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Knowledge, Power and Politics in Education

Old world globes
Monday 9 December

Following a successful launch at the Faculty’s post-graduate open day, applications are currently being received for the Faculty’s new full-time MPhil route in Knowledge, Power and Politics in Education.

The course presents an exciting new offering in the Faculty MPhil programme, drawing on an interdisciplinary approach to examine the dynamics shaping knowledge formation in formal, non-formal and informal education settings around the globe – from governmental structures to social movements.

Coordinated by Dr Liz Maber, the course draws on the research and expertise of colleagues across the faculty including Dr Hilary Cremin, Dr Jo-Anne Dillabough, Dr Eva Hartmann, and Prof Susan Robertson to explore fundamental questions relating to:

  • the roles of education in societies;

  • transnational debates about the nature of knowledge formation and its circulation;

  • and the consequences for social justice. 

Drawing on varied theoretical perspectives and empirical approaches, the course engages with different understandings of the education/knowledge/power nexus, its implications for societies and the interactions with major global issues including social and spatial mobility, urbanisation, sustainability, and conflict.As underlined by Prof Susan Robertson, Head of Faculty, and Professor of Sociology of Education;

Knowledge, Power, Politics has to be at the top of your list – as a course which engages in cutting edge conversations about education in ways that matter

Find further information on our MPhil Kowledge, Power and Politics in Education and how to apply for the course.

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A Jar of Teddies - Live webinar introduces learners to mathematical problem solving

green jelly teddies stand around a red jelly teddy
Monday 18 November
NRICH is an innovative collaboration between the Faculty of Mathematics and Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, part of the University’s Millennium Mathematics Project. We are hugely proud of NRICH, its a brilliant example of cross-faculty partnership that benefits both faculties and ultimately the young learners of mathematics in the education system of today and tomorrow. 

Live webinar (Unofficially) breaks world record

No surprise then that last week the NRICH led team set themselves the hugely ambitious target of a live webinar that reached almost 200 schools and 15,000 KS2 and KS3 learners - unofficially smashing the world record for a live webinar of its kind (currently 4076 students over multiple locations).

A Jar of Teddies

Following the success of similar webinars in December 2018 and June 2019, NRICH hosted another event on 13 November 2019 as part of Maths Week England.  The team introduced problems, including this example of 'A Jar of Teddies' and invited students to work on them for between 5 and 10 minutes. During this time, teachers commented online and asked questions on behalf of their class and shared any ideas that have arisen in their classroom.

Watch the webinar

Huge success

The event was a huge success with some extremely positive feedback on social media from participating schools including:

'Great morning for our mathematicians in Year 8 and 9 @WorleSchool. They got involved with @maths_week by joining students all over the country to problem solve in a live webinar ran by @nrichmaths. Fantastic work!'

@WorleSchool (Twitter)

'So much problem solving and collaborative discussion among our pupils.  Who would have thought estimating teddy bears could create such a buzz!'

@Meadow_Balsham (Twitter)

Official world record attempt 2020

The NRICH led team hope to recreate this buzz and officially break the world record with another event planned for 2020. Your school can get involved or find more information on the NRICH resource of rich mathematics.

@nrichmaths #nrichwebinar

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Faculty partnership school wins Educational Innovation award

Nazarbayev International School in Kazakhstan
Monday 18 November
The 2019 Wenhui Award, Promoting University and School Partnerships in Advancing the Education 2030 Agenda, recognised successful university-school partnerships that have contributed to quality education and lifelong learning in preparing children and youth for life, work and global citizenship. 

We are delighted to announce that Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) in Kazakhstan, a partnership school from the Faculty of Education, Education Reform and Innovation (ERI) Network, were one of two winners of the Wenhui Award for Educational Innovation 2019.

The partnership between NIS and ERI at the Faculty of Education was first established in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength. Their programme at 19 schools across Kazakhstan was developed in partnership with the Faculty as well as with Cambridge International and Cambridge University Press. We have hosted many of their teachers and principals in the UK on school placements and also run many teacher development workshops offered through NIS’ Centre of Excellence.

NIS beat some seriously strong competition and won the Wenhui Award for their building of 'School-University Partnerships for Students Benefit'. Since their creation, NIS have partnered with national as well as international universities to support their graduates and recognise students’ achievements. Congratulations to Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools for their fantastic achievement and winning this award.

Find further information about the work of ERI in Kazakhstan.

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Award-Winning EAL Assessment Framework (2.0) and Digital Tracker Launched

The EAL Assessment Framework logo
Friday 15 November
The Bell Foundation with Dr. Michael Evans and Dr. Yongcan Liu in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge and Prof. Constant Leung at King’s College, London have launched new resources for teachers working with pupils who use English as an Additional Language (EAL).

The Bell Foundation has released Version 2.0 of the award-winning EAL Assessment Framework for Schools and a new, free, interactive digital Tracker.

These resources are designed to support teachers in establishing the English language proficiency of their learners with EAL and provide tailored support strategies so that learners can develop the language skills needed to fully access the curriculum, participate actively in school and finally succeed.

The resources, developed by a team of academics and The Bell Foundation staff, with input from teachers, have been designed with busy teachers in mind. The Digital Tracker includes three built-in termly reports that provide a snapshot of learning and progress and can be shared with teachers, pupils and parents. Find out more about the Framework.

The EAL Assessment Framework for Schools is the first empirically derived framework for assessing EAL pupils in England and received British Council ELTons Award for Local Innovationin 2018.

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PGCE 2019 off to flying start

Hot air balloons rise in to blue sky
Monday 4 November
Having battled through rigorous interviews over the last 12 months, yet another exceptional cohort has embarked upon the Secondary and Primary PGCE courses, comprising many of the very best new entrants to the teaching profession in this country.

They arrive alongside new course managers (Mark Winterbottom and Shawn Bullock) leading the secondary PGCE team. Jane Warwick and John-Mark Winstanley extend their fantastic leadership of the primary PGCE team into another year. And we’re also delighted to welcome Tabitha Millett (Art and Design – a former Cambridge PGCE student) and Daniel Moulin-Stozek (Religious Studies) to the secondary PGCE team while Kate Rigby has already made a valuable contribution to the primary team.

Since September, our trainees have been cutting their teeth in school, gradually building up their teaching in a personalised programme with their excellent school-based mentors. The level of commitment of those mentors was described by external examiners as ‘almost unique within PGCE courses nationally’.

On both primary and secondary courses, alongside and integral to their school development, Professional Studies is well underway, with trainees learning how to ‘Teach without Disruption’ from Roland Chaplain and getting stuck into behaviour for learning workshops.

And in subject studies on the secondary PGCE, our trainees have been thinking, and thinking hard, about teaching and learning in their subjects. From speed-dating workshops to a classroom crime scene, from inclusive design to engaging learners in Latin through video, and from whole class composing to preparing exhibitions of art work, our trainees have been very busy indeed. And that’s without even thinking about skateboards, lungs, and explosions in science, or the link between pie charts and trigonometry in maths!

On the PGCE Primary course, trainees have been getting to grips with understanding how children learn and the diversity of  the primary curriculum,  exploring the different teaching and learning approaches and practical ideas for each subject: making maps in geography, clay models in art, recreating the last supper in RE, designing pop-up books in DT, getting to grips with coding and programming in IT, launching rockets in science, teaching ball handling skills in PE, developing knowledge of children’s literature, reading comprehension and phonics in English. 

All that and inspirational speakers - Dame Alison Peacock, the CEO of the Chartered College of Teaching, on ‘Why teaching is the best profession in the world’ and Morag Styles, the first Professor of Children’s Poetry for a poetry at teatime event.

So, with the first few weeks of the PGCE term complete, our trainees head into the second half of term, ready to work hard and think hard in Faculty and in school. We look forward to finding out what happens next!

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Play Well - Hopscotch Project featured in new Wellcome exhibition

Data grid of numbers in coloured squares
Thursday 24 October
Play Well - a new exhibition from The Wellcome Collection opens on Thursday 24th October.  The exhibition features the work of Dr Jenny Gibson from the PEDAL Centre while working on the ESRC funded HOPSCOTCH (Hi-Tech Observation of Playground Social Communication Trajectories in Children) Project investigating children’s social interactions on the school playground using sensors that track position and movement. The research team on the project included Dr Jenny Gibson (Principle Investigator), Prof Stephen Hailes and Prof David Skuse (Co-Investigators) from University College London (UCL) and Dr Behzad Heravi (postdoctoral researcher).

The exhibition displays some of the hardware; 3D printed housing to make the sensors wearable, printed circuit board with accelerometer, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) antenna and a visualisation of the data.

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Young women writers celebrated at BBC Awards

The shortlisted candidates for the BBC Young Writers' Award 2019
Thursday 24 October
October saw the collaboration between the BBC and University of Cambridge alongside charity organisation First Story for the Young Writers’ Award 2019 which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row and featured on BBC Radio 1 Life Hacks. Representing the University and Faculty of Education, Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills, University Lecturer in English and Education and Subject Lecturer for PGCE Secondary English spent the day with the shortlisted young writers. We caught up with Elizabeth and asked about her involvement, what the Young Writers’ Awards mean to her and to the young people and their families.

The shortlisted writers for the Young Writers’ Award had a whole day at the BBC before the awards ceremony. During the morning, they spent some time in a studio, creating radio sound effects and working with an actor reading from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Elizabeth commented, "This was an apt text choice because, not for the first time – and like the adult award – the Young Writers’ Award had an all-female shortlist this year".
Later in the day, Dr Sarah Dillon from the Faculty of English and Elizabeth led a mini seminar. This gave the young writers an opportunity to talk through Woolf’s ideas about the conditions in which women’s writing can flourish, and to discuss the radical structure and style of Woolf’s prose. Elizabeth says, "Unsurprisingly, given the wonderful qualities of their own writing, the young people impressed both of us with their insight and sensitivity in this conversation".
Virginia Woolf was passionate about enabling access for women to education, as well as to the kinds of privileged spaces of protection from everyday household worries that enable creativity to flourish. Elizabeth reflects, "As a woman academic in the midst of the complex balancing act entailed by our commitments to research, teaching, homes and children, and aware of the gender pay gap in academia, it’s easy to feel acutely how far we are, as a society, from some aspects of Woolf’s idyllic visions. It was heartening to hear these young women’s conviction that their gender constitutes no limit on their voices and their writing".
Sarah and Elizabeth enjoyed a chance to talk more informally with the shortlisted young people and their families, about their writing, their future hopes and plans, and about university applications and admissions. "Several of them spoke warmly of the role of individual teachers in prompting them to pursue their ambition to write, to practise self-discipline in establishing effective writing habits, and to submit their work to competitions such as the BBC Young Writers' Award". As the Subject Lecturer on the Secondary English PGCE, Elizabeth spends a lot of time telling the Faculty’s PGCE students about their potential to influence people’s lives, she adds, "it was wonderful to have in front of me such inspiring examples of these positive teacher influences".

Elizabeth also speaks passionately about being a champion of young writers, the benefits of the competition and why it’s important for the University to support initiatives like the Young Writers' Award, "It’s vital that aspiring young writers have outlets for their creativity. The research is clear that an authentic audience – somebody outside a classroom – has an inspiring and galvanising effect on developing writers, at all levels. Their work becomes more than a school exercise intended to develop technical skills and is transformed instead into a chance for their voice to be heard, sending the message that what young people have to say is valuable to, and valued by, society. Competitions like the BBC Young Writers’ Award provide such opportunities for writers to share their work – and in the case of the shortlisted authors, whose stories are recorded by professional actors and distributed via BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 4 and the BBC website – with an extraordinarily wide audience. But they do more than this. By requiring young writers to comply with a particular set of rules – in this instance, the formal constraint of length – a competition like this challenges a writer to develop her or his craft. We know that creativity flourishes when it comes up against new tests and limits. The high standard of the writing in the BBC Young Writers’ Award is the result of talented and hard-working young people honing their craft in the encounter with a new set of formal requirements. That is why it is so important that the University supports such initiatives by working in partnership with the BBC, and alongside First Story, a charity dedicated to supporting the voices of young people growing up in disadvantaged communities around the UK". She adds, "I have no doubt we’ll be seeing the names of some of this years shortlisted writers again as they develop. It’s exciting to be involved in a competition which both celebrates and promotes this development".

Listen to all the shortlisted stories on BBC radio 4 Short Story podcast.

Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills is the Subject Lecturer for PGCE Secondary English. Find out more about our PGCE courses and outstanding (Ofsted) teacher education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

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Bridging the gap between theory and practice in a complex world

Barry Rogers
Wednesday 2 October
The pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence is part of our core mission. Yet the application of ideas in a world increasingly defined by distraction is an increasing challenge. A recent industry award for a Cambridge doctoral student addressed this issue.

Faculty of Education EdD student Barry Rogers won a gold award for excellence at the 2019 Brandon Hall Group Human Capital Management [HCM] Awards for Excellence. The award, in the Best Results of a Learning Program category, was a joint submission with a leading European multinational company. It is based around Barry’s research on developing a visualisation tool for practicing post-program learning commitments in the workplace. The results were highly encouraging in terms of day-to-day impact and evaluation – a significant challenge for both theory and practice in the field. The learning program is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to redefine its relationship with wider society in an increasingly challenging and complex world.

On winning the award Barry said "I am delighted with this (award). It is a form of validation from industry peers who appreciate the nuance and messiness of putting knowledge to work in practice. It also comes at a time when the academic field surrounding the ‘transfer’ of knowledge is at a crossroads. Hopefully this research can contribute in some small way to moving that debate forward".

A Brandon Hall Excellence Award is fiercely competitive in the field of learning. It attracts entrants from leading corporations around the world, as well as mid-market and smaller firms.  This year submissions were received from 25 industries in over 30 countries. Now entering its 26th year, the Excellence Awards are the most prestigious awards program in the industry and are often referred to as the academy awards for their field.

The awards cover a range of categories including Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, Workforce Management and HR, Sales Performance and Corporate Initiatives.

Elaine Wilson, University Senior Lecturer in Education and EdD Programme Manager at the Faculty of Education commented 'For me this award displays the potential of the EdD to extend Cambridge’s reach into diverse fields education and learning. It provided the necessary rigor and relevance to explore grounded, creative approaches to real-world problems that have day-to-day impact across a wide range of settings. It also plays to what we do best at Cambridge - providing a nurturing environment that facilitate rich interdisciplinary connections, something many institutions talk about but few can deliver on’.

Awards are evaluated by a panel of experienced, independent industry experts, analysts and executives based upon the following criteria: fit the need, design of the program, functionality, innovation and overall measurable benefits. See the winners in all categories

Excellence Awards winners will be recognised at Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Excellence Conference in the USA on February 4-6, 2020.

Find out more about the Faculty of Education EdD programme and read more about Barry Rogers.

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