Monthly Archives: June 2016

Rethinking Childhood Cluster: Dr. Susan Foster-Cohen

Dr. Susan Foster-Cohen is the Director of the Champion Centre and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury. She is engaged in active research into the outcomes of parent-partnership interventions at the Centre. She has also been a member of a research team at the University of Canterbury exploring the long-term outcomes of prematurity, with a particular focus on communication and language development. She has held academic positions in universities in the UK, USA, France and New Zealand and has published widely on language development in both pure and applied journals and books. Susan joined us in a joint venture between the Rethinking Childhood Cluster and the Family Health Cluster on the 6th June to talk about:

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Bio-psycho-social consequences of premature birth: family and professional partnerships in early intervention

The short, medium and long-term impacts of premature birth on the infant, the mother, the family and their educational and social communities are the active subjects of research in a number of academic fields. Such research is revealing trends and likelihoods of developmental, educational, mental health and social consequences of prematurity that can, and must, be addressed in early intervention. Particularly difficult, however, is predicting which children will have which, or any, lasting consequences of their prematurity. This presents a challenge for health, education and social welfare practitioners to translate the research evidence into the best support for each child, the families that raise them, and the teachers that educate them. Susan’s talk reviewed the bio-psycho-social consequences of premature birth and then describde the multi-disciplinary support provided to children born prematurely, their families and their teachers at The Champion Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. It focused on the challenges encountered in assessment, monitoring, and intervention; and the importance of developing families as ‘advocates for life’ for their children.

Approximately 50 – 60 delegates attended from across the country and from diverse disciplines including collaborative partners from BLISS charity and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Positive feedback from delegates included comments such as:

“Thank you for organising this excellent event.  So much useful information for teaching and for my book. Also useful networking, I do hope that Barbara and I move our research idea forward. Thank you also for the delicious lunch.” (an HE Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood)

“Thank you for inviting us to the talk yesterday it was really fascinating. It was also fantastic to hear about the amazing programme Susan runs in New Zealand, I thought it really complemented some of the things Bliss believes in like having the family at the centre of the babies care.” (A charity Research Manager)

As a practising independent midwife, I found the event very illuminating. I will be using the knowledge gained (and revisited) in my work; especially in the postnatal period.

I focus on ‘growing and birthing healthy babies’. In this timely space, I place a large emphasis on supporting mothers (and their partners) to realise the critical importance of the antenatal period, enjoying good diet, exercise, and managing positive energies etc.

I look forward to the video and sharing this with my team. (a Mimosa Midwife)

What an excellent event, ands such a wonderful presentation I was like many in the audience bowled over and learnt such a lot.. Id be very happy to get involved in any future/potential research with BCU , around this field (health practitioner from Birmingham Children’s Hospital)

 

Dr. Foster-Cohen said of her visit to the UK:

“A true highlight of my trip was my visit to Birmingham City University and the chance to present my research work in prematurity and the model of professional service delivery for premature infants at the Champion Centre.

I was very impressed with the wide range of professional backgrounds in the audience that attended the lecture and extend my thanks to Dr. Carolyn Blackburn, my host, for promoting the importance of the path that premature infants take from the prenatal stage through early childhood. The questions at the lecture and the discussion afterwards over lunch made it clear that there is considerable intelligent interest in the needs of young children at BCU and a genuine contribution that I can make to the courses and training that it offers.

Dr. Blackburn’s visit to the Champion Centre on her Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship last year has opened up significant opportunities for collaborative research between us and I look forward to building on this first exchange of visits in the future.”

 

Meet the Team – Mary-Rose Puttick

Name: Mary-Rose Puttick

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Role at BCU: PhD Student / Assistant Lecturer

Research Interests:

  • Issues faced by refugees / asylum seekers which influence marginalization / integration
  • Inter-cultural communication with second-language parents around U.K. legislation such as Safeguarding, FGM, and Prevent
  • Complex identities of culturally-diverse migrant mothers attending Family Learning classes
  • Empowering second-language parents with low-literacy skills in their first language by drawing on alternative cultural ‘literacies’

Research you are currently working on: I am currently working on my PhD in which I am exploring the concepts of identity and community from the perspective of culturally-diverse, second-language mothers in Birmingham Family Learning classes. Within this I’m also looking at the impact that the government’s Prevent strategy has had on these women. I am aiming to volunteer with some of these groups and to explore creative methods to represent their voices, drawing upon their trajectories and cultural histories.

Research methodologies you are using: At the moment I’m exploring some creative methodologies such as Laurel Richardson’s crystallization process as a way to incorporate the voices of parents from different countries in diverse ways which may be more fitting to their cultural traditions and histories such as oral testimonies, poetry, as well as other art forms

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Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: The experiences I have gained in teaching ESOL/Family Literacy in adult/community education for the past 12 years has really stimulated my interest in the complex identities of individuals from diasporic communities and how these can be influenced by wide-ranging social, political and cultural factors from the different countries in which they have lived. These factors can create inclusion and exclusion within and between cultural groups. I’m hoping that by carrying out research into this area, it will help to produce some practical outcomes in different educational contexts, such as improving communication strategies between schools and second-language parents, and providing Family Learning classes which are more tailored to the specific needs of different cultural groups.

Most influential research you have read/seen: I’ve recently read two books by Irene Gedalof and Fatema Mernissi which both originated from their PhD theses and which have been really inspiring in directing me with my current research. Gedalof’s ‘Against Purity’ focuses on the imbalances of white Western feminism in terms of gender with other forms of difference such as race, ethnicity, and nation and points to the consideration of multiple factors by Indian feminists in considering the identities of women from diasporic communities. Fatema Mernissi was a Moroccan feminist and sociologist. I’ve read one of her books so far ‘Beyond the Veil’ which questions predominant discourses of Islam being the main cause of oppression for Muslim women and focuses instead on the political manipulation of religion.

Advice for new researchers: One of my supervisors advised me to write regularly, even very rough drafts. I have found this really useful in helping me to keep track of what I’ve been reading and to get into the habit of frequent critical/analytical writing.

Mini fact about you: Some of my favourite things to do are: cycling, yoga, charity shopping, art galleries, and visiting my family in San Diego.

Meet the Team – Shannon Ludgate

Name: Shannon Ludgateshan

Role at BCU: PhD student and Assistant Lecturer in Early Years

Research Interests:

  • Touchscreen technologies
  • Young children in early years
  • Social learning
  • Activity Theory
  • Teaching and Research relationship

Research you are currently working on: I am currently working on my PhD, which looks at young children’s experiences using touchscreen technologies in early years settings. This study focuses on children aged three and four years old.

Research methodologies you are using: My research has taken a mixed-methods approach to collecting data. By researching in this way, it has enabled me to collect quantitative data through an online survey and observations, alongside qualitative data from interviews and observations of young children’s uses of touchscreen technology.

This was done through a multi-case study approach, which allowed for a comparison within and against other case studies in the study.

Advice for new researchers: Considering I see myself as an organised person, I would suggest that new researchers, particularly those doing PhDs to get on top of organisation. Planning is essential in order to have a structure, and to give you a clearer idea of how your time might pan out. That being said, be flexible too – you do not know what might happen from one month to the next, so be prepared for set-backs.

Be passionate and enthusiastic about your research – let your interests lead you to where you research. Don’t be afraid to do something new!

Mini fact about you: I am the only left-handed, red-headed person in my family. I am a statistical anomaly with blue eyes and red hair.

 

Born early: early care and education experiences of young children born prematurely

Dr. Carolyn Blackburn and Dr. Merryl Harvey (supported by BLISS http://www.bliss.org.uk)

Each year in England, around 10,000 children are born very preterm (at less than 32 weeks gestation) and a further 60,000 are born moderately preterm (at 32-36 weeks gestation). The number of preterm births has increased in the last two decades, and more preterm children are surviving due to improved neonatal care (National Neonatal Audit Programme, 2015). However, the prevalence of cognitive, behavioural and emotional problems in preterm populations has not changed. In particular, children born preterm have been found to experience specific learning problems including difficulties with mathematics, visual-spatial skills, memory and attention.

There is still much we do not know about the nature and spectrum of these learning difficulties, their long term consequences, and how to deal with them. In particular, there is controversy about whether moderately preterm children experience similar but milder learning problems than children born very preterm. Teachers and educational psychologists receive little formal training about preterm birth and are often not aware of appropriate strategies to support preterm children in the classroom. Informing teachers about the special constellation of problems following preterm birth is crucial in preparing them to support the growing number of preterms entering schools in the coming years (Campbell, 2015; Carpenter et al., 2015).

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Studies have explored parents’ experiences of having a child born prematurely. However, these studies have generally focused on the months immediately following the birth and have taken a health and social care perspective (Harvey el al, 2013; Garfield et al, 2014; Gray et al, 2013). Quantitative studies have also examined the development of children who were born prematurely and have identified the learning difficulties that they face during early childhood (Marlow, 2004; Johnson et al, 2010; Costeloe 2012). Parents’ experiences of early years education is an under-researched area.

The benefits of early care and education early intervention (EI) have been well documented in policy and research in terms of improving outcomes for children at risk of or identified with SEN. Whilst not all children born prematurely will be identified with Special Educational Needs, ongoing monitoring of their learning and development (as is evident from Carolyn’s work at the Champion Centre, NZ) has the potential to ameliorate any future delays or difficulties.

This study aims to explore the early care and education experiences of children born prematurely through reports from parents in order to identify best practice in early care and education and provide advice and guidance for policy-makers and early educators. Research questions include:

  1.  What are the early social experiences of young children born prematurely (as reported by parents)?
  1. What are parents’ memories of their children’s developmental milestones?
  1. Where children are attending early years settings, what are parents experiences of this, were there any difficulties/problems in finding suitable childcare provision?
  1. What advice/support do early years workers need to support children born prematurely and their families?

The first phase of the research will be a family survey. More details to follow.

References:

Campbell, D. Premature babies more likely to end up in lower- paid jobs. The Guardian 1st September 2015

Carpenter, B., Egerton, J. Cockbill, B., Brooks, C., Fotheringham, J., Rawson, H. And Thisthtlethwaite, J. Engaging learning with complex learning difficulties and disabilities. London: Routledge

Costeloe KL, Hennessy EM, Haider S, Stacey F, Marlow N, Draper ES. Short term outcomes after extreme preterm birth in England: comparison of two birth cohorts in 1995 and 2006 (the EPICure studies). BMJ, 2012;345:e7976

Garfield CF, Lee Y, Kim HN (2014) Paternal and maternal concerns for their very low-birth-weight infants transitioning from NICU to home. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing; 28 4 305-312

Gray PH, Edwards DM, O’Callaghan MJ, Cuskelly M, Gibbons K. (2013) Parenting stress in mothers of very preterm infants – influence of development, temperament and maternal depression. Early Human Development; 89 9 6250629

Harvey, M.E. Nongena, P. Gonzalez-Cinca, N. Edwards, A.D. and Redshaw, M.E. (2013) Parents’ experiences of information and communication in the neonatal unit about brain imaging and neurological prognosis: a qualitative study, Acta Paediatrica, 102(4): 360-365.

Johnson S, Hollis C, Kochhar P, Hennessy EM, Wolke D, Marlow N. Autism spectrum disorders in extremely preterm children. J Pediatrics2010;156:525-31

Marlow N. Neurocognitive outcome after very preterm birth. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2004;89:F224-8

National Neonatal Audit Programme (2015) Annual Report on 2014 data. http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/improving-child-health/qualityimprovement-and-clinical-audit/national-neonatal-audit-programme-nnap (accessed 11/04/2016).

Winston Churchill Fellowship Medallion

Written by Dr Carolyn Blackburn, Research Fellow in Early Childhood Studies, HELS carolyn@blackbu5

Carolyn Blackburn attended a prestigious Award Ceremony for her Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship recently. In this blog entry she reflects on the ceremony.

On Wednesday 18th May, I travelled to London with 128 other Fellows to receive my Winston Churchill Fellowship Medallion from Professor Brian Clarke at a prestigious biennial award ceremony.  The event was held at Church House near Westminster.

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Church House has significant Churchillian associations as during the Blitz, Winston Churchill requisitioned Church House as a makeshift Houses of Parliament after the originals had been damaged by bombing. It was also from Church House that he made his famous speech announcing the sinking of the Bismarck on 24th May 1941. It was an ideal venue to hold the event.

The Agenda for the event included a talk from Brian about his own Fellowship following an introduction from the Chair of the Advisory Council, Anne Boyd and a presentation from the Chief Executive Julia Weston.  The Hon Jeremy Soames made the concludinew medallionng remarks before Afternoon Tea was served for Fellows and guests.

The Travelling Fellowships provide opportunities for UK citizens to go abroad on a worthwhile project of their own choosing, with the aim of enriching their lives through their global experiences – and to bring back the benefit to others in their UK profession or community through sharing the results of their new knowledge.

20160518_132921Twenty two Fellows received awards in the Children and Young People category of which I was proud to be one of them.  It was inspiring to hear about Fellows travels across the Globe with projects ranging from child exploitation to mental health interventions to FGM and everything inbetween. My own Fellowship was about Relationship Based Early Intervention Services for Children with Complex Disabilities and I’m delighted to say that since returning to the UK, I’ve been elected as Board Member of Eurlyaid, had an article published in the International Journal of Birth and Parenting Education, presented my findings at EASPD’s conference in Moldova – entitled Growing Together in Early Childhood Intervention, had a paper accepted at BCU Wellbeing conference and been granted funding from BCU to explore Early Care and Education for Young Children Born Prematurely.

Professor Brian Clarke praised all the Fellows for their outstanding achievements, and said that:

“I know from personal experience that the Fellowship represents a wonderful opportunity. I am continually amazed and inspired by the Churchill Fellows dedication and commitment to making a difference in so many areas affecting today’s society.”

You can read more about Carolyn’s journey to New Zealand on her personal blog https://drblackburnblog.wordpress.com/

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Five burning issues: time to reimagine Further Education

By Suzanne Savage, Assistant Lecturer and Doctoral Researcher in the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences. Full article on http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/views/2016/05/19/five-burning-issues-time-to-reimagine-further-education/

As we eagerly await the first White Paper in a decade to address Further Education and Skills, I wanted to take a look at areas of concern for the sector. I asked facilitators of the upcoming Reimagining Further Education conference to be held on 29 June here at BCU, to share some of the burning issues they will explore.

  1. Leadership in Further Education: As we face a period of unprecedented change in the sector, do FE leaders need a new vision of their role? Dr Lynne Sedgmore, former leader of the 157 Group of Colleges, says: “Senior leaders and governors need to consider how they use their power and act on new ways of collaborative leadership in true partnership — beyond current formal hierarchy and tokenism — to liberate, engage, support and facilitate practitioners, and the professional power they bring, in much more innovative and radical ways.” What do you think? This and more will be discussed in the Leadership in FE strand of our conference.
  2. Accountability is often seen as the solution to quality in education, but Professor Ewart Keep of Oxford University warns that the current “low trust, high stakes inspection regime has a weak grasp of what vocational learning could and/or should look like. There is no widely accepted consensus about what the over-arching aims are that the FE system and individual institutions therein should be held accountable for.” This is compounded by new government initiatives towards local commissioning. Ann Hodgson of UCL Institute of Education asks “What are the respective roles of local, regional and national government in the governance of FE colleges and what should they be? What impact is the area review process having on the FE system in England?” If you would like to contribute towards answering these questions, join the Accountability, Governance and Area Reviews strand of our conference.
  3. Higher Education in FE: The release of the Higher Education White Paper this month has implications for colleges delivering HE courses because that provision will now be subject to the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). How will colleges juggle the requirements of both Ofsted and the TEF? Dr Karima Kadi-Hanifi, University of Worcester, says: “When evaluated from an exclusively HE perspective, FE is often seen as the inferior partner. But FE provision is very good, student-centred, inspiring and resilient.” To formulate the FE response to TEF requirements, sign up for the HE in FE strand of our conference.
  4. The introduction of the Apprenticeship levy in April 2017 creates unique dilemmas for colleges, and many of those who have historically focussed on classroom-based provision are not sure how to develop successful apprenticeship delivery. While fierce competition amongst potential providers is anticipated, can colleges harness some of the energy from the Area Review process to develop a more regional, coordinated approach to apprenticeship provision? Are employers ready for the introduction of the levy and resultant change to hiring practices, or do apprenticeship providers need to find new ways to work together with them? To join this discussion, sign up to the Apprenticeship strand of our conference, facilitated by Professor Chris Winch of King’s College London.
  5. Professionalism: In a deregulated sector, “how can we foster a more critical, dialogic and democratic professionalism at this time of great challenge?” asks Lou Mycroft, teacher educator at Northern College and co-founder of Tutor Voices. And despite deregulation, Tim Weiss, Membership Director for the Society of Education and Training Professionals, wonders “In a sector celebrated for diversity of delivery, subject area, learner and teaching staff alike, do we run the risk of losing this breadth and depth as we focus ever closer on “core metrics” such as maths and English, or does this underlying drive to improve the essentials enhance our diversity of delivery even further?” Help develop a vision by joining the Professionalism in FE strand of our conference.

    The Reimagining Further Education conference will be held on 29 June, 2016 in the Curzon Building of Birmingham City University. Join the discussion on Twitter using #ReimagineFE

    With an undergraduate degree in anthropology from the United States, Suzanne Savage has spent the last 30 years in a wide variety of teaching positions in Nicaragua, the Netherlands and the UK. Most recently she has been a teacher training manager and teaching/learning coach in UK Further Education colleges. She’s very interested in the relationship between education policy, teacher professional practice, and the lived experience of students in the classroom. Her current PhD research at Birmingham City University is on the use of video recordings in the observation of classroom practice.

Meet the Team – Adam Whittaker

Name: Dr Adam Whittaker

adam WRole at BCU: Research Assistant in Music Education

Research Interests:

  • Music Pedagogy (both current and historical)
  • Historical models of intellectual thought
  • Musical applications of rhetoric
  • Music in media as educational tool
  • Assessment in Music Education

Research you are currently working on:

  • Historical uses of musical examples, particularly in fifteenth-century manuscripts
  • Practical music examinations
  • Reception history of Early Music as an educational tool
  • Music assessment in schools

Research methodologies you are using: As I come from a background in musicology, my research methodologies centre on the examination of objects as texts, reading not only the contents of the page but also what the page itself can tell you. There are so many things that we have missed over the years by being preoccupied with what texts tell us and not considered how they tell us nearly enough. The development of this type of approach in my PhD has extended to my other areas of research activity, seeking to recontextualise information in a way that casts new light on its primary contents.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: The ways in which we perceive research in education is changing. My work considers ways in which older historical models might have applicability in this context of change, and how these can develop skills and knowledge in untapped ways. I’m looking forward to thinking about this a lot more and developing innovative ways of delivering historical content for the skills agenda.

Most influential research you have read/seen: The work of Ron Woodley, Margaret Bent, Bonnie Blackburn and Rob Wegman, to name a few, was highly influential on my work in musicology. Joseph Dyer’s work on the place of music within historical university models sparked my interest in historical models of intellectual thought. These led me to models of pedagogy and, ultimately, to CSPACE!

Advice for new researchers: Time spent away from the desk can help bring things into focus. Take in some air and listen to the birdsong! There’s no substitute for hard work but being glued to the desk is not always the best thing!

Mini fact about you: When I’m not reading about/playing/listening to music, I like to watch motorsport!

Meet the Team – Suzanne Savage

Name: Suzanne Savagesu

Role at BCU: Doctoral Researcher and Assistant Lecturer

Research Interests: Observations of classroom practice, teacher learning and teacher professionalism, how to capture teaching “quality”

Research you are currently working on:

  • The use of digital video recordings in the observation of classroom practice
  • Reflexive observation practice in HE teaching
  • The TEF and teaching “excellence”
  • Video as surveillance in schools and colleges

Research methodologies you are using: Bourdieu’s participant objectivation informs my work on classroom observation. The teacher observation process in most schools and colleges is driven by what Bourdieu calls doxa, the taken-for-granted-assumptions which are never questioned. There are huge questions about the validity and reliability of the conclusions made when observing a complex environment such as a classroom, yet these issues are seldom addressed in the literature. In order understand this process better, my research is designed to observe the professional dialogue between an observer and teacher when they utilise a digital recording of a classroom lesson. At the heart of this study is the practice and conceptualisation of the method of observation itself, and I am utilising Bourdieu’s participant objectivation to turn the instruments of my research onto my own inquiry. This is fascinating reflexive journey which has caused me to question my own doxa and to reconceptualise my own ontological and epistemological understanding.

Methods I am currently using include: Video recorded observation of professional dialogue; video elicitation (stimulated recall) interviews.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: Central government policy is geared towards a marketised education sector which believes that profit is the best incentive to ensure quality. In higher education, however, we must continue to problematize this assumption. Once students become consumers, where does this leave the relationship between educator and student? Can learning be bought? Is the sole purpose of education employability?

Most influential research you have read/seen: Dr. Matt O’Leary’s work on classroom observation is bringing about a paradigm shift in how we conceptualise “quality” in education. He is the first researcher to seriously and methodically question the premise and practice of the performative observation regimes that rule UK schools and colleges. When I was working as a Teacher Educator and Coach in FE, I knew there was something deeply wrong with how we purported to “measure” teacher performance. But Matt’s first book, “Classroom Observation” delved into the historical development of this system and systematically revealed the erroneous assumptions underpinning current practice. I now am incredibly fortunate to have Matt as my Director of Studies here at Birmingham City University.

I shall leave for another blog post my other great influence: Paulo Freire.

Advice for new researchers: Firstly, collaboration is vital. A special alchemy happens when you bring inquiring minds together to explore ideas. Secondly, don’t see theory as a difficult add-on to your research. Your world views permeate everything you think and write. Learn to understand your underlying theory, and then relentlessly question it to avoid complacency.

On a practical note, I have found Evernote to be a very useful tool for managing all my research literature.

Mini fact about you: I have lived in several different countries and I speak Spanish and Dutch fluently.

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Meet the CSPACE Team – Eddie Hulbert

Name: Eddie HulbertEddie

Role at BCU: PhD Researcher and Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant

Research Interests: Family Learning, Adult Education, Literacy, Ethnicity

Research you are currently working on: My PhD is looking at Family Learning initiatives in Birmingham. My research questions are:

  • What does family learning mean to parents, children and practitioners?
  • What does best practice look like in different contexts?
  • How can best practice be implemented in all family learning institutions?
  • Can a framework for monitoring the benefits of family learning be established and embedded into institutional practice?

Research methodologies you are using: I am going to carry out case-studies of 3 Family Learning providers. I will use semi-structured interviews with families and practitioners and observations of learning sessions. I also plan to use Visual and Sensory ethnography and Discourse Analysis.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: It is an exciting time to be within the School of Education at BCU as the school is expanding and the links between teaching and research are getting stronger!

Most influential research you have read/seen: Black Masculinities and Schooling: How Black Boys Survive Modern Schooling (Sewell, 1997)

Advice for new researchers: Don’t be afraid to try new and innovative techniques whilst carrying out your research.

Mini fact about you: I have a trainer addiction (currently on 18 pairs and counting!)