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Department of Education

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100th Anniversary of the passing of a statute creating the Oxford University Department of Education

In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates its 100th anniversary in style; rated first in the UK for degrees in education by the Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings, number one in the UK for research in education by the most recent Research Excellence Framework (the REF), and as part of the world’s leading University for Social Sciences teaching and research.

Originally established in 1919 to prepare teachers for Elementary and Secondary schools, the department’s contribution to the wider community has been evident since its inception, with the delivery of the University’s cultural resources to schools always being of critical importance. Our excellence in teacher education remains a core part of the department today, as demonstrated through the recently received ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating of our PGCE programmes, through our MSc in Teacher Education and Learning and Teaching, our research informed teaching practices, and the work of our Oxford Education Deanery, which has been dedicated to supporting teachers’ professional development and improving outcomes for pupils in schools since 2013.

Today, the department has 7 postgraduate programmes, 9 research groups, 4 research centres, over 590 postgraduate students and more than 160 staff members. The department takes particular pride in the diversity of its students, with 33% of students coming from the UK or EU during 2018 and the remaining 67% from countries overseas, including Ghana, Japan, Germany, India, Malaysia, China, Mexico, Estonia, Australia, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, among many others.

Research in the department has continued to grow over this past century, not only across the breadth of its research areas, addressing issues in Language, Cognition and Development, Policy, Economy and Society, and Pedagogy, Learning and Knowledge but also through its increased physical growth, research activity and popularity. In 2018, the number of researchers in the department increased by 36%, research income exceeded department records and the number of doctoral applications increased by 20%.

The relevance of our research on policy, in particular, has been both influential and crucial to the UK government through parliamentary committees such as the  Science and Technology Committee, the Treasury Select Committee and the Economic Affairs Committee, to the Education Committee, the House of Lords Select Committee and the Women’s & Equalities Committee. The depth of research on both an inter and cross-disciplinary level has seen collaboration not only within the Social Science disciplines, from Philosophy, Social Policy, Sociology and Psychology, but also into the Humanities and Medical Sciences.

Last year saw the launch of a brand new Masters programme aimed at researchers and professionals in the field of educational assessment and led by academic researchers from the department’s Centre for Educational Assessment. We also welcomed three new senior academic Professorships to the department in Higher Education, Teacher Education and Child Development and Education, with Associate Professorships in Applied Linguistics and Higher Education underway. 2018 also saw the arrival of our most recent research centre, the Centre for Global Higher Education, now headquartered at the department and actively researching themes from the internationalisation of Higher Education, local and global public good contributions of Higher Education and the implications of Brexit, trade and migration for UK universities.

100th Anniversary Activities

To mark our 100th anniversary a year-long series of themed activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education.

Celebrations will start with a public seminar series on ‘Student Access to University’, led by Simon Marginson (Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Centre for Global Higher Education). The series will run for 5 weeks starting in January and involve an array of education experts within and outside of the department. In March, our annual student conference, STORIES (Students’ Ongoing Research in Education Studies), will explore issues in mental health, access and accountability in education. During Trinity term we will discuss the importance of Teacher Education, the basis that established the department in 1919, through our second public seminar series for the year, as well as celebrating with our alumni through the relaunch of our annual Oxford Education Society lecture.

A paper commemorating the centenary and the department’s history will also be published by Emeritus Professor and former Department Director, Richard Pring, later in the year. Entitled, ‘Teacher Training at Oxford University; Reluctant birth, Robust development – and the Oxford Review of Education’, the paper will set-out the department’s evolution, relationship with the University and cultural involvement with the wider community and contribution to Government policy.

If you would like the opportunity to explore our history, learn more about our future research and discover how you can be part of our 100th anniversary celebrations, join our mailing list and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for all the latest updates. Further announcements will follow throughout the year.

To find out more about our research:

To view our public seminar series on ‘Student Access to University’ and register to attend see here.

To find out more about our PGCE, range of masters programmes and DPhil in education:

To view all upcoming events:

The University of Oxford’s teacher training has again been graded as ‘outstanding’ – the best possible category – by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) in its latest report, published on 14 December 2018. Inspectors found teacher training at the Department of Education to be of the highest standard in all the performance categories. The results come just ahead of the department’s 100th anniversary year, which will be celebrated in 2019.

Teacher training at Oxford University has been in existence since 1892, when the University opened (under the Non-Collegiate Delegacy) a Day Training College for elementary school teachers, where pupils were able to gain a teachers’ certificate and take an external degree. Today, the department, in partnership with local schools, trains around 180 secondary school teachers a year through its PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education) programmes in English, geography, history, mathematics, modern languages, religious education and science.

The inspection team visited the department and 12 of its partnership schools during June and November 2018 to carry out their assessments. They found the initial teacher education partnership at the department to be:

  • A unique and distinctive partnership, underpinned by a compelling and clearly articulated vision for a research-informed, partnership-led model of teacher education and professional development.
  • The recruitment processes, including the setting of pre-course research tasks to be rigorous and thorough, with almost all trainees making a flying start to their training year, leading to completion and employment rates for all subjects and groups that are, over time, well above sector averages.
  • The exceptionally well-crafted design of the course enables virtually all trainees to exceed the teachers’ standards. Typically, more than two thirds of trainees attain to a high level by the end of the training year. As a result, they make an exceptionally strong start to their NQT year, ensuring in turn that their pupils make sustained progress in their learning.
  • The partnership draws exceptionally well on the skills and experience of teachers and leaders within the partnership to enrich the curriculum studies and professional development aspects of the course. In addition, school-based mentors and university tutors work together extremely well to ensure a coherent and joined-up experience for trainees. Trainees express considerable confidence in all elements of the course, in particular the support provided by their university tutors.
  • Leaders have ensured that schools in challenging circumstances, as well as those judged to be outstanding, good and requiring improvement, are well represented in the partnership. Schools value their involvement in the partnership, especially the opportunities membership provides for staff at all levels to be involved in research activity. School leaders believe this helps to recruit and retain talented teachers and leaders.
  • The partnership takes its role in supplying high-quality teachers extremely seriously. Trainees are prepared for a long-term career in teaching, able to take responsibility for their own professional development and committed to social justice. A large number of former trainees hold teaching and leadership positions in partnership schools and, in many cases, contribute to the course as mentors.

Department Director, Jo-Anne Baird, welcomed the inspection outcome, saying that: “Ofsted have recognised the strengths of Oxford’s distinctive partnership model, with its distributed leadership and firm grounding in research-based teacher education.  All of those involved in the Oxford Internship Scheme can be rightly proud of their contribution to excellence in teacher education.”

The Oxford PGCE secondary partnership works with around 37 secondary schools in four local authorities and specialises across the 11-18 age range. A particular strength of the programme is its truly integrated approach, which acknowledges the different roles of university and schools in teacher education. This is reflected across the course structure, enabling trainees to use theory to interrogate practice and vice versa. A further feature is the way in which it has, at its heart, a model of research-informed practice which encompasses not only research about effective teaching which is drawn on to generate suggestions for practice, but also research into the processes of professional learning that is used to inform and review the structure and design of the teacher education programme itself.

Commenting on the outstanding grading, Trevor Mutton, Director of Professional Programmes at the department, said: “We are extremely proud of this achievement which recognises the unique nature of the partnership that we have with the local schools which work closely with us in both planning and delivering the PGCE programme. The Ofsted report recognises that we are producing teachers of the highest calibre who go on to make a difference to the lives of countless young people in schools up and down the country.”

The University of Oxford has been consistently designated by Ofsted as an ‘Outstanding’ provider and in 2019, the department will celebrate its 100th anniversary since the official passing of a statute creating what is known now as the Oxford University Department of Education. Originally established in 1919 to prepare teachers for Elementary and Secondary schools, the department’s contribution to the wider community has been evident since its inception and remains firmly at its core.

To find out more about teacher training at Oxford see:

To view the full Ofsted report see here: 10040487 University Of Oxford Partnership 70057 Final Report

The Department of Education has achieved its highest annual research income to date, with records also showing an 82% increase in the total amount of research funding since 2016. This news comes just ahead of its 100th anniversary year.

The department’s current research portfolio comprises over 80 active projects, with research taking place across six of the world’s continents.  During 2017/18 funding was received from EU Government and Industry, Research Councils, UK Charity, Industry and the Public sectors. Some key funders included the European Commission, Economic & Social Research Council, Nuffield Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Education Endowment Fund and the Departments of Health and Social Care, Children Schools & Families, Education and Education & Skills.

Research in the department addresses a wide range of education matters across the lifespan, from the early years, through schooling, further and higher education and into the workplace. Projects awarded during this period have spanned educational themes addressing language, cognition and development, policy, economy and society, and pedagogy, learning and knowledge. Some areas of particular focus have included research to address equality and social disadvantage in education, children’s emotional, social, mental health and well-being, as well as advancements in digital learning and assessment. Below are a selection of some of our current research projects.

With millions of children around the world using digital learning technologies claiming to have developmental significance, a grant received during the 2017/18 period has allowed the department to coordinate a rigorous programme of research to examine key issues in learning through digital technologies so to better understand and improve the process for children and their learning at critical points in their lives.

Children who enter school with poorly developed language are also at high risk of educational failure and it is imperative that they receive intervention before they fail to learn. Research funded by the Nuffield Foundation has allowed the department to develop a preschool language programme for use in nurseries to ameliorate the language weaknesses seen in disadvantaged groups at school entry, whilst also reducing the inequalities in educational attainment associated with social disadvantage.

A two year collaborative project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme will also see departmental researchers contribute to an initiative to combat inequalities and increase inclusiveness in education systems and society across 11 countries. The project includes 17 partners who will aim to contribute to effective policy and practice development at different system levels in order to effectively combat early arising and persisting educational inequalities.

Starting in February 2018, a new five year research programme has begun to increase the understanding of the role of attachment and trauma in children’s education by facilitating staff development on attachment and trauma in a minimum of 300 schools nationally. The programme is taking place across primary, secondary and special schools across England. The expectation, to demonstrate that schools being ‘attachment aware’ and addressing these needs early will lead to improved quality of relationships and the experience of all children and young people in school and make a difference to young people’s emotional, social, mental health and well-being.

Memory is the ability to remember and manipulate information over short-time frames. With proven studies showing a correlation between working memory and attainment in maths, particularly arithmetic, the Education Endowment Foundation granted the department research funds to utilise a working memory intervention that would improve children’s working memory in deaf and hearing children in the UK, targeting those who have been identified by teachers as performing in the bottom third of the class for numeracy at the end of Key Stage 1. This will see the intervention utilised in over 120 national schools by training teaching assistants to deliver the programme.

Children’s Centres are a much valued resource for parents expecting a baby, or those with a child under 5 years old, providing a place, or group of places, where local families with young children can go and enjoy facilities and receive support that they need. Research funded by the Sutton Trust has allowed the department to survey local authorities in England and investigate closure and change in centre provision. The research discovered that closures in England were double that of the official government figures. The final report was sent to Leila Moran MP (LibDem Education lead), accompanied by five top recommendations for the future.

Young people Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs), is a term that was first used in the UK but has since spread to other countries and regions. In 2012 no less than 15% of young people aged 15-29 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries were Not in Employment, Education or Training. It is known that NEET rates vary markedly between countries – in Turkey, for example, almost 30% of all young people were NEETs in 2012, whilst in the Netherlands the NEET rate was 7% – the lowest of all the countries. Funding received by the Economic and Social Research Council has allowed the department to explore and understand the similarities and differences in NEETs across several OECD countries to identify patterns, causes and consequences in France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and the UK.

An international survey commissioned by the Department for Education exploring the use of teaching and learning research to inform and improve teaching practice by looking directly into the classroom and capturing insights and observations on an international scale. The department has provided the academic and technical input for the design of the English component of the video study pilot, and is contributing to the resulting analysis and insights for relevant policy makers.

The Department of Education is renowned for its research excellence and was ranked first in the UK in the most recent research evaluation exercise (the REF). The department has nine research groups and four research centres specialising in Applied Linguistics, English Medium Instruction, Child Development and Learning, Foster Care and Education, Educational Assessment, Comparative and International Education, Skills Knowledge and Organisational Performance, Higher Education, Philosophy and Religion, Learning and New Technologies, Pedagogy, Sociocultural and Activity Theory and Teacher Education and Professional Learning.

In 2019, the department will celebrate its 100th year leading research in education. This milestone acknowledging the official passing of a statute creating the Oxford University Department of Education, known in 1919 as ‘The University Department for the Training of Teachers’. A year-long series of themed activities will be delivered to celebrate, starting with a Public Seminar Series to address ‘Student Access to University’. If you have an interest in the future of education and would like to be kept informed about our anniversary activities, join our mailing list to receive the top news, publications and event opportunities for the forthcoming year and beyond.

To find out more about the Public Seminar Series on ‘Student Access to University’, visit:

To learn more about our breadth of research and view all active projects,

The department, in association with St John’s College, is seeking to appoint a leading academic in Applied Linguistics.  For further information, please see the link below. The closing date is midday on 31 October 2018.

Further enquiries about the post, please contact Victoria Murphy (Professor of Applied Linguistics):