Tag Archives: health

Meet the CSPACE Team – Alex Wade

Name: Dr. Alex Wade

alex W Role at BCU: Researcher

Research Interests:

  • Technology and Education
  • Young People
  • Digital Media and Relationships
  • History of Technology

Research you are currently working on:

  • Sexting and young people
  • Use of Simulations in Speech and Language Therapy
  • Fundamentals of General Practice Nursing Evaluation
  • Lunch and Brunch Clubs Evaluation
  • British Videogames of the 1980s

Research methodologies you are using: Genealogy; habitus; simulations and simulacra; dromology; cultural histories.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: It continues to amaze me how many areas have so little research undertaken in them. If you can find an emergent, or under-researched area, you can potentially – if you so wish – have a whole life dedicated to research in a topic where it is impossible to exhaust the possibilities. The aphorism, ‘we spend all of our life learning and die stupid’ is never truer than when applied to research – and to education!

Most influential research you have read/seen: Jean Baudrillard’s The Transparency of Evil. In 1993 it appeared to be prescient, now it is prophetic.

Advice for new researchers: Your degree by research is a driving licence that allows you to undertake the real learning that takes place after you pass. You will never have the opportunity to do such an expansive and broad piece of work again (even if you write a book!). So, whether PhD or professional doctorate, it is a reference work and a tool, but most importantly a position that you will return to again and again and is the basis for everything that follows.

Mini fact about you: I can read upside down as proficiently as I can the ‘right way up’, which I understand is one of the pre-requisites for joining MI6. (I may actually be a triple agent . . . . )


Dr. Jackie Musgrave visits the Childhood and Family Health Cluster

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


In January in a joint initiative between the Rethinking Childhood Cluster and Family Health Cluster invited Dr. Jackie Musgrave from the Worcester University to talk about her PhD research on including children with Chronic Health Conditions in early years settings.jackie-musgrave-education-university-worcester_rdax_200x230 download

Jackie’s doctoral research brings together her professional and personal interests in children’s health and early education.  Her research explored the effects of chronic health conditions (asthma, anaphylaxis, diabetes, eczema and epilepsy) on young children’s inclusion in early childhood education and care.  The research methods included a postal questionnaire, interviews with practitioners and parents and observations of ‘DJ’ in his early years setting over the period of year.  ‘DJ’ has asthma, anaphylaxis and eczema.  The opportunity to observe ‘DJ’ gave the opportunity for a prolonged engagement to examine how these conditions affected his participation in his early childhood education and care.







The aim of her talk was to give an overview of her doctoral research which explored how chronic health conditions, specifically anaphylaxis, asthma, diabetes, eczema and epilepsy, can impact on children’s health, as well as exploring how early years practitioners include children with these conditions. Her talk was attended by education and health staff.

A thoughtful discussion about the implictations for education and health practitioners followed her talk which highlighted the opportunities for and benefits of interdisciplinary training and practice.

Jackie also talked to Early Childhood Education Studies students about her work thereby enhancing the experiences of students at BCU.


Evaluating Holiday Kitchen: Learning food and play for families who need it most in the West Midlands

Written by Dr Jane O’Connor, Senior Researcher in Education

A huge issue for many disadvantaged families in the West Midlands, and indeed nationally, is what to do with their children during the long summer holidays. The lack of routine and structure of school and the pressure of keeping their children fed and entertained all day can lead to extra stress on families already under financial and emotional strain. Additionally research has shown that children from disadvantaged families often demonstrate what has been termed ‘summer slide’ whereby their academic achievement levels dip after the holidays if they have had no opportunity to be involved with educational activities in their time away from school.

For these reasons, and in order to complement government investments to meet Child Poverty commitments laid out in the 2010 Child Poverty Act, several charities in the West Midlands got together last summer to run Holiday Kitchens – a structured programme of meals and activities for children and families who need it most during the summer holidays. The Holiday Kitchen programme ran in eleven children’s and community centres with almost 300 participants, supported by a diverse range of community, commissioner, staff, sponsor and volunteer stakeholders.

AA023251The research team at Birmingham City University was asked to evaluate the project in relation to its effectiveness in achieving its three core objectives of: improved social inclusion and aspiration; improved family nutrition and wellbeing and reduced financial and emotional strain. The programme ran for two to four weeks at each centre and provided breakfast and lunch for families as well as a range of educational and fun activities around nutrition, well-being and financial planning including ‘make & taste’, ‘field to fork’ and day trips to local places of interest. Our evaluation showed overwhelmingly positive responses from parents and children and clear evidence that Holiday Kitchen was effective in meeting the core project objectives. The children found the activities fun and enjoyed learning where their food comes from and how to cook simple dishes. One child said:

‘I have found most things about Holiday Kitchen very useful because it has helped me by eating healthy food and not always eating junk food all the time.’

Many mums commented on the way that Holiday Kitchen relieved emotional stress and strain and appreciated sitting and eating together, socialising with other families and just having the opportunity to have fun with their children.

Overall the success of Holiday Kitchen came down to meeting a clear community need in an accessible and fun way. It is hoped that the project is going to be rolled out nationally next summer and that BCU will be on board again to continue evaluating the effectiveness of this simple yet innovative programme.

The full project report is available here if you would like to read more about it:


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Professionalism as a commitment to continual learning

Written by Phil Taylor, MA Education and Maters in Teaching and Learning Course Director, Education, Pedagogy and Professional Studies Co-ordinator

The newly-formed Practitioner Education Research Cluster within the Faculty of Health Education and Life Sciences has begun to share and discuss ideas on professionalism and professional identity. This is bringing together perspectives from across different disciplines and practices, drawing on experience in diverse healthcare and teaching roles. Our initial stimuli for re-thinking professionalism have come from two articles, by Hargreaves (2000) and Stronach et al (2002), which over a decade ago drew attention to debates that are still current and ongoing. While agreeing that notions of professionalism are multiple and difficult to pin-down, some common themes and interesting differences have started to emerge from our discussions. My reflections on this process so far, still in its early days, are written from an educational perspective, though the opportunity to listen to and learn from healthcare experiences has already been invigorating.

First, we have shared the notion that professions do not pre-exist as entities, but arise from occupational groups with common goals, experiences, expertise, qualifications and language. Professionalism entails the acquisition of knowledge and skills specific to an occupation or discipline, but further, application of this expertise to contexts and clients is of crucial importance. This has the potential to be a source of confidence to ourselves as professionals and also to those we care for or educate as our clients, patients, learners. Professionalism, as discussed by our research cluster, therefore becomes inextricably linked to ways of meeting the needs of others, providing public service or benefit and fulfilling a greater good, working with others ethically and responsibly. Commonly expressed values in building positive relationships with others were trust, partnership and empathy.


There are also emergent tensions in the ideas we have shared, between professionalism in a culture of openness and trust where problems are shared and resolved in teams, and professionalism as a set of standards to be complied with and used for accountability purposes. One member of our cluster spoke of expectations of ‘being professional’, seemingly important to members of professions, used as both stick and carrot. Also mentioned were political interference and hyper-accountability as eroding professionalism and leading to more entrepreneurial and instrumental professional identities. We began to explore the possibility that professionalism can create barriers or boundaries as well as forge relationships, perhaps exemplified by expressions such as ‘overstepping the mark’, or ‘beyond my pay grade’. This connects to experiences of some occupational or practitioner groups not always being considered as ‘professionals’ in the same way or with the same status as others with whom they work, for example teachers, early years practitioners and teaching assistants in schools.

Some of these tensions resonate with Stronach et al’s (2002, p.131) characterisation of the professional situation of teachers and nurses as ‘unstable’, with particular emphasis on the potentially negative impact on professional motivation brought about by audit cultures. For Hargreaves (2000), in teaching, these are symptoms of ‘de-professionalization’ along with the lessening role of higher education in initial teacher education risking practice that:

‘can at best only be reproduced, not improved’ (p.168).

Hargreaves’ (2000, p.175) solution of a ‘postmodern professionalism that opens schools and teachers up to parents and the public’ is apparently not favoured by Stronach et al (2002, p.130), who link this position to discourses of performativity, effectiveness and improvement. Both articles associate stronger professionalism with greater trust but, in my reading, divergence appears over issues of how to build and motivate this trust.

Hargreaves’ (2000) solution to de-professionalisation, for ‘professional effectiveness and public credibility’, is for teachers to ‘set and meet an exacting set of professional standards of practice‘ (p.171, italics in original), recognising this as a ‘paradoxical challenge’ (p.176). For Stronach et al (2002) such standards of practice seem to invoke a deficit model that risks demotivation, insisting that healthy practice ‘needs exercise rather than medication’ (p.132). They conclude that professionalism relies on ‘positive trust’ rather than ‘performance ranking’ (Stronach et al, 2002, p.131) and that

‘excellence can only be motivated, it cannot be coerced’ (p.132).

For a group of academics and practitioner educators, perhaps a key to both fostering this motivation and re-defining professionalism lies in another theme arising from our research cluster discussions; one with which I think both Hargreaves and Stronach et al might concur. That is, a commitment to continual learning.


Hargreaves, A. (2000) Four Ages of Professionalism and Professional Learning. Teachers and Teaching6(2), 151–182.

Stronach, I., Corbin, B., McNamara, O., Stark, S., & Warne, T. (2002) Towards an uncertain politics of professionalism: teacher and nurse identities in flux. Journal of Education Policy17(1), 109–138.

Welcome to CSPACE

Written by: Martin Fautley, Professor of Education, Birmingham City University

Hello internet, and welcome to the new blog for the Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education at Birmingham City University!

We are hoping that this blog will be a thinking point for all matters to do with education, from the very youngest children, through schools, colleges, and academies, to FE and HE contexts, and then on into lifelong learning. Our main aims are to be thought-provoking, questioning, and to offer a home for voices which might be contentious at times, and which challenge orthodoxy! We intend to be eclectic, and so we looking for contributions on a wide range of educational topics.MF

We also want to really get to grips with education. We pride ourselves here at BCU on having very detailed ‘corridor conversations’ (we have very long corridors in our Attwood building which make this possible!), but we want to open up these to the wider world via the power of the internet.

It is important to say that we don’t always agree with each other, and so views expressed in this blog will be the properties of the person making them, and certainly not representative of the University! I also tell my students that sometimes I will argue with them for the sake of it, and they shouldn’t therefore take this as being representative of what I think, but that this will help expose thinking, and I’d like to think that will be true of this blog too. Although as a regular twitter user I am very familiar with what seem to be arguments solely for the sake of it – let’s hope we don’t have too many of those! But there seem to be so many things happening in education that make us education professionals cross at the moment, and so I am hoping too that this blog will carry some of those.

So, it’s now over to you, please feel free to contribute, please feel free to respond, and let’s try and make the educational world a better place by thinking out loud in public, and taking new ideas and ways of working forwards.