The British Educational Research Association (BERA) has named the University of Oxford’s Teacher Education and Professional Learning group as this year’s joint winner of its prestigious Public Engagement and Impact Award. The team receiving the award are John Furlong, Katharine Burn, Hazel Hagger and Trevor Mutton.
The award is in recognition of the way that research undertaken by the group over many years has supported a radical re-conceptualisation of initial teacher education (ITE) across the whole of Wales. These reforms have shaped the experiences of all trainee teachers in Wales, (approximately 2,700 per year) and have had a major impact on hundreds of participating schools and their partner universities. In both schools and HEIs there is now a significantly greater emphasis on increasing capacity to undertake and use research.
The Director of the Welsh Government’s Education Directorate notes that the reforms have resulted ‘in a strengthened ITE provision, and a deeper collaborative architecture across our school and university systems.’
Oxford’s rich history of research on the professional education and training of teachers dates back to the 1980s.
Successive studies have addressed questions such as:
- What skills and knowledge might student teachers only learn through direct experience in schools?
- What is Higher Education best placed to contribute to teacher learning?
- What sort of partnership between schools and HEIs is needed to provide this training?
Key research leading to the changes in Wales included Hagger and McIntyre’s (2006) Learning Teaching from Teachers and Furlong’s (2013) Education: An anatomy of the discipline, which drew together much of the earlier work undertaken by the team. This led directly to the study commissioned by BERA and the RSA (2013), Research and Teacher Education, chaired by Furlong, which included an important, widely-cited paper by Burn and Mutton (2015) on the development of ‘research informed clinical practice’ in teacher education. Their emphasis on tightly-integrated forms of university-school collaboration as essential to the successful implementation of research-informed practice became a key element in the Welsh reforms.
Details of impact
In 2014 Furlong was appointed as an independent adviser on ITE to the Welsh Government. Drawing explicitly on Oxford research, Furlong’s subsequent report (2015) recommended the complete reform of ITE with the establishment of a new accreditation system, new partnerships between HEIs and schools, a changed approach to ITE inspection by Estyn (the education and training inspectorate) and a significant strengthening of, and investment in, educational research to underpin ITE provision. These recommendations were adopted in full by the Welsh Government.
Drawing directly on the Oxford research, Furlong led the development of a new accreditation process. New Criteria insisted that all ITE ‘should be based on learning that is both rigorously practical and intellectually challenging at the same time’. New legislation made the criteria mandatory and established a Teacher Education Accreditation Board (TEAB). Furlong was appointed the first chair of the TEAB and Hagger a member. Hagger became Chair in 2019.
The new Criteria required Lead Schools to accept ITE as a core responsibility and universities to assume a clearer role in making available knowledge that is not always accessible in schools: knowledge from research, from theory and from good practice internationally.
In 2020, Estyn aligned its inspection frameworks to the new Criteria, as the Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales notes ‘often using the language of the Criteria and its vision, to support key concepts’.
In universities, all ITE teaching staff must now have qualifications at a higher level than the courses on which they are teaching, and must be ‘research active’, taking leading roles in assimilating, conducting, publishing and supervising research. As one head-teacher makes clear, schools too are developing greater research literacy: ‘Teachers have also needed to develop a very conscious understanding of research practices, pedagogical methodologies and subject depth’ which were ‘new territories for many schools in terms of our theoretical understanding’.
Read the announcement of the award on the British Educational Research Association’s website
Brian, a Rhodes scholar from Kenya, doctoral research explores teachers’ identities and professionalism under the influence of performance-based accountability systems. He holds an MSc in Education (Comparative and International Education) from the University of Oxford (UK), Honours in Education from the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and Bachelor of Education from Chuka University (Kenya). His research interests are in the areas of teacher education and professional learning, teacher beliefs and practices, teacher identity and professionalism.
Laura is the subject lead for the PGCE in Modern Languages and she also supervises higher degrees in the fields of instructed second language learning and language teacher education.
Before working with the department, Laura taught French and German at secondary school level. She became interested in teacher education whilst mentoring beginning languages teachers during their school placements. Her doctoral research focussed on in-service languages teachers’ professional learning experiences and needs.
Laura is currently working on a project to compare the nature of instructed second/foreign language learning at secondary school in England, Norway and France.
Shuyan is a doctoral student in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She has strong research interests in the sociocultural perspective of learning, teacher education and teaching English as a second language.
Her doctoral research explores the processes of professional learning and identity development with the aim of strengthening the quality and agency of teachers. She focuses on offering empirical evidence to understand how language teacher identity is embedded in discursive practices and how the societal, cultural and institutional issues are played out in teacher education.
Prior to her doctoral study, she has taught English as a foreign language in China and received her M.A. degree in English Education with distinction at the Institute of Education, University College London (UCL).
Cindy works at the intersection of learning, design, and technology, with a keen interest in the orchestration of future-ready tech-enabled learning.
She is curious how the deployment of adaptive learning systems to schools will impact classroom learning and hopes to learn more about the human-machine partnership in education. Specifically, her research is concerned with the implications that the use of such systems has on teacher-student interactions, as teachers grapple with balancing personalised learning and learning in community, as well as curriculum demands and student interests. These are some tensions which could potentially be exacerbated by affordances of adaptive learning systems.
Prior to embarking on the DPhil in Education at Oxford, Cindy worked as the Lead Specialist in Technologies for Learning at the Educational Technology Division of Ministry of Education, Singapore. She had previously completed graduate studies at the National University of Singapore and Stanford University where she was awarded Master of Arts in English Studies and Master of Arts in Education.
Reem is DPhil student from Saudi Arabia.
Prior to coming to Oxford, she worked as a Teacher, Professional Developer, then, became a Supervisor and Researcher in the Ministry of Education where she received a scholarship to pursue her DPhil education at the University of Oxford. Her research interests lie in the area of Teacher Education and Professional Learning Policy and Practice.
- Alqahtani, Reem (2020). Saudi Universities Role in Developing Teacher Professional Development Programs: Elite Universities Experience. Journal of Educational Sciences. King Saud University.
- Alqahtani, Reem. (2020). The effect of implementing UDL-based activities in improving EFL learners’ academic achievement and attitudes towards L2. In L. Salas, & E. Ager, Creating Quiet reflective Spaces: Language Teacher Researches Professional Development (pp. 61-62). IATEFL publications.
Abdul Karim has completed a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering and Computational Medicine (Imperial College London), a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (Queen Mary University of London), and Master of Science in the Philosophy of Science and Economics (The London School of Economics).
He has delivered lectures on the Philosophy of Human Nature and the History of Metaethics at the University of Cambridge and for Health Education East Midlands. This, in addition to the current positions he holds as a Hospital Doctor and Health Policy and Management Advisor at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
Abdul Karim’s current areas of interest include the biological definition of psychological states relevant to the learning environment, and the influence of language on the variable interpretation of a particular social context. For the latter of which he has published primary research.
Another is the appraisal and deployment of physiological measurement devices in learning environments as a means of quantitatively evaluating psychological states. Such research areas hold promise in enhancing the questionnaire-based evidences of contemporary theories in education, such as those regarding motivation, self-determination and engagement. This will to contribute to the evidence-based public policy optimisation in education and social care.
Ismail, A.K. 2017. A Cross Sectional Study to Explore the Effect of the Linguistic Origin and Evolution of a Language on Patient Interpretation of Haematological Cancers. Advances in Biological Research. 11 (4): 225-232.
Ismail, A.K. 2017. The Origin of the Arabic Medical Term for Cancer. Advances in Biological Research. 11 (4): 198-201.
Ismail, A.K. 2018. The Impact of da Vinci’s Anatomical Drawings and Calculations on Foundation of Orthopaedics. Advances in Biological Research. 12 (1): 26-30.
Oscar is an experienced school leader and teacher educator at Fundación Educación Católica (Spain) and was granted a Judge Scholarship by the Department of Education of the University of Oxford to read for a part-time Dphil.
Before joining the DPhil programme, Oscar graduated with a distinction at the University of Oxford (MSc in Teaching and Learning) and completed the Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is one of the leaders of the K2 Erasmus+ Programme TALENTinTBL, which replicates at international level (Ireland, UK, the Netherlands, and Spain) a professional development programme already piloted across his organisation.
Oscar is interested in the design and evaluation of teacher education programmes aimed at improving school effectiveness and driving educational change towards active and competence-led learning at secondary level and, particularly, in the Sixth Form. His research draws on the findings of his Master dissertation, focusing on the evaluation of the effectiveness and the transformative potential of teacher coaching in the Spanish Baccalaureate from a longitudinal and mixed-method approach.