Skip to content

Department of Education

Viewing archives for Uncategorized

Nine new scholarships have been announced by the Department to support practising educators. 

The scholarships, which have been announced today [10th January], hope to attract and retain the best candidates regardless of background or ability to pay. 

The nine scholarships are for practising educators who are pursuing a post-graduate qualification at the University of Oxford, who also have an admission offer for the MSc in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching, MSc in Educational Assessment, MSc in Learning and Teaching or the MSc in Teacher Education in Michaelmas term. 

Professor Trevor Mutton, Director for Graduate Studies, said: “We’re delighted to be offering these scholarships for practising educators. 

“The scholarships are for people who are currently practising at a school in the UK and plan to remain so for the duration of the course. We want to target those working in non-fee-paying schools or schools that are particularly challenging such as those located within an area of deprivation, where there is a high percentage of pupils who are eligible for free school meals, challenged pupil intake, or other contextual factors. 

“We would encourage anyone who meets the above criteria to find out more from our website.” 

The maximum value of the scholarships is up to £2,000 per annum for the agreed course as a contribution towards your course fees, and your application for the course in question must be received by 1st March. The award is made for the full duration of the period of fee liability for the agreed course, subject to satisfactory academic progress being made.  

Read more about the scholarships on the Educational Citizenship Scholarships page. 

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, is set to speak at the Department of Education later this month. 

Amanda will be opening our latest seminar series which will begin on Monday 16th January and will see a number of high-profile speakers on education. 

This term’s theme is “Contemporary Issues in Education” and events are open to the public both in-person and online. 

Amanda said: “I’m delighted to be speaking at the Department of Education at Oxford University this month and look forward discussing the use of research evidence in education policy and practice. I’m looking forward to talking about my experience as the Chief Inspector and also finding out from others what they think about research and education policy.” 

Director of Research and Professor of Science Education, Sibel Erduran, said: “The Public Seminar Series is our flagship event series and we get a real breadth of speakers from both an internal and external perspective. 

“We’re delighted to be starting the Hilary Term events in January with Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman. I know this will be a very popular event.  

“Our series is a chance for us to showcase some of the excellent research we have taking place at the Department and to also discuss other education research that is happening externally. It’s been such a successful and popular series and I know a lot of people have really benefited from previous sessions. I’m looking forward to next term and all of the insights we get from the series.” 

All events are held from 5pm until 6.30pm on Mondays at the Department (Lecture Room A, 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford) and are also available via Zoom. A drinks reception follows in Pring’s Café for those attending in-person. 

Tickets for the in-person event on the 16th January need to be pre-booked. The full details, including in-person booking, Zoom registration and the rest of the schedule for the seminars, can be found on the Department of Education website. 

If you have any enquiries, please email 

To see what other events the Department arranges, go to 

Our Department is thrilled to announce the latest public seminar series which includes talks from a number of high-profile speakers. 

This term’s theme is “Contemporary Issues in Education” and there will be a whole host of prominent internal and external speakers presenting at the events, which are both in-person and online. 

Kicking off the series in January will be Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman. 

Director of Research and Professor of Science Education, Sibel Erduran, said: “The Public Seminar Series is our flagship event series and we get a real breadth of speakers from both an internal and external perspective. 

“We’re delighted to be starting the Hilary Term events in January with Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman. I know this will be a very popular event.  

“Our series is a chance for us to showcase some of the excellent research we have taking place at the Department and to also discuss other education research that is happening externally. It’s been such a successful and popular series and I know a lot of people have really benefited from previous sessions. I’m looking forward to next term and all of the insights we get from the series.” 

All events are held from 5pm until 6.30pm on Mondays at the Department (Lecture Room A, 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford) and are also available via Zoom. A drinks reception follows in Pring’s Café for those attending in-person. 

Please note, if you are attending sessions 1 or 7 in person you will need to book a ticket. 

The schedule for Hilary Term, and further details for each session including how to book tickets, can be found on our dedicated webpage.

Event Schedule 

Week 1: 16th Jan – Speaker: Amanda Spielman  

Talk title: ‘The use of research evidence in education policy and practice: a view from the Chief Inspector’ 

Week 2: 23rd Jan – Speaker: Akshay Mangla    
Talk title: TBC 

Week 3: 30th Jan – Speaker: Aliya Khalid
Talk title: ‘Locating aspirations and capabilities within the global politics of ‘Representation’ in comparative and international education: Journeying with gender and Southernness’ 

Week 4: 6th Feb – Speaker: Steve Strand 
Talk title: ‘Race, sex, class and educational achievement at age 16’ 

Week 5: 13th Feb – Speaker: Steve Puttick
Talk title: TBC 

Week 6: 20th Feb – Speaker: Michael Reiss
Talk title: ‘Truth, Science Education and Vaccines’

Week 7: 27th Feb – Speaker: Alina von Davier
Talk title: ‘Generative AI for Test Development’ 

Week 8: 6th March – Speaker: Leesa Wheelahan
Talk title: TBC 

The inaugural meeting of the Jesus College Education Network took place on 29 November, co-hosted by Professor Kathy Sylva and Dr Samantha-Kaye Johnston.

Sam comments: ‘The Jesus College Education Network will provide a space to collaborate, co-create and learn from each other in a nurturing environment.’

It was attended by four senior fellows, one post doc, and three higher degree students. The goal of the meeting was to share our research and discuss ways we could support one another through college events.

Kathy comments: ‘Although Jesus has taken Education post-grads for decades, this was the first-ever Education Dinner just for our Educationalists to meet one another and share ideas.’

We would be interested in a joint meeting with another college’s Education Network at Oxford so please get in touch with Kathy or Samantha to discuss this possibility.

Co-authored by: Professor Leon Feinstein, Professor Geraldine MacDonald, Professor Paul Bywaters, Dr John Simmonds, Professor Karen Broadhurst, Professor Donald Forrester, Dez Holmes

A reflection on evidence and implementation

As members of the Evidence Group supporting the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (IRCSC), a number of us have received requests to share our views on the evidence base underpinning the Review’s recommendations. In responding to these requests, our intention here is to offer a high-level and constructive perspective for those now tasked with thinking about implementation.

The first thing that should be clarified is that the Review is not a systematic review of all research evidence that might be relevant, it is a framework for policy and practice reform. Though informed by evidence, the recommendations are not all tightly linked to research evidence of intervention effectiveness – as might be the case when producing, say, NICE Guidelines. This is not a criticism. There are many types of review and it is entirely usual for policy and/or practice reforms to draw on multiple sources of knowledge (for example, from research, practitioners, families and individuals) and for the evidence base to be incomplete and/or contested. As such, the Review drew on multiple types of knowledge and evidence. Those now focused on implementation will need to consider some of the complications this approach brings.

There is much to welcome in the Review, and many have called for urgent action to ensure reforms are not delayed. The need for improvement in services and positive change for children, young people and families is widely recognised and so there is an understandable drive to ‘do something’. Given the scale of reform proposed, there is an equally strong argument for thinking carefully about a number of the issues raised before progressing at pace. The Review was undertaken in a relatively short time-scale, working to a very broad scope and with an ambitious goal of system change. Implementation colleagues will need to recognise and grapple with the risks that result from ambiguous, conjectural or partial evidence. Taking time to interrogate the wider evidence base not reflected in the Review, to consider unintended consequences and manage interdependencies, would be time well spent. As with so many important decisions, one might approach in haste and repent at leisure.

For example, the structural reforms proposed in relation to Regional Care Cooperatives is an area where implementation colleagues will find very limited evidence to draw upon. The creation of Regional Adoption Agencies might be somewhat comparable, and the DfE-funded evaluation to date presents ‘a complicated picture’ with very mixed evidence of success against intended outcomes[1]. Given the Review’s intention to strengthen leadership and accountability, care will need to be taken that these structural reforms do not dilute local accountability mechanisms. With ever-increasing pressure on the care system, it is unclear that the mechanisms proposed have the capacity to resolve the issues within the ‘market’, as it is often referred to. As with all structural change, and particularly in light of learning from NHS reorganisation, implementation of RCCs – if this idea is progressed – will need to ensure that this does not become an expensive distraction[2]. The proposed reforms to inspection will require similar attention; much of what is presented as unpopular or unhelpful within the Review can equally be seen as essential checks and balances that are necessary within a system that exerts immense power over citizens’ lives.

The Review’s emphasis on family help is in the spirit of the 1989 Children Act and welcome to many who recognise that families in contact with children’s services too often describe a punitive approach to their difficulties[3]. As was explored in the first report from the review team, there is firm evidence of the socio-economic drivers which are associated with family involvement in child protection services[4]. Colleagues involved in implementation activity will be acutely aware that achieving a responsive and effective family help system depends less on restructuring children’s services and more on radical efforts by national government to reduce poverty, improve health, education and other services and reduce inequalities in living standards. At present, the foundational economy which is vital for family wellbeing is stretched beyond capacity. Moreover, restructuring alone, without fundamental consideration of the mission of children’s social care and changes in the power dynamic between families and services, is unlikely to bring the required change.

The proposed bringing together of Early Help with Child in Need and Child Protection is not wholly illogical; after all, support and protection are not neatly delineated. However, there are potential consequences that must be avoided: such a proposal could pull resources, expertise and the focus of attention away from family support; it could create confusion regarding existing legal thresholds and drive inconsistent practice with families. The proposals will also concern those who remember Munro’s commentary on the previous Information Commissioner’s query that “When looking for a needle in a haystack, is it necessary to keep building bigger haystacks?”[5]  Against a backdrop of concerns that professionals are missing children facing serious risk[6], could this proposal inadvertently exacerbate the situation? It might lead to an ever-widening investigative net, with decreasing resources available to do the kind of work required to develop trusting and purposeful relationships to support families. These are just some of the issues that implementation colleagues will need to grapple with.

The Review makes a number of recommendations regarding workforce, and few would argue that skilled, knowledgeable practitioners are essential to a functioning system. The proposals to develop an Early Career Framework do not have a wealth of research evidence to draw upon, and there are potential risks of creating a separate system for early career child and family social workers and adult social workers. There are some insights from the evaluation[7] of the recently disbanded National Assessment and Accreditation System, which sought many of the same benefits as the ECF.  In attending to training and practice guides we must not overlook the wider evidence that training has limited impact on practice without accompanying efforts in relation to organisational context and climate[8]. There is limited evidence that issuing prescriptive guidance has a positive causal effect on practice quality (put simply, we wouldn’t need these reforms if guidance to date had been effective), and the significant influence of supervision, leadership and culture deserve equal attention.

In the current political context, there is a risk that the kind of long-term sustainable resource needed to achieve whole system change will not be forthcoming – and so implementation could become focused on what can be done with what resource is available. Without attention to the wider interdependencies, this risks fragmenting the system further, and could lead to some recommendations being progressed with limited effect (or worse, negative consequences). What is required is not temporary support or piecemeal funding of boutique initiatives, but long-term investment. Government must act as a whole system itself if it desires system change for children and families; this requires government departments to share ownership of complex and intersecting social issues and ensure the wider infrastructure which supports family life does not further decline.

Ultimately, evidence can only address so many issues. For the Review to achieve its intentions of improving the experiences and outcomes of children, young people and adults who encounter social care, it will be vital in our view that rigorous attention be paid to rights. Many of those with current, or with previous, experience of social care services represent some of the most marginalised and simultaneously scrutinised in society; people whose voices and preferences have been overlooked for too long and for whom there has been a high degree of surveillance but not enough support. Proposed reforms, included those relating to the use of data, should be subject to assessment of their impact on equalities so that they do not inadvertently erode or undermine rights of children and adults.

Lastly, colleagues focused on implementing the Review’s recommendations may be interested in recent research focused on the implementation of policies and practices within health systems, which identified that trusting relationships – those characterised by empathy, authenticity and collaboration – seem to be key to effective implementation[9]. This suggests that to successfully lead the proposed change, government must position itself as an enabler to the sector, exercising humility and a collaborative spirit. Policy reform, like good social work, requires more than passion for change. It requires critical thinking, skill, judicious use of evidence, and is something can only be ‘done with’ and ‘not done to’ those it is seeking to influence.



[2] Walshe (2010) Reorganisation of the NHS in England. BMJ. 341:c3843

[3] See for example, Featherstone, B., Gupta, A., Morris, K. & White, S. (2018) Protecting Children: A Social Model. Bristol: Policy Press.

[4] See for example, Bywaters, P. and Skinner, G. (2022). The Relationship Between Poverty and Child Abuse and Neglect: New Evidence. Nuffield Foundation.

[5] Information Commissioner (2005) Evidence Given to Select Committee for Education and Skills, House of Commons, London.

[6] Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (2022). Child Protection in England. HM Government. Available:


[8] Burke, L. A., & Hutchins, H. M. (2007). Training transfer: An integrative literature review. Human resource development review, 6(3).

[9] Metz, A., et al. (2022) ‘Building trusting relationships to support implementation: A proposed theoretical model’ Frontiers in Health Services. Vol 2.


Researchers from the University of Oxford have been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to look at the impact of technology on educational and social equity in schools in England.

Funded via the ESRC Education Research Programme, the project, which is being led by the Department of Education in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute, was one of only nine to get funding.

Professor Rebecca Eynon, who is leading the project entitled ‘Towards equity focused approaches to EdTech: a socio-technical perspective’, said: “For decades, technology has been promoted as a way to address inequity in schools with advocates suggesting that more digital resources lead to greater educational and social equity. We know that the provision of resources, such as systems designed to provide students with extra support in and outside the classroom, or automating certain tasks to free up time for the teacher, can be highly significant. However, such a view tends to assume technology is a neutral tool that can be relied on to bring about uniformly positive effects for education.

“What is needed is more research that aims to theorise the technology itself – for example to unpack the implicit biases and values EdTech may encode and promote – alongside a richer understanding of how EdTech is actually used in the classroom, how it reconfigures pedagogical relationships, and how its use varies across different school contexts.”

Taking this socio-technical perspective, the study will conduct seven ethnographies in secondary schools in England to capture and explore the multi-faceted implications of the use of technology and the ways it can reinforce or reconfigure educational and social inequity.

The second central aim of the study is to engage with social scientists, data scientists, EdTech companies, policy makers, teachers, students and the wider public to inform the design and implementation of equity-focused approaches to EdTech in the future, through a range of activities including the creation of educational resources for data scientists and EdTech developers, and a series of futures workshops for all stakeholders.

Outputs to disseminate the work will also include blogs, videos, podcasts, academic papers, a book, conference presentations, reports and datasets for the UK data archive.

Rebecca continued: “The research hopes to significantly enhance academic, practice and policy understanding and shape future EdTech design and use in England and beyond.

“We’re thrilled to be undertaking this much needed rich ethnographic study which will contribute to academic understandings of the relationships between equity, digital technologies, teaching and learning.”

The research will be conducted by Professor Rebecca Eynon of the Department of Education and Oxford Internet Institute, supported by Dr Laura Hakimi of the Oxford Internet Institute, two post-doctoral researchers at the Department of Education – to be appointed – and an advisory group consisting of experts from policy, practice and academia. The advisory board will provide feedback on early stage research findings and facilitate knowledge exchange and impact.

Professor Alison Park, Interim Executive Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council, said: “Through the Education Research Programme, ESRC is funding important new research that will generate insights and help address ongoing challenges for the UK’s compulsory education systems, including how to attract, educate and retain excellent teachers, and how to adopt and harness the benefits of new technologies.

“The programme will support both teachers and children by tackling issues such as resilience, participation, recruitment, training and retention.

“The research will use the power of social science to generate a range of exciting outputs that have the potential to directly transform UK education and create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.”

Professor Gemma Moss, Director of the Education Research Programme, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the education research community to work in partnership with other stakeholders and find new ways of tackling some long-lasting challenges in school-based education.

“The programme recognises the devolved nature of education in the UK and in this context is looking to develop stronger links between research, policy and practice that can generate new insights relevant to local contexts.”

Dr Michelle Meadows, former Ofqual deputy chief regulator


Alumni of the Masters in Educational Assessment, Lorena Garelli and Kevin Mason presenting their dissertation research.

Trinity’s School of Education and the Educational Research Centre, Drumcondra, hosted AEA-Europe’s Annual Conference on 9-12 November in Dublin, Ireland.

Over 350 attendees from 37 countries reflected on the conference’s theme – “New Visions for Assessment in Uncertain Times.” This diverse range of attendees included over 15 folks affiliated with OUCEA. Throughout the conference, attendees explored possible directions for assessment policy and practice in schools, higher education, and vocational/workplace settings over the coming years. Much of the reflection centered on the instability of the recent past – the pandemic, war in Ukraine, and economic challenges globally have created a sense of uncertainty in all spheres of life. As a result, attendees took stock and reimagined assessment in a world where the certainties of the past decades have given way to a more uncertain environment.

Keynote speeches addressed such diverse topics as “Assessing learning in schools – Reflections on lessons and challenges in the Irish context,” “Assessment research: listening to students, looking at consequences,” and “Assessment research: listening to students, looking at consequences.”

In addition to the keynotes, the conference hosted panel and poster presentation opportunities. Many members and associates of the OUCEA shared their research. For example:

Honorary Norham Fellow

  • Lena Gray – presented on assessment, policymakers, and communicative spaces – striving for impact at the research–policy interface

Honorary Research Associate

  • Yasmine El Masri – an OUCEA Research Associate – presented on Evaluating sources of differential item functioning in high-stakes assessments in England


  • Samantha-Kaye Johnston – an OUCEA Research Officer – presented on Assessing creativity among primary school children through the snapshot method – an innovative approach in times of uncertainty.

Current doctoral students

  • Louise Badham – a current D.Phil Student – presented on Exploring standards across assessments in different languages using comparative judgment.
  • Zhanxin Hao –  presented on The effects of using testing and restudy as test preparation strategies on educational tests
  • Jane Ho  – presented on Validation of large-scale high-stakes tests for college admissions decisions

MSc in Educational Assessment graduates and students

  • Kevin Mason – presented on Assessment of Art and Design Courses using Comparative Judgment in Mexico and England
  • Lorena Garelli – presented on Assessment of Art and Design Courses using Comparative Judgment in Mexico and England
  • Joanne Malone – presented on Irish primary school teachers’ mindset and approaches to classroom assessment
  • Merlin Walters – presented on The comparability of grading standards in technical qualifications in England: how can we facilitate it in a post-pandemic world?

As you can see from the wide-ranging topics covered, OUCEA is engaging in wide-ranging research. The team looks forward to presenting more of our work at AEA-Europe’s 2023 conference in Malta.

Fancy being a part of our fantastic Department?

We’re recruiting for numerous roles including a new Communications Officer position at the Department of Education.

The Communications Officer position is a pivotal role within our team and we’re looking for someone with a background in the full communications mix ideally with experience including social media, digital communications, media management and channel management.

This role is open for applications until 28th November and you can find out more here: Job Details (

To find out more about what other jobs we have available right now go to our vacancies page:

Vacancies — (