School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Heather Smith

Senior Lecturer



My underlying research interest lies in equity in education. I am principal investigator for an Erasmus+ European Project, entitled: ROMtels (Roma translanguaging enquiry learning space), which looks to improve education for Roma pupils across Europe by encouraging home language use alongside the language of schooling (261,317.00 Euros). I also research the teaching of critical whiteness studies to Initial Teacher Education students in England. My PhD research concerned the microgenetic analysis of small group talk for bilingual pupils learning English as an additional language.
Prior to joining the University I taught in UK, Zimbabwe and New Zealand, as well as working as an EAL specialist teacher for Gateshead EMTAS (Ethnic Minority Achievement Service).

Roles and Responsibilities

I lead the Equality and Diversity aspect of the Primary PGCE

I teach on several modules across the BA Education and am module leader for the stage 3 module EDU 3002 Social Justice and Education.

I supervise Masters and PhD level students.


BSc (Hons) Pure Mathematics (Warwick)
PGCE (Primary)
PhD 'Analysis of pupil-pupil talk during game playing: a tool in the formative assessment of bilingual pupils' (Newcastle University)

PhD supervision

I am looking to supervise students in the areas of:

Critical race theory as applied to education, including critical whiteness

Translanguaging pedagogy for multilingual pupils

Education of Roma pupils


Research Interests

My research interest lies in the field of equity in education. I am currently investigating the impact of teaching 'Critical Whiteness Studies' and Critical Race Theory as part of the PGCE course.
This is an extension of an earlier small-scale Multiverse-funded study to research how to effectively mentor student teachers in their appropriation of the QTS standards relating to diversity, particularly in a predominantly 'white' area such as the North-East. Previous research also includes an investigation into Black/minority ethnic students' decisions in choosing teaching as a profession. This research was internally funded through the UTLC. I have also taken part in an ESRC seminar series: "Assessment and Management of Children with English as an Additional Language who have Communication Impairments: Finding a New Way Forward".
My doctoral work involved researching the learning and teaching of pupils with EAL; the role of play and games for learning; recording and analysing classroom talk and particularly peer-peer talk (discourse analysis); sociocultural theory and its implications in understanding learning and assessment.

Other Expertise

I am on the management panel of MERIT a collaborative venture with 5 other local ITE providers to promote increased participation of Black and minority ethnic groups into the teaching profession within the North-East.I am also a member of the PGCE Equal Opportunities sub-committee, and recently rewrote the PGCE Equlaity, Diversity and Cohesion Policy.

Postgraduate Supervision

Gail Edwards (staff PhD):
Michiko Masuya (PhD part-time): How Discourse Constructs Values in the British and Japanese TV News
Shaban Aldabbus (IPhD): An investigation into the Impact of Language Games on Classroom Interaction and Pupil Achievement in Libyan Basic Education Schools.


Principal Investigator: Erasmus plus: ROMtels (Roma translanguaging enquiry learning space) (in collaboration with Helsinki University, Catholic University of Paris, Middlesex University, Westgate Hill Primary school, People to people foundation, Romania (261,317.00 Euros). 2014-2016

Principal Investigator: Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal: Supporting the planning phase of an Erasmus plus project

entitled: Interactive dual language immersive learning space (£1,080.00)

Participant: Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal: Teaching education for social justice to student teachers on a one year PGCE course: how effective is transformative teaching in the current political and social climate?’ (£2K)

Principal Investigator: Mentoring for diversity in a predominantly monolingual area: the development of a specialist partnership group: a pilot study. Multiverse-funded: £7K: 1 year from September 2006

Recruitment of minority ethnic students to the PGCE at Newcastle University: UTLC: £5K: 1-2 years from September 2005.


Postgraduate Teaching

Module Leader: EDU3002 Social Justice and Education

PGCE Primary - Leading: Diversity and Equality.

Contributor to modules EDU 1001, EDU 2001 in BA Education