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New PEDAL Hub offers one-stop information on play

Faculty of Education News
Wednesday 13 February
Digital age parents are being encouraged to give their children time and space for ‘child’s pace play’ with the help of a new one-stop online advice and information hub from play experts at Cambridge's Faculty of Education.

The new PEDAL Hub offers teachers, parents, policy-makers and more the latest research and free resources on play, together with tips on how they can use the findings to support their own children or to inform their work or study.

The website is run by PEDAL, the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, headed by Professor Paul Ramchandani.

'Time and space' approach

Indications from play research to date suggest parents and carers should aim for a ‘time and space’ approach when playing with young children, Professor Ramchandani said. “We all have busy lives but setting aside time simply to be playful with your child, undistracted by a phone or any other diversion, is incredibly valuable.

“It’s important to slow your reactions down and follow your child. Provide space for them to set the pace, notice what they are doing and sometimes let them take the lead. This is ‘child’s pace play’: be ready to get involved, but also to step back, not interfere and perhaps just watch if they’re happy and absorbed.”

Global research gap

The PEDAL Centre was founded to address a global gap in researching the role of play in children's education, development and learning. Led from January 2018 by Professor Ramchandani, Cambridge’s first Professor of Play, PEDAL’s goal is to ensure play will be more widely understood by those involved in children’s care and education, with ground-breaking academic research used to inform evidence-based policy and practice.

The new online PEDAL Hub is the first step in ensuring everyone interested in play can discover the latest high-quality research, from Cambridge and around the world. The site includes specially-produced ‘Play Pieces’ aimed at providing information on concepts such as pretend play and self-regulation, together with ways to translate the research into action.

New LEGO funding

Its launch comes as the LEGO Foundation, whose £4 million donation in 2015 established the Centre, unveils plans to continue its funding with a further £2.6 million over five years to May 2023.

Professor Ramchandani said: “We are only just lifting the lid on play’s role in education, development and learning and there is still much to discover. This is why a further five years of funding from LEGO Foundation is so welcome – it will continue to nurture this growing field of enquiry.”
 
“We know there is enormous interest in the value of play, from parents, educators and policy-makers alike. Some information can be inaccurate or unreliable: our aim is to give access to independent, peer-reviewed evidence in an accessible way.”

Bo Stjerne Thomsen, Head of Research at the LEGO Foundation said: “Parents and caregivers play an absolutely vital role in nurturing children’s play, well-being and learning. We know that play is critically linked to how children grow and develop, to become thriving adults and citizens, and the PEDAL Hub will be a much-needed, credible source, with the latest insights on the importance of play.”

PEDAL Hub will host the PEDAL Centre’s own research as it is published. Findings so far include a study of the way children in the playground use items such as planks of wood and tyres not specifically designed for play, an exploration of pupils’ social networks using GPS tracking technology, and research on the role of play in early years education in Ghana.

In time, the Hub will also be a platform that will create a dialogue with researchers, teachers and others about play.


Notes:

For more information, please contact:

Lucy Ward, Communications Manager, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: lw528@cam.ac.uk

Christina Witcomb, Senior Communication Manager, LEGO Foundation: christina.witcomb@LEGO.com

PEDAL Hub: https://www.pedalhub.net/

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/

PEDAL Centre: https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/centres/pedal/

LEGO Foundation: https://www.legofoundation.com

PEDAL Centre

The guiding focus of the centre’s work is to develop substantial and compelling research concerned with the role of play and playfulness in young children’s learning and development, and the potential of play-based approaches within educational contexts. The kinds of skills and accomplishments that are widely recognised as being vital components of 21st century educational provision, including critical thinking, problem-solving, interpersonal abilities, emotional resilience and creativity, have all been linked theoretically and empirically to playfulness and playful learning.
     
PEDAL's programme of research includes:
•    innovative use of GPS technology to track and observe social interactions in playgrounds;
•    working with teachers to develop and evaluate playful approaches to early science education;
•    investigating how 'playfulness' can be measured in the first 1,000 days of a child's life.

LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play.

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Join our Agents of Change NQT Conference - 22 March 2019

Faculty of Education News
Monday 11 February
Calling all newly and recently qualified teachers – you are warmly invited to join our Agents of Change conference at the Faculty of Education on Friday 22 March 2019.

The day offers a chance to hear from top-level speakers, attend a wide range of workshops to contribute to ongoing development in your schools and network with fellow teachers.

Our keynote speakers include Dr Rob Loe, Director of the Relational Schools Foundation, who will share research evidence that students who feel connected to school and cared for by people at school are happier, healthier and succeed in the classroom.

Dr Tom Harrison, director of education at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, will speak on character education, asking what the concept means and how it might contribute to the lives of individuals, schools and society. Character is an important concept within the new Ofsted framework, so Tom’s talk offers a chance to hear the latest ideas on how it can be taught and curricula shaped accordingly.

Alongside the two keynote addresses, attendees will have the chance to attend relevant and practitioner-focused workshops on topics such as classroom dialogue, coding, poetry, philosophy and making the most of museums and galleries, as well as a session on unlocking your own leadership potential. There will also be plenty of time to mingle and network with colleagues and workshop leaders.

The event is open to all new primary and secondary teachers, whether you trained at the Faculty of Education or not. The fee, subsidised by the Faculty, is just £35 per teacher for the day.

To book, or for more information, please email nqtconference@educ.cam.ac.uk.

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New Gatsby PhD student to focus on labour market role of technical skills

Faculty of Education News
Tuesday 22 January
The Faculty would like to congratulate Malgorzata Kuczera, the recipient of the 2018 Gatsby Technical Education PhD studentship at the University of Cambridge.

During her PhD, Malgorzata will work with Professor Anna Vignoles here at the Faculty of Education, using data science methods to understand the role of technical skills in the labour market, and the nature of employer demand for these skills.

Malgorzata comes to Cambridge from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, where she coordinated reviews using evidence from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills and researched vocational education and training at upper secondary and post-secondary levels in countries around the world. She holds three Master’s degrees, including an MSc in Economics from Birkbeck, University of London.

Professor Vignoles said: “Malgorzata will be harnessing the power of big data to look at different aspects of the education system. Vocational and technical education is too often a neglected part of the education system in research terms. Here we are focusing on the 50 per cent who don’t go to university and recognising the vitally important contribution vocational and technical skills make to our economy.”

Speaking about her plans for her PhD, Malgorzata said: “I'm looking forward to working with Gatsby and my supervisor to shed light on this sector of the labour market and develop our understanding of employer demand for technical skills.”

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Stronger political leadership needed to close global gender divide in education

Faculty of Education News
Sunday 20 January
The poorest girls in many Commonwealth countries spend no more than five years in school, with the global target of 12 years of quality universal education remaining “a distant reality” for many, according to a new report charting global inequality in girls’ education.

The study, commissioned by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and produced by the REAL Centre at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, reveals that the most disadvantaged girls rarely reach high levels of education, beyond primary, that benefit most from national and aid funding. In Nigeria and Pakistan, girls from poor rural households average just one year at school, while rich urban boys enjoy 11 or 12 years of study.

National governments and donor countries must show greater political commitment if global goals on gender equality in education are to be reached, according to the report, 12 Years of Quality Education for All Girls: A Commonwealth Perspective.

Barriers to access

The study highlights an array of barriers that prevent girls accessing education, including gender-based violence within and on the way to school, and absenteeism during menstruation because of a lack of availability of sanitary protection. For marginalised girls, cost is also a key barrier in sending girls to school, with poverty leading some girls to have sex with men who provide them with the essentials of secondary schooling that their family cannot afford. Schools must be made “safe spaces” for girls, particularly in areas affected by conflict, say the authors, while cash support for the poorest families may help ease financial pressures and free up daughters to go to school.

Professor Pauline Rose, Director of the REAL Centre and author of the report, said: “Evidence shows us what works to address barriers that marginalised girls face in their access and learning. Much more needs to be done to implement these interventions at far greater scale. It is vital that current political uncertainties do not jeopardise the prioritisation of investment in girls’ education to enable this to happen.”
 
The report was commissioned by the Platform for Girls’ Education, co-chaired by the UK Foreign Secretary and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Education. The platform, a group of 12 influential figures across the Commonwealth, was created after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April 2018 affirmed the importance of 12 years of quality education for all, particularly marginalised girls. Achieving that target by 2030 is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals signed up to in 2015 by leaders across the globe.

Equality a “distant reality”

The study finds that, over the past 20 years, considerable progress has been made in increasing access to primary schooling in the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. There are now equal proportions of boys and girls primary enrolled in 31 out of 44 Commonwealth countries with data. But despite this progress, “12 years of schooling remains a distant reality for many of the most disadvantaged girls residing in Commonwealth countries,” the report says. Gender parity in enrolment has sometimes been achieved even though primary schooling is still not universal: in 2017, 137 million primary-and-secondary school aged children were out of school in these countries, approximately half of them girls.

In 15 out of 21 Commonwealth countries with available data, poor rural girls spend no more than five years in school, and so have little chance of making the transition to secondary school. In six countries, they spend only one or two years in education. Children and adolescents affected by conflict are most likely to be out of school, and refugee girls are particularly at risk: they are half as likely as their male counterparts to be in secondary school.

Poor learning in school

Even those children in school are frequently not learning the basics, researchers found. The recently launched Human Capital Index shows that girls’ education fares far worse when years in school is adjusted for whether or not children are learning. In 14 out of the 26 countries with data, girls who are in school are learning only for the equivalent of six years or less. The picture is likely to be even starker for girls in rural areas and those facing other forms of disadvantage.

Disadvantage starts early, the study says, with many girls denied early years investment that is proven to boost educational achievement later. In eight of 14 Commonwealth countries with data, no more than 40 percent of poor rural girls have access to pre-primary education, and in three out of these eight countries, fewer than 10 percent are enrolled.

Governments should do more to target funding on lower levels of education and marginalised groups, the report argues. In 33 out of 45 Commonwealth countries with data, governments are spending far more on post-primary levels of education than on primary schooling, even though the probability of the most disadvantaged girls reaching these levels of education is extremely low. Of the 35 Commonwealth countries with data on pre-primary spending, 25 governments are spending less than five percent of their education budgets on pre-primary education.

Early years not prioritised

The same failure to prioritise the early years is seen in education aid spending. Funding for primary education fell from around two thirds in 2002 to under a half (47%) by 2016, and a mere 0.4 percent of education aid to Commonwealth countries was spent on pre-primary education. By contrast, 10 percent is spent on scholarships to allow students from aid-recipient Commonwealth countries to study in donor countries, even though only the most privileged benefit from such schemes.

In addition, only around five percent of total education aid appears to be spent with the main objective of achieving gender equality. The UK alone bucks the trend, with all but 2% of education aid targeting gender equality directly or significantly affecting it.

To tackle discrimination and work towards gender equality in education, governments of Commonwealth countries must show visible high-level political commitment backed by resources, the study concludes. Funding towards early childhood education and early learning should be prioritised.
 
Support for girls at puberty

There must also be steps to address the particular challenges marginalised girls face at puberty, such as provision of sanitary pads in schools, and moves to keep girls safe and secure in school, including providing female staff, secure buildings and door-to-door transport between school and home. More broadly, gender-sensitive teaching practices and materials are needed to ensure discriminatory stereotypes are not enforced, says the study.

The report sets out three priorities for further action, including “high-level, visible political leadership” towards gender equality in education, backed up by sufficient resources to reach the most marginalised girls. Investment in early years education is also vital, together with making girls’ education a priority in wider national development planning.

Notes

•    For more information, contact: Professor Pauline Rose or Faculty of Education Communications Manager Lucy Ward on lw528@cam.ac.uk, tel +44 (0)7788567707

•    The report will be launched at the Education World Forum, the world’s largest gathering of education and skills ministers, in London on Monday 21 January 2019.

•    The report was commissioned by the Platform for Girls’ Education, co-chaired by the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Education Amina Mohamed. The Platform, a group of 12 influential figures across the Commonwealth, was launched by the UK government after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April 2018 affirmed the importance of 12 years of quality education for all, particularly marginalised girls. In response to the CHOGM commitment to “leave no girl behind”, the platform aims to drive forward action in the run-up to the organisation’s next meeting in 2020.

•    Quality education for all is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, leaders across the globe committed to ensuring that, 2030, all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education.

•    Image credit: Eliza Powell/Camfed

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Learn about our Education degree with new student Insta diary

Faculty of Education News
Friday 18 January
Want to know more about the undergraduate degree in Education at Cambridge? From today we’re making it easier to find out about this diverse, challenging and highly relevant degree that offers a range of options – from Drama to Psychology - to suit your interests and opens up a wide array of careers.

Our new Instagram account, @MyCambridgeEducation, will give you a first-hand insight into the life of an Education undergraduate here at Cambridge. Launched by second-year student Ruth Parker, whose own route to Cambridge was far from typical, it will always be run by a current undergrad and will feature everything from useful course info, essay tips (and occasional panics…) and lectures to peeks into College life and downtime.

You can find more information about the Education course here on our website, and do take a look at Ruth’s introduction to her new Insta diary, below. We hope you’ll follow @MyCambridgeEducation – please feel free to leave feedback and, most importantly, ask any questions you may have about the course or undergraduate life at Cambridge.

Introducing @MyCambridgeEducation, by Ruth Parker


If I were to say to you “I’m studying Education at Cambridge” what would you think? That I’m hoping to become a teacher? That I spend half of my time in classrooms shouting at children? Or that I spend my days flouncing around in a gown?

In the one and a half years that I’ve been a student here I’ve been asked all of these things, but the truth is that, I have no intentions to teach, I’ve only been into a school once and that I spend more time in my pyjamas than I do in my gown.

As an undergraduate in the Faculty of Education, I know there are a lot of misconceptions about both my course and the typical Cambridge student. Across the university, students are taking to social media in an attempt to challenge some of the stereotypes and so, to show that there’s more to my course than meets the eye, I decided to do the same.

In the summer before I started my course here, I got an email from CambTweet, a university-run organisation, looking for people from all courses to tweet once a day about their life here. Having taken an unconventional route to get here myself (I applied at the age of 20 after spending a period of time in hospital due to illness) I jumped at the chance to show that there was a place in Cambridge for people from all backgrounds and that it wasn’t as intimidating as it can sometimes seem.

I spent my first year tweeting about my essays, rowing outings and adventures with friends before joining forces with the faculty’s Communications Manager to launch our very own Instagram account. As much as we love the work on Twitter, we felt we would reach a wider audience and present a different picture of the course if we worked with visual images too. And so @MyCambridgeEducation was born.

I hope that I can use Twitter and Instagram to provide a genuine and alternative perspective on the Education Tripos (the name for the undergraduate degree at Cambridge) and show that is as much about cool libraries, working in cafes and a barrage of exciting opportunities as it is about getting to grips with the theory of teaching. Whilst I obviously want to show the best bits of the course (because I really do love it), I also want to highlight the things that don’t get talked about quite so much such as wellbeing support, access opportunities and even the odd essay crisis!

I hope you enjoy my posts - please let me know if you have questions or particular aspects you’d like me to feature.

Ruth

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School starters want more help in managing friendship, new research finds

Faculty of Education News
Thursday 10 January
Children aged four and five have called for more focus on helping pre-schoolers learn to avoid rejection and resolve conflict with fellow pupils in a pioneering research project designed to prepare youngsters better for starting school.

A study led by Dr Christine O’Farrelly of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, asked pupils seven months into their Reception year what they thought a new school starter would need to know.

The children, aged four and five, highlighted the need for strong social skills to take the plunge and make new friends and navigate friendships, but also to avoid distress and victimisation. Other priorities suggested by the children included having the confidence to ask to go to the toilet, to be able to play creatively and especially outside in a space where they felt safe, and to have strong links between school and home.

The research, published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly, is based on the views of 42 children in a school in a deprived area of north Dublin. In the Children’s Thoughts About School Study, academics used pictures showing typical scenarios to focus discussion, and asked pupils to give a cartoon character called Riley Rabbit advice on preparing for starting school as well as discussing their own experiences.

While very young children have been asked about their school experiences before, the study is believed to be the first explicitly to involve pupils in improving the interventions that will target their younger peers.

School readiness programmes are widely seen as vital in efforts to close the developmental gap already present at school entry age between children from poorer backgrounds and their better-off classmates.

Many of the 25 top priorities listed by the children in the Dublin study match those already regarded as important in preparing for school, including skills in reading, writing and counting. Children also listed other routinely-assessed skills such as being able to regulate emotions and behaviour, paying attention to teachers and following rules.

However, researchers found that the four- and five-year-olds identified other key skills for starting school that are not typically measured or targeted in school readiness programmes. O’Farrelly said: “While there is a lot of overlap with what adults think is important, what is really striking here is children have been able to point us to other areas that are important for adjustment.

“Adults tend to zone in more on numeracy and literacy, while children think about all the skills that help them navigate their school environment. They focus a lot on being able to make friends and maintain those friendships, and maybe deal with loneliness, rejection and conflict. These were central to what mattered to them.”

One child in the study said a new school starter would “need to know how to say hi in the yard [playground], maybe she will make some friends out in the yard”, while another warned “her friends might not let her play”. The children highlighted the risk of loneliness and rejection, with one noting, “he has no one to play with, no one to speak to”.

Adults were beginning to acknowledge the need to recognise not only children’s cognitive skills but their social and emotion capabilities, O’Farrelly added. “Children really bring that to life: they talked about what it might be like to approach another child and ask to play, what would happen if they said no, and how to manage aggression or a conflict situation.
“We need to support them in developing those skills, not just in the classroom but in the playground.”

Children interviewed in the study, whose school uses a play-based curriculum, were “hugely enthusiastic” about play, including creative and imaginative play opportunities, O’Farrelly said. They relished playing outdoors, though were again aware that time in the playground – with less supervision than in a classroom – could feel “riskier”.


Another key priority for them was ensuring a strong connection between school and home. “Children are “borderless” – they don’t differentiate between different parts of their lives,” O’Farrelly added. “This is something for schools to consider as they welcome new starters.”

The Reception pupils also saw “agency” – in learning and also wider independence – as important. While being able to manage going to the toilet alone is widely seen as part of school readiness, children raised the issue of ensuring new pupils had the confidence to ask for permission.

The school in the study, titled Reconstructing readiness: Young children’s priorities for their early school adjustment, is part of a Dublin-based randomised control trial of a project called Preparing for Life. The scheme, which works with families from pregnancy to the start of school, was launched amid evidence that children from deprived backgrounds lag behind their peers by the time they started school, and that the gap widens over time.

O’Farrelly said: “We wanted to hear children’s own voices and perspectives in the context of these considerable interventions to improve their life chances. Their views will inform the interventions that target their peers as they prepare for school.”

Other academics involved in the study were Ailbhe Booth of University College Dublin, Mimi Tatlow-Golden of The Open University and Beth Barker of Imperial College London. The research was linked to the Preparing for Life evaluation and funded by the Children’s Research Network.

Notes:

•    For more information, contact Lucy Ward, Communications Manager, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: lw528@cam.ac.uk

•    Reconstructing readiness: Young children’s priorities for their early school adjustment, is published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly

•    Short video summarising the research here




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Post-natal depression in dads linked to depression in their teenage daughters

Faculty of Education News
Wednesday 26 December
Fathers as well as mothers can experience post-natal depression – and it is linked to emotional problems for their teenage daughters, new research has found.
 
Almost one in 20 new fathers suffered depression in the weeks after their child was born, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry and co-authored by Professor Paul Ramchandani of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.
 
The research, based on a sample of more than 3,000 families in Bristol, UK, also identified a link between post-natal depression in men and depression in their daughters as they reached adulthood.
 
At 18, girls whose fathers had experienced depression after their birth were themselves at greater risk of the condition, researchers found. The “small but significant” increased risk applied only to daughters; sons were not affected.
 
One reason for this “handing on” effect could be that post-natal depression in fathers is sometimes linked with an increased level of maternal depression, researchers concluded. This might mean that family life is more disrupted for everyone with higher levels of stress for all. It may also be that the having one or both parents with depression affects the way in which parents interact with their children.
 
It is unclear why girls may be more affected at this age. There may be links to specific aspects of father-daughter relationships as girls go through adolescence, the research team suggests.
 
The findings are important because they have implications for perinatal services, which have traditionally considered post-natal depression to be a potential problem for mothers only, the study’s authors say. They highlight the importance of recognising and treating depression in fathers during the postnatal period, and call on health professionals to consider both parents when one reports depression.
 
Professor Ramchandani said: “Research from this study of families in Bristol has already shown that fathers can experience depression in the postnatal period as well as mothers. What is new in this paper is that we were able to follow up the young people from birth through to the age of 18, when they were interviewed about their own experience of depression. Those young people whose fathers had been depressed back when they were born had an increased risk of depression at age 18 years.
 
“We were also able to look at some of the ways in which depression in fathers might have affected children.  It appears that depression in fathers is linked with an increased level of stress in the whole family, and that this might be one way in which offspring may be affected.
 

“Whilst many children will not be affected by parental depression in this way, the findings of this study highlight the importance of providing appropriate help to fathers, as well as mothers, who may experience depression.”

Paternal depression campaigner Mark Williams, who set up the lobby group Fathers Reaching Out and campaigns for mental health screening for new fathers as well as mothers, said: “Fathers’ Postnatal Depression impacts on the whole family when unsupported, often resulting in fathers using negative coping skills, avoiding situations and often feeling anger.

“In my experience of working with families, it's sometimes only the father who is suffering in silence, but sadly very few dads are asked about their mental health after becoming a parent.”

Earlier research by the same academic team found post-natal depression in fathers was linked to behavioural and emotional problems in their children at three and a half and seven. The effect seems to happen because paternal depression may negatively affect the way a family functions – causing conflict between partners and prompting maternal depression.
 
The new paper, Association of Maternal and Paternal Depression in the Postnatal Period with Offspring Depression at Age 18 Years, was based on the experiences of 3,176 father and child pairs drawn from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children – an ongoing cohort study launched in 1991.
 
Co-authors of the paper with Professor Ramchandani are Leticia Gutierrez-Galve of University College London; Alan Stein and Lucy Hanington from the University of Oxford; Jon Heron of University of Bristol; Glyn Lewis of UCL; and Christine O’Farrelly of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

 
    •    For more information, please contact Lucy Ward, Communications Manager, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, on 07788 567707; email lw528@cam.ac.uk

    •     Link to the paper: Association of Maternal and Paternal Depression in the Postnatal Period with Offspring Depression at Age 18 Years

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Faculty well represented as 1000 attend WALS Beijing conference

Professor Jan Vermunt addresses WALS Conference, Beijing
Thursday 20 December
In his last international engagement for the Faculty, Professor Jan Vermunt delivered a keynote speech to 1000 delegates in Beijing at the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) conference in November. Jan spoke about how teachers learn and develop new pedagogical content knowledge through lesson study discussions. These were findings from a faculty research project Jan led involving schools across London. The ‘Camden project’ team included current and past Faculty members: Paul Warwick, Neil Mercer, Maria Vrikki, Haiyan Xu, Annamari Ylonen and Pete Dudley.
 
The conference was organised with Beijing Normal University hosts by Faculty member Pete Dudley who is currently President of WALS. While in China Pete also spoke at Fujian Normal University (at the annual conference of the 3000 schools-strong ‘School As Learning Community’ network) and again in Nanjing, this time alongside Faculty PhD student Ying Ji, at the annual conference of China’s Senior Education and Teaching Research Academy – SETRA. Pete and Ying delivered their talk to 2500 teachers and school leaders).
 
Pete’s recent article from the Camden project on ‘Close to Practice’ system-learning through lesson study was published in BERA’s ‘Research Intelligence’ magazine also in November.

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EdFac Library team praised for “brilliant” work

Faculty of Education News
Monday 17 December
Library staff at the Faculty of Education have won praise for their “brilliant” work and “truly stunning service” after being shortlisted for a Cambridge University-wide excellence award.

The Faculty Library team, led by Angela Cutts, was recognised in the Professional Services Recognition Scheme, which highlights and celebrates the very best administrative work across the University. The scheme is open to all administrative staff across the University whose work supports research, teaching and scholarship; and nominations may be submitted by anyone working in the University.

The team, described as “brilliant” by University Librarian Dr Jessica Gardner, was shortlisted for the category “We deliver an effective and high-quality service”.

The team was nominated for the award by Dr Frances Foster, Senior Teaching Associate and Classics specialist at the Faculty. She wrote: “The Faculty Library team are simply fantastic… They are responsive to everyone's needs, and everything is not only kept up-to-date and accessible, but they figure out ways in which students and staff can get hold of materials, even when they're complicated or obscure.

“They are always approachable and knowledgeable about all aspects of information retrieval, and use their expertise to provide a truly stunning service. The Faculty Library also runs very active social media and outreach so that they help to promote the work done by members of the Faculty. I love libraries, and use lots which are all brilliant, but this is the best library service I've encountered.”

The library team provided targeted help to staff and students alike, she added. “Students receive bespoke library training, in cohorts (i.e. the course and level they're studying on) as well as individual training with library staff. Students can ask for help with referencing and locating material at any time while working on assignments, which means they're less likely to avoid things that are difficult for them to reference but otherwise would improve their quality of thinking.

“Equally, for staff, the Faculty library team are fantastic in locating information which I need - and this includes articles in obscure journals which have been poorly referenced by others. And they help promote my publications, thus giving me the time to start working on my next one!”

The new accolade for the Faculty Library comes just weeks after it was praised by Ofsted for providing teaching trainees with “precise guidance and support”. Ofsted rated the Faculty’s PGCE teacher education as “Outstanding”.



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Technology in higher education shouldn’t mean more YouTube lectures, Faculty head warns

Faculty of Education News
Thursday 6 December
The use of technology is “over-hyped” as a panacea for the challenges facing higher education and risks narrowing its aims to top-down presentation of information, Professor Geoff Hayward, head of the Faculty of Education, has argued in a high-profile lecture.

Addressing the first University of Innsbruck Day of Teaching, Professor Hayward warned educators against simply “using technology because it is there” and called for clarity first on what they aimed to achieve before considering how to harness information technologies to achieve those goals.

Simply using YouTube and TED talks to make the traditional lecture available to mass audiences was inadequate to fulfil the real purpose and potential of higher education, he said.

Dialogue not monologue

To achieve those wider aims, including deepening learning and “cultivating humanity”, learners needed to engage in dialogue with each other and their teachers and to develop understanding together, he told delegates. Information computer technologies (ICT) were too often “monologic”, giving one-way access to information for learners, rather than providing the conditions for interactive learning.

Research had shown the benefits of a “dialogic approach to pedagogy”, providing spaces that were “rich with with exploratory talk, a lively exchange of questions and responses that serve to broaden, deepen and correct the system of commitments that constitute understanding,” Professor Hayward said. The challenge for ICT in education was to support the development of spaces in which learners could develop understanding together.

Technology could enhance the quality of the student experience, he stressed, but would not “on its own lead to a revolution in the way we educate”. Too often, technologies simply replicated the narrative form of the lecture but did not facilitate the “deep interaction” that led in turn to deep understanding.

Support for ICT in Higher Education was often founded on making HE affordable by increasing teachers’ productivity by teaching more students at once, but this had led to the use of video platforms such as YouTube rather than opening opportunities for new ways of learning.

Developing students’ humanity

It was important to consider the purposes higher education should serve before asking how to achieve them, he told the conference. As well as helping learners understand a particular specialism in depth, universities had a responsibility to prepare them for their future as employees and citizens. Higher education should also develop their students’ humanity, so that they knew how – in the words of the German philosopher Hannah Arendt – “to think and act correctly when the chips were down”.

“I do think monologic, computer-mediated information-accessing and listening to authoritative discourse has a role to play in achieving these outcomes, but it is not sufficient on its own,” Professor Hayward said. “We need to use the technology to build dialogic spaces but I fear we do not yet know enough about how to do that.”
Research with student teachers had shown that learning partly using social networking tools worked successfully only when they were explicitly taught about dialogic learning, suggesting teacher development was key, he suggested.

Teachers “afraid” of teaching through dialogue

In a second keynote lecture last week, at the First International Forum on Teacher Learning and Professional Development at the Beijing Institute of Education, Professor Hayward questioned why teachers were reluctant to adopt dialogic teaching methods in the classroom, even though research had demonstrated their effectiveness in producing outcomes sought by policy-makers such as critical thinking, creativity and resilience.

The problem was partly that teachers found it difficult to use “exploratory talk” rather than traditional “authoritative talk”, but also that they wrongly felt they should use the dialogic approach all the time, and were worried parents or head teachers would not allow them to use the method.

These were all “genuine fears that need to be addressed if we are to help students to learn more effectively”, Professor Hayward acknowledged.

A model called Leadership for Learning, developed by Professor John Macbeath and Dr Sue Swaffield at the Faculty of Education, aimed to address these concerns by focusing on learning as a constant activity throughout schools, including among senior staff.

• For more information, contact Lucy Ward, Communications Manager, on lw528@cam.ac.uk

Homepage carousel image | Claremont High School, Television in the classroom Source: Tasmanian Archive.

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Professor Marilyn Strathern opens new faculty programme of public Masterclasses

Faculty of Education News
Tuesday 13 November
This week sees the launch of University of Cambridge Faculty of Education Masterclasses: public talks by high-profile experts that explore the ideas behind thinking and policy in education and knowledge production.

Topics to be addressed, all at the forefront of education debate, will range from rankings and assessment to identities and equality. All Masterclasses will be recorded and videos made publicly available online to ensure conversations at Cambridge are accessible to communities beyond the University.

The first Masterclass, taking place this Thursday (15 November 2018), will feature Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern, a Fellow of the British Academy, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and former Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge.

Most original mind

Professor Strathern has been described as ‘contemporary anthropology’s sharpest and most original mind’. She is internationally known for her contributions to social and cultural anthropology, and especially for her critique of Western understandings of gender and equality, and her explorations of how familiar concepts work differently in different contexts. Her extensive field research began almost 50 years ago in Papua New Guinea on issues of gender and exchange, while in the UK, she has focused her studies on kinship, reproductive technologies, biomedical ethics, and on cross-cultural concepts of intellectual property.

Her ideas challenge some of our most fundamental concepts: of individual and society, of the person, and of the social relation, the method of comparison, and the notions of nature and culture, male and female.

Challenging the audit culture

Professor Stratham has also turned her anthropologically-informed gaze towards policy and institutions, including the management of and human relations within universities. She has written extensively on assessment, and the “audit culture” of higher education and research.

The latter theme will inform Thursday’s Masterclass, titled Regimes of assessment: in the borderlands of the academy.

Susan Robertson, Professor of Sociology of Education at the Faculty and convenor of the talks series, said: "The Faculty of Education Masterclasses are our effort to bring world-leading academics into conversation with the next generation of researchers. Provocative, at times funny, and on all occasions intellectually challenging, we intend this series to be a space that captures the insights of the very best minds."

Thursday's event, organised by the Culture, Politics and Global Justice research group at the University of Cambridge, will take place in the Boulind Room, Mary Allan Building, Homerton College, Hills Road, Cambridge (adjacent to the Faculty of Education). To attend, please register.

Two further Masterclasses in the series are taking place during 2018:  the writer, philosopher and cultural theorist Professor Gary Hall will speak on 30 November and on 4 December the event stars Associate Professor Inger Mewburn, Director of Research Training at the Australian National University and editor of the cult PhD blog The Thesis Whisperer.

Videos of all lectures will be made available for free via the Faculty’s communication platforms.

•    For more information, please contact Lucy Ward, Communications Manager at the Faculty of Education, on lw528@cam.ac.uk.


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Wrigley Company Foundation supports Indian education scheme evaluated by REAL Cent

Faculty of Education News
Monday 12 November
The Wrigley Company Foundation is supporting a project being assessed by researchers at the Faculty of Education to explore how schools in north India can work more closely with their communities to improve children’s learning.

The Centre for Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) is evaluating the impact on students of community-based education initiatives run by the Indian charity Pratham in Uttar Pradesh and funded by the Foundation. The aim is to ensure that all children are not only attending school but also thriving and learning.

The evaluation will cover 800 government-run primary schools across 400 villages in the Indian state. Set to take place over two years, it will assess the foundational reading and arithmetic skills of students in grades 3-5. The REAL Centre team will aim to clarify and quantify the overall impact of Pratham’s educational interventions on pupils’ early learning, and, consequently, the perceptions and attitudes of guardians, teachers and others.

Dr Ricardo Sabates of the REAL Centre, leading the evaluation project, said: "Our research seeks to inform the potential that community-based programs have for enhancing the relationships between schools and their local communities. The goal is to improve foundational learning outcomes for all children."

Anne Vela-Wagner, executive director of the Wrigley Company Foundation, said: “We are excited for the opportunity to increase the impact of Pratham’s work through the outcomes of this research, which will enable more communities in India and around the world to thrive.”

The Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Mars Wrigley Confectionery, will cover the cost of implementing the educational programming over a two-year period. The REAL Centre evaluation study will be funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and the UK Department for International Development.

“As we enter the next stage of our partnership with the Wrigley Company Foundation, we continue to be committed to improving the quality of education in India,” said Devyani Pershad, head of program management at Pratham. “The research project has enormous potential to help guide and shape our future strategy for working with children and communities, and we look forward to working with our partners in ensuring its success.”


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Pupils’ Armistice tribute to forgotten WW1 poets

trench warefare on the western front - image copyright imperial war museum
Friday 9 November

School pupils are bringing back the voices of unsung First World War poets by reading their work aloud on the battlefields of the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres.

In a project led by Julie Blake, a PhD student at Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education, almost 60 secondary school students are visiting the battle sites and cemeteries to mark the centenary of the Armistice that ended four years of devastating conflict in World War I.

The initiative is run by Poetry by Heart, a project set up in 2012 by the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and Blake, a former teacher and the project’s director, with the aim of encouraging children to memorise, recite and enjoy a wide range of poetry.

Lesser-known poets

The verse spoken by the pupils at the battle sites focuses on lesser-known poets of the Great War, often obscured over the last century as anthologies pushed other names to the fore. They will recite verse by non-British poets (including Indian, Polish and American combatants), the poems of German soldiers, works by women and other non-combatants, poetry in other languages and verse written by later poets looking back on WW1. The work of Professor Constance Ruzich, whose Behind Their Lines blog has paid tribute to the work of lesser-known poets throughout the centenary commemoration, has informed the project.

The students and teachers visiting the sites during the two trips – one completed last month and the other taking place from 16-19 November - come from a range of English secondary schools. All have been involved in the past with the annual Poetry by Heart poetry recitation competition for school pupils, and most are entrants to this year’s competition in which students were invited to recite war poetry. Poignantly, the visiting pupils are not much younger than many of the soldiers killed in WWI, and are paying respects at the graves of young soldiers during their tour.

Emotional literacy

One teacher on the October tour said: “I can hardly imagine something more poignant than a British teenager willingly speaking 100-year-old words aloud in a battlefield or cemetery: British, French, German. The juxtaposition of modern youth and their historical counterparts’ gravestones is both beautiful and tragic. What better for their empathy and emotional literacy for a young person - or in fact any person - to select, read, study, interpret, learn, embody and then share a poem that has touched them?”

Another, Jess Lancaster, said:  “Hearing our students recite their poetry in the cemeteries commemorating the lives of so many dead soldiers, often those who wrote the words the students spoke, was such an intensely moving moment.  It gave so much depth of meaning to the poems, more than they have ever had before teaching them in a warm, modern classroom.  There was something about standing on the battle grounds, hearing about the condition, with it s privation and terror, before hearing the words, that rendered to those often very familiar lines such power to move me to tears on more than one occasion.  Perhaps it was the youth of the reciting students - who were often close in age to the poets - which brought home the stark reality of the war.”

For Poetry by Heart director Blake, the highlight of the tour came at the Thiepval Memorial, which commemorates 72,000 British and South African soldiers who died at the Somme. “Students in turn stepped forward, announced the title and poet of their poem, and recited it by heart, beautifully. The students, teachers, and tour organisers just listened, taking in the words and the setting and the youth of the students reciting these poems, often written by people not very much older than them. Other visitors to the memorial stopped and listened and commented afterwards on how moving it was.”

Horror of the trenches

While some more familiar work, such as the poetry of Wilfred Owen, is also included, the reawakened voices of less celebrated poets have illuminated afresh the horror of the trenches. The Welsh-language poet Hedd Wyn (killed on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele in July 1917), wrote in a poem titled Rhyfel (War):

The old harps that were played before are

   Suspended on the branches of yonder willows,

And the scream of the boys filling the wind,

   And their blood mixed with the rain.

(transl. Wade Dowdell)

From the other side of No Man’s Land, the Austrian poet Georg Trakl described in his poem On the Eastern Front the horror of the post-battle landscape:

Her features smashed, her arms silver,

night calls to the dying men,

beneath shadows of November's ash,

ghost casualties heave.

(transl. John Greening)

The voices of women marking the deaths of soldier relatives and sweethearts also ring out from the Poetry by Heart collection. In her poem Picnic, composed in July 1917, the writer Rose Macaulay portrayed the fragility of mental defences erected by those far from the front:

And far and far are Flanders mud,

And the pain of Picardy;

And the blood that runs there runs beyond

The wide waste sea.

 

We are shut about by guarding walls:

(We have built them lest we run

Mad from dreaming of naked fear

And of black things done).



Notes:

Original photo copyright: Imperial War Museum

For more information, contact Lucy Ward, Communications Manager, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, on lw528@cam.ac.uk.

Examples of students reciting war poems in the Poetry by Heart competition (not on the tours):

Oliver Sullivan - Thomas Hardy, Channel Firing

Olivia Beech - Sara Teasdale, There Will Come Soft Rains 

Fletcher Garrard - A.P. Herbert, The Cookers

Ebony Stephenson - Ivor Gurney, Strange Hells

Fabian Holt-Walkden - Charles Sorley, When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead

Mary Flanagan - Edward Slonski, She Who Has Not Died

Joe Samrai - Edward Thomas, Rain

Founded by Andrew Motion and Julie Blake in 2012, developed by the Poetry Archive with The Full English and funded by the Department for Education, Poetry by Heart is a national poetry recitation competition open to all pupils and students in England aged between 14 and 18. The Poetry by Heart website is a shared asset of The Poetry Archive and The Full English. It is maintained and developed by The Full English as a resource for a national poetry recitation competition and for teaching and learning about poetry.

Poetry By Heart tours are organised and run by https://www.centenarybattlefieldtours.org/, a project funded by the Department for Education, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and others to support one teacher and two pupils from each state secondary school to visit the WW1 battlefields.

One English teacher from a state secondary school taking part in the October battlefields visit with students from her school gave the following feedback. She asked to remain anonymous.

“If only this experience could be bottled and distributed far and wide, it would provide much-needed doses of inspiration and gratitude. 

I can hardly imagine something more poignant than a British teenager willingly speaking 100-year-old words aloud in a battlefield or cemetery: British, French, German. The juxtaposition of modern youth and their historical counterparts’ gravestones is both beautiful and tragic. What better for their empathy and emotional literacy for a young person - or in fact any person - to select, read, study, interpret, learn, embody and then share a poem that has touched them? They benefit, their hearers benefit, and they rekindle a timeless and essential element of what makes us human: the oral tradition.

The fact that this is taking place now, thanks entirely to Poetry by Heart and its dedicated heroes, is not a moment too soon. Paper after paper bemoans the lack of resilience of young people today (#snowflake generation?), their addiction to screens large and small (or even smaller), the worrying trend to enact relationships online rather than face to face, a reluctance to engage with any text except in the most superficial manner, an alarming detachment from their vital roots. 

If you do not know the power of learning a poem by heart (not merely from memory), then I urge you to choose a poem that resonates with you, and spend the next four or five days learning it off by heart. What will happen is a profound and beautiful process. The stress of trying to learn a whole piece of writing will gradually dissipate into an exciting challenge. The worry about how to remember the whole text will be broken down into smaller segments of manageable goals. Each portion will nourish your mind and imagination - and then your heart - as you seek to make the words become part of your being. In order to actually memorise the words, you will discover that you have to grapple with the meanings. Plural. You will realise that a word, a phrase, a line break, carries a number of possibilities. Each one would speak a certain message. And now you have to decide: what message do you want to put forward? As this poem written by someone else, perhaps from another culture or religion, perhaps from another time period, takes root in your mind, you find the poet’s words taking root in your heart. And they are no longer words but they are meanings and experiences and lives which are now common to the two of you. These words have become a bridge through time and space, and you understand that British values like tolerance and mutual respect are so deficient; who wants tolerance when you can identify shared values and a deep recognition of a common humanity, including a common vulnerability?

Once you have learnt your poem off by heart, it is now part of you for as long as you keep it nourished. You now have a very useful tool conveniently to hand - conversation filler, party piece, word of wisdom for a particular moment. Say goodbye to counting sheep, this poem is much more effective - for it is soothing and familiar and soon you will be dreaming. Feeling stressed and can’t focus your mind? Meditating on nothing is something of an anomaly; meditate instead on these beautiful words someone has gifted you. You will also have the satisfaction of having achieved a goal that at first seemed unreachable. You have exhibited problem-solving, perseverance, exercising the memory which is a trainable and vital faculty, you are delaying the onset of mind-numbing illnesses and enriching your idiom all in one.

These young people at the war memorial or cemetery, who willingly shared a poem aloud that they had laboured over for hours, then shared the benefits of their labour with anyone who would listen. What a gift. What an antithesis to the general impression that people have - rightly or wrongly - about young people. Here the young people were generously sharing something of themselves - making themselves vulnerable to mistakes and criticism, whilst trying to overcome the nerves, stress and frustrating forgetfulness that naturally accompany public speaking. Resilience in action.

All of us who were privileged to share the experience of poetry by heart in the battlefield sites have certainly ‘bottled’ that memory so that we can access it whenever we need a dose of poignancy, gratitude, and inspiration.”

A school librarian on the same tour wrote: “Hearing students recite poems in the actual locations which inspired them or indeed where poets are laid to rest was sincerely a once in a lifetime experience, utterly moving and very special. One of my students said of 'Exposure' by Wilfred Owen that "it was like a different poem" compared to when she had studied it in class.

On the battlefields trip I heard poets' work that I would never ever have come across otherwise. Being rarely in print or available online the work is brought alive again in a reading.

As a school librarian I got involved in Poetry By Heart because I believed in the opportunity it gave students who enjoyed poetry. If I am really honest I was never that into poetry myself personally... What hearing poetry read aloud has done for me is make it more accessible - it no longer feels like something for the elite (or just English teachers!) but something that I can share with my students on a real and personal level. I now believe that ALL poetry should be heard and not just read.”


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"Outstanding" Ofsted rating for Cambridge Faculty of Education teacher education

Faculty of Education News
Tuesday 6 November
Post-graduate teacher education at the Faculty of Education, Cambridge and its partner schools has been rated outstanding in all areas by Ofsted, with trainees benefiting from “highly impressive social, academic and pastoral support”.

Both primary and secondary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) run by the partnership were judged outstanding in the latest inspection report, published today, with both courses gaining the top grade in every category.

Inspectors found that members of the University of Cambridge Initial Teacher Education partnership, led by the Faculty in conjunction with some 185 schools in the East of England and North London, “share the very highest aspirations for trainees”.

Unwavering commitment

Their report added: “School leaders and mentors, trainees, NQTs [newly-qualified teachers in their first teaching posts] and the central partnership team display an unwavering commitment to securing the well-being and academic progress of pupils.” The quality of teaching by trainees and NQTs was consistently high, inspectors found.

Leaders of the teacher education programme also “made excellent use of the expertise and skills available across the partnership and within the university,” Ofsted said, ensuring trainees benefited from a range of “highly impressive” support. Course leaders developed “excellent relationships” with trainees and checked on their wellbeing, and trainees valued their tutors’ skilled pastoral care and the “personalised nature” of the course.

The Faculty of Education Library and its knowledgeable staff also won praise for providing trainees with “precise guidance and support”.

Dedicated and passionate colleagues

Professor Geoff Hayward, Head of the Faculty of Education, said: “The University of Cambridge’s PGCE [Post-Graduate Certificate in Education] is an outstanding course thanks to dedicated and passionate colleagues working together across the Faculty and partnership schools.

“The University is delighted with this Ofsted report which reflects the excellence of both the provision and the outcomes achieved by our fantastic beginning teachers. We remain totally committed to enabling teacher development as a core function of the Faculty of Education.”

High quality placements

Strengths of the secondary-level teacher education at Cambridge included a shared commitment with partner schools to “developing teachers who are highly skilled at integrating educational research, a profound understanding of how pupils learn, and classroom practice”, inspectors said. “Very high quality” school placements enabled trainees to put their knowledge and skills into practice, and they applied a wide range of pedagogical approaches “exceptionally well”.

Dr Shawn Bullock, who teaches on the Secondary PGCE course, said the research-based approach of the programmewas critical to its success. “The approach manifests not only in the ways in which we teach future teachers, but also in the ways in which we require our trainees to move from being consumers of educational research to creators of educational research in a short time.

“The net result is that, by the end of the course, our graduates are able to articulate clearly their reasons for teaching particular subjects in particular ways, grounded both in research-based evidence gathered from both the existing literature and, crucially, their own classroom experiences.”

Meeting the needs of all pupils

Outstanding primary-level training was underpinned by “high expectations for excellence on the part of all involved in the partnership,” inspectors found. The training programme was “very well-designed” and “provides trainees with rich opportunities to work across a variety of cultural and economic contexts. Trainees become experienced and very skilled at improving and adapting their practice to meet the needs of all pupils.”

Educational research and pedagogical training permeated the programmes, the report said, ensuring “trainees become well informed and critically reflective teachers”.


The inspection report “captures the essence of the hugely loyal, dedicated, and resilient school partnership of which we are immensely proud,” said Jane Warwick, manager of the Primary PGCE course.

“It’s particularly pleasing, in the current educational landscape, that this report validates our research-informed model of a university-based Initial Teacher Education partnership, which gives beginning teachers the professional confidence and skills needed to make a positive impact on young children’s lives. We would like to extend our thanks to all those who have contributed to the success of the course over many years.”




  • The report will be available shortly on the Ofsted website.

  • For more information, please contact Faculty of Education Communications Manager Lucy Ward on lw528@cam.ac.uk.


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Professor Anna Vignoles named the UK’s most influential researcher on higher education policy.

Professor Anna Vignoles
Tuesday 6 November
Professor Anna Vignoles of the Faculty of Education has been named the UK’s most influential researcher on higher education policy.

The higher education policy website Wonkhe awarded Anna, Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, its “Wonk of the Year” title for 2018 in her recognition of her contribution to improving policy-making. The category is the most high-profile in a series of annual awards, with this year’s winners announced last night at the Wonkfest18 conference in London.

Anna studies inequalities in education access and achievement and has published widely on widening participation into higher education, social mobility and on the socioeconomic gap in pupil achievement.

She said: “I am delighted to receive this award: it’s a lovely recognition of the importance of good data and analysis to inform debate and policy.”

Wonkhe’s citation notes that Anna’s work, which uses large-scale data sets to study achievement and outcomes, is “often controversial” with the website’s own audience, but said her research was “compelling and demonstrates the value that data and metrics can bring to debates about the value and purpose of higher education”.

The increasing dominance of data and measurement in policy-making is often resisted by in higher education, Wonkhe noted in a recent editorial. But, it added, “real wonks know that data and metrics are tools – just like committees and strategies. They have strengths and weaknesses, and have been used both to the benefit and the detriment of sound policy making – which does remain a purely human preserve”.

Anna has advised numerous government departments, including the Department for Education, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and HM Treasury. She provided advice to the Browne Review of Higher Education Funding, the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee investigation of higher education funding, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee, as part of their inquiry into education and training opportunities for young people, and Lord Leitch's Review of Skills.

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Professor Anna Vignoles nominated for prestigious policy award

Professor Anna Vignoles
Wednesday 31 October

Professor Anna Vignoles of the Faculty of Education has been shortlisted for a prestigious award as one of the UK’s leading researchers on education policy.

The influential higher education policy website Wonkhe nominated Anna, Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, as one of three contenders for its “Wonk of the Year” title for 2018. The category is the most high-profile in a series of annual awards, with this year’s winners to be announced at the Wonkfest18 conference on 5 November.

Anna studies inequalities in education access and achievement and has published widely on widening participation into higher education, social mobility and on the socioeconomic gap in pupil achievement.

Wonkhe’s nomination notes that her work, which uses large-scale data sets to study achievement and outcomes, is “often controversial” with its own audience, but said her research was “compelling and demonstrates the value that data and metrics can bring to debates about the value and purpose of higher education”.

Earlier this year, she co-authored a report with researchers from the Institute for Fiscal studies for the Department for Education exploring the factors influencing graduate earnings. The study revealed subject and institution choice were very important, but that prior attainment and socio-economic background also matter. Coming from the highest socio-economic background adds around 8% to earnings compared to coming from the lowest, even if degree subject and institution are the same.

Anna has advised numerous government departments, including the Department for Education, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and HM Treasury. She provided advice to the Browne Review of Higher Education Funding, the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee investigation of higher education funding, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee, as part of their inquiry into education and training opportunities for young people, and Lord Leitch's Review of Skills.


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Do children need riskier play? - join our debate

Faculty of Education News
Monday 15 October
Is risky play good for children – and are we trying to keep them “too safe”? A debate at the Faculty of Education will ask whether parents and schools are too risk-averse, and whether adventurous and independent play can provide unique developmental, social and emotional benefits.

An expert panel chaired by Dr Jenny Gibson of PEDAL, the Faculty’s centre for research on play in education, will seek to probe beyond notions of “cotton wool-wrapped kids” and explore the evidence on the nature of modern childhood. Are we really heading from 'free range' to 'hot house'? Is Anne Longfield, Children's Commissioner for England, correct when she calls for play on prescription and claims in her report Playing Out that children lead a "battery hen existence"?

PEDAL is hosting the debate, Play at the Extremes, at Homerton College on Thursday 18 October 6-8pm as part of the University of Cambridge's Festival of Ideas. Speakers on the panel are:

•     Kathryn Lester (University of Sussex – an academic who researches anxiety in children);
•    Nicola Butler (Chair of Play England’s Board of Trustees and Director of Hackney Play Association – managing Homerton Grove Adventure Playground);
•    Tim Gill (a researcher, writer and consultant on childhood).
•    Stephen Mitchell (Chair, Parkour UK & consultant)

A second Festival of Ideas event at the Faculty of Education allows primary-age children the chance to become a university researcher. At PEDAL's popular Playful Learning Zone, on Friday 26 October 10am-1pm, children can take part in playful research activities and experiments led by our students and researchers. Meanwhile grown-ups can look around the Faculty’s observation laboratory to discover how psychologists observe, film and code behaviour.

This half term drop-in event is FREE, and there’s no need to register - just come along any time between 10am and 1pm. You’ll need to stay with your children during this event but there is a cafe on site that serves great coffee, snacks and lunch.

•    Play at the Extremes - Thursday 18 October, 6-8pm.
The Auditorium, Mary Allen Building, Homerton College, Hills Road, CB2 8PH (next to the Faculty of Education)
Refreshments will be served. Registration essential for admission, FREE tickets issued on a 'first come, first served' basis.

•    Playful Learning Zone – Friday 26 October, 10-1pm. FREE.

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 8PQ

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BA in Education and Psychology wins British Psychological Society accreditation

Faculty of Education News
Thursday 11 October
The Faculty of Education is very pleased to announce that the University of Cambridge BA in Education (Psychology and Learning) is now accredited by the British Psychological Society, setting students on the path to a career as a professional psychologist.

The prestigious accreditation, announced today, provides a mark of quality from the UK’s representative body for psychology and psychologists.

Psychology and Learning is one of three course options, or “tracks”, open to students who choose the undergraduate degree in Education at Cambridge. The track focuses on education, human development and learning throughout the lifespan in a variety of social and cultural environments. Students use psychological theory and methods of investigation, to explore people’s intellectual, social and emotional development from birth through to adulthood.

Students completing BPS-accredited undergraduate courses become eligible for the Society’s Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). The GBC is a prerequisite for many Society-accredited post-graduate programmes in Psychology, which in turn lead on to a career as a psychologist.

The new accreditation applies to students currently studying for the Cambridge course, which launched in the 2017/18 academic year.

Dr Sara Baker, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Education, said: “We are absolutely delighted that our new course has been recognised with the top mark of quality by the BPS. Our teaching team have worked hard to create a programme of study that combines both education and psychology topics in an innovative, hands-on curriculum. We already have a fun group studying with us, and we look forward to reading the flood of applications that the accreditation will no doubt bring!”


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Faculty experts to advise on global drive for girls' education

Faculty of Education News
Wednesday 3 October
Experts from the Faculty of Education are to provide evidence to inform the Platform for Girls' Education, a new high-level international group aiming to secure quality education for all girls worldwide.

The group of 12 influential global figures, co-chaired by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Education Amina Mohamed, will promote the goal of 12 years of quality education and learning for every girl.

The campaign will continue throughout the UK’s 2018-2020 term as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, and will focus primarily on the needs of developing countries where marginalised girls are most likely to be missing out on a quality education.

Researchers from the REAL Centre at the Faculty, which pioneers research into overcoming barriers to education, have been chosen to provide reports presenting evidence on the constraints to girls’ education, and on what works to tackle these constraints. The focus will be on on Commonwealth countries, which are home to around half the children out of school globally.

Following the announcement of the campaign by Prime Minister Theresa May at the UN General Assembly, the first meeting of the new Platform took place in New York last week. The initiative will seek to galvanise political will to deliver on commitments to girls’ education made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018.

Using evidence from the REAL team and elsewhere, it will highlight examples of best practice to showcase success in girls’ education in order to promote further commitments and action in the run-up to the next CHOGM meeting in Rwanda in 2020. The REAL Centre will produce a report ahead of CHOGM 2020 setting out progress achieved and further action required to meet relevant commitments under the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Pauline Rose, Director of the REAL Centre, said: “It is exciting to see the global momentum around girls’ education, with the Platform represented by influential advocates of education including Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and current Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, as well as key female leaders in Commonwealth countries including the President of Trinidad and Tobago, Paula-Mae Weekes, and Ministers of Foreign Affairs from countries such as Ghana and Rwanda.

We hope our reports will give Platform members the evidence they need to translate their strong political commitment into real change for the most marginalised girls who are currently being denied a good quality education.”

•    Find a full list of members of the Platform and their biographies here.


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