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12 March 2021

CERIP Launch Event

A virtual event announcing the creation of the new special interest group CERIP: Change, Education Reform, Innovation and Policy was hosted by the Education Reform and Innovation team.

At the well-attended launch event, we discussed and debated the future(s) of educational change across the globe with a distinguished international panel representing education research, policy, and practice.


Adam Barton (Co-founder & Convener, CERIP)


Vishal Talreja (Co-Founder & Trustee, Dream a Dream India)

Pilvi Torsti (State Secretary, Ministry of Education and Culture - 2013-15)

Rebecca Winthrop (Co-Director & Senior Fellow, Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution)

A recording of this launch event is available on YoutuTube.

1 March 2021

ERI in India

The Education Reform and Innovation team is working with the British Council and other educational organisations based in India to deliver an exciting new Teacher Development Programme that is aimed at assessing teacher professional development needs, and improving teachers’ professional learning.

The project focuses on introducing and developing competencies to be embedded in the teaching of English, mathematics and science in Middle and Upper schools.

The first workshop runs from 1st March until 1st April 2021 and is being delivered online.

26th November 2020

SHARE Project Webinar

Members of the ERI team, along with colleagues in Kazakhstan have delivered a very successful online conference with a focus on Teacher Development and how the culture, management of change and teacher professional development have been transformed.

With 176 participants, this online event was carried out using a combination of the latest technology in online delivery platforms and covered a wide range of material, adding to the enduring impact of this project and the research associated with it.    

5th March 2020

Due to the Covid-19 global outbreak, the ERI team are now working remotely following newly-instated official guidelines. We continue to monitor the situation and to update our partners and associates with any developments. As we do so, many aspects of our work are now carried out online where possible.  

8th - 9th July 2019

Study Visit - University of Pennsylvania Doctoral Students

The ERI Team hosted a study visit by UPenn Executive Doctoral Students. The International Context course was designed to provide students with exposure to some of the issues facing international higher education and to use this exposure to reflect on higher education in the United States.

For the 2019 session we examined the history, current status, and challenges and opportunities facing higher education in the United Kingdom.

11th June to 22 June 2019

Pakistan – The City School – workshops

Following a scoping visit to Lahore, which included visits to 3 schools nominated by The City School, the ERI team successfully delivered the workshops of the Teacher Educator programme. These workshops were used to train The City School teacher educators so they can run the NJT (Newly-Joined Teachers) workshops. These were 2 x 9-day workshops.

Established in Karachi in 1978, The City School is today one of the largest private school networks in Pakistan with branches in all the major cities across the country. It currently has 153 schools in 49 cities with over 150,000 students in 500+ owned and franchised schools, along with joint venture projects in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Philippines and Malaysia.

Jinan school china

19th May to 2 June 2019

Jinan Innovation Zone – Workshop 3

This workshop provided practice-based training activities as well as model lessons. This workshop extended over 10 days and built on the work completed in the previous workshops. The workshop was delivered to Teacher Educators and Principles.

CIES Con image

14th – 18th April 2019

CIES Symposium – Education for Sustainability

ERI have taken part in the CIES 2019 conference in San Francisco. The theme of the conference dealt with questions relating to education as a driver of economic growth as advocated by the UN in 1960s. These questions have become more urgent in the following decades. What is the longer-term cost of an education that promises – and sometimes delivers – productivity, industrialization, modernity and consumption? Who pays this price? What are the larger costs? And with what ultimate consequence for the planet?

ERI team members addressed some of these questions and delivered presentations and talks relating to current ERI projects including; Teachers and Curriculum Change – Perestroika of Consciousness, Tensions, Possibilities and Dynamics of Reform, and Teaching, Curriculum and Internationalisation at Time of War.

13 February 2019

Jinan Innovation Zone - Workshop 2

Workshop 2 delivered successfully for the Jinan Innovation Zone, China. This 2 week programme was delivered between 13 February and 27 February 2019. Specifically, the second workshop aimed at improving teachers' capacity in terms of facilitating children development and managing the teaching environment.  

26 November 2018

Jinan Innovation Zone – Workshop 1

The ERI team have designed and delivered a programme for Workshop 1 in Jinan Innovation Zone, China between 26th November and 6th December 2018.

The workshop consisted of 10 training days. Each training day was divided into two specific parts: the mornings focussed on enhancement of pedagogical knowledge and skills; the afternoons focussed on the development of the Professional Learning Centre, local training centres and the skills trainers will require to deliver high quality Continuing Professional Development across the Innovation Zone.

The workshop was successful and generated positive feedback from the participants. It has also laid the foundations for the future work and development to be carried out in the subsequent workshops.


16th October 2018

Engaging and effective – the promise of playful learning

Hanne Jensen is a Research Specialist with the LEGO Foundation Centre for Creativity, Play and Learning, doctoral student at Cambridge University, seconded to the ERI team in 2018. Read below about Hanne's research and informing novel ways of teaching.

The LEGO Foundation works to champion play for children's learning and growth, together with thought leaders, innovators and researchers around the world. My own research centres on understanding how play-based learning works in education settings and how best to support professionals to adopt novel ways of teaching. We know from neuroscience and developmental research that young children are capable learners from the start of life; but not all have equal opportunities to harness this potential. Some children reach school behind their peers on fundamental skills, including language, and the ability to regulate their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. The good news is that we begin to understand what matters for young children’s effective and engaged learning; here, play facilitation holds immense promise.

Play facilitation combines features of effective practices – such a responsive adult role - with children’s highly engaged and playful explorations. Perceiving a learning activity as playful changes how young children act, think and feel. For instance, Sawyer (2017) compared children’s responses to a near-impossible fishing activity framed as either role-play or as a task for which they could earn a sticker; in the playful condition, children persisted for longer and tried to master the challenge. When the goal is specific academic content, studies find that children gain a more robust conceptual understanding through guided play, compared to either instruction or free play alone. Such studies have advanced the field of playful learning in important ways. Still, realising these promising practices in classroom settings is anything but straightforward. Early educators are often unsure about their role in children’s play; while many regard play as a way for young children to learn, they tend to switch between a passive, observing role during child play and direct instruction of academic content. This is a tendency we see emerging across truly diverse countries: from Canada and Denmark and to China and African cultural contexts.

Pioneering efforts, like that of the PEDAL Centre at Cambridge, are beginning to uncover the ‘clockwork’ and dynamic nature of learning through play; what works for whom, how and when. Alongside, we need to tackle the challenge of scale: how education systems can equip teaching professionals as designers and facilitators of playful, effective learning. This is the focus of my doctoral research and work at the LEGO Foundation. Since January, I have also had the privilege of learning from the ERI team’s development work across cultural settings. Insights from the work of both teams remind us that learning can be both engaging for children and effective for valued outcomes. By bridging between practice and research, we are getting much closer to fulfilling this ultimate promise of play facilitation for children around the world.

Suggested further reading:

Pyle, A., C. DeLuca, and E. Danniels. 2017. A Scoping Review of Research on Play‚ÄźBased Pedagogies in Kindergarten Education. Review of Education 5 (3): 311–351. doi: 10.1002/rev3.3097.

Sawyer, J. 2017. ‘I Think I Can’: Preschoolers’ Private Speech and Motivation in Playful Versus Non-Playful Contexts. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 38 (Complete): 84–96. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.09.004.

Zosh, J. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Hopkins, E. J., Jensen, H., Liu, C., Neale, D., … Whitebread, D. (2018). Accessing the Inaccessible: Redefining Play as a Spectrum, 9 (August), 1–12.

10th September 2018

Janet Ramdeo | New Senior Teaching Associate

This month we welcome Janet Ramdeo to the team! Janet was Programme Leader for the School Direct (salaried) route into teaching for six years at UCL before joining the ERI team in September. Although she has expertise in Early Years and Primary provision, she also co-ordinated the strategic development of Secondary provision on the School Direct (salaried) programme. Janet has worked at various London universities in Initial Teacher Education. She has been a Senior Lecturer where she taught a range of modules on the Primary PGCE and undergraduate degree programmes. She was also the lead for Employment Based Routes prior to her post at UCL Institute of Education.
Prior to her 12 years of Higher Education work, Janet was an Early Years and Primary practitioner for over six years in infant and junior school settings in Greater London. She also has experience of special school settings and international contexts. Janet's research interest is around teacher identity formation and she is currently completing her doctorate on this subject. She has also published on the subject of ethnic minority teacher experience.

20th July 2018

The City School | Pakistan

The City School (TCS) and Education Reform and Innovation have signed a contract this week to develop a Centre for Education Professional Development in collaboration with Cambridge Assessment International Education and the Faculty of Education. Over two years Cambridge partners will assist TCS in developing a mentoring programme for teacher educators after designing a innovative course for initial teacher education. The reach of this programme will begin with a selection of outstanding teachers from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad with a goal of going on to train 180 new entry teachers.

Read more about our work in Pakistan


10th July 2018

Jinan Innovation Zone | China

This month, ERI signed a contract with Jinan Innovation Zone in China, to establish teacher professional learning centres with the goal of reforming initial teacher education and teacher development. This will be a three-stage programme with the first year dedicated to conduct comprehensive training of in-service teachers and teacher educators, in line with our cascade model approach. Further cooperation includes International Exchanges for educators and students to travel abroad to study in order to build a network and distance learning system as well as a world class language centre to lay the foundation for international exchanges and training of foreign language teachers and students.
The Jinan High Tech Innovation Zone is based in the East of China within Shandong province with good connections to Beijing in the north and Shanghai in the south. With a goal to become a new economic, financial, logistics, scientific and technology centre, Jinan Innovation Zone will build an Innovation Valley, central zone, airport and ‘Free Trade’ zone.

21st May 2018

Open Seminar | Young People's Mental Health in Schools

Between 14th-20th May, The Faculty of Education took part in Mental Health Awareness Week with a programme of activities. ERI invited Professor Gordon Harold from the University of Sussex to give a open lecture on young people's mental health in schools; responding to the evidence.

Professor Gordon Harold holds the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Chair and is Professor of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the School of Psychology. Harold’s primary research interests focus on examining the impact of early rearing adversities (e.g. inter-parental conflict, negative parenting, parent mental health) on child and adolescent mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety, conduct problems), the interplay between genetic factors, pre-natal, post-natal rearing experiences and children’s mental health, and translating research-led recommendations to practice and policy contexts.

The well attended lecture reflected the level of interest from those working in schools with young people.


4th May 2018

Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools | 10 Year Partnership with the Faculty of Education

Last week, the Faculty of Education and ERI received esteemed guests of honour from Nazabayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) in Kazakhstan to celebrate ten years of NIS and the continuing partnership. The delegation visited partner organisations in Cambridge, but also Bottisham Village College, where the guests were given a tour and talk by Principal Jenny Rankine. For the past few years, Bottisham has hosted teachers from NIS as part of an internship scheme, amongst other schools in the SUPER network.
A lecture was held in the Faculty, with NIS Chairwoman Kulyash Shamshidinova as the key speaker. Introductory speeches were given by Head of Faculty Professor Geoff Hayward and ERI Director Professor Colleen McLaughlin as well as Kazakhstan Ambassador to the United Kingdom Erlan Idrissov and President of Nazarbayev University Mr Shigeo Katsu. The lecture was followed by a drinks reception and dinner at Kings College.

The online lecture’ livestream was watched by record numbers, and is available to watch on Youtube.

Available to watch here


23rd March 2018

ERI are proud to announce the Celebration of Ten Years in Partnership with Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools, Kazakhstan with a lecture by Kulyash Shamshidinova, Chairwoman of NIS, accommpanied by esteemed guests of honour.

Shamshidinova was formally Vice-Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan for five years. She has also held the post of Director General of the Bobek National Scientific Practical Education and Health Centre and has been Deputy Mayor of Taldykorgan. Earlier in her career she worked as a Chemistry teacher and director of a secondary school in the Almaty region.

This will take place in DMB, GS5 on 26th April 16.00-18.00 with drinks reception.

Please register your attendance on Eventbrite

Lent Term Newsletter 2018

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17 November 2017

NIS SUPER Internship | Michaelmas Term

Twenty-four pedagogical teachers, four schools, two weeks, finishing with one great meal at Christ College. An ongoing partnership between the Education Reform and Innovation team (ERI) and Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools, (NIS) Kazakhstan, link to the internship programme with local SUPER schools including Impington, Bottisham Village Colleges, Biddenham School as well as the Samuel Whitbread Academy.

Teachers from six NIS partner schools spent time immersed in school life working with colleagues in SUPER schools; two half days were spent in the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education. The NIS SUPER programme's objective is to share professional knowledge and practical expertise within leadership and improvement strategies- an exchange of ideas between two countries in regards to building and sustaining a successful network

This year the Internship coincided with a six week visit to the Faculty from Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education (NUGSE) Kazakhstan Doctoral students’. The Interns’ attended the NUGSE students’ research presentations, and during the final afternoon of the Internship, the Interns’ presented their reflections and drafted action plans to assist their work upon return to Kazakhstan.

The objectives of the Internship included

  • Maintaining and developing the partnership between SUPER and NIS
  • Sharing professional knowledge and practical expertise in relation to gaining an understanding of a UK school
  • Being involved in a research-informed and research-engaged school culture
  • Sharing experiences and discourses of pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and leadership
  • Critiquing an understanding of a reflective practice ethos
  • Discussing and witnessing school improvement strategies including student voice
  • Exchanging ideas regarding building and sustaining successful school and community networks
  • Senior staff shared leadership and management matters
  • Students’ inquired and learned about student life in Kazakhstan
  • Interns’ were actively engaged in small scale inquiry.

In addition, a number of social and cultural activities were enjoyed, including exploring Cambridge and a walking tour of London visitor attractions.

Upon return the Interns’ have led discussions, taught master classes and open lessons thus sharing their experiences with colleagues’ and students’. The partnership between NIS and SUPER schools is continuing via a range of correspondence between the Internship partners.

Since March 2014, six SUPER schools have hosted 96 NIS Interns’ in this programme.

Read more about the SUPER Partnership.

13 November 2017

Faculty and Peking University partnership in Early Years Education

Delegates from China's Peking University have made a visit this November to the Education Reform and Innovation Team at the beginning of a long-term cooperation for Early Years Education. The University of Cambridge Faculty of Education wishes to promote further academic and research links with the China Center for Strategic Studies at Peking University, a partnership which was initiated in April 2017. The focus on this visit is to develop kindergarten head teachers and early year professionals' understanding of education in the UK as well as surrounding policy. This visit consisted of lectures in the Faculty as well as visits to local schools looking at the importance of indoor/outdoor environments as well as 'physical' areas of learning and integrated practices. This will be followed up with a research and scoping visit of the ERI team to Beijing and Jinan in January 2018, before moving onto a long-term agreement with regular visits and interaction. The ERI team is grateful for the help of PhD Students from the Faculty of Education that have assisted with translation and interpretation.

25 October 2017

Invitation to speak at Kazakhstan Senate

Professor Colleen McLauchlin, Director of ERI was invited to speak in the parliamentary enquiry into education which took place in the Kazakhstan Senate on October 22nd. Colleen spoke on the importance of teacher development in reform. The debate was enquiring into the state of public education and the important issues. Recommendations were made for policy and practice.

Read more about our recent projects in Kazakhstan

5 October 2017

NUGSE PhD students visit to Faculty of Education

A cohort of students studying for an education related PhD at the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education in Kazakhstan have made a visit to ERI and the Faculty of Education for a 6 week stay as part of the annual programme since 2015. NUGSE is the first accredited world class MA and PhD research degree programme in Central Asia set up with the advisory assistance and partnership of the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education and University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. This visit takes place each year with the ERI team where students from NUGSE are paired with a supervisor and partake in seminars and lectures at the faculty, living the full University of Cambridge experience!
The NUGSE partnership includes a partners meeting that takes place twice yearly in which the partners involved in setting up the graduate school discuss development and research methods. Last Easter term the partners meeting took place at the Faculty of Education including a visit from three members from UPenn.

Read more about our work with Nazarbayev University (NUGSE)

15 September 2017

EdCrunch Conference | Moscow

Director of ERI, Professor. Colleen McLaughlin was invited to give a keynote at EdCrunch Education Conference. She spoke on the relationship between new technological development and teacher and curriculum development. EdCrunch, one of the largest European conferences, brings together innovative approaches and technologies to develop the Russian educational sector in secondary, higher and professional education. The conference hosts an international platform of leaders in education, attracting experts from all over the globe and a total of 4,000 visitors and over 15,000 virtual viewers.

1 August 2017

The Syrian Crisis and Higher Education

Three staff members from the Faculty of Education met with 21 exiled Syrian academics in Turkey in June and July 2017. Workshops were held on strategic planning for the future of Syria’s higher education sector. The aim was to provide an analysis of the status and circumstances surrounding the conditions of higher education in Syria both before and after the 2011 crisis. This analysis was done through reviews of the curricula, textbooks, forms of government resourcing, student registration, gender statistics and regulations, policies, practices and vision that have shaped the sector pre-and post 2011.
Given limited literature, the work will combine a desk-based study with a series of remote and face-to-face interviews with senior Syrian academics, administrators and officials previously employed in a cross-section of Syrian public and private universities, its higher institutes and relevant ministries. These senior perspectives and accounts will be complemented by interviews with students also living in exile in order to capture the student perspectives on HE during the relevant time periods.
The completed study will be collated into a background report on the situation of the higher education sector.

Read more about our educational reform projects

1 June 2017

Invitation to the Vice-Chancellor's Impact Awards

We are delighted to announce that Professor Colleen McLaughlin will be attending the Vice-Chancellor's Impact Awards Ceremony on behalf of ERI on Thursday 13 July 2017.

ERI has been nominated for an Impact Award for their work in Kazakhstan and the contribution the team made to the development of education in the country. Working with a variety of stakeholders, from government institutions to universities, schools and teacher training centres, the impact of ERI's work can be felt as the nation progresses towards the goal of trilingual education.

Read more about Professor Colleen McLaughlin

30 May 2017

Completion of Students' Well-being Research Project

The "Interdisciplinary Intercultural Research on Well-being in Schools for Health", or Well-being Project for short, concluded today after 26 months of collaborative work between Cambridge University Faculty of Education and Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education. In a Thank You letter to the team, PI Dr Ros McLellan mentioned both the hard and often difficult work, as well as the fantastic data that was gathered.

Professor Carole Faucher from NU added: "This project will serve as a solid basis for initiating new ways to support the well-being of students of Kazakhstan and to increase the awareness on the need for more research in this area."

Read more about our well-being programme

5 May 2017

Monitoring and Evaluation of Maths and Science Textbooks in the Sultanate of Oman, Phase 1

This month, field work was undertaken in six primary schools in the Sultanate of Oman by ERI staff. This included focus groups with teachers and students alongside face-to-face semi-structured interviews with teachers. A national survey was also conducted that drew data from every region in Oman.
In more detail, the research team met with 106 people (principals, vice-principals, teachers, and parents) and conducted 10 interviews and 12 focus groups. Grade 4 students were also consulted for their views on Maths and Science textbooks by means of another 12 focus groups. The online survey was delivered in Arabic and English and was completed across the Sultanate by teachers of Cycle One; culminating in a response set of over 400 teachers' opinions of various key features of the current mathematics and science textbooks.
This baseline data collection was a preliminary and timely step prior to the introduction of new textbooks for mathematics and science which have been commissioned from Cambridge University Press and which are currently in design and production to be in service for Grades 1-4 (Cycle One) as of September 2017. A 100-page report was produced on this work by Dr Liz Winter and Dr Natallia Yakavets for Cambridge University Press and the Ministry of Education in the Sultanate of Oman. The report contained not only an Executive Summary but also pointed towards mechanisms appropriate to monitoring and evaluating the new textbooks as they are adopted.

In 2018, Dr Winter and Dr Yakavets anticipate returning to Oman for Phase 2 to research new textbooks to compare the old and the new.

Read more about developing policy and practice

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