Tag Archives: education

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.


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.

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.”

Magna Carta Schools project a huge success

magna carta exhibition resized2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta; to celebrate the university launched a ‘Modern Magna Carta Challenge” in which primary and secondary school pupils were challenged to create a physical response to the Magna Carta by creating their own idea of what a modern charter might look like. 106 pupils from five different schools took part in the challenge and the exhibits can be seen on exhibition in the Museum of Oxford from the 29 July – 19 August 2015

In total the exhibition contains 24 physical exhibits from the students including paintings, photographs and sculptures as well as a DVD showing a collection of videos, including both original exhibits and students commenting on their physical exhibits. In addition there is also a large board designed by some Brookes Art students who helped curate the exhibition, which enables visitors to the exhibition to write down their own thoughts on the Magna Carta and human rights in general.

To support this project staff from the School of Education partnered with schools by running workshops exploring how to approach the challenge. During school visits, staff focussed on key issues like slavery, trafficking, religion, education and gender equality.

Rachel Payne, Senior Lecturer in Education: Art said:

Through this type of engagement in real life contexts and through experiential learning students and teachers can offer lasting, deep engagement with key issues embedded at the heart of the Citizenship agenda in education. “

A one day Magna Carta symposium was also held on 18 June aimed at secondary school pupils featuring workshops delivered by staff from the school of education including Jane Fletcher, James Percival and Susannah Wright, as well as a keynote address by the rapper Akala.

See for more details of the project and a downloadable resource pack for use in schools.

A picture book worth a thousand words

DSC_0015Mathew Tobin, Senior Lecturer in English and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes University’s School of Education recently spoke at The Guardian’s ‘Reading for Pleasure’ conference.

Mat, who has 16 years’ experience of teaching in primary schools, led a workshop on ‘Literature into Literacy’ and presented inspirational ways to teach based around picture books. He spoke passionately about the wealth of resources that picture books can offer to inspire critical thinking, drama and cross-curricular planning, and used his own enthusiasm for the subject to engage his audience in how a novel can bring meaningful context to teaching.

Using the example of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Mat described how he has taught across all subjects using ideas from the book, including one activity involving turning the school classroom into the Great Hall from Hogwarts with a sleepover!

In his workshop, Mat gave teachers an image from a book called Flotsam by David Wiesner and encouraged them to write around anything they could see or infer from the image. Teachers fedback in groups, showing the wealth of creative discussion that can come from just one image in a book and the level of conversation you can have with children around it.

Mat is also keen on dispelling the idea that picture books are just for younger children and beginner readers, particularly when he teaches PGCE students. To support his love of picture books, Mat has created a Padlet (an online resource) on using picture books from foundation stage to year 6 with ideas around how these books can be used within the classroom.

Speaking about his participation in the event, Mat said:

‘Being able to take the initiatives that I had trialed in programme modules and the Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development ( CECD ) Partnership seminars to the Guardian Education Centre in London was both exhilarating and enriching. With a focus on planning for successful learning across the curriculum through the use of quality literature, delivering my workshop to a range of professionals (teachers, lecturers, independent specialists) meant that as well as being able to support future teaching, my own pedagogical beliefs were challenged and celebrated. Working in this capacity in which I was able to build up a broader network of like-minded academics, authors and illustrators, all under the Oxford Brookes banner, meant that this great opportunity – and hopefully further ones – allowed me to gain stature and voice in celebrating the power of children’s literature in education’ 

Primary pupils’ science attainments are improved with creative lessons


A research project led by an Oxford Brookes academic, together with Science Oxford, has found that delivering creative and challenging lessons to primary school children improved their attainment in science by the equivalent of three months learning.

The evaluation report of the project, titled Thinking, Doing, Talking Science, was published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) on Friday 12 June.

Helen Wilson from Oxford Brookes conducted a year-long trial involving 1500 Year Five pupils across 42 schools in Oxfordshire. Those participating in the trial saw their science scores increase by the equivalent of three additional months and the positive effects of the programme look to be particularly pronounced for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition to the gains in their science knowledge and understanding, the pupils’ attitudes towards science also improved throughout the trial.

The programme provided five professional development sessions to two teachers from each school. The teachers were enabled to deliver science lessons that included more creative investigations, class discussions and asking big questions to challenge childrens’ thinking, such as ‘how do we know the earth is a sphere?’, or ‘how do we know the person next to us is alive?’.

Helen Wilson, Principal Lecturer from the School of Education at Oxford Brookes, said: “I am just delighted that this project has proven that teaching in a creative way, by encouraging the pupils to think, do and talk more in science lessons, results in them enjoying the subject more and also improves their learning.”

The project was funded by EFF and delivered by Science Oxford and Oxford Brookes University.

Local teachers and students discuss behaviour management in schools

IMG_4138 editedOver 100 teachers and students recently attended a ‘Perspectives on Behaviour’ conference at the School of Education. The conference was led by teachers Andy Lole and Julia Sealby from Mulberry Bush School, a specialist residential school for traumatised children who discussed new ways of managing behaviour and how OfSTED judge behaviour in schools.

Behaviour management presents challenges for both students and experienced teachers and has been a topic high on the Ofsted agenda in recent years. In relation to understanding behaviour, the conference discussions centred around three core themes:

  • Relationships from a psycho-dynamic perspective;
  • Reflective practice and having protected time for ALL adults supporting children to engage in this process;
  • Shared understandingsof the whole school community in relation to expectations, routines, consistency of approaches etc.

A refreshing aspect of this conference was the focus on adults rather than children and whole school and individual aspects rather than strategies and interventions.

As a practising OfSTED inspector Andy was able to share examples of how schools demonstrate outstanding practice with regards to behaviour. He spent time discussing current concerns with regards to low-level disruption in classrooms and suggested that this can be minimised by ensuring that all children feel safe within their learning environment, feel that their learning is valued and that they are all able to succeed to a high standard.

As a previous behaviour support teacher who now provides outreach support for schools across the county, Julia provided specific case study examples of how schools that have experienced difficulties in relation to behaviour were able to resolve these difficulties.

Debbie Bowers, School Direct Lead for Oxford Brookes, said:

I felt that Andy and Julia brought a new perspective to the whole area of Behaviour Management, which allowed teachers and students to reflect on their own practice in the classroom especially around the statement that behaviour is a pupil’s way of communicating an unmet emotional need.

Due to the high demand for places, Brookes will be repeating the conference on Wednesday 4 March 2015. For more information on how to book, click here.

Jon Reid, Joint Subject Coordinator for Education Studies and ITE ‘Advocate for Behaviour’, added:

Highlights of the conference for me included ideas which really help one to step back and consider the complexity of pupil behaviour in educational contexts. The conference was a great opportunity to consider future collaboration between the School of Education and the Mulberry Bush School and I know that the next run of this conference will be equally popular.

If you would like to read more of the ‘Perspectives on Behaviour’ highlights, search for #OBUBSN where conference attendees were encouraged to Tweet thoughts, ideas and suggestions during and after the event.