding of social behaviour and society. For example, officer behaviour has been linked to the outcomes with suspect, in particular procedurally fair officers influenced positive change in suspect behaviour (Miller and Alexandrou, 2016). Procedural justice has been known to enhance perceptions of police legitimacy (Madon, Murphy & Sargeant, 2017).

By being reflective and dynamic in my approach, applying the lessons learned through academia and experience I have seen the benefits of the program. With the influx of new Officer’s coming through we have an opportunity to ‘jumpstart’ policing, and in particular focus on how we integrate and support the public.

What are the top three things you would recommend to someone thinking about becoming a Higher or Degree apprentice? 

1. Get stuck in and embrace it. It’s a fantastic opportunity that could take you a long way.

2. Engage with the learning and don’t be held back. I never though myself particularly academic, but nothing is impossible.

3. There truly is no other job like Policing.

What are your future goals beyond completion of your apprenticeship?

I already have the best job, that challenges me with new situations everyday, so I haven’t really given it a lot of thought.

Find out more about Apprentices at UWE Bristol.

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