Department of Education

Abigail Branford

Research Student

College Affiliation: Jesus College

Abigail’s research explores the role of education in students’ personal development and how this can be supported by policy, curricula, initial teacher education and teacher professional development. In particular she focuses on history education, citizenship education and peace education as vehicles for dialogue. These opportunities for students to engage with social questions are vital for building cohesive societies. This flows from the recognition that traditional forums for developing public understanding, such as post-conflict truth commissions, need to be complemented by intergenerational and educational perspectives.

Abigail has taught History, Politics, Debating as well as Relationships and Sex Education to secondary school students in South Africa, England and the USA.

She holds postgraduate degrees in Post-Conflict and Transitional Justice (University of Cape Town), in Education, Globalisation and International Development (University of Cambridge) and in African Studies (University of Oxford). She is a Rhodes Scholar, Mandela-Magdalene Scholar and Mandela-Rhodes Scholar.

Title of thesis

GCSE History, Policy Reform and Student Development: How students and teachers navigate the thematic study “Empires, Migration and the People”

Conference papers

Teaching Migration, Belonging, and Empire in Secondary Schools: evaluation of a teacher professional development program, (2019) History Educators International Research Network Conference, Lead author: Dr Jason Todd, University of Vienna, Austria.

“The Problems and Prospects of Teaching South Africa’s Recent History: Teachers’ Perspectives”, (2018) Sustainability, peace and education – Exploring promise and practice: BAICE 20th Anniversary Symposium, University of Bristol, England.

“New Generations, Old Wounds: Learning History at Home and School in Northern Ireland”, (2018) European Social Science and History Conference,
Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland.

“The Methodological Challenges of Investigating the Role of History Teaching in Peacebuilding”, (2017), Present Past: Time, Memory, and the Negotiation of Historical Justice Conference, Columbia University, United States of America.

“Teaching South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, (2017) European Conference on African Studies, Universität Basel, Switzerland.

Research Assistant Publications

Review of the evidence on feedback in primary and secondary schools, (forthcoming, 2021) for the Education Endowment Foundation, Lead author: Prof Velda Elliott.

Teaching Migration, Belonging, and Empire in Secondary Schools, (2019), for Runnymede Trust and the European Research Council, Lead authors: Kimberly McIntosh, Dr Jason Todd and Prof Nandini Das.

Gender and the Politics of Reconciliation (2016), for The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Lead author: Dr Helen Scanlon


‘Transitions, Truth-Telling and Teaching History’, Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal, Vol. 4, 2017.

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