School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Education

Education Research Culture

Education Research Culture

Education research at Newcastle is diverse, interdisciplinary and concerned with issues from the very local to the global. There is a focus on the pursuit of social justice through pedagogic innovations and professional learning and practice and International Development in collaboration with The University’s Global Challenge Academy (hyperlink to https://www.ncl.ac.uk/globalchallenges/). To enable this research we have created a vibrant and exciting interdisciplinary research culture in which staff from education, applied linguistics and speech and language sciences work with each other and with our students.

Research Centres and Groups

There are two very active University research centres: Research Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT) and SOLE Central (Self Organised Learning Environments). CfLaTresearches the complex and unusual within, and beyond, diverse educational settings. We aim to enhance the response of schools, colleges, universities, related agencies and communities to social justice challenges through our teaching, training and research.  

Education Research Seminar Series

Education hosts a monthly research seminar series with presentations and discussions by Newcastle education colleagues and invited guests from all over UK and beyond, with expertise in a host of education topics. For example, Professor Steve Strand from Oxford University came to speak about his research into the attainment of pupils with EAL; and Professor Emeritus Dennis Atkinson, from Goldsmiths University presented on ‘Art, Disobedience and Learning’. Click here for an updated list of seminars.

Education PGR Students

Our PGR students come to us from all over the world from Spain to Saudi Arabia to Singapore, and are and integral part of Education’s research culture. The School of ECLS has a PhD Support Group run by students and publishes an electronic journal of research student work (ARECLS). The aim of the journal is to publish outstanding research by current and recently graduated research students and academics in the School of ECLS. This, in turn, aims to facilitate the transition of contributors from research students to academics within the international university system. Submissions to the journal are reviewed by the Editorial Board, comprising research students and academic staff, using a critical process of blind peer review. ECLS also hosts an annual Postgraduate Research Student Conference, now in its 18th year and Education students present at this. This year our postgraduate students also played a seminal role in organising the first PGR conference for researchers in education in the North-East: Education for Change.

The Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT) hosts monthly Research Teas (seminars), at which PGR students, staff and/or guest speakers present and discuss their research projects. This not only offers an opportunity to be actively involved in discussions but also for PGR students to present their own research to an academic and professional audience.

Our Doctoral students (PhD, Integrated PhD, EdD or DAppEdPsy) are engaged in a study of a wide and diverse range of subjects including Representations of Britishness in comics, to a comparative study between UK’s Academy schools and Turkey’s Project schools, to diagnosis of pupils with autism spectrum disorders in Saudi Arabia.

We warmly welcome applications for PhD study in any of the fields of expertise in:

Social Justice and Education

Pedagogic Innovations: Curriculum, technology, environment and internationalisation

Professional Learning and Practice

International Development and Global Education

Support for funding

There are opportunities for studying at Newcastle through the NINEDTP Education pathway. Education is a complex field of enquiry with a range of epistemological and methodological approaches from across the domains of philosophy, psychology and sociology. Our work represents this diversity and links directly to ESRC strategic priorities about creating ‘a vibrant and fair society’. For more information and opportunities contact the pathway leader Jill Clark.

Click here for other general advice on funding.

Social Justice and Education

Our research works to disrupt education inequities. We have developed conceptual frameworks to explore and explain inequities alongside models of practice which are co-produced and transformative, advancing knowledge in:

  • Fairness in education
  • Conceptual integration of sociocultural theory (SCT) with translanguaging-to-learn
  • Britishness as racist nativism
  • Eastern European and Anglo-American philosophies of science: their relationship to the development of state education systems and popular education
  • Education and the labour movement in Europe
  • Learner-centred pedagogies and alternative learning environments
  • Translanguaging as a political and emancipatory pedagogical practice
  • How schools and other organisations can work together to transform communities and address disadvantage
  • Out of school activities and character education
  • Young people as drivers and agents of change

 

Our Specialisms:

Subjects

  • Dialectical materialist thought across Europe (the development of Marxism as a philosophy of science, research method and educational process)
  • Classical, and Western, Marxist traditions in education and alternatives to the Marxist philosophy of science and education: Dewey, James, Feyerabend, Mach, neo-Hegelian, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Wittgenstein
  • Roma Education and translanguaging to include Romani languages
  • The education of children with complex and multiple learning difficulties, including those with PMLD and those children who are looked after and have been in care, including adopted children
  • Widening participation and social inequalities and higher education
  • Video Interaction Guidance
  • Cognitive and metacognitive perspectives of imagination and creativity as a means of social inclusion

Methodologies

  • Participatory approaches including participatory action research (PAR), the use of visual methods, co-production and co-creation
  • Theory of change approaches to research, evaluation and project development.
  • Phenomenology and narrative research
  • Critical race theory (CRT) (and critical whiteness) as a conceptual and analytic framework for understanding the permanence of racism in education
  • Raceclass and critical realist methods of research
  • Comics as a research method

Current and Recent Research Projects include:

  • Innovation and the Application of Knowledge for More Effective Policing, £846K (of £7.4 million awarded), funded by HEFCE Catalyst Award, May 2015 – April 2020.
  • ROMtels(Roma Transalnguaging Enquiry Space)  €261,317 Erasmus+ grant involving partners in UK, France, Finland and Romania 2014-2017
  • North East Collaborative Outreach Programme £9,000,000 Office for Students 2017- present
  • Transforming Tees: Tees Valley ‘Literacy Lifeboat’ £12,500 Tees Valley Combined Authority involving schools in Tees Valley January 2018 – October 2018
  • Freedom City Comics  £17,600, funded by NUHRI and NISR 2017.
  • Impacting on young people’s emotional wellbeing: a Forest School intervention £14, 962 ESRC IAA Co-production fund April 2017 –March 2019
  • Researching the impact of the Breeze Project on children and young people’s wellbeing £12,950 Scotswood Natural Community Garden March 2019 – January 2020
  • Theory of Change and Evaluation Framework Development £15,000, funded by Big Lottery Blackpool October 2016 – September 2018.
  • Evaluating Thinking Differently, £89K, funded by JRF July 2013 – Jun 2016.
  • Developing a Children’s Community in the West End of Newcastle, various grants totalling £50,000 2013-present
  • Evaluation of Thinking Differently £90,000 Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2013-2016
  • Evaluation of Poverty Proofing £20,000 Children North East and others 2015-present

 

Staff involved in Social Justice and Education

Helen Burns

Jill Clark - Co-production, Participatory research, Visual methods, Community-based education, Policing and prison-based research

Gail Edwards - Critical realism, Marxism, Philosophies of science, Education and the labour movement, Vygotsky and pedagogic theory

Eric Fletcher - Outdoor learning; Boundary crossing; Personal and Social Development (incl. well-being and character); Participatory approaches

Hanneke Jones

Karen Laing

Maria Mroz

Sam Shields

Heather Smith - Critical race theory, critical whiteness, translanguaging, Roma education, sociocultural theory

Liz Todd

Caroline Walker-Gleaves - Inclusion; Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties; Teacher Beliefs & Practices; Children who are Looked After or Care-Experienced

Lydia Wysocki

Pedagogic Innovation

Pedagogic Innovation: Curriculum, Technology, Environment and Internationalisation

Our research works to understand effects of the learning environment on teaching and learning practices and outcomes. We work to affect educational change, providing alternative models for the curriculum and environment for pupils, teachers and schools to maximise inclusive practices and learner-centred approaches. This includes understanding the growing impact of technology in education and challenges to the traditional role of the teacher. We also advance knowledge of the phenomena of internationalization and the challenges and implications for higher education policy makers, leaders and practitioners.

Our Specialisms:

  • Project-based and inquiry learning; community curriculum making
  • Participatory and co-creative approaches to planning, designing and researching educational innovation
  • Teaching and learning in innovative learning environments (ILEs), open plan and flexible spaces
  • Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) and Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE)
  • The disruptive nature of instructional technology on teachers and their practices including the use of technology in assessment and feedback.
  • Outdoor learning, including Forest School, school gardening and sail training, and the impact of such approaches on the emotional wellbeing of children and young people.
  • Ethical and values-driven internationalisation strategies and practices
  • Internationalisation of the curriculum and the student experience
  • Arts-based, imaginative pedagogies for nurturing metacognition and voice
  • Contemporary arts-based pedagogies

 Current and Recent Research Grants

  • Improving progress for lower achievers through Formative Assessment in Science and Mathematics Education, €1.9 million, funded by FP7, January 2014 – December 2016
  • Impacting on young people’s emotional wellbeing: a Forest School intervention £14, 962 ESRC IAA Co-production fund April 2017 –March 2019
  • Researching the impact of the Breeze Project on children and young people’s wellbeing £12,950 Scotswood Natural Community Garden March 2019 – January 2021
  • ROMtels(Roma Translanguaging Enquiry Space) €261,317 Erasmus+ grant involving partners in UK, France, Finland and Romania 2014-2017
  • Creative Fuse North East Evaluation, £8,949.04, funded by Creative Fuse North East, September 2017 – December 2018.
  • Evaluating using comics to inform children about having an MRI scan £10,905 Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation 2018-2019.
  • The impact of a new school building on students and non-teaching staff £14 900 Newcastle PVC Discretionary Fund February 2017- July 2017
  • ATIAH (Approaches and Tools for Internationalisation at Home) EU189K, Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships grant with partners Universita di Bologna and KU Leuven, 2016-18

 

Staff involved in Pedagogic Innovation:

Helen Burns

Eric Fletcher - Outdoor learning; Boundary crossing; Personal and Social Development (incl. well-being and character); Participatory approaches

Hanneke Jones

David Leat

Sugata Mitra

Maria Mroz

Sue Robson

James Stanfield

Ulrike Thomas

Lucy Tiplady - Outdoor learning, alternative learning environments, learner-centred pedagogies, participatory and co-creative methodologies

Caroline Walker-Gleaves - Inclusion; Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties; Teacher Beliefs & Practices; Children who are Looked After or Care-Experienced

Pam Woolner - Effects of learning environments; changing practices; educational architecture; participatory design; school building history and policy

International Development and Global Education

We have a very strong track record of carrying out research that informs national and international policy around the world concerning schooling for the marginalised. The research considers human interactions in context developing more nuanced and deeper understanding of the role of local actors, communities and NGOs in achieving localised solution driven initiatives.

Our Specialisms:

  • Working in sub-Saharan Africa (Liberia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya) and Asia (India and China)
  • Capacity building and transforming life chances on the ground
  • Working with governments and aid agencies around the world

 Our team is frequently asked to give keynote speeches around the world as well as called to advise DFID (Department for International Development) and the International Development Select Committee through written and verbal evidence at the Palace of Westminster. Our research has strengthened the evidence base for effective policy and programme initiatives.

Some of our grants are set out below, much of which are trail blazing being seminal, leading the way for others by highlighting the significance of grassroots approaches.  Some examples include:

  • Working with 3,000 households in post conflict cities – Freetown, Monrovia and Juba - to provide contextual stories that inform decisions made around schooling opportunities after conflict;
  • A longitudinal study of 5 years that underpinned a deeper understanding of parental expectations in informal settlements of India;
  • Marginalised children becoming citizen scientists in order to explore a diverse range of strategies to inform and examine the SDGs through play and exploration.

Current and Recent Research Grants

 Staff involved in International Development and Global Education:

Pauline Dixon

Steve Humble

James Stanfield

James Tooley

Professional Learning and Practice

Our research encompasses policy, theory and practice in professional learning across a range of contexts. We have developed research that aims to provide professionals with knowledge, skills, and tools to be able to work together, crossing disciplinary and organisational boundaries.

Our Specialisms:

  • Teachers’ efficacy beliefs and practice
  • Matters relating to the development of children’s reading
  • Supervision for educational psychologists
  • Impact of care and compassion on student learning
  • Students’ well-being and mental health
  • Teachers and early years practitioners’ knowledge of children’s language development
  • Philosophies of professional development and initial teacher education: effectiveness; reflective; post-structuralist, and Vygotskian (historical-materialist and cultural-historical-activity theory)
  • Historical and current global and national governance of teacher education
  • Cultural political economy of teacher education
  • Social justice and teachers’ labour
  • Quadruple helix knowledge production
  • Interdisciplinary and partnership working
  • Co-creation of knowledge
  • Theory of change for practice and policy development
  • How universities can work with other organisations to make a difference to society
  • How researchers can work with young people to co-produce research

 Current and Recent Research Grants

  • Living Books: an evaluation, £9,750 funded by The Ballinger Trust with partners Seven Stories, October 2015 – April 2018.
  • Making learning visible: impacting on mathematics teachers’ practice of formative assessment using technologies, £7,297.00, funded by ESRC IAA, September 2017 – November 2018.
  • Improving progress for lower achievers through Formative Assessment in Science and Mathematics Education, £1.9 million Euro, funded by FP7, January 2014 – December 2016.
  • ACCOMPLISSH £2,000,000 European Commission, 2016-2019
  • Developing tools for the co-creation of knowledge £12,500 Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal 2018-present
  • Knowledge Exchange Secondment with Wallsend Action for Youth £10,000 ESRC IAA 2016-2017
  • Building a children’s Community for the West End of Newcastle, £42,000 ESRC IAA Open Chair 2015 – present
  • Developing a theory of change for complex systems change £15,000 Blackpool Council 2016-2017
  • Partnership development for youth services and schools £9,000 Wallsend Action for Youth 2015-present
  • Language for All: Understanding the multi-agency pathway for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) £20,000 North Tyneside Council/Newcastle University 2015-2017

Staff involved in Professional Learning and Practice

Wilma Barrow

Jill Clark - Co-production, Participatory research, Visual methods, Community-based education, Policing and prison-based research

Gail Edwards - Critical realism, Marxism, Philosophies of science, Education and the labour movement, Vygotsky and pedagogic theory

Simon Gibbs - Teacher wellbeing, Teachers’ efficacy beliefs, Organisational Health, Children’s reading difficulties

Hanneke Jones

Rene Koglbauer

Karen Laing

Maria Mroz

Heather Smith - Critical race theory, critical whiteness, translanguaging, Roma education, sociocultural theory

Liz Todd

Caroline Walker-Gleaves - Inclusion; Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties; Teacher Beliefs & Practices; Children who are Looked After or Care-Experienced

Our Impact

You can find out more about our impact case studies via the links and expandable boxes below.

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