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An exciting research conference with a focus on attachment-aware and trauma-informed practice in schools will be held at Harcourt Hill Campus, Oxford Brookes University on Thursday 20th June 2024.

Rees Centre will be presenting key findings from the Alex Timpson Attachment and Trauma Awareness in Schools Programme that explored the perceived impact of whole-school attachment and trauma awareness training on staff and children in over 300 schools across England.

The Conference is supported by organisations including the Mulberry Bush Organisation, SEBDA and the Attachment Research Community.

The conference will also include opportunities to network with like-minded colleagues and to choose from 4 practical and interactive workshops.

Click here for more information.

By Dr Jason Todd, Departmental Lecturer

Oxfordshire students recently participated in the regional heat of the Historical Association’s Great Debate, held at Trinity College. The competition involves students presenting a five-minute speech defending their perspective on a given question. In this instance, the question was: “Which historical place or person from your local area deserves greater recognition?”

The speeches demonstrated impressive ingenuity. One student poetically advocated for Abingdon Abbey. The range and quality of talks made the judges’ task challenging. The discussions seamlessly integrated local elements, taking the audience on a journey to various places, including Crete, Shanghai, and Sofia, Bulgaria, through a migration story that prompted reflection on how we understand the concept of ‘local.’

The presentations delved into the world of ideas, from science to ideologies like communism and fascism. Participants urged the audience to consider evidence, reminding us that ‘Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence’. Above all, the debate encouraged contemplation on how history operates, revealing how societal structures and mindsets can suppress certain narratives, underscoring the dangers of forgetting.

The winner, Zak Cunnington, chose to highlight the historical significance of Patrick Steptoe, a pioneering British gynaecologist pivotal in the development of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Zak underscored Steptoe’s contributions, addressing the ethical challenges and scepticism he faced. Ultimately, Steptoe’s work revolutionised fertility treatment, leading to over five million IVF births worldwide. Steptoe had a connection to Zak’s school, Henry Box School, and emphasised the idea that historical significance can be found in seemingly ordinary places, urging us to appreciate the history right under our noses.

Following the heat stage there will be a semi-final stage held virtually to select the 24 participants that will take part in the final in March 2024. Special thanks to Trinity College for hosting the event.

Rees DPhil student Lisa Cherry recently made it into the Big Issue Top 100 Changemakers list for 2024, as voted for by the public.

Named as an inspirational figure in the women, family and children category, Lisa is recognised for her work in assisting schools and services to create systemic change in the way that we work with those experiencing trauma. As director of Trauma Informed Consultancy Services, Lisa hopes to provide accessible, scientifically grounded knowledge and information to all those working with and around trauma, resilience and recovery. With more than 30 years of experience working in and around education and children’s services, she works extensively with social workers, education providers, probation workers and those in adult services, training and speaking to over 30,000 people around the world.

“Formed in the early 90’s, The Big Issue has been part of the soundtrack of my career. I cannot think of a publication that I would rather be aligned with than this one. I felt so proud to be on the front cover; in a publication which continues to highlight how much still needs to change in regard to homelessness, stigmatisation and marginalisation caused by inequity and systemic harms. Onwards we must go,” Lisa said.

The award-winning author is also in the midst of her new book on cultivating belonging. Her other successful books include ‘Conversations that Make a Difference to Children and Young People’ and ‘The Brightness of Stars.’

This is the first time the Big Issue has called on the public for nominations for those they believe are responsible for innovative change. The magazine received nominations for people and projects across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Changemakers marks its 5th year in 2024, and the list showcases the top 100 Changemakers across the UK in categories such as Housing and Homelessness; Food and Nutrition; Climate, Environment and Sustainability; Sport, Culture and Fashion; Education, Mentorship and Business; Communities Migrants; Refugees and Asylum Seekers; Women, Fashion and Children; and Health and Disability.

PGCE Course Director, Dr Katharine Burn, said: “Following the publication of the revised Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Framework, we have some concerns about its robustness and effectiveness in addressing the recruitment and retention crisis in our schools.

“As an Initial Teacher Education provider, we pride ourselves on developing well-informed, passionate and thoughtful professionals who are ready to face the realities of the classroom and the critical judgements that they will need to make to drive forward the learning of all young people.

“We had hoped for a fully collaborative process, leading to a framework which would allow us to deliver the ITT to the highest standard. However, the latest iteration of the framework falls short of fully allowing us to do this. Sadly, it continues to be based on a limited research base.

“While some improvements have been made, we feel strongly that the framework needs further revision to avoid conveying the impression that there is a single guaranteed method of teaching every topic to every child or young person. Effective teaching in a rapidly changing and uncertain world requires the ability to evaluate how things are going and adapt in response to the needs of particular learners. It also requires confident use of a range of evidence.

“In presenting a single three-year framework greater clarity is also needed about the specific responsibilities of initial teacher education providers – whose teacher education programmes only last for a single year.

“We hope that further improvements can be made to the framework to address the concerns raised by us and a number of other providers.”

The ESRC Centre for Global Higher Education will hold a dynamic and path-breaking conference showcasing insights from its inter-disciplinary research project 8: ‘Local and Global Public Good of Higher Education, a 10-nation study’, on Wednesday 27 March from 9am-5.45pm in UCL Institute of Education, London.

Researchers will discuss the public good role of universities in today’s policy context, in which higher education is often understood solely in terms of narrowly defined economic benefits of higher education, and the contribution of higher education to community and society building, and global good, must be brought back into the picture. Researchers will present findings from CGHE’s 10-nation study on how policymakers and university staff see the contribution of universities to public good, common good and global common good, not only in terms of economic benefits but broader societal well-being. Different countries handle these issues in varying ways and we have much to learn from each other.

The conference will involve a stimulating mix of panels integrating policy, university leadership and pedagogical perspectives, from both the UK and globally. There will be ample opportunity for audience participation via world cafe style breakout groups and parallel online forums.

This will be an important opportunity for thoughtful scholarly engagement on the theme of public/common good, as well as for a fresh discussion on policies to promote the public good role of universities – for graduates, the nation and for all of humanity.

For conference programme and registration, click here.




An online event to examine how our understanding of poverty and need has evolved, or not, since the time of Thomas Coram, and the impact this has on the contemporary world, will take place on Monday 29 January at 6pm. 

In a speech made to the Duke of Bedford at the first meeting of the Foundling Hospital governors in 1739, Thomas Coram spoke of his ambition to protect the ‘innocent subjects’ of King George II. The language used to refer to those in need has fluctuated, but continues to reveal important facts about how societies past and present have conceptualised themselves and the systems of wealth and welfare they create. 

Emeritus Professor Harriet Ward CBE, who is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Education’s Rees Centre, is one of the panel speakers and will be talking about the historical development of the concept of the deserving and undeserving poor, and how this legacy has affected the experiences of children in care, including those looked after by Coram’s Foundling Hospital.

Titled ‘His Innocent Subjects: A Historical Exploration of the Deserving and Undeserving Poor’, the online event will see a panel of speakers consider the historical roots and impact of a dichotomy that continues to share narratives and policy around poverty. 

To find out more and to sign-up for the event, register here

Early Years practitioners across the UK are invited to take part in an evaluation of Talking Time©, an intervention programme which empowers staff to enhance oral language in the early years.

Talking Time© supports Early Years practitioners to deliver engaging, structured, small-group activities to three- to five-year-olds, aiming to enhance early oral language through high-quality interactions and conversations. The programme has been developed by leading academics at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education and UCL’s Institute of Education, and has been shown to enhance children’s oral language and staff practice. An independent evaluation of the programme will be conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, with funding from the Education Endowment Foundation.

The Talking Time© team are seeking 130 settings to take part. Settings allocated to the ‘intervention’ group will receive the programme at no cost. Settings allocated to the ‘control’ group will receive a payment as a thank you for taking part, which they can use to access programme resources once the research is complete.

Dr Sandra Mathers, Departmental Lecturer at the University of Oxford and Talking Time© co-lead, said: “Talking Time© is all about having high quality conversations with children to support their language learning. One of the key features is the flexibility of the programme. The embedded professional development supports educators to adapt Talking Time© to their individual contexts and children”.

Early Years settings in parts of London, the Northwest, East of England, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber are being offered the chance to get involved with the evaluation study. State and private, voluntary and independent (PVI) group settings are eligible to take part.

Professor Julie Dockrell, Professor of Psychology and Special Needs at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education & Society said: “We hope particularly to work with settings in socially deprived areas, and support them in improving children’s oral language development.”

Want to get involved? Read the information sheet and fill out the Expression of Interest form.

A series of webinars led by Dr Sandra Mathers and the Talking Time© team will provide practitioners with an introduction to the study. See the dates of the webinars and register on the Talking Time website.

On UNESCO’s International Day of Education (24 January), the Department of Education will launch a new seminar series exploring Ukrainian Higher Education in Times of War, tying in with UNESCO’s theme of “learning for lasting peace”.

As part of the Global Public Seminars in Comparative and International Education, the series of talks will explore how Ukrainian universities continue to fulfil their missions in the current circumstances of Russia’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine. Speakers representing various Ukrainian universities will share their research results and personal experiences in solving the problems that Ukrainian universities are facing.

Dr Maia Chankseliani, Associate Professor and convenor of the seminar series said: “The aim of the Global Public Seminars in Comparative and International Education is to foster a nuanced understanding of the dynamic landscape of education globally. By exploring the challenges faced by Ukrainian Higher Education during times of conflict, we aim to shed light on broader implications for educational institutions worldwide”

Dr Yuliya Zayachuk, Visiting Researcher at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, will kick off the seminars on 24 January. Dr Zayachuk said: “My talk covers the main responses of Ukrainian universities to the complex challenges caused by Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, with a special emphasis on internationalization as an integral part of Ukrainian university activities in time of war.”

The seminars will be held on Wednesdays at 3pm on Zoom from 24 January – 14 February.

See the full programme.

Register to attend.


Q: The International Day of Education celebrates the role of education for peace and development. How can education play a role in lasting peace?

Dr Zayachuk said: “The higher the level of economic, social, and political development of a society, the greater chances that it will not need barbaric actions towards its neighbours. It is education that provides knowledge, practical skills, values, and attitudes necessary for such development of a society and thus plays an important role in maintaining and ensuring lasting peace.”

Dr Chankseliani said: “Educational institutions play a crucial role in promoting lasting peace by nurturing a culture of understanding, tolerance, and cooperation. In our seminars, we investigate how education, with its transformative potential, can bridge divides, empower individuals, and contribute to the development of societies. It is through a global perspective that we aim to explore the diverse ways in which education can act as a catalyst for enduring peace.”