Our Department’s flagship event series is the Public Seminar Series. In the 2023/24 academic year, we will be hosting six seminars with high-profile speakers from across the field of education.

All events will be hybrid with the option to attend in-person in Seminar Room A at 15 Norham Gardens, or online via Zoom.

Trinity Term 2024

Generative AI and Education: Challenges and Opportunities

13 May, 5pm-6.30pm

Speaker: Professor Mike Sharples, Emeritus Professor of Educational Technology, Open University

Mike Sharples


Generative AI systems such as ChatGPT are disrupting education. They can write essays, summarise scientific texts, produce lesson plans, and tutor students. In this seminar I will discuss challenges that generative AI can pose for higher education. These include detecting student assignments that have been generated by AI; developing policy decisions and guidelines on appropriate use of AI for teaching and assessment; and establishing a program of AI literacy for staff and students. I will also explore opportunities for the use of AI in education, including roles for AI in teaching, learning and assessment such as Possibility Engine, Socratic Opponent, Co-Designer and Dynamic Assessor. Future developments in social generative AI could support team learning and communities of practice. Rather than seeing AI solely as a challenge to traditional education, we should prepare students for a future where AI is an integral tool for analysis, design and creativity, to be operated with great care and awareness of its limitations.


Rethinking scientific literacy in an era of pandemics, conspiracies and climate emergencies

3 June, 5pm-6.30pm

Speaker: Professor Justin Dillon, Professor of Science and Environmental Education, UCL Institute of Education

Justin Dillon


Recent events have called into question the adequacy of the science education offered in schools in the UK and elsewhere. The evidence suggests that, despite studying science at primary and secondary school, significant numbers of the public seem unfamiliar with some basic but important facts. A related issue is that trust in science and scientists is not as strong as might be expected in a developed country. Rather than carry on as though there is not really a problem, Justin Dillon will argue that we need to rethink what and how we teach science in schools. We also need to value what museums, science centres, botanic gardens, etc., can do to help. Finally, we need to examine what science and environmental education offer in terms of addressing the wicked problems facing society.

Hilary Term 2024

Integrating evidence-based practice to support oral language in the early years: drivers of effective implementation

4 March, 5pm-6.30pm

Speaker: Professor Julie Dockrell, Professor of Psychology and Special Needs at the UCL, Institute of Education

A recording of this event is available on our YouTube channel.

Julie Dockrell


Oracy skills are foundational for learning and attainment yet oral language delays in preschool children continue to challenge practitioners and policy makers. I consider steps to maximize the impact and increase the sustainability of effective language pedagogy using an implementation science framework.

Understanding the relationships between language and learning requires an awareness of both the key components of the language system across development and children’s language learning contexts. These contexts include the environment, opportunities for talking and listening, and language supporting interactions. Language development is compromised when language learning contexts are impoverished. Drawing on data from studies of language development in the preschool years, the language learning contexts and language interventions I argue that the focus of our implementation efforts should be underpinned by providing high quality language nutrition. Methodological and conceptual challenges for future research are considered to further our ability to effectively impact on policy and practice.


Towards a new settlement on meeting the needs of children, particularly the most vulnerable

29 January, 5pm-6.30pm

Speaker: Anne Longfield CBE,  Chair of the Commission on Young Lives

Anne Longfield


In this public lecture, Anne Longfield will set out a vision for how to best meet the needs of the nation’s children, particularly in terms of what it would take to reduce vulnerability and risk of harm or reduced life chances. This will include analysis of the last decade and issues such as pandemic, austerity and poverty that have so heavily influenced children’s lives. Building on a career advising Governments on and delivering policy and practice for children, and looking ahead to a likely new administration, the lecture will consider requirements for policy making that better meets the needs of children. It will consider wider issues such as poverty and social care and then ask what might be the requirements for the education system and for teachers and schools.


Michaelmas Term 2023


What Works? Reflecting on the EEF’s development and impact, and its relationship with academic research

6 November, 5pm-6.30pm

Speaker: Professor Becky Francis, CEO, Endowment Education Foundation

A recording of this event is available on our YouTube channel.


Educating learners for their future – not our past

16 October, 5pm-6.30pm

Speaker: Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills, OECD

A recording of this event is available on our YouTube channel.

Andreas Schleicher


In a world in which the kinds of things that are easy to teach and test have also become easy to digitise and automate, education is no longer just about teaching students something, but about helping them develop a reliable compass and the tools to navigate with confidence through an increasingly complex, volatile and uncertain world. Success in education today is about building curiosity – opening minds, it is about compassion –opening hearts, and it is about courage, mobilising our cognitive, social and emotional resources to take action. And those are also our best weapon against the biggest threats of our times – ignorance – the closed mind, hate – the closed heart, and fear – the enemy of agency. But how do we build the learning environments to enable those knowledge, skills, attitudes and values? What kind of educators and other people are needed to enact those learning environments? And what can public policy do to support those people best? The presentation will try to answer these questions.

In today’s schools, students typically learn individually and at the end of the school year, we certify their individual achievements. But the more interdependent the world becomes, the more we need great collaborators and orchestrators. We can see during the pandemic how the well-being of countries depends increasingly on people’s capacity to take collective action. Schools need to help students learn to be autonomous in their thinking and develop an identity that is aware of the pluralism of modern living. This is important. At work, at home and in the community, people will need a broad understanding of how others live, in different cultures and traditions, and how others think, whether as scientists or as artists. The presentation will look at how schools and school systems can rise to this challenge.


A recording of these seminars will be available on our YouTube channel.

To find out what other events are taking place at the Department of Education go to out events page.