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A new video series from the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) outlines key messages in assessment and provides top tips for education practitioners.

In the first film, ‘Understanding Formative Assessment & Giving Good Feedback’, Professor Gordon Stobart (UCL), Associate Professor Victoria Elliott (Oxford University), Daisy Christodoulou (No More Marking), and Natalie Usher (Oxford University) discuss the importance of formative assessment and how to give students good feedback.

In the second film, which will be released shortly, Associate Professor Michelle Meadows (Oxford University), Dr Ed Wolfe (Pearson) and Anne Pinot de Moira (Consultant) discuss the importance of marking reliability, problems in producing it and ways of making assessment more reliable, including through good mark scheme design.

Visit the OUCEA website to see all the episodes as they become available.

The video series was funded by Oxford University’s Teaching Development and Enhancement fund.

The Department of Education has been rated “outstanding” once again for our initial teacher education following a visit from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED).

The last visit took place in 2018 when inspectors rated the Department’s training to be of the highest possible standard. In the latest visit, which took place just before Easter, OFSTED said: “The University of Oxford successfully realises its ambition to ensure that trainees are as well prepared as they can be to become excellent teachers. The innovative course design has an exceptionally strong subject focus. Trainees acquire highly developed subject specific knowledge and pedagogical understanding to teach complex concepts in an accessible manner to pupils, including those who are disadvantaged.”

The report highlighted the quality of education and training, leadership and management and overall effectiveness of the course to be outstanding in all areas.

Department Director, Victoria Murphy, said: “We’re incredibly proud of our research-based teacher education in Oxford and the latest findings from OFSTED show that we are maintaining the highest standards possible. I’d like to thank my colleagues who deliver such world class education.”

The Department offers the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) to students who want to teach English, mathematics, science, modern languages, geography, history or religious education in secondary schools. Currently there are 133 students on the course.

PGCE Course Director, Katharine Burn said: “We’re delighted that the inspectors recognised the quality in depth of our partnership with local schools, achieved by working in close collaboration with one another. The Department uses an internship model, which emphasises the need for a constant interplay between the research-based understandings of practice that the University can offer and the rich, contextualised knowledge of expert teachers.

“By jointly planning and refining the course each year, we ensure a supportive and coherent programme, with our students fully part of their schools from the very first week. We’re incredible proud of the course and of our students.”

Director of Graduate Studies, Velda Elliott said: “The way we run teacher education in the Department is, we think, exceptionally strong. We work with new teachers as they take their first steps into the classroom through to being fully fledged professionals, using the partnership model with schools which is highly effective.”

Our Department has a long history in initial teacher education, dating back to 1892.

The full Ofsted report is available now.

More information can be found out about our teacher education on our PGCE pages.

Rees Centre research officer Dr Andrew Brown has published a paper in the British Educational Research Journal that discusses key issues about how adopted children and young people experience school in the UK.

Titled “Coherent lives: Making sense of adoptees’ experiences in education through narrative identity” the paper delves into the importance of wider school experiences and individual developmental challenges for adoptees. It takes a narrative adoptive identity approach to understanding adoptees’ unique challenges that may enhance their opportunities for better educational progress.

Read the full journal here, or blog here.

The Department of Education is officially on Instagram!

We will be posting daily life at the Department, stories from our staff and students, photos of our beautiful garden, and much more.

Make sure to follow us: @oxforddeptofed


Three bitesize podcasts explaining key issues in standard setting have been released today by the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment.

The podcasts give an accessible explanation to teachers, students and everyone interested the different approaches to standard setting in qualifications like GCSEs.

Principal Investigators Dr Michelle Meadows and Professor Jo-Anne Baird said: “Public discussions on standards are often frustrating for all sides because there are different understandings of how things are done. We hope these podcasts bridge the communications gap between the public and assessment industry insiders on how standards are set.”

The first podcast explains the pros and cons of criterion-referencing, the second debunks the myth that GCSEs are norm-referenced and explains how standards are really set, and the third explains why GCSE grade boundaries change from one examination series to the next.

The podcasts are available in English and Welsh (Cymraeg), and the research was funded by Qualification Wales.

View the podcasts on the OUCEA website.

A new strategy for improving early years and maternity services in West Wales has been launched, emphasising a commitment to putting children at the centre of integrated child services.

Professor Iram Siraj OBE, Professor of Child Development and Education at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, was invited to the launch conference as the main keynote speaker.

Professor Siraj said: “In my keynote, I highlighted the compelling evidence from developmental neuroscience and economics about the power of early intervention in transforming children’s and parent’s trajectories from failure to success.

“I explained the “processes” underlying risk, resilience, protection, and vulnerability and how they operate through complex interactions between different bio-psycho-social “systems”; individual, family, pre-school, peer groups; and community.

“I demonstrated through the research evidence how services working together could achieve population change early in a child’s life and thereby foster a strengthening of resilience and achievement in both individuals and communities.”

The launch of the strategy marks the beginning of a very exciting journey for both professionals and families living across West Wales, which will positively impact on the outcomes of our future generations.

Read the Maternity & Early Years Strategy for West Wales.

A symposium recognising research into children using digital technologies and their development has been hailed a success.

The Learning for Families Through Technology (LiFT) project has been worked on for the last six years by researchers at Oxford University’s Department of Education.

An event was held this week reviewing the work done to date and outlining next steps for the project.

Director of the Department, and lead for the LiFT project, Professor Victoria Murphy said: “The event was everything I could have hoped for and more today. It was really inspiring and I felt proud knowing that I was part of this fantastic research that our Department has facilitated.

“I really think we’re making some important discoveries in terms of how we support children’s learning through digital technology.

“The overall aim of LiFT is to benefit society through the development of leading research that will provide a better understanding of the nature of learning through digital technology and will serve as an important step in encouraging families’ engagement in their children’s education.”

The Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project is a collaboration between Ferrero International, Gameloft and the Department of Education.

It looks at using app games to teach vocabulary to children, delves into children’s creativity in digital games and the benefits, and looks at features of apps, digital games, and e-books which influence joint interactions between adults and children.

You can find out more about the project on the website: LiFT: Learning for Families through Technology – Department of Education (

Join us on Twitter/X to follow along with the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project Symposium which takes place this Thursday. Here’s a video with a little more about the event:


Happy International Women’s Day!

To celebrate this year’s theme of ‘Inspiring Inclusion’, we asked members of our Department how we can inspire inclusion and equality in education. Watch the video to hear their thoughts: