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Dr David Whitebread (1948 – 2021)

David Whitebread
Thursday 15 April
With great sadness the Faculty is announcing the death of Dr David Whitebread. David was a member of the University since 1986, first at Homerton College, and at the Faculty of Education from 2001. 

David was an influential academic and researcher in developmental psychology and early childhood education. He was internationally recognised as a leading authority in the understanding of self-regulation and metacognition in young children. He enjoyed travelling, giving lectures and undertaking consultancies in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, China, India, Poland, Uganda, the USA, and Tanzania. He was actively involved in research and international outreach programmes with the LEGO Foundation, establishing a long-lasting collaboration which impacted the lives of many children by providing opportunities for learning through play. 

Before joining the University, David taught in primary schools for 12 years. This gave him many of his biggest professional strengths: a deep understanding of educational practice, wide collaboration with teachers, and a fun-loving, playful way of conducting his teaching and projects.

During the time when Homerton College was the home of initial education, David was the Manager of the Primary PGCE course and established the Early Years specialist route for trainees wanting to work with the 3-7 age group; he continued to teach on the course until his retirement.  As a result of this, David’s passion and knowledge influenced generations of teachers (and of course the children they taught), many of whom have gone on to become eminent practitioners and researchers in the Early Years sector, working in local partnership schools, nationally and internationally. David established and defined much of the ethos of the Primary PGCE course, understanding that students, like children, learn best when they are cared for.

David worked continually to improve educational policy. He campaigned against changes to the school starting age in the UK, high stakes testing in the early years, and advocated for the importance of play-based education. He frequently spoke to the media and government about improving the quality of young children’s lives. 

His publications for academic and general audiences include a 2011 book entitled ‘Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education: A Guide for Students and Practitioners’ (SAGE), and ‘Teaching and Learning in the Early Years’ (4th Edition 2015, Routledge). 

With generous support from the LEGO Foundation, David founded the research centre for Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL), which he oversaw until his retirement. The PEDAL centre is committed to forming new generations of researchers dedicated to understanding the role of play in child development and education.

David was a kind-hearted supervisor of PhD and Masters students, for which he was recognised by the University of Cambridge's Student-Led Teaching Award in 2015.  He also generously supported many Faculty colleagues in developing their research profiles acting as a teacher and mentor. 

Professor Susan Robertson, Head of Faculty, said: “David’s passing is a huge loss to the psychology and education community and he will be hugely missed by everyone who knew him at the Faculty. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife, Linda Whitebread, their daughters Elisabeth and Sarah, and with David’s friends, former students, and colleagues.”

A digital condolences book has been set up here

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Poor children are being ‘failed by the system’ on road to higher education in lower-income countries

Image: Gift Habeshaw, via Unsplash
Wednesday 7 April
A generation of talented but disadvantaged children are being denied access to higher education because academic success in lower and middle-income countries is continually ‘protected by wealth’, a study has found.

Read the full story here

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Global evidence for how EdTech can support pupils with disabilities is ‘thinly spread’

Image by EdTech Hub
Friday 26 March
An ‘astonishing’ deficit of data about how the global boom in educational technology could help pupils with disabilities in low and middle-income countries has been highlighted in a new report.

Read the full story here.

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Inside the Upside Down

Diffraction
Friday 26 March
A new critical analysis suggests that our relationship with hugely successful series like Stranger Things, and particularly some of the more performative acts of fan-worship around them, provides us with a template for new ways of thinking and engaging with the world which, arguably, are stranger still.

Read the full story here.

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Late Romans used educated guesswork to interpret ancient hieroglyphic writing

Obelisk at Luxor (the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes), where Ammianus Marcellinus described hieroglyphs in his Res Gestae.
Tuesday 23 March
A new study by Frances Foster, who studies ancient education at the Faculty, shows how Romans sometimes interpreted the relics of their ancient antecedents by using educated guesswork to supplement what they actually knew - rather like modern-day visitors might when viewing exhibits at a museum.

Read the full story here.

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On placement in a pandemic: Chloe Brown

Chloe Brown
Friday 19 March
Thankfully, schools have reopened for the last few weeks of term, but for most of it, trainee teachers have been undertaking placements online. In this short series of articles, we have been asking Faculty trainees what that experience has been like, and what they have gained from it.

In this, final article, Chloe Brown, from the Primary PGCE course, explains how it has sharpened her ability to anticipate potential barriers to learning, and why she now believes that learning to teach remotely may actually help, rather than hinder, the training experience.

Read the full interview here.

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Tyler Denmead’s ‘The Creative Underclass’ on virtual tour

Book
Tuesday 16 March
Dr Tyler Denmead is undertaking a virtual ‘tour’ of his book, The Creative Underclass, starting this month. The book was originally published in 2019, and draws on his earlier experiences as the founder of an arts programme for marginalised youth in a US city. In so doing, it raises uncomfortable questions about the role of cultural projects in wider processes of urban regeneration, and how they might easily help to perpetuate exactly the sort of social and racial injustice that they seek to address.

Read the full story here.

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Video-led feedback programme reduces behaviour problems in children as young as 12 months

Mother and toddler
Monday 15 March
A home-based parenting programme to prevent childhood behaviour problems, which very unusually focuses on children when they are still toddlers and, in some cases, just 12 months old, has proven highly successful during its first public health trial.

Read the full story here.

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School closures may have wiped out a year of academic progress for pupils in the Global South

School in Kampala, Uganda. Image: Bill Wegener, Unsplash
Tuesday 9 March
As much as a year’s worth of past academic progress made by disadvantaged children in the Global South may have been wiped out by school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have calculated.

Read the full story here.

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On placement in a pandemic: Lucy Rockliffe

Lucy Rockliffe
Friday 5 March
This article is from a series which asks how trainee teachers have found the experience of undertaking remote school placements during the pandemic, and what they have gained from it. Here, Lucy Rockliffe, a trainee Biology teacher, explains how teaching online has strengthened her grasp and appreciation of certain aspects of her practice: from classroom communication, to the importance of building positive and productive connections with students.


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‘Micropopulism’ may be turning education into a battlefield in the culture wars

Protest
Friday 5 March
A new analysis of education debates on both social media and in traditional media outlets suggests that the education sector is being increasingly influenced by populism and the wider social media ‘culture wars’.


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On placement in a pandemic: Louis Lescure

Louis Lescure
Friday 26 February
In this short series of articles, we ask current PGCE trainees about their experiences undertaking school placements remotely. Here, Louis Lescure, who is on the Faculty's Primary PGCE course, shares some thoughts.

Read the full interview here.

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Faculty student wins Masters’ dissertation award for third year running

Simone Eringfeld
Wednesday 24 February
A highly-innovative, multimedia research project which examines the ‘post-coronial’ future of higher education has won the British Educational Research Association’s annual Masters Dissertation Award.

Simone Eringfeld, the recent MPhil graduate who undertook the study, is the third Faculty of Education student to win the BERA prize in as many years, following the successes of Thu Thu and Joyce Kim in 2020 and 2019. The award recognises ‘academic excellence and rigour in research by a Master of Education student’.

Read the full story here.

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On placement in a pandemic: Alex Morgan and Abby Wilson

Faculty of Education News
Friday 19 February
How have this year's PGCE trainees adapted to teaching remotely on their school placements - and how is it preparing them for entry into a profession where their skills are likely to be needed more than ever? 

In this new series of short articles, we ask current trainees about their experiences of being on placement in a pandemic. Here, Alex Morgan and Abby Wilson, who are studying on the Secondary PGCE Modern Languages course (to be French and Spanish teachers) offer their reflections.

Read the interview here.

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CLAREC: The new Cambridge Latin American Research in Education Collective

CLAREC logo
Thursday 18 February
Just a few months after its official formation, Cambridge’s new Latin American Research in Education Collective (CLAREC) is attracting widespread interest and engagement – and not just from within Cambridge alone. Through a thriving programme of talks, research seminars and a reading group, the collective aims to increase the visibility of Latin American knowledge and perspectives in education research – one of many academic fields which has too often focused more heavily on European and North American knowledge systems.  

In a recent interview, three of its members explained how it began, why the collective matters, and the difference they hope it will make.


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‘Left behind’ adolescent women must be prioritised within sustainable development agenda - report

Three women carry water in Ethiopia
Thursday 11 February
The needs of millions of overlooked, ‘left behind’ adolescent women must become a more significant priority within international efforts to end poverty by 2030, a UK Government-commissioned report is urging.

Read the full story here.

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Early behavioural problems predict adolescent mental health difficulties, study shows

Girl
Thursday 11 February
A substantial proportion of adolescent mental health and behavioural difficulties can be predicted years before they arise, a new study indicates.

Read the full story here.

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Profile: Nathan Cain

Nathan Cain
Friday 5 February
Nathan Cain grew up in Bury and Manchester, and is a part-time doctoral student with the Faculty – having already completed PGCE and Masters courses here. As a child, he had undiagnosed disabilities, which led to him being marked out by his own head teacher as a ‘problem’ child. Fifteen years later, his research focuses on trying to find out what head teachers really value – and whether that is truly expressed in the roles they have to perform in schools.

Read the full interview here.

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Teaching pupils empathy measurably improves their creative abilities, study finds

Faculty of Education News
Wednesday 3 February
Teaching children in a way that encourages them to empathise with others measurably improves their creativity, and could potentially lead to several other beneficial learning outcomes, new research suggests.

Read the full story here.

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Disabled teachers cannot be sidelined in drive for more inclusive schools

Teacher in classroom
Friday 29 January
One of the first academic studies to examine the working lives of disabled teachers in England has called for urgent change after finding evidence of significant workplace discrimination and barriers to their career progression.

Read the full story here.

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Dr Nicola Rollock to join Faculty as Distinguished Fellow

Faculty of Education News
Thursday 28 January
Dr Nicola Rollock, whose work as both an academic and public intellectual has been widely acclaimed for challenging racism and prejudice in education and wider society, is to take up a three-year appointment as Distinguished Fellow at the Faculty of Education.

Read the full story here.

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Digital Education Futures Initiative launched at Cambridge

DEFI launch
Thursday 28 January
A newly-launched University of Cambridge project aims to explore the possibilities that digital technologies have opened up in the field of education – many of which would have been unimaginable even a decade ago. The Digital Education Futures Initiative (DEFI) is based at the Cambridge college, Hughes Hall, and a number of members of the Faculty of Education are involved in its core team.


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Thought experiment on post-COVID Cambridge suggests that for universities, blending is a new beginning

Student in library
Wednesday 27 January
A research project which asked University of Cambridge staff and students to describe their biggest hopes – and darkest fears – for post-pandemic higher education has found that many would support a permanent, but partial, shift to online learning.

Read the full story here.

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Holocaust Memorial Day: The aftermath of the Hans Asperger exposé

Spiegelgrund
Wednesday 27 January
To mark Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January 2021), the Faculty is revisiting an article by an alumnus, Rabbi David Ariel Sher, published by the British Psychological Society last year, while David was studying with us. The piece elucidates how the celebrated reputation of the Viennese doctor and pedagogue, Hans Asperger, was ignominiously shattered as Asperger’s thorough enmeshment in the Nazi machinery of death became known.

Read the full article here.

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Profile: Fenella Symes

Fenella Symes
Monday 25 January
This time last year, Fenella Symes, 21, was on a high-flying course in pharmacy, which, given her aptitude for science, seemed a natural choice. Then she surprised pretty much everyone by leaving early and embarking on the Primary PGCE course at Cambridge instead. It was quite a leap; but six months later she is glad she trusted her gut and made the choice she did. Here, she explains why.

Read the full interview.

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Faculty will welcome Cambridge Foundation Year students as part of landmark University programme

Foundation Year image
Wednesday 13 January
Education will be one of the subjects on offer to students from the Cambridge Foundation Year: a new programme offering talented students from backgrounds of educational and social disadvantage a new route to undergraduate study at the University of Cambridge.

The one-year course, which is initially being run as a pilot scheme, is aimed at applicants who have the ability to succeed at Cambridge but have been prevented from reaching their full potential by their circumstances. It will prepare students for further learning and offer them the chance to progress straight to an undergraduate degree at Cambridge.

Read the full story here.

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In Ethiopia, schools still lack basic means to contain COVID, as pupils return after months of interrupted learning

Faculty of Education News
Monday 14 December
Many schools in Ethiopia lack the hygiene facilities and infrastructure to control COVID-19 effectively, as they reopen for the first time after months of disrupted learning, new research indicates.

Read the full story here.

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Demigods and monsters

Hercules
Monday 14 December
Is there more to the Percy Jackson adventures than meets the eye? A new article by Frances Foster, from the Centre for Research in Children's Literature, suggests these novels may be challenging modern myths as well as old ones. 

Read the full story here.

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Foreign aid cuts put girls’ education at risk

Girls in school
Thursday 26 November
The UK government’s 2020 spending review includes a cut in international aid, from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%. Research shows that this will have severe effects on the lives of girls worldwide.

This article, by Professor Pauline Rose, is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons Licence.

You can read the original article here


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University outreach programme improves self-belief in prospective students

Graduating students at Cambridge
Wednesday 25 November
The initial results from an evaluation of a higher education outreach programme suggest that it significantly increases prospective students’ self-belief about their ability to learn and thrive at highly-selective universities.

Read the full story here.

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Spill-over effects show hidden value of prioritising education of poorest children and marginalised girls

Faculty of Education News
Friday 20 November
International development projects that target the education of the world’s very poorest children and marginalised girls also significantly improve other young people’s attainment, according to new research that suggests such initiatives should become a priority for international aid.

Read the full story here.

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‘Learning pathways’ show how children who miss out on best start could be guided towards better reading and writing by age 11

Child being read to
Thursday 12 November
The early talk and communication that children experience when very young, though essential in preparing them for school, has no direct impact on their reading and writing skills by age 11, new research shows.

Read the full story here.

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Profile: Nicola Morea

Nicola Morea
Monday 9 November
What do you do if you love the idea of teaching, but also feel passionate about research? In Nicola Morea’s case, the answer is: do both. At the age of 29, he has already completed a PGCE and Masters with the Faculty, and is now part-way through his PhD. He has also been a professional teacher, head of department, and mentored another Faculty trainee. He told us why he made the decisions he has, and how he has managed to maintain an active interest in teaching, research, and school leadership.

Read the full story here.

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Road named after Cambridge’s first female Professor of Education

Rudduck Way road sign
Monday 2 November
The University of Cambridge has honoured its first female Professor of Education – Jean Rudduck, who died in 2007 – by naming a road after her on the new Eddington campus in North West Cambridge. Fittingly, Rudduck Way is located immediately opposite the main entrance to the pioneering Cambridge University Primary School, which many members of the Faculty of Education played key roles in helping to establish.

Jean Rudduck was well-known for championing the potential of ‘pupil voice’ as a means of achieving school improvement and changes to teaching and learning. Her ideas were taken up not just across the United Kingdom, but in many different countries around the world. She was joint Director of Research at Homerton College during the 1990s and made major contributions to building the College’s reputation as a centre for research and innovation. She also played an important role in helping to create the vision for the new Faculty of Education which emerged in 2001. She was subsequently appointed Professor of Education by the University, the first woman to hold such a senior role in the subject area at Cambridge.

Rudduck Way was named as part of a wider process through which the University received more than fifty suggestions for names for streets and roads on the new Eddington development. More than 50 such nominations were received altogether. Other names used on the site include those of the biblical scholar, Miles Burkitt; the archaeologist, Dorothy Garrod, and Alan Turing, the pioneering computer scientist.

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Profile: Madeline Platt

Madeline Platt
Friday 30 October

Madeline Platt, 22, is a trainee on our Early Primary PGCE course, and has been passionate about working with children for as long as she can remember. Because she has dyslexia, however, she was told by some that she would never be able to pursue an academically-based career. She told us about the journey that led her to a teacher-training course at Cambridge, what it’s been like joining the Faculty during a pandemic, and why she is starting to think that teachers are basically ‘superhumans’.

Read the full interview here.


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Paul Hirst (1928 - 2020)

Faculty of Education News
Thursday 29 October

The Faculty is saddened to announce the death of Paul Hirst, a former Professor of Education at Cambridge and Head of the Department of Education – one of the institutions that predated the modern Faculty.

Professor Hirst was a widely-respected scholar of the philosophy of education and educational theorist, whose work proved particularly influential as new, degree-level courses for trainee teachers emerged in the 1960s. 

He first came to Cambridge as a student after the Second World War. Having worked as a teacher and then as a researcher in Oxford and at King’s College London, he returned in 1971 to take up a post as Head of the Department of Education. At the time, he described himself as joining “a group of people … who are beginning to contribute significantly to work in the philosophy of education.” His lectures, which were renowned for their highly performative style, were a popular course highlight for many students.

Part of his legacy to Education at Cambridge in its present-day form arose from the active role he played in building connections between the University, the Department of Education, the Institute of Education and Homerton College, on the basis that these separate bodies would work more effectively in unison than apart. This was an aim realised during his lifetime, both with the establishment of the Faculty of Education, which drew on the foundations laid by these earlier institutions, and the granting of full college status to Homerton in 2010.

Professor Susan Robertson, Head of Faculty, said: “Everyone at the Faculty will be deeply sorry to hear of the death of Paul, who was not only a prime mover in many areas of educational theory and research, but someone without whose groundwork, the Faculty might not exist today. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family.”


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Free, online course launched to help adults promote children’s social and emotional learning through play in times of stress

PEDAL Mooc cover image
Monday 26 October
Faculty of Education researchers have helped to develop a new, online course, which enables both parents and other adults who work with children to support their social-emotional learning and wellbeing through play during times of change or stress.

Read the full story here.

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Interactive project to help parents of children with developmental language disorder

Faculty of Education News
Thursday 22 October
A new project and website aimed at expanding the reach of research to help the parents and carers of children experiencing language difficulties has been launched, coinciding with International Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day. The project is led by researchers at the University of Bath, who are collaborating with colleagues here at the Faculty of Education, as well as at City University, London.

Read the full story here

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Spiritual development in schools needs to be remodelled and reclaimed from ‘policy creep’

Faculty of Education News
Monday 12 October
A new analysis of pupil wellbeing has called for a re-evaluation of how schools support ‘spiritual development’, arguing that the present legal requirement is vague, confused, and has been appropriated for political ends.

The philosophical and historical study, by the University of Cambridge academic, Dr Daniel Moulin-Stozek, traces the origins and history of what British schools today call ‘Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development’ (SMSC).

Read the full story here

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Children use make-believe aggression and violence to manage bad-tempered peers

Boy with toy gun
Wednesday 7 October

Children are more likely to introduce violent themes into their pretend play, such as imaginary fighting or killing, if they are with playmates whom peers consider bad-tempered, new research suggests.

Read the full story here.


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2020 PEDAL studentships announced as Centre takes on record number of PhD candidates

Faculty of Education News
Wednesday 7 October

Four PhD candidates have been awarded PEDAL studentships – which cover the cost of a PhD course in the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) – for 2020.


Read the full story here.


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