School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Jill Clark

Senior Research Associate and Business Development Director for the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching



I am the Business Development Director in the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT).

My current position of SRA within the School and CfLaT is a unique post in the University which is essentially dominated by activities which are research-focused rather than teaching-focused, with a strong emphasis on Research Management and Leadership, and research development and support.


I joined the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences in November 1996, having worked within the Newcastle Centre for Family Studies during the previous four years. Although now working in the field of educational research, I have a strong background in Social Sciences research. I studied Behavioural Sciences (majoring in psychology) at Huddersfield Polytechnic and then completed my postgraduate degree in Criminology at Cambridge University.

I now work as a Senior Research Associate across ECLS, and I am the Business Development Director of the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching. I am an independently active member of research staff and my  post involves collaboration with many members of the School, Education section and Centre who are active in various aspects of education research. Within this role, there is considerable emphasis on research development, capacity building and strategy.

Roles and Responsibilities

My role is pivotal in building research capacity in the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT) and ECLS. I have been successful in setting up several structures to support colleagues and build and maintain capacity: the ECLS Bid Writing Group brings colleagues together and I provide academic leadership and strategic advice in the development and submission of research and consultancy proposals. Since its inception (August 05), achievements have included the submission of over 150 applications (totalling over £5 million) of which over a third were successful (ranging from £3K-£2M).

I further mentor and advise individual School colleagues, identify and co-ordinate funding opportunities and responses to calls, both proactively and reactively. I establish partnerships between staff who are less experienced in research with those more experienced alongside a shadowing system to continually support research capacity building. I academically review and advise on 90% of the proposals submitted by ECLS, and have considerable knowledge and expertise which is recognised and drawn upon constantly. I take a strategic approach to identify what is needed to make ECLS a research-based institution. Building on the success of the BWG, I successfully established the School Paper Writing Group (now managed by another colleague) where colleagues can meet to strategically discuss and plan their writing for publication.

I have been the Business Development Director of RCfLaT since 2008. Whilst completing the Coaching for Commerce programme (I was assigned an external business coach), this supported my development of a financial and business model for RCfLaT, alongside a focus on increasing income generation. I am responsible for developing a working budget and business model for the Centre which includes identifying capacity needs and workloads.

I have contributed significantly to the strategic planning of the Centre during the last five years, and I have taken responsibility of the core staffing within the centre to ensure that all contracts and staff costs are covered financially. This includes overall project management, the appointment and allocation of researchers, and the resource and work flow management of large RA teams across many projects (both research and consultancy). My work also includes the Centre Communications strategy, and the formulation and coordination of academic content of the Centre web pages. I have line-management/supervision responsibility of several research staff and this involves recruitment, induction, and on-going mentor support of Centre RAs, and PDRs of 3 RAs. I also formally mentor 3 members of research staff across two faculties in the University.



BSc (Hons) Behavioural Sciences

Mphil Criminology (Cantab)

Previous Positions

Research Associate, 1996-1998, Department of Education, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Research Associate, 1992-1996, Newcastle Centre for Family Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.


Membership and active participation in University management committees, including:

School level:

  • ECLS Research Committee (2002 – present day);
  • ECLS Ethics panel (2009 - present day);
  • The Education RAE/REF Strategy Action group (2007 - present day;
  • Chair of CfLaT Guidance Group (2005 – present day);
  • Chair of the ECLS Research Associate Forum (2005 – 2010)
  • Chair of the ECLS Bid Writing Group (2005 - present day)
  • Chair and organiser of the Educaton section research seminar programme (1996 - 2008).

Active Faculty activities include:

  • FRISG (2009 - present day);
  • Library Committee (2009 - present day);
  • Joint chair of the HASS RA Forum (2005 – 2011)
  • Mentor to 3 members of research staff (across two faculties).

Active University level activities:

  • Researcher Development Co-ordination Group (2010 - present day)
  • Research Staff Working Party (2008 - present day);
  • Beacon North East Community, Academic Action Panel (CAAP)(2009 - 2011);
  • URC Directors (2009 - present day);
  • Associate member of the Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise (KITE).

National bodies:

  • N8 representative for Newcastle University for the theme: Policing Research Programme
  • ESRC College of Reviewers member (2010 onwards)
  • AHRC College of Peer Reviewers member (April 2012-December 2015) 
  • UCET (The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers) Research Committee (2002-2004).
  • Invited member of the BERA National Working Party on Research Staff Issues (RSI) (2007- present day)
  • Member of BERA – the British Educational Research Association.

Informal Interests

Running. I have completed eight marathons so far slowly but surely 


Research Interests

I am currently Co-ordinator of an FP7 award - the FaSMEd project. Working with partners across eight countries, we will look at how technology can be used by teachers to help raise attainment levels among the lowest achieving students. The 1.9m Euro project will focus on nine to 13-year-olds, as this is when progress in mathematics and science tends to tail off. The project is being funded through an EU grant for the next three years. One of the outcomes of the project will be a toolkit for teachers of activities, resources and teaching tips. This international project stems from Newcastle University’s iLab:Learn, which facilitated research into new ways of learning by taking pedagogic methods and applying them through the use of digital technology. Other partners include Nottingham University in the UK and universities in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Holland and South Africa.

I am a member of a large multi-disciplinary team which is working on the AHRC funded Co-Curate North East project which is looking at digital archives of rural and urban communities and the co-curation of artefacts.

I am also a Co-I on a multi-disciplinary team on a JRF funded project - an evaluation of the 'Thinking Differently' programme. In June 2012 the ‘Thinking Differently – Young People and Alcohol’ partnership was launched in order to trial innovative, preventative interventions designed to reduce alcohol related harm in Scotland. These recognise the role of parents, peers, mentors and the community in young people’s decision-making about alcohol consumption. The evaluation of the 3 ‘Thinking Differently’ funded interventions that we are undertaking involves a collaborative, mixed methods, and theory of change approach over three years.

My personal research interests focus very much on those issues and factors which could be called 'out of school' but which inevitably may affect the performance, attitudes, behaviour and learning of young people in school. I am also interested in learning which takes place in a variety of contexts, such as prisons and in the community. I have had work published on a study of the re-education of young offenders, which explored the relationship between education, the arts and the criminal justice system.

More recently, I completed work in the area of transition from school to University, and in particular the first year experience. The first project - 'Bridging the Gap' - explored the secondary and higher education environment and what student expectations are, how school students learn and what they learn. The second project (with pre-University students in three schools) is explored transition in relation to the context of what it means to be an ‘independent learner’ in both schools and Universities. Finally, I also worked on a project which was a University-wide survey of all first year students to explore their initial experiences of University life. The survey focused on pedagogical issues and learning experiences in addition to the pastoral and social aspects which all impact on adjustment and ‘settling in’ to University life.

I have worked on a variety of research projects, some of which focused on disaffected and disadvantaged young women and included an evaluation of a local truancy programme. I have worked on projects which focused on housing and schooling and social inclusion and educational policy. I also led a team which focused on provision for particular marginalised groups, informed by a review of the literature in this field for DETR's 2000/1 Beacon Councils scheme.

I was successful in gaining funds from the Beacon Trust Programme – a scheme which supported genuine engagement activities between the University and community members. I received £10,258 from the Beacon North East Fund. Working with Sugata Mitra and David Leat, the project explored the potential of the Retired Skype Mediators – developed by Sugata. ‘Skype grannies’ are mainly retired people (nearly all women) from the UK and beyond who work with the school students in supervised mediating sessions. They are volunteers and they offer to revolutionise the concept of education, especially in ‘remote’ and disadvantaged areas (both geographically and culturally) which exist in all countries. Our research worked with them to develop ideas and plans for how best to support their continued and developing commitment to online mediation.

In the past I have led an evaluation of a community education project in inner-city Newcastle, and have been involved in several research projects examiming the impact of various community (mostly SRB) initiatives in the Sunderland area.

Methodological Expertise

I have a particular strength and expertise the design, application, analysis and writing in qualitative and visual methodologies, including in-depth interviewing, focus group discussions and participant observation. I have also been working with visual methodologies - such things as diamond ranking and the use of photographs and images - as visual prompts in research. I have a strong commitment to participatory research with children and young people.


Future Research

I am keen to develop further research in the area of prison education and learning. I am also keen to develop the methodology of participatory research, with the emphsasis on full involvement of children and young people, alongside the use of visual methods and tools.

Research Roles

I have consolidated my role in the Research Centre for Leraning and Teaching, resulting in a promotion from Deputy to Business Development Director. I have taken responsibility for developing a (first) budget and working business model for the Centre, where this year she was clearly able to evidence the streams of income and outgoings for the Centre and show that the Centre was not running at a loss.


Esteem Indicators


Invited reviewer:

  • International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
  • Contemporary Social Science
  • Evidence and Policy
    British Educational Research Journal
  • The International Journal of Research & Method in Education
  • ESRC Bids
  • AHRC Bids.


Conference presentations:

Clark, J. and Laing, K. (2016) Working with young people around crime and anti-social behaviour: exploring the capacity for change in their communities, North East Crime Research Network Conference, Northumbria University, 7th April 2016.

Clark, J., Laing, K., Todd, L., Woolner, P., Thomas, U. and Tiplady, L. (2015) Using a Theory of Change to Evaluate Complex Initiatives: Theory and practice, Innovation session at the BERA Conference, Belfast, UK, 15-17 September 2015.

Leat, D., Clark, J., Tiplady, L., Thomas, U., Lloyd, K., and Hudson, M. (2015) Students Presenting Their Work To External Audiences – Breaking Down School Walls Or A Distraction To School Standards? Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Budapest, Hungary, 8-11 September 2015.

Leat, D., Thomas, U., Lloyd, K., Tiplady, L. and Clark, J. (2015) ‘Co-Curate: Educational Accountability as a Brake on Co-Production’. Paper Presented at the AHRC Connected Communities Conference, UEA, June 2015.

Tiplady, L., Clark, J., Leat, D. and Thomas, U. (2015) Becoming Reciprocal In Co-Production. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Budapest, Hungary, 8-11 September 2015.

Tiplady, L., Clark, J. and Wright, D. (2015) Formative Assessment in Mathematics using technologies (the FaSMEd Project); Learning from, and with, teachers, CfLaT/SOLEs Showcase, Thinking Differently about Education, Newcastle University, 1st October 2015.

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2015) FaSMEd contributor to the workshop Assessment in Science and Mathematics, February 14th, University College Dublin.

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2015) Raising achievement through formative assessment in science and mathematics education (FaSMEd), British Society for Research in Learning Mathematics, Durham University, UK, 6th June 2015.

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2015) Raising achievement through formative assessment in science and mathematics education (FaSMEd), International Conference on Technology in Mathematics Teaching, 24-27 June, 2015 - Faro, Portugal.

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2015) Raising achievement through formative assessment in science and mathematics education (FaSMEd), European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) Conference, August 31st-September 4th, Helsinki, Finland.

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2015) England: Formative Assessment in Mathematics, paper in the Symposium session: Formative Assessment In Science And Mathematics Education (FaSMEd), ECER Conference, Budapest, Hungary, 8-11 September 2015.

Clark, J., Laing, K., Tiplady, L. and Woolner P. (2014) Making Connections: Theory and Practice of Using Visual Methods to Aid Participation in Research, Visual In-Sights: Theory, Method, Practice International Conference, June 26-27, Newcastle, UK.

Clark, J. and Woolner, P. (2014) Mediating encounters - the use of visual images in participatory research, paper in the symposium 'Mediating encounters: Theory and practice of using visual methods to aid participation in educational research', BERA conference, London, UK, September 23rd-25th, 2014.

Laing, K., Clark, J., Tiplady, L., Todd, L. and Woolner, P. (2014) Using a Theory of Change to Evaluate Complex Initiatives: Theory and practice, ECER, 2 – 5 September, Porto, Portugal.

Tiplady, L., Woolner, P., Clark, J. and Laing, K. (2014) Theory and Practice of Using Visual Methods to Aid Participation in Educational Research, paper in the symposium 'Mediating encounters: Theory and practice of using visual methods to aid participation in educational research', BERA conference, London, UK, September 23rd-25th, 2014.

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2014) FaSMEd Poster presentation at the Association of Mathematics Education Tutors (University lecturers) Conference, 2nd September, Birmingham, UK

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2014) FaSMEd Poster presentation at the AIMS Trust, 29th September 2014, Centre for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Wright, D., Clark, J. and Tiplady, L. (2014) FaSMEd Poster presentation at the 2nd Scientix conference, 25th October 2014, Brussels, Belgium.

Clark, J., Laing, K. and Woolner P. (2013) Making Connections: Theory and Practice of Using Visual Methods to Aid Children’s Participation in Educational Research, ECER, September 9-13 2013, Istanbul, Turkey

Clark, J., Laing, K. , Tiplady, L. and Woolner P. .(2013) Making Connections, AHRC Connected Communities Showcase, March 12th, London, UK.

Woolner P., Clark, J., Thomas, U., Laing, K. and Tiplady, L. (2013) Teachers Preparing For Changes to Learning Environment and Practices in a UK Secondary School, ECER, September 9-13 2013, Istanbul, Turkey.

Clark, J., Woolner P., Tiplady, L. and Laing, K. (2012) Pushing the Boundaries: Theory and Practice of Using Visual Methods to Aid Children’s Participation in Educational Research ECER, September 18-21 2012, Cadiz.

Clark, J. (2011) ' Using Diamond Ranking activities as a visual methods research tool' at the BERA Visual Methods Seminar, April 8th 2011, The Baltic, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Clark, J. and Laing, K. (2011) 'The involvement of young people in research within the criminal justice area – what do we know and what do we need to find out?' Presented at the British Society of Criminology Conference, July 3-6, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Woolner P., Clark, J. and Thomas, U. (2011) 'Using visual and spatial activities to support school staff and students in thinking about learning in a changed space' at the 2nd International Visual Methods Conference, 13th-15th September, 2011 at Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Clark, J. (2010) 'Transition from school to University and experiences in the first year: What do we know about expectations, experience and the ways of being a learner?'. Paper presented at the Systematic Enhancement of Learning & Teaching: Innovation, Research and Development 2010 Conference, June 2nd, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK.

Clark, J. (2009) 'Exploring the use of diamond ranking activities as a visual methods research tool', 1st International Visual Methods Conference, 15th-17th September, 2009 at Leeds University, UK.

Woolner P., Clark, J. and Thomas, U. (2008) 'Using visual activities to mediate a learning conversation about how a school community regards its premises' at the British Education Research Association Conference, 3rd-6th September, 2008, Edinburgh, UK.

Hall, E, Clark, J, McCaughey, C. Ghosts at the feast? The role of research centres in supporting innovative practice in local authorities. In: BERA Annual conference. 2006, University of Warwick: BEI.

Clark, J. Arts, Offenders and Probation Officers: Evaluating the Impact. In: Creative Time. 1996, University of Manchester.

Walker, J. and Clark, J. Project evaluation: creating for change in criminal justice. In: Creating for Change. 1993, Otterburn. Northumberland.


  1. FP7 FASMED project: Formative Assessment in Science and Mathematics Education, 1.9 Million Euros
  2. AHRC Connected Communities Scoping Review: The involvement of children and young people in research within the criminal justice area, £24,814.
  3. Breaking the cycle of offending: The Engage Project, £5,000. 
  4. Exploring transition activities in Gateshead Schools from Gateshead Council, £17,542.
  5. Developing the Potential of Retired Skype Mediators ("Sykpe Grannies"), £10,258.
  6. Evaluation of the wellbeing project from The Learning Challenge Foundation Limited, £8,416.
  7. Evaluation of Subsidy Pathfinders, from British Marketing Research Bureau Ltd, £94,163.65.
  8. FCP Final Evaluation, from Gateshead Council, £7,613.
  9. Evaluation of the Activating Children's Thinking Skills Project (ACTS) from the Scottish Executive, £15,433.
  10. A local evaluation of sure start, from Gateshead Sure Start Partnership, £39,000.
  11. An evaluation of the Pennywell Community and Health Project from Sunderland City Council, £3,000.
  12. Thinking skill taxonomies for post 16 learners and offenders from Learning & Skills Development Agency, £99,128.
  13. An Evaluation of the Quality Time Project, from Sunderland Proving Partnership Works Programme, £4,000.
  14. An evaluation of the literacy transition project, from City of Sunderland Education & Community Services, £5,000.
  15. Evaluation of EDP Priority: Key Stage 2/3 Transition from Hartlepool LEA, £24,429.
  16. Pedagogical Analysis of a Level Syllabi-report phase from LECG Ltd, £4,200.
  17. Research into the Theme: Increasing the Attainment of Under-Achieving Groupd. Round 2 - End of Research Theme Report from Improvement & Development Agency, £9,200.
  18. Evaluation of Threshold Assessment Procedures - Support for the Questionnaire Phase form Cambridge Education Associates Ltd, £2,760.
  19. Research into the theme: 'Transition between Key Stages in Schools' from DETR, £15,625.
  20. An investigation of the relationship between young children's understanding of the concept of place value and their competence from Nuffield Foundation, £13,502.


Postgraduate Teaching

I have undertaken an increasing amount of teaching to both staff and students, particularly with reference to qualitative methodologies and research design and tools. This is evidenced by my contributions as guest teaching sessions to modules within ECLS, CPD with teachers from outside of the University, and to the training modules for postgraduates students within HASS. More recently I have been involved in teaching on the HASS Faculty Graduate Skills Enhancement Programme, within which I teach specific sessions each year on this. This programme is ground-breaking nationally, and provides an important service to the University (through increased research income from international students) and to the students themselves.

Historically, I have undertaken much informal research supervision of both staff and students, particularly with reference to methodological approaches and the development of research and dissertation proposals. Recently, however, I have taken on supervision of research dissertations in a formal capacity.

I am currently supervising the following students:

1. Nadia  Aljenahi - PhD ECLS (FT) - Investigates the mechanism of Teacher Evaluation (TE) in Kuwaiti primary schools as a major educational tool for improvement and change. (20% supervision with Sue Robson).

2. Andrew Ashley - PhD ECLS (PT) - Science teaching and giftedness in South Africa. (40% supervision with Laura Mazzoli Smith.

3. Muqaddas Butt - PhD ECLS (FT) - Curriculum change and Professional Development of Secondary School English Teachers in Punjab (Pakistan): Challenges and Opportunities.  (50% supervision with Sue Robson).

4. Eric Fletcher - EdD Education (FT) - Exploring the sail training voyage as a cultural community (70% with Peter Sercombe).

5. Caroline Gibby - EdD Education (FT) - How does Higher Education construct the role of law teacher? (40% supervision with Simon Gibbs).

6. Tania Watson - IPhD Education (FT) -  Disability and challenging behaviours in schools: the necessity for a culpability model of disability. (45% supervision with Pam Woolner).