A new direction for gifted education studies?

Research on ‘giftedness’ and ‘gifted education’ often feels like a marginalised endeavour, one which is quite rightly viewed by many as elitist. We have ample evidence to demonstrate that those with the most cultural capital are also those most likely to appear on registers of gifted and talented pupils (Campbell et al 2007), despite a National Strategy (1997-2011) designed in large part to disrupt this pattern of cultural reproduction. Why then do we continue to label individual students as ‘gifted and talented’? The terminology of giftedness has no agreed definition (Freeman 1998), was not recommended by the Select Committee (1999) advising the New Labour government, and essentialises ability in a particularly unhelpful way, carrying overtones of something bestowed on a lucky few. Why are we seemingly trapped in an essentialist logic of natural difference, despite a professional community ambivalent to such practices at best and resistant at worst (Radnor et al 2007), and a wealth of educational research based on a social justice agenda providing ample critiques (e.g. Borland 2005).

There are a variety of possible reasons why we are where we are, but I have suggested that the theoretical and disciplinary divide in research in the field contributes to the lack of progress (Mazzoli Smith 2014). Whilst sociological work on giftedness has done much to critique the normative thinking in educational and differential psychology, its impact only goes so far. Tending to adopt a constructivist stance, sociological approaches are largely conceived around critiques of the construct of giftedness rather than the lived experiences of pupils, parents and teachers. Meanwhile the research base on which the testing and identification movement rests tends to be the preserve of psychologists of education and/or those who advocate on behalf of ‘gifted pupils’. This body of scholarship uses largely empiricist methods and tends to hold to a positivist worldview, often invoking arguments which link gifted youth to future national prosperity (e.g. Eyre 2011). I see little dialogue between the approaches and few studies which fall outside of their parameters.

It is this impasse between the main bodies of research on giftedness, which I argue contributes to the entrenchment of the status quo. Engagement with the more progressive aspects of the field, focused on contexts that foster optimal development for all learners, rather than colluding with the practicies of elitism, may constitute a step away from them (Mazzoli Smith and Campbell 2016). A greater number of educational researchers could support the growing calls to dispense with such anachronistic terminology and the practice of individual labelling (e.g. Matthews and Dai 2014). A wider set of research methods could give voice to a wider range of stakeholders on these issues, not least students themselves. This in turn would enable a more nuanced understanding of the place of values and beliefs in embedding practices which differentiate (Mazzoli Smith and Campbell 2012). To my mind such understanding is crucial for progress, since what is needed is the kind of research impact that not only changes policy and practice in this area, but discourses and cultures around giftedness too.

My research has yielded narratives about being labelled ‘gifted and talented’ which, analysed on a number of different levels, reveal deeply felt, normative, contradictory and contingent beliefs and values which cannot be adequately explained through either a constructivist or an individualistic lens. To bring such patterns into view requires a wider set of research methods than are currently the norm in this area. A more diverse body of research could also play its part in mitigating the increasingly instrumental discourses of individual achievement which continue to assail the educational landscape, through recourse to a broader and richer dialogue about human flourishing. By remaining a marginal endeavour however, the field is polarised around particular arguments, which limit the tools we give ourselves to effect a much needed sea change in this area. As Michael Apple (1996) says, we should invest in a process of participation in the creation of meanings and values and nowhere is this more needed that in the field of gifted education studies.

Taken from BERA

Written by Laura Mazzoli Smith who is currently a member of the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University, where her research interests are in the areas of social justice, widening participation and access to HE, out-of-school learning, and the potential of narrative and life story research to reveal and disrupt deficit discourses in education.


Apple, M. W. (1996). Cultural politics and education. The John Dewey lecture series. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Borland, J. H. (2005). Gifted education without gifted children: The case for no conception of giftedness. In R. J. Sternberg and J. E. Davidson (Eds.)Conceptions of Giftedness (2nd ed), 1 – 19. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Campbell, R. J., Muijs, R. D., Neelands, J. G. A., Robinson, W., Eyre, D. and Hewston, R. (2007). The social origins of students identified as gifted and talented in England: a geo‐demographic analysis. Oxford Review of Education, 33(1), 103-120.

Eyre, D. (2011). Room at the top: Inclusive education for high performance. Policy Exchange.

Freeman, J. (1998). Educating the very able: Current international research.London: The Stationery Office.

Matthews, D. J. and Dai, D. Y. (2014). Gifted Education: changing conceptions, emphases and practice. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 24(4), 335-353.

Mazzoli Smith, L. and Campbell, R. J. (2016). So-called giftedness and teacher education: issues of equity and inclusion. Teachers and Teaching, 22(2), 1-13.

Mazzoli Smith, L. (2014). Extending sociological theorising on high ability: the significance of values and lived experience. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 24(4), 354-371.

Mazzoli Smith, L. and Campbell, R. J. (2012) Families, education and giftedness: case studies in the construction of high achievement. Rotterdam and New York: Sense.

Radnor, H., Koshy, V. & Taylor, A. (2007). Gifts, talents and meritocracy.Journal of Educational Policy, 22(3), 283-299.

‘Teaching maths for mastery in ITE: Raise the water, raise the boats’

In December staff from ITE providers gathered in London for the ‘Teaching Mathematics for Mastery’ conference, jointly organised by the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT).

Speakers from NCETM presented information on what trainee teachers need to know and understand about teaching for mastery, while ITE providers’ shared approaches for embedding teaching for mastery within ITE programmes.  The role of Maths Hubs working in partnership with ITE providers was also presented.

The mastery of mathematics is the desired outcome for all pupils, so that learners develop a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.

This is in line with the vision of the 2014 national curriculum for mathematics with the aims that all pupils:

  • become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
  • reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language.
  • can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.

The expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the national curriculum programmes of study at broadly the same pace but those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.

The content and principles underpinning the new mathematics curriculum reflect those found in high performing education systems internationally, particularly those of east and south-east Asian countries such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea and

China. Though there are many differences between the education systems of England and those of east and south-east Asia, the suggestion is that we learn from the mastery approach to teaching commonly followed in these countries.

Principles of Teaching Maths for Mastery

The approach based on mastery is characterised by certain principles:

  • The use of mathematical representations that expose the underlying structure of the mathematics;
  • Children are helped to make sense of concepts and achieve fluency through carefully structured questions, exercises and problems that use conceptual and procedural variation to provide ‘intelligent practice’, which develops conceptual understanding and procedural fluency in parallel;
  • Whole class discussion, precise questioning and intelligent practice, are blended, where necessary, with individual support.

Pupils will have developed mastery when they demonstrate:

  • procedural fluency, factual knowledge and conceptual understanding (rapid and accurate recall and application of facts and concepts)
  • a growing confidence to reason mathematically
  • the ability to apply mathematics to solve problems, to conjecture and to test hypotheses.

There’s nothing particularly new about this but the widespread use of the word ‘mastery’ in relation to mathematics teaching and mathematics learning is relatively new.  Some of the implications of implementing and embedding teaching for mastery approaches to teaching mathematics are also new and have required some schools and ITE providers to make changes to their practice.

Reviewing Practice – Meeting the needs of all pupils

One of the changes requires a shift away from labelling pupils as ‘high ability’ or ‘low ability’.  NCETM’s Director, Charlie Stripp states, “it may well be the case that one of the most common ways we use differentiation in primary school mathematics… has had, and continues to have, a very negative effect on the mathematical attainment of our children at primary school and throughout their education.”

Standard approaches to differentiation commonly used in primary school maths lessons involve some children being identified as ‘mathematically weak’ and being taught a reduced curriculum with ‘easier’ work to do, whilst others are identified as ‘mathematically able’ and given extension tasks.  Stripp argues that terms such as ‘weaker’ and ‘able’ are subjective, and imply that children’s ability in maths is fixed and this may be very damaging in several ways:

For the children identified as ‘mathematically weak’:

  1. They are aware that they are being given less-demanding tasks, and this helps to fix them in a negative ‘I’m no good at maths’ mindset that will blight their mathematical futures.
  2. Because they are missing out on some of the curriculum, their access to the knowledge and understanding they need to make progress is restricted, so they get further and further behind, which reinforces their negative view of maths and their sense of exclusion.
  3. Being challenged (at a level appropriate to the individual) is a vital part of learning. With low challenge, children can get used to not thinking hard about ideas and persevering to achieve success.

For the children identified as ‘mathematically able’:

  1. Extension work, unless very skilfully managed, can encourage the idea that success in maths is like a race, with a constant need to rush ahead, or it can involve unfocused investigative work that contributes little to pupils’ understanding. This means extension work can often result in superficial learning. Secure progress in learning maths is based on developing procedural fluency and a deep understanding of concepts in parallel, enabling connections to be made between mathematical ideas. Without deep learning that develops both of these aspects, progress cannot be sustained.
  2. Being identified as ‘able’ can limit pupils’ future progress by making them unwilling to tackle maths they find demanding because they don’t want to challenge their perception of themselves as being ‘clever’ and therefore finding maths easy.

In the mastery approach teachers reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in mathematics.  The large majority of pupils progress through the curriculum content at the same pace. Differentiation is achieved by emphasising deep knowledge and through individual support and intervention. The use of whole class teaching is a move away from giving pupils different tasks. Teachers who employ a mastery approach to teaching mathematics do not differentiate their maths teaching by restricting the mathematics that ‘weaker’ children experience, whilst encouraging ‘able’ children to ‘get ahead’ through extension tasks. Instead, teachers employing a mastery approach expose almost all of the children to the same curriculum content at the same pace, providing differentiation by offering rapid support and intervention to address each individual pupil’s needs. Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual and procedural knowledge, and assess pupils regularly to identify those requiring intervention so that all pupils keep up.  This requires time for the teacher to think carefully about the concepts – to choose questions for conceptual reasons and carefully prepare models and representations which support generalisation.

In the early primary years, the amount of mathematical topics handled in class is reduced, but more time is spent dealing with each topic, so that early understanding is cemented. Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge.  Practice and consolidation play a central role. Carefully designed variation within this builds fluency and understanding of underlying mathematical concepts in tandem.

Implications for ITE Providers

The widespread implementation of mastery within ITE will bring with it challenges that providers will need to overcome.  These include the need to develop providers’ and partnership schools’ understanding of the principles of mastery.

There exist influences within Primary Education that shape teachers’ current practice which may need to be challenged.  The way in which the National Numeracy Strategy was interpreted by some led to many schools rigidly teaching one hour maths lessons, utilising a 3-part lesson structure.  Often lessons consist of teacher explanation followed by pupil practice (completing worksheets containing routine problems).  There is often a low level of teacher-pupil interaction within the lesson.  A further challenge is that teachers are familiar with assessment through levels (and sub levels) and are not yet certain of assessment without levels.

Trainee teachers will need opportunities to embed the principles of mastery, but schools may resist this.  The challenge is to change established attitudes held by teachers, to enable them and trainees to teach in a mastery way, even though many have not experienced mastery.  Some school-based trainers may also have fixed ability thinking and practices.  This mindset will also need to be challenged.  Solutions to these challenges may include continuing professional development in the form of school-based training for mentors, ‘Teaching for Mastery’ events and involvement in Maths Hub projects.  In the North East region, Maths Hubs include the Great North Maths Hub and the Archimedes NE Maths Hub.

For further information follow the link to:


A presentation to teachers on teaching for mastery by Debbie Morgan NCETM Director for Primary, December 2015



“Step out of the shed and into the garden”: how lesson study enables deep professional learning.


Upon first hearing of the words ‘lesson’ and ‘study’ in the same sentence, I was puzzled. I was to be studying another trainee teacher’s lesson? Wasn’t I supposed to be teaching lessons? Wasn’t that, after all, the whole point of the PGCE, to learn how to teach through practice? I wasn’t completely wrong, however, once my blinding ignorance had slowly subsided, I realised that even though teaching and learning was now at the heart of my life, I had, up until now, focussed solely, if not obsessively, upon the teaching and learning of other subjects –  those of the pupil cohorts sent my way. I must get those learning objectives on the board. How will I be showing progress? Will behaviour for learning targets be achieved? And what about assessment?

In my misguided innocence to please and deliver, I had forgotten about MY own learning and what others could teach me. Of course, I diligently attended every CPD session and university lecture but it takes time to realise that independence in sustained professional learning is also vital. I needed to take time to breathe. To step back. And to slow down and reflect. We often spend so much time moving forward that we forget what sights we have passed along the way. This blog is my narrative of how I took a pause to process key stages and markers that are appearing with increasing frequency on my professional journey as my career in teaching continues to accelerate.

Education is not something one can ever really ‘finish’, not truly. I am learning and I will also be learning as an NQT and also for many more years to come for that is the cyclical nature of the profession to which we have entered – and this is not something mutually exclusive to education, either. Coming from a family of medical professionals, I have also been aware of the other contours of our public sector landscape continuing to reform and evolve as society progresses and years tick by. That said, I was more than a little disappointed, if not in a state of lamentation, of my failure to see beyond the four or five periods stretched out before me. I had been so busy in my shed of learning, attempting to differentiate, collate evidence, mark homework and plan lessons to name but a handful of examples, that I hadn’t heard the screaming going on just outside. I needed to step out, and beyond, so I could actually learn something within a wider professional context before returning to the aforementioned shed and returning to my own affairs. Lesson study was the means by which I could facilitate this process of study for myself for once – and not just my Key Stage Four French class which hadn’t quite mastered the imperfect tense yet.

Cynicism and scepticism dissolved, the lesson study process began. Here we were, myself and Matthew Hutchings, a Chemistry specialist, about to embark upon a professional task about which I knew relatively little. Writing retrospectively, I am now in a position to share what I have learnt and espouse the benefits of lesson study to one and all – an invaluable tool for education practitioners far and wide and one which is possibly, at times, overlooked.

The rise of genuine professionally-minded discussions about the teaching and learning taking place and the benefits of the lesson study process have helped both me and Matt become critical in examination of our own practice and what we would wish to do moving forward in the future, which was something I never thought possible to such an extent, especially in terms of cross curricular engagement with another teacher in a world where some scholastic departments have a tendency to be more than a trifle tribal. Sad, but true.

Personally, I have relished the chance to observe a subject outside of my own subject specialism to contribute to not only my Teaching Standards (T8/PPC) but also begin to examine within myself a broader, deeper and wider idea and construct about what I really think the purpose of education is and how fully-rounded it can be. The observation of Matt’s practical experiment was a chance for me to confess to his pupils that as a linguist, Chemistry was far from my forte but I’m not too old to be learning, too. The pupils seemed to respect this, albeit with a minor degree of surprise, but I’m sure it was hugely reassuring for them to know that I am only human too, teacher at 3:25 or human on the drive home.

Lesson study was useful to see the interactions and behaviours of some of my own pupils in a different lesson with a different teacher and think about why this might be similar, different, and/or unchanged and what I/we could do about it. Humans are social animals and school is, for many young people, the centre of their social environment before adulthood. This permeates into our lessons and as teachers, we have a responsibility to ensure behaviour for learning is largely a positive affair, both inside and outside the confines of the four walls of a classroom.

I enjoyed the chance to observe a trainee in practice to realise that I am not the only one learning, developing and training and this helped dilute any initial professional and/or training confidence issues, something which appealed to my introverted character and emotional nature as a person, distanced from the classroom persona I project on a daily basis when I’m ‘in the zone’.

Amidst a plethora of training, teaching and learning challenges that crop up during the PGCE year, the directed process of lesson study was invaluable in allowing myself and Matt to reflect more deeply about what we are actually doing, how we are doing it and even the ‘why’ (this doesn’t always happen for us in as much detail for a “normal” lesson with time constraints often an unavoidable barrier to the depth of our routine reflections).

Matt put the date in French as a nod to me as a MFL trainee in his Chemistry lesson. A pupil asked why, with more than a certain tone of incredulity and sarcasm to which the response was: “We don’t always teach French in French lessons, nor English in English lessons. We’re all teachers and, quite frankly, why not?” This genuinely made the pupils before my eyes ponder what had just been uttered to them by an education practitioner – even if only for a moment – and felt to me as one of the most sincerely tangible albeit short manifestations of SMSC and the broader notion of what it is ‘to educate’ coming to life before my very eyes in a classroom. If I hadn’t been involved in lesson study, I may never have even seen these fleeting but crucial seconds! It was almost as if the pupils were thinking that it’s actually okay to have a bit of French within chemistry and that, actually, subjects are interlinked as part of a broader curriculum and not mutually exclusive entities.

So, I leave you now with my reflections and invite you to probe at your own. Perhaps you already have. If so, keep doing it. If not, there’s never any time like the present. A real exploration of lesson study is beyond the ticking-boxes-jumping-hoops superficial. It is a real exercise, a deep process which places the spotlight not on them but on us. What are we learning? Step out of that shed and into the garden. You might be missing something.

Author: James Rivett Newcastle University PGCE Student, Modern Foreign Languages

CfLaT Newsletter January 2016


CfLaT Headlines

Robin Humphrey has been awarded a Principal Fellowship of the UK Higher Education Acade-my for his work on Doctoral Research Training, becoming the fourth Principal Fellow in the University and joining a group of just over 400 in the higher education sector.

Congratulations to Jill Clark on the award of her PhD. Her thesis is entitled: The Journey of re-searching on to researching with –theoretical and methodological challenges within educational research . Dr Clark will formally graduate in the summer ceremony.

Pam Woolner and Lucy Tiplady have a chapter in a German edited collection. The chapter, about change through the Open Futures programme, is in English, but there is a German abstract—thanks to CfLaT colleagues Ulrike Thomas and Alina Schartner!

Following the success of the LTHE programme for Kazakh academics, Anna Reid has received an invitation to work as a visiting professor at the Khoja Akhmet Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University in April 2016.

Paula Cardellino, an architecture academic from Uruguay, will be visiting CfLaT in February and March. She will be doing a Research Tea (24 Feb) and a seminar (3 March).



In December David Leat travelled to Singapore for a three day visit to appear in a TV panel discussion on the Future of Learning, transmitted by Channel NewsAsia in January.

This was part of a series to help develop the profile of Newcastle University in Singapore, as the university runs six under-graduate programs there, in a partnership with Singapore Institute of Technology. Here are David’s reflections on the experience:

Can you summarise what you think is important in a context in 3 or 4 sentences, in a way that an alert lay audience can make sense of.? In your head you have endless arguments, examples, complex concepts, favourite bits of research, jibes etc. But can you form that into a coherent message that an audience member can hook into? You can judge for yourself how I did, if you watch the recording: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/tv/tvshows/perspectives/episode/episode-18-the-future-of/2425136.html

I experienced two media formats, a panel discussion with four other panelists, and series of magazine interviews. The second is far more comfortable as you get a chance to elaborate and develop points in successive questions. In the panel format, you are in competition with the other panelists, partly for air time and partly in arguing your case. There are many skills to be deployed: catching the eye of the moderator, waiting for a tiny lull in someone else’s flow and getting in, connecting to what has been said by others, in agreement, disagreement or in terms of causation. And, above all, making the audience laugh.  After the first section of the programme, the assistant floor manager whizzed up to me and asked me to ‘pull my socks up’. I thought I had done OK so far. But it transpired that this was a literal not a metaphorical request as we were in lounge chairs and I was exposing a bit of skin be-tween sock and trousers. Note to self – long socks next time.



CfLaT research is gaining a new audience through our contributions to the British Educational Research Association’s new multi-authored blog.

In its first six months blog posts by Rachel Lofthouse and David Leat were each in the top ten read list. Other CfLaT contributors include Pam Woolner, Simon Gibbs, Alina Schartner and Anna Reid. Why not take a look at https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog?

And if you fancy contributing a blog post do get in touch with Rachel.Lofthouse@ncl.ac.uk as she is one of the BERA blog editors.


Karen Laing has recently completed some research working alongside colleagues at Mentor UK that evaluated M-PACT+ (Moving Parents and Children Together). M-PACT+ is an intervention devised by Action on Addiction who are now working with Place2Be to offer help through schools for families struggling with the effects of substance abuse.

M-PACT+ is being offered in four areas of the country (including the North East). The evaluation was commissioned by Comic Relief and the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. 47 families received support between 2013 and 2015.

The evaluation found that the benefits for children included improved family communication and family functioning, being better able to cope with challenges and having a better understanding about how addiction affects families. Children told us that they felt more confident, had been able to develop strategies for keeping themselves safe and felt less isolated following their involvement with M-PACT+:

“People your [own] age – like probably other people’s parents have got the same ad-dictions as your parents so it means you can bond with them and they understand. It wasn’t just happening in our family.”

The delivery of M-PACT was accompanied by training opportunities for school and Place2Be staff to develop their understanding of hidden harm and how M-PACT could help children affected by parental substance misuse. The training was highly regarded and staff reported gains in knowledge and understanding. However, some school and Place2Be staff continued to report that they lacked confidence in their ability to identify and support families who might benefit from M-PACT. Staff emphasised that confidence and trust are key to engaging parents and carers in conversations about parental sub-stance misuse and participating in M-PACT. Developing this trust can take time.

The evaluation also found that M-PACT is more likely to be integrated with a school’s support for families where the school and Place2Be staff routinely share appropriate information about pupils and where schools already offer a range of services for pupils and parents. In these schools there are clear procedures for discussing concerns about the needs of children and about who is best placed to speak to parents about M-PACT. Parents valued the support that was offered, and told us about the benefits they had found from attending:

“I felt I could voice my concerns and opinions and people would listen without interrupting and being judgemental. There were people there to listen and they understood. It felt like someone cared for you, for what your feelings and thoughts were…..especially when you have come off drugs.”

“Communication has improved. It seems like such an easy task – it should be automatic and it’s extremely difficult – we are all different personalities. It has helped me to tone down the shouting. It was a major breakthrough for me.”

Dissemination events and briefings on the findings from the evaluation are currently being prepared.

For further information, please contact Karen Laing k.j.c.laing@ncl.ac.uk

Internationalisation of Higher Education


Sue Robson has just returned from Bangkok where, with Newcastle colleagues, she delivered a workshop for 28 early career researchers from UK and Thai universities on ‘Internationalisation of higher education: developing values-based inter-cultural research approaches’.  The workshop enabled early-career re-searchers from across disciplines to meet peers with similar research interests with the aim of developing research joint proposals for future funding. CfLaT’s Alina Schartner was one of the participants.


Feedback from participants was very positive and special thanks go to Dr Navaporn Snodin from Kasetsart University for the superb venue she organised for the work-shop. We look forward to further developing the links that have been made with Thai universities.

For further information, please contact sue.robson@newcastle.ac.uk


 Issue 23- January 2016

Pam Woolner and Ulrike Thomas are about to start work on an exciting project following the changes at a local school currently being rebuilt.

Although new school spaces can be raise morale and be catalysts for other change, there is no guarantee of long term benefits. As we all know, change can be hard! With CfLaT colleagues, Karen Laing and Anna Reid, Pam and Ulrike will work with the school community to understand their experiences of the existing building and their expectations of the new. They are interested in student attitudes, before and after the rebuild, and the views of the non-teaching staff—the administration, technical and sup-port staff who sometimes get forgotten.  As well as revealing more about the impact of changing the educational environment, the project will enable members of the school community to discuss and develop their views of the old and new premises. This should assist the school to maximise the advantages and minimise the stresses of their move. Financial support from the university has been provided for this project and to develop work in this area.

For further information, please contact pamela.woolner@ncl.ac.uk

Marie Butterworth 2015 Prize awarded to Sara Wood

Issue 23- January 2016

Every year we present the Marie Butterworth Prize for Excellence in Practitioner Enquiry to a student who has completed one of our M.Ed in Practitioner Enquiry programmes. Marie was a keen advocate of teacher research, an active participant in a number of ECLS research projects, a CfLaT re-search fellow and a local deputy head teacher. ECLS makes this award in her memory to celebrate her enthusiasm and achievements.

We were pleased to present this award to Sara Wood this year, who recently completed her dissertation entitled ‘Fifty Shades of Independent Reading’. Sara’s enquiry focused on developing a curriculum based approach to encourage and enable greater participation and enjoyment in independent reading at Key Stage 3.

Sara discussed her approach and findings at a CfLaT research tea where we welcomed Steve Jones, Marie’s husband, to share in the event. He acknowledged the award stating “It’s a very touching – and appropriate – gesture to help keep Marie’s memory alive and to, in a sense, allow her work to continue.” In relation to Sara’s work he added “It’s encouraging to know that there are still people out there who don’t see data-crunching as the be-all and end-all of education.”

The last word should go to Sara, who wrote, “I just want to thank you again for the wonderful recognition of this award and the opportunity to talk about my research. It really was an absolute pleasure – please pass on my thanks to all who attended. Their interest and thoughtful questions were particularly gratifying. It’s a delight to be able to share my research in such depth to such an esteemed group – it has let me re-engage with the successes and findings of this research as well as inspiring me to further this work.”

FaSMed update: The FaSMEd project is progressing well and is now two years in!

Issue 23- January 2016

After receiving the Scientix Resource Award for The Prototype Toolkit, Scientix invited two members of FaSMEd to represent the project at EMINENT 2015 – STEM IN EDUCA-TION AND LIFE. This is the Experts Meeting in Education Networking annual event by European Schoolnet. This year it was held from 19-20 November in Barcelona and was organized in cooperation with Scientix and the Department of Edu-cation of Catalonia.

EMINENT 2015 brought together 280 participants from 37 countries including ministries representatives, policy-makers, researchers, STEM teachers and other stakeholders.

Issue 23- January 2016

In February, two members of the FaSMEd project team – Jill Clark and David Wright – will be travelling to Cape Town in South Africa for our consortium meeting. During their visit they will be visiting some of the schools that our South African partners have been working with, discussing the analysis of our interventions and case studies across all our partner countries and presenting our latest version of the web-based toolkit.

For further information, please contact Jill.Clark@ncl.ac.uk

An update on ROMtels (Roma translanguaging enquiry learning space)

Issue 23- January 2016

ROMtels is an Erasmus+ funded project based at Newcastle University, with partners in Finland, France and Romania as well as Middlesex University and a local Newcastle school. The Newcastle team is Heather Smith and Lydia Wysocki.

Our aim is to effect practice changes in the inclusion and education of Traveller pupils across Europe and in particular Roma pupils, who continue to suffer overt racism, discrimination and social exclusion. We aim to achieve this by sup-porting teachers in enabling pupils to use their home languages for learning in school. The project begins with Roma and Eastern European Traveller pupils, but will create resources open to many different languages.

Issue 23- January 2016

We start this quest in Newcastle by using an innovative blend of technologies to create an interactive multilingual enquiry-based learning space (see http://research.ncl.ac.uk/romtels/ for more details). Children undertaking the enquiries — for example learning about the Great Fire of Tyneside 1854 — will hear characters, who come to life on the walls of the interactive space, speaking in their home language(s) and English. Children will be encouraged to speak to each other in whichever languages they need to undertake the enquiry. We began by identifying the various Ro-ma languages of the communities attending our partner school, Arthur’s Hill Federation. We worked with the school’s Slovak/Czech community worker, Zaneta, who is herself of Roma heritage.  After several meetings and quite a bit of detective work utilising an amazing linguistic resource developed by Manchester University (http://romani.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/), we identified two distinct languages in a group of 10 families. Nine families appeared to share what is named in the Manchester database as East Slovak Roma whilst one family spoke a Slovak form of Kalderash. Given the number of families speaking East Slovak Roma, we began translations with this form of Roma.

From the families we met, two parents (from different families) agreed to help us: Marta and Laco, who has had to give up several days work to do this!

Issue 23- January 2016

The translanguation, as we are calling the process of translating from English to Czech/Slovak to a translanguaged form of East Slovak Roma/Slovak, has required remarkable attention to detail. But all involved have learned a great deal. We cannot wait to see the parents and children‘s faces next month when the space and technology are finally completed.  For further information, contact Heather.Smith@ncl.ac.uk


Research teas aim to provide an informal forum for discursive examination of emerging research themes and concepts. This term the programme includes an eclectic mix of speakers – details below, or from the Centre website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cflat/news/Teas.htm

Tea and cakes will be available from 3.45pm in the Centre base (2.50 KGVI) with the session running from 4-5pm.

Wednesday 17th February Vidya Sarangapani, Open Lab:

Virtual. Cultural.Collaboration: Mobile Technologies, Migrant Communities and Multicultural Learning.

Wednesday 24th February Paula Cardellino, Visiting Academic, Uruguay: An architectural perspective on educational challenges – The Uruguayan experience

Wednesday 16th March Theresa Thornton, Northumberland College: Can changing the approach to CPD encourage Teacher Agency and develop Communities of Practice?

Wednesday 6th April Research Methodology Poster Tea: Room 1.71, KGVI.

For further information on CfLaT research teas and/or if you are interest-ed in discussing some of your own research at a tea please contact Laura.MazzoliSmith@ncl.ac.uk

For further information:

Research Centre for Learning and Teaching
School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences
King George VI Building
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne