PEP Seminar: To what extent do opportunities for children’s storytelling and story acting support the development of speaking in early childhood? With Gorana Henry ( 4-5pm London Time, 7th Feb 2022, free, online)

About this event

Presenter: Gorana Henry, Deputy Headteacher, Wessex Gardens Primary School

The number of children with poor language skills on entry to school is growing in the UK. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are on average 4 months behind when they start school. This word gap remains consistent throughout their schooling, putting them at a higher risk of exclusions and diminishing their life chances. This situation has been compounded by the effects of the pandemic and there is now an even greater need for us to deploy impactful practices in order to narrow the gap.

This practitioner-led, action research project seeks to address the language and communication gaps in early childhood, with a focus on the impact on disadvantaged pupils, particularly boys. It explores the extent to which opportunities for children’s storytelling and story acting support the development of different components of the Speaking strand of the Early Years Framework. Building on the work of Vivian Gussin Paley, the classroom-based approach centers on children initiating and creating their own stories. These stories are scribed verbatim, and then acted out by children in an area of the classroom marked out as a stage. A scale and scoring system for the stories is devised and used to record and analyse the progress of children’s Speaking development.

The project tracks two cohorts of children: 14 Nursery children as they move onto Reception and 26 Reception children as they move into Year 1. Findings indicate that the approach, used alongside other approaches, can support the closing of the gender and disadvantage gaps in Communications and Language. More specifically, data show that boys and disadvantaged pupils had made accelerated progress in the consistency of their use of tenses, as well as in organising and sequencing of ideas – thus narrowing the gap with girls or their non-disadvantaged counterparts, respectively, in these areas. In addition, boys had made accelerated progress in their use of connectors.

PEP Seminar: Teaching controversial and sensitive issues in the wake of 9/11, by Alex Elwick (4-5pm, London Time, Mon 6th December 2021, free, online)

None of the pupils in schools today were alive at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks – and yet they are profoundly affected by the repercussions of the event, subject to policy instruments and statutory requirements such as the Prevent Duty and the inculcation of the Fundamental British Values into spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) education. Based on research for both the Association for Citizenship Teaching and the charity ‘Since 9/11’ (as well as the wider literature base) – in this talk I will discuss what pupils say they want in terms of teaching and learning about controversial and sensitive issues; what resources are currently available to support schools and teachers; and some approaches used by teachers in their classrooms. Recent research suggests teachers express confidence in addressing issues related to extremism or the Prevent policy, and yet students have described having few opportunities to discuss terrorism in class; while the government’s ‘Educate Against Hate’ website is a problematic and uneven repository for resources. Nonetheless, there exist examples of good practice – instances where space for discussion are opened up and an educational (rather than a securitisation or safeguarding) approach can be adopted.

PEP seminar:Outsider Research: Reflections from a PhD Study, Dr Nicky Spawls (4-5pm, London Time,10th Jan 2022, free, online)

Outsider Research can be fraught with tensions and dilemmas regarding the constructedness of accounts (Jones 1992, Alcoff 1992). Alternatively outsider research may offer a distance from the research subject that may in fact encourage greater honesty and disclosure resulting in more varied research findings. Such research raises valuable discussion around the hierarchies of power between researcher and researched, the importance of reflexivity in the research process and the dynamics of positionalities. This presentation will discuss such issues with reference to my own PhD study into the educational experiences of young Somali women graduates in London.

Action Research in Education: An introduction with Dr Lynette Morris and Zahra Alizadeh, 5-6pm BST Monday 14th June 2021 (free, online)

Why does action research matter in the context of education?

How can action research transform education, educators and the experience of educating?

What does it take to make action research work?

Action Research is research in action; it is initiated, directed and controlled by practitioners as collaborative inquiry aimed at improving practice quality.  Action Research in education is concerned with changing established patterns of thinking and acting in education and care settings; it focuses on norms and values as well as patterns of behaviour to challenge the status quo from a participative perspective.

In this intensive and interactive one hour workshop with Dr Lynette Morris and Zahra Alizadeh, you have the opportunity to learn more about action research, both its potentials in the context of education and how you can make it work on the ground. By the end of the workshop, you’ll have the basic understanding you need to design a small-scale action research project to explore further with your colleagues. 

Dr Lynette Morris is a Senior Lecturer in Education and Early Childhood at Middlesex University. Her work is committed to promoting high quality inclusive teaching and learning. Through her research and publications, she explores practitioner activism and wellbeing.

Zahra Alizadeh is a post graduate teacher currently studying a MA in Childhood and Education in Diverse Societies at Middlesex University. Her action research project is focused on improving language teaching through a pedagogy of play.

The event is free, but places are limited. Sign up for the event here:

Dr Gillian Lazar to present on academic literacies and staff pedagogic development at the Institute of Education, UCL

4-5pm London Time, 20th May 2021

In this free online workshop, open for all to attend, Dr Gillian Lazar will reflect on how to promote a deeper understanding of academic literacies among higher education (HE) faculty.

To sign up for the event, visit the webpage below:

Video online: Writing educational resources for publication – how and why? A free, online PEP seminar, Mon 15th March, 5-6.30pm

Writing educational resources for publication: how and why?  

Dr Gillian Lazar, Department of Education, Middlesex University 

In this seminar Dr Gillian Lazar will reflect on her experiences of writing educational resources over several decades. Gillian will share some of the practical lessons learned about writing for publication, such as meeting the demands of publishers while incorporating one’s own educational vision in the resources. She will also reflect on the creative production of educational resources as an act of scholarship and discuss how this can help to deepen one’s understanding of practice. The session will be of interest to those exploring how to write resources as part of their own career development, and to anyone interested in expanding our appreciation of scholarship for education professionals in higher education. 

Event: Silos and Synergies – Making the most of multidisciplinary Schools in HE

Marcus Bhargava & Carmel Clancy 

Tue 19th January, 3.30-4.30 pm 

Marcus Bhargava (Head of School of Education, Midwifery and Social Work, Kingston University) and Carmel Clancy (Head of the School of Health and Education, Middlesex University) discussed the following issues:

  • The current state play in their respective institutions, in relation to collaboration across the professions.
  • The role of professional identities in hindering and / or promoting collaboration.
  • The potential for institutions to learn from policy developments across the different professions.
  • Possible areas for future development.

Event: “To decolonise, or not to decolonise, that is the question?” Comparing value transmission in British and Australian English classrooms

Date: Monday 27th April 2020

Time: 15:30-17:00

Address: Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon, NW4 4BR

Can we stop the transmission of injustice issues through the teaching and reading of English literary texts? The visceral and deleterious nature of the propagation of ‘colonial’ values is well discussed in sociological fields in terms of the ‘hidden curriculum’ (Apple, 2004) and theories of social reproduction (Bourdieu, 1986; Bernstein, 1981). However, such approaches tend to take a ‘black box’ construction of the classroom and focus on the mechanics of material persistency in wider society (Morrow & Torres, 1995), rather than critical resistance, thereby ignoring the complexities of social and psychological interactions at various levels of schooling. With the more recent attention placed on decolonising the education curriculum amongst other practices, this talk dives into the complexities of and with the possibilities of such a process.

Examining the interconnectivity of the relevant spaces and theoretical frameworks has important implications for the way we think about resisting social injustice and the role of the ‘hidden curriculum’ in education. Jogie’s 2020 book promotes the importance of overseeing the connections that are overlooked in the endorsement (politics), teaching (pedagogy) and assimilation (students) of English literary texts using a comparative study of UK and Australian senior secondary curricula. Drawing on inspiration from Foucault, Adorno and Ricoeur, this seminar will demonstrate how a reinvigorated and interdisciplinary postcolonial approach can attend to such questions as: • How are English literary texts selected to be on prescribed school lists in the UK and Australia? • Are teachers prepared to deal with multiculturalism and latent issues of citizenship and identity in texts? • What do present ‘decolonisation’ and ‘multicultural’ education agendas have in common? • Do league tables and students’ perceived abilities factor into schools’ text selection, and how does this interact with curriculum direction? • What are the effects of text coupling strategies and new text formats (Visual Media) on students’ engagement with English Literature? Biography: Melissa’s research focuses on cultural reproduction and social injustice drawing from scholarly fields of philosophy, sociology, psychology, economics, literature and education. Her forthcoming book Transmission of Colonial Values (2020, Routledge) establishes a meta-theory of knowledge reproduction known as the ‘postcolonial hegemonies of knowledge’. Her insights into social and cultural reproduction have led to her recent award of a British Academy Grant to a UK-Australia Knowledge Frontier Forum to work with a small group of selected scholars on the shaping of the ‘future’ of research in the humanities and social sciences. While completing her PhD at the Australian National University (2017), she was awarded a Visiting Fellowship at the University of Oxford, Department for Education, Centre for Comparative and International Education (2015). Her publication ‘Desperate Shadows of Belonging’ inspired changing the Education Curriculum in NSW Australia and was nominated by the Australian Educational Researcher Journal for ‘Paper of the Year’, 2015. She also holds two international awards for presentations on her research from the University of Hong Kong (Faculty of Social Sciences, 2013) and the RMIT University (European Union Centres Graduate Workshop, 2014). Her projects and publications can be found at

Event: Ethics and on-line research: problematizing the public and private

This event was hosted on Monday 3rd February 2020 as part of the PEP seminar series.

Time: 15.30-17.00

Location: Middlesex University, room C113

Organiser: Dr Lee Jerome (

Dr Jai Mackenzie, School of English, University of Nottingham

Kevin McDonald, Professor & Head of Department of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex University

This seminar will feature two colleagues reflecting on their experiences of conducting on-line research in contrasting projects (radicalization, Mumsnet and LGBT parenting). The discussion will focus on the ethical dimension to such work, with a particular focus on using pre-existing data from social media and on-line forums. This event is being organised with the Education Ethics Sub-Committee and colleagues from all departments / faculties are welcome.

Paper 1: Researching online parenting communities: A context-sensitive approach

Jai Mackenzie, University of Nottingham

In recent years, researchers across disciplines have discovered stimulating opportunities to study human interaction, behaviour and sociability online. But with these opportunities come concerns for the human subjects who produce online ‘data’, most notably, their rights to privacy, autonomy and freedom from harm. In this presentation, I outline some key ethical challenges and considerations for researchers of digital contexts and communication, using two case studies from my qualitative explorations of online parenting communities as examples. The first of these studies focuses on digital interactions collected from the popular Mumsnet Talk parenting discussion forum, whilst the second draws on both interview and digital data from ongoing engagement with diverse and marginalised families who regularly use digital media. I explain some of the challenges around research design and ethical decision-making in relation to each of these studies, before outlining my approach to considerations of the public/private dichotomy, participants’ autonomy, and sensitivity to the norms of shifting and multiple digital research contexts. Ultimately, I suggest that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to ethical internet research, but that a case-based, context-sensitive approach is necessary if researchers are to make sensitive, informed ethical judgements that minimise the risk of harm to data subjects and participants.

Paper 2: Researching Radicalization

Kevin McDonald, Middlesex University

In this paper Kevin will discuss the digital ethnography he undertook for his 2018 book ‘Radicalization’. During 2013-15 there was a vast amount of jihadist material on different social media platforms. Whilst much of this has since been removed there remains a significant digital footprint that allows us to capture radicalization as a lived experience. One example is provided by Aqsa Mahmood’s social media profile(s) which demonstrate how she constructed an experiential world structured around an opposition between purity and impurity, but where humour continues to play crucial role, both as a mechanism of inclusion (who is in the ‘fam’) and as a means to say what is unsayable. Such research is helpful for generating insights about radicalization as a process produced by active participants, not simply something done to people. But it also involves ethical questions around access and legality (as organisations and material can be so tightly controlled by different governments).

Character education in Britain: myth-peddling in the classroom

This event was hosted on Monday 11th November 2019, 15.30-17.00, room C113

Presenters: Ben Kisby, Lincoln University & Lee Jerome, Middlesex University

This seminar is also the official book launch of ‘The Rise of Character Education in Britain’. We will explore the emergence of a policy community in Britain to promote character education, and discuss some of the problems evident in classroom resources and extra-curricular programmes promoted to schools.