Tag Archives: practice

Research Snapshot: Partnership Around Continuous Training of Teachers


Alex Kendall, Associate Dean of Research and Business Development, in partnership with: University of Beira Interior (Portugal), Capa Anatolio Teacher Training School (Turkey), National Institute for Training and Career Development in Education (Bulgaria), Novancia Business School Paris (France), University of Žilina (Slovakia).

Aims of research

PaCCT aimed to:

  • achieve a better understanding of approaches to CPD in each of the countries
  • identify and share examples of good practice
  • develop a framework for effective practice


ISM webinar: Which way now? GCSE music challenges and choices

Kirsty Devaney, PhD student, School of Education, @KirstyDevaney

Education PhD student Kirsty Devaney paired up with Dr Alison Daubney from Sussex University to host a webinar for the Incorporated Society of Musicians . This webinar is designed to help music educators to choose the most appropriate qualification for their pupils by considering the key changes and exploring the new qualifications from each awarding body in depth. What the video here:




Data collection time!

Written by Shannon Ludgate, PhD Student, School of Education – Early Years

Shannon has been with us just over a year and starting to collect data – here are some of her reflections:


“It feels rewarding being out and observing practice, knowing that my PhD is going somewhere…”

“I am looking forward to hearing the children’s views on using touchscreens in their settings; this will hopefully give me a good insight into how the children feel.”

Read the full post on her website: https://shannonludgate.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/data-collection-time/

Are you new to the PhD? Read Shannon’s reflections after 4 months of being a PhD student and let us know if you feel the same: http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/education/2015/06/22/my-phd-experience-four-months-in/

A short blog in which I worry about ‘flightpaths’

Martin Fautley, Professor of Education, Birmingham City University

MFMartin writes a very successful blog all to do with music education and assessment. He makes us question how and why assessment is done in music, but he also relates it to wider questions about education assessment:

“If we do know what we expect, are we simply providing a self-fulfilling prophecy, and at the same placing a glass ceiling on attainment?”

To read the full blog go to: https://drfautley.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/a-short-blog-in-which-i-worry-about-flightpaths/


Can Twitter aid your research – Reflections from session 1

Written by Kirsty Devaney, PhD student, School of EducationBlack and white headshot

Session 1: Do you know your #hashtag from your retweet? 5th October 2015

We had a lovely bunch of researchers join us for a workshop all about how to get to grips with twitter. They had a variety of reasons for using twitter from wanting to use it at conferences to connect with other delegates, to promoting written and published work, to using it to collect data and promote their research. Some aspects we covered included:

  • Setting up a profile twitter
  • Writing tweets
  • Linking with other online platforms
  • Finding and getting followers
  • Privacy and safety

The main piece of advice I gave the group was to use Twitter as a “conversation”. Don’t just promote your own work but engage in debates, talk to others in your area of research, and retweet (share) other related posts and tweets. Think about your audience – who will be looking at your tweets and what do they want to see? Do they just want to see you promoting your latest publication all the time?

Join us for session 2: Twitter to aid research and building up your profile, 9th November, 2-4pm, Attwood, City North

We will be looking at the nature of Twitter, how to build a strong public profile, the dangers, how to build a network and engage them. We will also touch upon social media strategies and social media managers.

Contact: Kirsty.Devaney@bcu.ac.uk or HELS_Research@bcu.ac.uk for more information and to book a place.

Connect with other CSPACE Twitter peeps!


Interim reflections on a Travelling Fellowship

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

The report from my Travelling Fellowship to NZ is due by December.  On typing up the interview transcripts I found myself reflecting on my overall impressions of the Champion Centre and the people who had worked so hard to welcome me in New Zealand but also on the usefulness of travelling to the other side of the world.  These are my reflections.

First of all sincere thanks to Dr. Susan Foster-Cohen for organising a comprehensive research programme, to all of the staff for welcoming me and accommodating me, to parents and children for allowing me to observe their sessions.  I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Champion Centre (and Christchurch) and was really well looked after. Also sincere thanks to Jane Thistlethwaite of Positive Path International for showing me some of the amazing special schools in NZ.


The Champion Centre

The evidence and argument for relational pedagogy is robust internationally, especially in early childhood. The relational approach in the Champion Centre Model is the most consistent thread throughout the programme and observable in therapy sessions, in conversations between professionals, between professionals and families, professionals and children and extends to visiting researchers. Outstanding and distinctive features (that are different to previously observed early childhood education/intervention models and worth travelling to the other side of the world to see) include:

  • The range of therapeutic /educational approaches (the inclusion of music and intensive computer time especially) and the delivery of these all under one roof with parents as full and equal participants, sometimes following therapists, sometimes leading therapists alongside their child;
  • The integration of these different approaches to the extent that sometimes they are jointly delivered where this is perceived to be beneficial for the child/family/particular target, This means that there is a consistent approach whereby there is a common culture/language whilst individual specialisms are respected and maintained;
  • The natural conversations during everyday communications and interactions between staff of different disciplines and with families that are beneficial for consistency of delivery and continuation of the programme within the home setting;
  • The respectful and reflective approaches from professionals towards each other, to children, families;
  • The time given in therapy/education sessions for parents to talk and be listened to, this was especially important in the monitoring programme for children born prematurely where the Psychologist intuitively knew to allow silent moments and time for parents to think about what they wanted to say;
  • Dedication and enthusiasm of staff for the programme that goes beyond a desire to work with young children and extends to caring about the long term sustainability of family structures and processes;
  • Feedback from parents in interview has been extremely positive and reflects all of the above comments as well as respect for the highly skilled professionals who have shared their journey/about to share their journey, the baby programme that helps parents start their journey and the transition programme are especially valued by parents.

Overall, an adventure that I enjoyed, and as many people have said before me, an inspirational experience.

Carolyn Blackburn, 2015, WCMT Travelling Fellow

To read more posts by Carolyn please go to: https://drblackburnblog.wordpress.com/

Re-thinking Creativities Cluster

 Victoria Kinsella – Cluster Meeting 7th October 2015

In the last cluster meeting on the 7th October 2015 the group engaged in thoughtful, reflective and critical conversations about building an abstract and the succinct information needed to explain research to our audience. The main questions explored during this meeting were:

•            What is the problem you are researching?

•            The particular focus of the research?

•            The place in the literature?

•            The methodological approach?

•            The results?

•            The implications and contribution?

Following this, we had Geof Hill, Reader in Education,  introducing the group the concept of an ‘exhibition’ as a way to explore and discuss research. In his presentation Geof described how presenting in exhibition mode is devised around a choice of four images/artefacts that are used as the basis for the presentation. In light of this, we plan our next cluster meeting to be in exhibition mode exploring the question ‘How do you position yourself as a researcher?’

If you are interested in joining us for this meeting please contact Hannah.Shaw@bcu.ac.uk.

Why is investigating research supervision practice important?

This blog written by Reader in Education Geoff Hill is all about supervision. You might find it an interesting insight and full of useful resources (not just for supervisors):

Research supervision practice has for some time emphasised the value of reflective practice. It is a practice filled with rich traditions but as one that is also seen as a private or hidden practice (Manatunga, 2005).

Read the whole blog here: https://supervisorsfriend.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/597/

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 14.17.38 geof hill

Doubts, Growth and Fog – Mid-Point PhD Reflections

Written by Kirsty Devaney, PhD student, School of Education
@KirstyDevaneyBlack and white headshot

Doubts, Growth and Fog – Mid-Point PhD Reflections

I am 18 months into my PhD and halfway through the 3 years I have been given to complete it by the University. My PhD is researching the teaching, learning and assessment of composing at examination level in UK secondary music classrooms. So far I have conducted a UK survey, interviews with 5 music teachers, focus groups interviews with GCSE and A Level students, and lesson observations. A lot of data!

Reflections on my Methodology:
Before starting my PhD I was working as a freelance music practitioner in schools and teachers regularly told me their stories of teaching composing at examination level. When I started my research wanted to collect these stories from the teachers so decided to interview music teachers. The interviews were semi-structured and they felt relatively informal and comfortable. Teachers talked about a variety of topics and issues related to composing. However upon doing my observations I noticed some aspects were not quite as they said in their interviews when in the classroom. This highlighted the importance of triangulation but also made me consider in more detail why they gave the answers they did to the interview questions. Did they want to appear a certain way, were they under pressure to say certain aspects, did they know that what they were saying was not reflected in the classroom in practice?

I also wanted to capture the ‘student voice’ to get a different perspective and for triangulation of my data. I conducted a number of focus group interviews, however the interviews felt artificial and although students answered the questions I wasn’t always sure I was getting the ‘full picture’ of the complex issues involved.

In both instances I felt the style of data collection felt a little ‘false’.

Was I placing my own perceptions or opinions onto the participants just through the questions I was asking?

Were the teachers and students trying to answer the questions in a way they thought they should answer? Before I started my PhD I would commonly have conversations with the students and teachers I was working with about the topics. These conversations had no other agenda, and had fewer issues around power and confidentiality. As a result of asking questions it may have also felt that both teachers and students felt they had to give a ‘correct’ answer to the questions. During the interviews I felt we touched the surface of the issues but didn’t go any deeper.

When I first my PhD started I selected quite a traditional methodology (interviews) because I felt it was more ‘formally’, more like a ‘PhD’ and in some way it had to look like ‘research’. It had to be more ‘serious’. Reflecting on my first round of data collection I have found that this has got in the way of my true passions, and the reason I got into the PhD in the first place – through creating music and working with young people. I am now considering more alternative methods of collecting data for the future, possibly more practice-based enquiry, and through musical activities. I want to be able to combine my composing and teaching passions with my research.

Reflections on the research process:
One aspect I have found from my PhD so far is that nothing is simple or straightforward. I wonder if organising questions in a more formal interview tried to simplify some issues into separate categories, where in fact they interlink and a complex way that I can’t quite yet see.

I continue to work as a professional composer and have written about how composing and writing are interlinked, but I also think that there are links between conducting research and composing. I often describe how at the start of composing there is the ‘blank page’, but after some discoveries ideas and music becomes clearer but it is still very blurry – the overall structure of the music is there but there is not detail. Over time working with the musical material everything comes into focus and the whole piece is clear. Some aspect may change along the way but there is clarity and it makes sense. The composer Benjamin Britten is reported to feel a similar way about composing. I feel I am at the stage in my research where I can make out the issues and themes but they are blurry. I know they all link but I can’t see how, I can’t see the full picture but I know it will become clear the more I explore and play with the material I have.

I will leave you with these pictures I took at the top on Snowdonia which reflect my feeling.


Whilst at the top there was so much cloud you could barely see a few feet in front of you


The clouds started to clearer and you could see the top of the mountain but the clouds still covered the ground below. It covered all the complexity underneath the main issues.

clear half

Then during the last few minutes at the top the clouds cleared for a few seconds and you could see the base of the mountain in complete detail.

clear 1 Clear 2

I am still working towards this last clarity – will it ever come?

With thanks to Geof Hill, Alex Kendall and Mandy French for our conversations and to my 2 supervisors for your guidance so far.