Archive of School of Education stories

First Year Students receive Ede and Ravenscroft Prize


Five students from across the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences have received prizes for outstanding academic achievement in their first year of studies. The prizes of £500 are donated by Ede and Ravenscroft and are awarded to one student in each department who has achieved the highest grade point average over their first year.

The winners are:

Miriam Manco, Applied Languages, Department of English and Modern Languages

Charlotte Reece, Primary Teacher Education, School of Education

Tatiana Sollis, History of Art, Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Max Jones, Geography, Department of Social Sciences

Tiffany Heppell, LLB Law, School of Law

Winner Tatiana Sollis commented ‘‘I feel very honoured to have received this prize. I will use this prize to motivate me for the rest of my studies and I will put my winnings towards a trip to New York to visit the Museum of Modern Art next summer, which we studied this year and fired my artistic imagination.”

The English and Modern Languages winner Miriam Manco said “It was such an honour to win the Ede and Ravenscroft prize 2016. The department is a community I feel very close to and has been incredibly engaging. Winning this prize was great and has given me impetus to do even better in the years to come.”

Social Sciences winner Max Jones added ‘’I feel extremely happy to be recognised for all of the hard work I have put in to my Geography course this year. I would also like to thank the lecturers for all of their help and support in guiding me through the first year of university.”

 ‘Congratulations to all of the Ede and Ravenscroft prize winners!’

Dave Ellis, Dean of Student Experience, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Leading Humanities and Social Sciences academics recognised in new research excellence awards

REX_2016The Research Excellence Awards are a new initiative introduced by the University as part of Oxford Brookes’ commitment to supporting research-active academics.

Professor Gary Browning, Associate Dean Research and Knowledge Exchange, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, explains: “The Research Excellence awards are a timely and positive initiative, allowing some of our most successful researchers to press forward in their research. We are delighted that researchers across the Faculty have been recognised for their outstanding research projects, notably monographs and impact case studies. I am sure that the outputs they produce will be excellent.”

Following a recent application period, the winners of the inaugural Research Excellence Awards from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences were as follows:

School of Education

Professor Graham Butt

Department of English and Modern Languages

Dr Simon White

Dr Dinah Roe

Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Professor Roger Griffin

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday

School of Law

Dr Simon Cooper

Department of Social Sciences

Professor Tina Miller

Professor Anna Nekaris

Researchers were able to apply for one of two levels of award worth either £10,000 or £20,000 which would contribute towards research leave or employment of a research assistant in supporting a project. The scheme is funded through the Central Research Fund and is intended to provide enhanced support for research excellence. It complements Quality-Related Funding at Faculty and Department levels which supports research and knowledge exchange more broadly.

The intention of the university is to continue the scheme annually as part of Oxford Brookes’ investment in research excellence and in supporting the aims of the recently revised Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2016-2020.

Dr David Colley is elected Chair of SEBDA

David ColleyThe School of Education is delighted to confirm that Dr David Colley, Senior Lecturer in Child Development and Special Educational Needs and Inclusion at Oxford Brookes, has recently been elected Chair of the Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA).

SEBDA is a registered charity that has been promoting the social and emotional wellbeing of children, and the staff who work with them, for over 50 years. National conferences, campaigning and staff training are central to the role of SEBDA, along with the publication of the quarterly international research journal, Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties (Routledge).

Reflecting on his new position, Dr Colley commented:

“I would like to thank Oxford Brookes University for supporting my nomination and I am delighted to have been elected Chair of SEBDA. The coming three years will have many challenges but I have a great team around me, drawn from across the country. Together, I am sure we can drive forward the work of SEBDA with a particular focus on improving the emotional wellbeing of all children.”

The School of Education at Brookes offers courses specifically tailored towards increasing knowledge and understanding of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in children and young people. The new Education Studies – SEN, Disabilities and Inclusion undergraduate course, and the SEN Postgraduate Certificate specialise in this area of Education.


Primary Teacher Education Students become accredited teachers of Personal, Social and Health Education and develop extra skills to teach Physical Education.



We are delighted that 32 third year students from the Health and Well Being Pathway of the BA Primary Teacher Education course have completed the PSHE Association Chartered Teacher (NQT) process.

The students have demonstrated excellence in PSHE education and have shown an understanding of and competence in the teaching of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education as part of their initial teacher training.

Of these 32 students, 18 also chose to follow a voluntary specialist pathway in ‘The School Games’, which gives valuable experience to students who hold future aspirations to become Primary PE Coordinators. The students completed workshops based on improving their knowledge, skills and understanding of the primary school versions of the following school games: tag rugby, high five netball, primary basketball, sports hall athletics, key steps gymnastics, mini tennis and mini football. All the students agreed that this opportunity has improved their ability to teach PE and has given them the confidence to lead School Games.

The students also participated in a workshop at Youlbury Scout Centre, Boar’s Hill, Oxford. The workshop was based on Outdoor and Adventurous Activities (OAA) and the students were mentored on taking part in risk activities in the outdoors.

4 students also attended the Outdoors and Adventurous Activities Residential week. This took place in a half term week and was based at Kivrough Manor Outdoor Education Centre on the Gower peninsular in South Wales. This course aims to build upon previous experiences as to how learning outdoors can make a rich contribution to young people’s development and to help the students experience the outdoor environment and its’ unique challenges. The course aims to help develop teacher identity, character and resilience and to build an understanding of the role of a teacher when taking young people on a residential.

Students reported that ‘Pushing myself to try new things was great!’ and that it was a ‘great time discovering more about myself and the benefits to young people academically, socially and emotionally’.

Carolyn Murphy, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at Oxford Brookes remarked that:

‘In an era of considerable pressure for trainee teachers to reach high standards in the classroom these experiences give them an opportunity to appreciate how they can be effective across other areas of a young person’s education such as developing their social and emotional character and resilience, It engages their creativity as they appreciate how the outdoors can be used as a tool for learning across all subject areas’


Education Studies introduces new named award in Special Educational Needs, Disabilities and Inclusion (SENDI)

LVS school The Education Studies course at Oxford Brookes has recently introduced a new specialist pathway in Special Educational Needs, Disabilities and Inclusion. This will provide students with the opportunity to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of supporting children and young people with special, diverse and additional learning needs in a range of Educational settings.

Based around the four foundational academic disciplines of Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy and History, the SENDI pathway will explore a wide range of complex Educational questions by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Education.

The variety of modules available will ensure that students develop an understanding of the key Educational issues, opportunities and challenges associated with improving the outcomes for vulnerable learners. The modules will concentrate on tackling discrimination, addressing inequalities, challenging attitudes and beliefs, being an advocate for children and young people and making a positive difference. A compulsory Educational placement during the course ensures that students have the opportunity to work with children, young people and a range of professionals in a setting of their choice.

Jonathan Reid, Joint Subject Coordinator for Education Studies (SENDI), commented:

“I am really excited that the new Special Educational Needs, Disabilities and Inclusion (SENDI) named award has been approved by Oxford Brookes University. I am very much looking forward to welcoming our first cohort of SENDI students this year, who I hope will share a real interest, enthusiasm and passion for addressing inequalities in Education.”

The new named award will be available for September 2016/17 entry.

For more information about the course and how to apply, please visit the course page here.


Teacher training students participate in outdoor adventure residential


In February, students from the BA Primary Education course and PGCE course at Oxford Brookes went to Kilvrough Manor Outdoor Education Centre on a residential university trip. The aim of the trip was to build on student experiences of how learning outdoors can make a rich contribution to young people’s development. It also aimed to help the students understand their role as a teacher on residential trips, experience the challenges of an outdoor environment and develop their teacher identity, character and resilience.

Students who took part in the residential reported that the experience had a positive impact on them, not only as a person but also as a teacher. Speaking about the trip, one student commented: “I now feel I can push myself out of my comfort zone in the classroom” and another said “I learnt a lot about making children feel at ease and able to do things”.

Carolyn Murphy, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education, Physical Education, Health and Well Being, who organised the residential, commented:

“What they (the students) learn about themselves by taking part in challenging activities can be carried forward to the challenges they face on school based training, as Newly Qualified Teachers and in personal situations. It engages their creativity as they appreciate how the outdoors can be used as a tool for learning across all subject areas.”

To find out more about teacher training courses at Oxford Brookes and how you can apply visit or contact






School of Education host charity fundraising day in aid of Sobell House

PICTURE: Damian Halliwell CATCHLINE: Mike Dennis fundraising for Sobell House DATE: 08-04-2016 Booked by: Georgina Campbell CAPTION: Mike Dennis who will be dressing as Beano cartoon character, Dennis The Menace when he joins others in fancy dress at Oxford Brookes University, Harcourt Hill Campus to raise cash for Sobell House where his wife Rachel passed away in 2014.

Mike Dennis dressed as Beano cartoon character Dennis the Menace. Picture: Damian Halliwell.

On Thursday 14 April the School of Education hosted a charity fundraising day at Harcourt Hill Campus in aid of Sobell House, a hospice in Oxford which provides specialist palliative care and support to adult patients and their family, friends and carers. The School of Education aimed to raise as much money as possible for Sobell House by getting students and staff to dress up for the day as children’s television characters.

Mike Dennis, who lectures in Primary Science in the School of Education, organised the event in memory of his wife Rachel, who died in Sobell House having lived with cancer for 11 years. Speaking about the hospice, Mike commented: “I cannot speak highly enough of the staff and the love and care they provided for Rachel, me and my family. It is a truly special place, not a phrase I would use lightly.”

For Mike, one aspect of Rachel’s stay at Sobell House however was not so impressive; the television system. Each room has a wall mounted television for which you have to pay £10 a day to use. The system is complicated, with a difficult login procedure and poor picture and sound quality. Mike promised himself that after Rachel died he would do his best to influence a change. With the help of local MP Andrew Smith, it has been agreed that the current franchise agreement can be put aside and the system replaced by easy to use, high quality televisions. Mike said:

“I am keen to raise the money to fund this change and have decided as far as possible that all the fundraising activities should be fun.”

With this in mind, staff and students at Harcourt dressed up as everything from Basil Brush to Where’s Wally in support of the cause, with the aim to raise as much money as possible for Sobell House and the services it provides.

The day considerably contributed to Mike’s overall target of £8,000, with £1,671 being raised so far online.

To donate to this cause visit the JustGiving page.

See more about Mike’s story in the Oxford mail, where it featured on Wednesday 13 April and Saturday 16 April.

More information about Sobell House can be found online, and a video filmed on the day by ‘That’s Oxfordshire’ can be viewed here.

Oxford Brookes named as one of the best young universities in the world


Oxford Brookes University has been named in the Times Higher Education’s 150 Under 50 Rankings for the first time.

The Rankings 2016 is a ranking of the top universities in the world which are under 50 years old. It celebrates those young universities that have made a great impact on the global stage in years rather than centuries and showcases the future rising university stars.

Oxford Brookes is among 25 UK-based universities to be named in the rankings.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Paul Inman said: “We are delighted to see Oxford Brookes recognised for the first time in THE’s 150 Under 50 Rankings. With our excellent reputation for teaching and support and internationally recognised research, this latest ranking is another indicator of our ability to compete with universities across the world. We are confident that we can increase Oxford Brookes’ global standing even further in the coming years.”

Last month, Oxford Brookes’ global reputation was recognised in the QS World Rankings by Subject where 12 subject areas were considered to be among the ‘world’s elite’.

Brookes School of Education researcher has work published in the TES – a leading online network for teachers

Boy holding up paper (resized)Hamish Chalmers, doctoral researcher in the School of Education at Oxford Brookes, has recently had an article published in the TES, the world’s largest online network for teachers. Hamish, who is researching ways to support EAL (English as an additional language) learners effectively, was commissioned by the TES to write a feature on his research.

Hamish’s article explains the principles behind quality support for EAL learners that acknowledge the skills they bring to the classroom. EAL funding in schools has been cut dramatically, while numbers of EAL learners in UK state schools has never been higher. This means that now more than ever the responsibility for meeting the needs of EAL learners in schools rests with classroom teachers. A common misconception among non-specialist teachers is that EAL needs can be met by the same approaches as used to support SEND (special education needs and disability).

Speaking of his published work, Hamish Chalmers said:

“As a former primary school teacher I was often struck by the lack of dialogue and support for teachers of classes in which diverse linguistic needs were represented. Children for whom English is an additional language deserve teachers who are educated in approaches that have been shown empirically to help them do well at school. The common conflation of EAL with SEN does not help them. I was pleased to have the opportunity to write this piece for the TES, drawing on my teaching experience, and the research I have been involved in at Brookes, to provide a starting point for discussion in schools about how best to promote success for their EAL learners.”

The article was published in the TES on 20 November 2015.

Brookes in the Bronx

PA-image-resizedSenior Lecturer in Education Patrick Alexander shared an account about his research trip to a school in New York with the Oxford Mail.

Picture a 17 year-old girl who was shot in the head at a Freshman party, now wheelchair-bound, struggling to graduate. A young Latino man with ‘Game Over’ tattooed on his eyelids, leaving his gang affiliations behind to focus on schooling. A hard-working, smiling, first generation, migrant teen from Ghana, on his way with a full scholarship to a prestigious, private American university. Middle class kids from relatively stable families pursuing a well-known but increasingly fragile version of the American Dream that leads from college to job satisfaction and security in the future. Picture an immense, castle-like structure in The Bronx where these people exist together, carving out aspirations and imaginings of their distinct but interconnected futures amidst the pulsing, chaotic, inspiring, roaring mechanism of New York City.

This is a list of just a few of the incredible individuals who I was fortunate enough to meet as part of my experience as a Fulbright Peabody Scholar conducting research into aspirations and schooling in New York City during the academic year 2014-2015. I wanted to ask high school seniors what they wanted to be when they grew up, and then unravel the complex set of sociological factors that led them to aspire to that particular future. In short, I wanted to better understand what young people in contemporary British and American society consider to be the building blocks of a meaningful life and why they think this way. These are the issues at the heart of much political and popular conversation in the UK and the US.

In 2014/15 I spent several days each week capturing the everyday lives of seniors and their teachers at a school I call Bronx High School. I hoped to immerse myself in the everyday life of the school documenting mundane, cumulative, momentary articulations of ideas about aspirations and the future, mainly through observation, conversation and interviews. Fortunately for me, schools are inherently future-gazing spaces and this meant that every day at Bronx High School was a good day for exploring the future aspirations of young people.

Bronx High was home to a range of students, many of whom were much more familiar with the generational patterns of entrenched disadvantage in The Bronx than they were with the sparkling affluence of near-distant Manhattan. In reconciling their experiences of disadvantage with the powerful message of potential future success and happiness, many students would at once imagine a future as pro basketball players, rappers, lawyers, philanthropic business people or simply as college graduates, while also conveying their fear and frustration at the likelihood of much less opulent futures ahead. Some spoke of their aspirations for the future in keeping with a traditional pathway from hard work at school, to college and on to employment, wealth, and the happiness that comes with social and economic security. Others still has no clear vision of what the future would be like, but were on the way to college because that was their normative framework for navigating early adulthood.

In June 2014, as I attended the high school graduation ceremony for seniors at Bronx High (including some of those mentioned above), I had cause to reflect on the truly profound impact that my Fulbright experience had on me, both personally and professionally. I learned a lot from the gracious, welcoming high school seniors and teachers who allowed me into their lives during the school year. This was not only in terms of their particular future aspirations, but also in terms of developing a critical perspective on the concept of aspirations which is crucial when helping young people challenge and overcome certain barriers which stop them from achieving their future goals.

The article was published in the Oxford Mail on Wednesday 9 December and can be read on the Oxford Mail website. More research news and features from Oxford Brookes University can be found in the latest issue of Research Forum.

Patrick Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Education, Oxford Brookes University:

“I wanted to better understand what young people in contemporary British and American society consider to be the building blocks of a meaningful life and why they think this way.”