Seminars and Events

All events are held at 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford OX2 6PY unless otherwise stated.

All are welcome to those indicated as ‘public seminars’ in parentheses after the title. These are held on Monday evenings and there is no need to book. If you are coming from outside the Department and would like to attend any of the other seminars or events, please contact the convener(s) beforehand.
Click on the title of the event for further information.

Group trajectory analysis applied to national data on educational outcomes for looked after children

10 October 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speakers Dr Julian Gardiner & Professor Ted Melhuish, Department of Education

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

We apply the statistical technique of group trajectory analysis to map differing patterns of trajectories for educational outcomes across Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 4 for the population of looked after children in England.

Department of Education Research Poster Conference

10 October 2016 17:00 - 19:00
Seminar Rooms A, B, G & H

The annual opportunity for research staff and students in research groups and centres to demonstrate their current work to new students in the form of posters.

An introduction to Vygotsky

12 October 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Professor Harry Daniels and Dr Ian Thompson, Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (OSAT)

How to improve early career teacher retention

17 October 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker Dr Rebecca Allen, UCL and Director Education Datalab

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Making use of international large-scale assessment data in national contexts: PIRLS for Teachers (Public Seminar)

17 October 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speakers Dr Jenny Lenkeit and Dr Therese N. Hopfenbeck, Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment

Convener Professor Jo-Anne Baird, Director of the Department of Education


There is a knowledge gap between information provided by international large-scale assessments (ILSA) such as PIRLS, PISA, and TIMSS, the publically available research results and what is of interest and use to teachers in England. Considering the public costs needed to participate in international studies, the link between this form of assessment and its impact on classroom pedagogy is alarmingly low and questions about the use of this data and related research grow more urgent. But, the understanding of how to engage the users of research is still developing and the use and impact of research on practice is as yet minimal. One reason for this is seen in excluding practitioners from research activities that concern their professional field.

The PIRLS for Teachers project (ESRC IAA funded) first engaged with teachers to increase their knowledge about PIRLS and their capacity to use data and information provided by the survey. Second, it aimed to increase researchers’ understanding of the challenges teachers face in dealing with PIRLS findings and identifying their specific needs and interests. Third, teachers and researchers acted as co-producers of relevant new knowledge by jointly interpreting the PIRLS findings, addressing new research questions and finding ways in which results can be used to improve teaching practice.

We will outline the rationale of our project, discuss the challenges for us as researchers and for the teachers, present the materials developed in collaboration with teachers and discuss the impact and dissemination strategy.

We expect the outcomes of the project to enhance not only teachers’ professional learning about PIRLS and its use for improving classroom practice but also that of researchers about practitioners’ needs for understanding and using findings provided in ILSA. We also expect teachers to wrestle with the possible contradicting evidence from their own classrooms and from PIRLS. Overall, outcomes of this research will contribute to strengthening the link between ILSA, teachers’ understanding of its findings and the improvement of classroom practices, partly through possible new research collaborations.

About the speakers

Jenny Lenkeit is a Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA). She has a PhD in Education and a Master’s degree in Empirical Educational Research and Comparative Education. At OUCEA, Jenny’s work relates to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 National Centre in England for which OUCEA is the National Research Centre in collaboration with Pearson UK. Jenny’s research interests are moreover focused on the conceptual and methodological link between international large-scale assessments and educational effectiveness research, cross cultural comparisons.

Therese N. Hopfenbeck is an Associate Professor and is Director of the Oxford University Centre Therese’s research interests focus on how large-scale comparative assessments and international testing have shaped public policy across education systems and how knowledge from these studies can enhance better learning from students around the world. She is Research Manager of PIRLS 2016 in England and member of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 Questionnaire Expert Group. Therese is also Principal Investigator for the ESRC-DFID-funded project, Assessment for Learning in Africa (AFLA): Improving Pedagogy and Assessment for Numeracy in Foundation Years. The focus of this project is to conduct research on formative assessment in primary school early years’ numeracy contexts in Tanzania, East Africa and two sites in South Africa. Therese is Lead Editor of the international research journal Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice.

The fringe benefits of failure

20 October 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room G

Speakers Professor Ruth Merttens, Co-Director of the Hamilton Education Trust (on secondment from the University of St. Mark and St. John, Plymouth) and Dr Naomi Norman, Independent education researcher and consultant

Convener Dr Gabriel Stylianides, Subject Pedagogy Research Group


JK Rowling entitled her Harvard lecture (2008) ‘The fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination’, and the title of this seminar borrows the first part, but could just as well have borrowed both. During this seminar, Professor Ruth Merttens and Dr Naomi Norman will, in one sense, tell a story of failure.  In another, it is hoped you will join them in a celebration of imagination.

Hamilton Trust (an educational charity) embarked in September 2015 on a year’s research project, focussed on the question of the well accepted, if little researched, attrition of numerical fluency as pupils travel through secondary education. Hence, the Hamilton programme of numeracy sessions, was used (for 15 minutes, 3 times per week) by eight secondary schools with some of their Y7 pupils and not others. By any normal standard, the project was a failure. More or less across the board, the pupils in Action groups did not outperform those in Control groups. Furthermore, the majority of students tested from Y7 to Y12, did worse or no better on the tests than they had in Y6.

Numeracy is not just a minor issue in secondary schools, it is a massive issue. And a carefully drafted, well-trialled programme of sessions appeared to do nothing to improve things.

However, research is only a failure if it is not carried out rigorously and with complete transparency.  Enquiry is always good, as long as we engage honestly with the findings.  What is required here is imagination. We need to think what explanations are possible – even probable.  And, crucially, what can be done to change things.

This seminar presents a clear summary of the fascinating data.  Ruth and Naomi will then encourage those attending to join in imagining why things panned out as they did and how the project could be improved.

From external regulation to self-regulation: A multilevel structural equation modelling analysis of Tools of the Mind's curricular effects

24 October 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker Alex Baron, Department of Education

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Education in divided societies: the role of school collaboration (Public Seminar)

24 October 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker Professor Tony Gallagher, University of Belfast

Convener Professor Harry Daniels and Dr Ian Thompson, OSAT


Mass education has traditionally been used as an integrating force, perhaps most notably in the role of the public school in the United States. In the latter part of the 20th century overt assimilation through education was increasingly critiqued and attention shifted towards the incorporation of various forms of multiculturalism in schools. In some societies separate schools operated in recognition of different identities: in some contexts separate schools were used to maintain patterns of domination-oppression, but in others it was an attempt to allow minorities to maintain their own identities. Northern Ireland has operated separate schools for over a century, and many pointed to this as a factor in social division and political violence: various interventions were applied during the years of the violence, but few showed evidence of creating positive systemic change. For the last decade a new approach, based on promoting collaborative networks of Protestant and Catholic schools, has been put in place. ‘Shared education’ seeks to create dialogic processes between communities, at all levels, by using network effects to change the nature of the relationship between schools and communities in local areas while focusing on social, educational and economic goals. This presentation outlines the background to the development of shared education in Northern Ireland and traces how it has developed. The paper also will examine briefly how the idea has been adopted in other contexts, most notably in Israel.

About the speaker

Tony Gallagher is a Professor of Education at Queen’s University Belfast. His primary research interest lies in the role of education in divided societies. Since 2007 he has led the Sharing Education Programme (SEP) in Northern Ireland and is currently working on related projects in Israel and Los Angeles. He is editor of Education, Citizenship and Social Justice (Sage); a member of the steering committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy; and works for the Council of Europe on a number of activities, including higher education and citizenship education. He has held a number of leadership roles in Queen’s, including Head of the School of Education (2005-10) and Pro Vice Chancellor (2010-15). Currently he is Director of Research in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.

OSAT reading group

26 October 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Conveners: Professor Harry Daniels and Dr Ian Thompson, Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (OSAT)

Measuring graduate over-qualification

31 October 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker Dr Craig Holmes, Pembroke College

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Public Seminar (title to be announced)

31 October 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker Professor Simon Marginson, IoE/UCL, Director of the ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education

Convener Dr Hubert Ertl, Higher Education Research Group

Motivation and engagement in mathematics and English during a month at school: Every minute of every day for every student matters - again!

01 November 2016 12:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room E

Speaker Professor Andrew J. Martin, School of Education, University of New South Wales

Convener Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg, Quantitative Methods Hub


The research in this presentation reports on real-time longitudinal intra-individual data collected in mathematics and English lessons, every school day, across four school weeks. A total of 113 boys and girls in Year 7 from two Australian schools participated. Using mobile technology (e.g., smart phones, laptops, tablets) to capture intra-individual real-time data, a four-level model was explored, consisting of between-lesson (within-day) ratings at the first level (up to 2 lessons per day), between-day ratings at the second level (5 days per week), between-week ratings at the third level (4 weeks), and between-student ratings at the fourth level (thus, 40 possible time points per student). Multilevel modeling showed substantial between-lesson (within-day) variability in motivation and engagement (M = 34%) and substantial between-student variability (M = 62%). There was not so much variability between days (M = 2%) or between weeks (M = 2%). We propose the study offers insights for motivation and engagement theorizing (particularly around stability and developmental issues) and technological and logistic guidance for collecting real-time data. Furthermore, these findings derived from boys and girls in two schools replicate those from a previous study (also discussed in this presentation) conducted among a small sample of boys. The findings again show that every minute of every day for every student matters.

About the speaker

Andrew Martin, PhD, is Professor of Educational Psychology in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales, Australia specializing in motivation, engagement, achievement, and quantitative research methods. He is also Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford, Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, and President of the International Association of Applied Psychology’s Division 5 Educational, Instructional, and School Psychology.

To what extent is Oxford still an ecclesiastical foundation university?

01 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: The Revd Dr John Gay, Department of Education

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

The term ‘Church university’ is normally limited in this country to the group of new universities evolving out of the teacher training colleges established by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.  However four of the earliest universities, Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and King’s College London were ecclesiastical foundations. Whilst these four have broadened and secularized over the years, nevertheless there are still significant ecclesiastical elements remaining in their constitutions, their organisational structures and their practices.  This seminar focuses on Oxford as a case study.

The Revd Dr John Gay is an honorary research fellow at the Department of Education and a visiting professor at the University of Winchester.

Relational agency

02 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Professor Anne Edwards

Conveners: Professor Harry Daniels and Dr Ian Thompson, Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (OSAT)

Tackling inequality? Teacher effects and the socioeconomic gap in educational achievement

07 November 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker Rodrigo Torres, UCL Institute of Education

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Although teacher quality is usually signalled to be the most relevant school-level factor impacting students' learning, little is known about the relevance of teacher effects explaining educational inequality. By using a value-added model for a cohort of 10th graders, in this work we examine the socioeconomic gap in teacher effects across Chilean secondary schools, and its importance in explaining socioeconomic inequality in students' achievement in math and language. We found an important proportion of highly effective teachers in low socioeconomic status (SES) schools, but also much bigger variation in teacher effects across those schools. Variability in teacher effects decreases when moving towards higher SES schools, where there is also a smaller proportion of low-performing teachers. All in all, teacher effects have a levelling impact for students in low SES schools when compared to those in middle SES schools, but no significant impact when compared to students in high SES schools.

Religion and Belief in Britain: the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life (Public Seminar)

07 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker Dr Edward Kessler, Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies, University of Cambridge

Convener Dr Liam Gearon, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum


Religion and belief are driving forces in society today. Although there is some divergence of opinion over the extent, there is unanimity that the UK is becoming less Christian, less religious and more diverse. Dr Ed Kessler, Vice Chairman of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, will discuss the implications of the dramatic changes in the religious landscape in less than two generations.

The Commission’s report, ‘Living with Difference’, was published in December 2016 and generated a fierce debate about UK public policy related to religion and belief. Dr Kessler will reflect on the reaction to the report as well as its impact in the areas of education, the media, law, dialogue and social action.

Understanding religion and belief is not an option but a necessity that the Government needs to factor into their approaches. The pattern of religious affiliation has changed and continues to change. Policymakers and politicians need to catch up with events, to enhance their capacity to read a most potent sign of our times - religion and belief.

About the speaker

Dr Edward Kessler MBE is Founder Director of the Woolf Institute, a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge and a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily, Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. Dr Kessler was described by The Times Higher Education Supplement as 'probably the most prolific interfaith figure in British academia' and was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to interfaith relations.

Further info at:

Using secondary data to examine the transition of science graduates into highly skilled STEM jobs

14 November 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker Professor Emma Smith, Department of Education, University of Leicester

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Concerns about shortages of highly skilled science, engineering, technology and mathematics graduates are well established and have persisted for some time. Although these claims have been challenged, they have formed the basis of policies directing considerable resources to STEM education at compulsory and post-compulsory levels. In this paper we consider a range of secondary data sources (including data from HESA, the 1970 British birth cohort study and the annual population survey) across a three decade period  to review what they can tell us about the persistence of long term and widespread shortages of highly skilled STEM graduates.

Public Seminar (title to be announced)

14 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker Dr Neil Harrison, Department of Education, University of the West of England

Convener Dr Hubert Ertl, Higher Education Research Group

Subject Pedagogy Research Group seminar (title to be announced)

15 November 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room D

SpeakersProfessor Jill Adler, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa 

Convener Dr Gabriel Stylianides, Subject Pedagogy Research Group

Epistemic fluency in higher education: bridging actionable knowledgeable and knowledgeable action

16 November 2016 16:30 -
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Lina Markauskaite, Associate Professor,  Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation, University of Sydney

Conveners: Dr Ian Thompson and Professor Harry Daniels, OSAT

The role of schools in explaining individuals’ subject choices at age 14

21 November 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker Dr Jake Anders, UCL Institute of Education

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

5 Years of the EEF: findings, challenges and future priorities

21 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker Matthew Van Poortvliet, Grants Manager, Education Endowment Foundation

Convener Emeritus Professor Kathy Sylva, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Education


The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) was established in 2011 and has so far committed over £75 million to education research projects involving over 7,000 schools. It is perhaps best known for the Teaching and Learning Toolkit, a synthesis of research used by two thirds of schools in England, and for the use of RCTs in education. As EEF passes its 5th anniversary, and the publication of over 60 trial evaluations, this presentation will discuss findings from that research and lessons learnt to date. It will first highlight emerging areas of promise and some examples of projects that have been more and less effective. It will then discuss the challenges of translating these findings into practice, and how approaches can be taken to scale. Finally, it will look at priorities for EEF’s work in the future, including the challenges of conducting trials in new areas.

About the speaker

Matthew van Poortvliet, is responsible for commissioning and designing EEF research trials. He currently manages 30 trials across a range of education areas, and leads EEF’s work on early years, social and emotional skills, and parental engagement. Prior to joining EEF in February 2013, he worked for charity sector think tank and consultancy, New Philanthropy Capital, leading research on children and young people. He previously worked as an English language teacher and studied at Oxford University and LSE.

What happens when econometrics and psychometrics collide? An example from the PISA data

28 November 2016 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker Dr John Jerrim, UCL Institute of Education

Conveners  Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Large-scale international assessments such as PISA are increasingly being used to benchmark the academic performance of students across the world. Yet many of the technicalities underpinning these datasets remain poorly understood by applied researchers, who often fail to take into account the complex survey and test design in their analysis. The aim of this paper is to generate a better understanding about how such databases are generated, and what this implies for empirical methodologies that should and should not be applied. In doing so, we explain how some of the statistical modelling strategies preferred by economists (such as the use of ‘fixed effects’) is at odds with the psychometric test design. In doing so, we hope to generate a better understanding of large-scale international education datasets, and promote better practice in their use.

Schools as workplaces: What makes a school a good place to work? (Public Seminar)

28 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker Professor Jane Bryson, School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington

Convener Dr Susan James Relly, SKOPE


Arguably schools are a uniquely challenging type of organisation to manage, particularly in contemporary times. Schools are at the centre of societal change shaping the skills, expectations and mores of the next generation. The work of teachers is important and meaningful but has become increasingly stressful as they face massive occupational change combined with increasing levels of individual accountability to multiple stakeholders and questionable valuing of their work. Consequently, the management of schools as workplaces presents difficult challenges due not only to the pressures their teachers face but also because of a range of educational governance and labour market issues. Thus it is surprising that schools (and the teaching occupation) rarely feature in the human resource management (HRM) literature.

This seminar will report ongoing research (New Zealand based) into what makes a school a good place to work and in particular the challenges of HRM in schools.

About the speaker

Jane researches the range of factors (institutional, organisational and individual) which influence human capability at work. Most recently she has examined the impact of employment law on workplace management practices. Her current research investigates schools as workplaces.  She is the author with Rose Ryan of Human Resource Management in the Workplace published by Pearson, 2012, and editor of Beyond Skill published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Jane has been an Associate Fellow of SKOPE since 2006.

OSAT Seminar (title to be announced)

30 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Professor Guida de Abreu  Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health, Oxford Brookes University

Conveners: Professor Harry Daniels and Dr Ian Thompson, Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (OSAT)

PISA Seminar 2016

09 December 2016 -