Preparing for a Creative Future: A report from Penryn Partnership Creativity Collaboratives

Researchers from the University of Exeter School of Education are working with Penryn College in a ‘Creativity Collaborative’ investigating whether teaching for creativity across the curriculum leads to young people who are better prepared for their future in a changing workforce.  We are excited to be sharing our findings from Year 1 through a report which can now be downloaded here: Creativity Collaboratives – Inspiring Teaching and Learning

Creativity Collaboratives is an England-wide initiative, building a network of schools that will test a range of innovative approaches to teaching for creativity.  It is funded by Arts Council England with support from the Freelands Foundation, and began in October 2021.  The Penryn Partnership is one of eight national pilots, led by Penryn College with eight local primary schools and research partner, the School of Education at the University of Exeter.   The Penryn Partnership is led by Sarah Childs, lead practitioner from Penryn College, with the expertise of Associate Professor Kerry Chappell, Ursula Crickmay and Professor Alex Thornton from the University of Exeter.

During year 1 we explored why creative skills are needed in a changing workforce and what creative skills are needed for Cornish students to become better prepared, as well as exploring approaches to teaching and learning across the partnership. Based on our findings, we developed a ‘Better Prepared for a Creative Future’ framework that describes creative skills and maps them across different key stage groups.

Find out more:

Please note that the webinar will be recorded and the recording will be available here: Creativity Collaboratives – Inspiring Teaching and Learning – Penryn College (

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Sustaining a Career in Teaching: a guide for those supporting new teachers

Research by Dr Alison Pearson at the University of Exeter has investigated the factors that support teachers to stay in the profession long term.

Below are key headlines, but if you want to know more about each one, please take a look at this guide for schools, where there are examples of how each recommendation might work in practice, as well as explanations of how they were generated from the research.

Summary of Recommendations

1. Identify how to reduce workload for new teachers

2. Focus on student relationships

3. Help teachers to focus on today

4. Recognise and value new teachers for their qualities, skills and achievements

5. Help teachers to take a pragmatic approach to wellbeing

6. Help new teachers to understand the contextual nature of teaching

7. To help new teachers understand that everyone is motivated and challenged by a combination of different things

8. Help teachers to understand how to make the environment work for them

9. Help teachers to recognise there is a balance between acceptance and agency

10. Help teachers to find opportunities for growth and challenge

11. Help teachers to understand that there may be ups and downs throughout their careers.

Click below for the short downloadable guide as to applying these recommendations:

New teachers guide

Teaching Narrative Writing with Digital Resources and Apps – research invitation

Teaching Narrative Writing with Digital Resources and Apps*

Dr Clare Dowdall, Dr Judith Kleine Staarman, Assan Ali, School of Education, University of Exeter


Invitation to participate in a NEW research project:

  • Are you a Primary School/ Early Years Educator?
  • Are you looking for ways to develop your children’s enjoyment and engagement in narrative writing?
  • Are you able to spend ten minutes completing a short survey?
  • If so, please read on…

If you would like to take part in a NEW research project at the University of Exeter’s School of Education, called teaching Narrative Writing with Digital Resources and Apps, we invite you to complete a short survey that seeks to understand whether and how teachers may use digital resources to support narrative writing. The survey should take less than ten minutes of your time.

It is anonymous unless you would like to participate in follow-up activities, in which case you can choose to leave an email address.

For more information and access to the Survey, please click here:

Thank you SO much for your ten minutes. It means a huge amount to us.

Clare, Judith and Assan.


* This project is funded by The British Academy Small Research Grant scheme (SG2122\210370) and has ethical approval from University of Exeter (4.11.2022)

Invitation to Participate: Mental Health Provision in Schools

What is the study about?

About the study In response to rising rates of mental health difficulties among children and young people, the UK government has recently increased its policy focus and funding for mental health in and through schools (DoH & DfE, 2017). While it is apparent that schools are now doing more around mental health for pupils and staff alike, there remains a lack of clarity among policy makers, educationalists and scholars about exactly what schools are doing and how. This exploratory study aims to provide insight into the breadth and depth of what primary and secondary schools in the South West are offering in terms of mental health provision. It is being implemented by a small interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter. As an ‘exploratory study’, we are gathering a relatively small amount of data from a select number of policy leaders in education and schools that will provide some initial information and help indicate whether a larger, more in-depth study would be of value. With the results, we aim to facilitate some multi-sectoral conversations about what is happening in schools around mental health. We hope this will promote knowledge exchange and learning both on the part of practitioners and academic researchers. One of the ways we will do this is by producing a podcast about our results. We may also intend to write about the results in a blog and/or academic publications.


What will your participation as a school policy leader will involve?

We will ask you to participate in an interview that will last about 45 minutes. It will be done either online (using MS Teams) or in person at your place of work, in a room that is private and confidential. The interview will take place during normal working hours. Only yourself and one researcher will be at the interview. We will ask some questions about your professional role and your experience of school activities/programmes around mental health. We will not ask any questions about your own mental health or the mental health of any specific individuals


If you have any questions once you have read this document, and/or if you would like to agree to participate in the study, please contact: Dr Katie Howard, University of Exeter:

Please see the downloadable PDF below for further information:

Information sheet for policy leaders (002)

Research Participation Call: Experiences and daily-life challenges of mothers of children with down syndrome

About the Researcher

My name is Maria Shoaib and I’m a postgraduate student at the University of Exeter. I’m currently doing my Masters in Special Educational Needs, and for my thesis, I’m hoping to reach out to mothers of children with down syndrome (aged 11-16 years).

About the Project:

This is a qualitative research study which seeks to understand the experiences and daily-life challenges of mothers of children with Down syndrome (aged between 11-16 years). This is a comparative study where I will be interviewing mothers from Pakistan and England, to see how their experiences vary in different cultural settings.Your contribution to this study is important as it can help us understand what your experience as a mother of a child with Down syndrome has been like, and what important steps can be taken for future implications to make this experience better.

The interviews are going to be held online via zoom and will last about 30-40 minutes. These will be audio-recorded. Participants will be required to sign a consent sheet, fill out a short demographic form, and will be provided an information sheet for further details. This project has been reviewed by the research supervisor and the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Exeter.

If you are interested in the project, please contact me for further information at:



Free Event: Reimagining Autistic education: Lessons learnt from remote learning during lockdown

Graduate School of Education Lecture Series 2021/22

6 July 2022  13:00 – 14:30

Baring Court 114, St Luke’s Campus and ONLINE

Professor Liz Pellicano

University College London

Reimagining Autistic education: Lessons learnt from remote learning during lockdown

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, students around the world were taken out of schools during associated lockdown restrictions and thrust into learning-from-home contexts. Many students faced intense educational challenges during this time, when schools and teachers rapidly sought to move curricula online. The disruption is likely to have had a disproportionate impact on those who might already be vulnerable in some way – including Autistic children and young people. In this talk, Liz Pellicano will draw on data from one of the largest qualitative studies with young Autistic people and families to understand how the experience impacted upon them during the initial (March-June 2020) and the most recent (July – November 2021) lockdowns. She will discuss the implications of these findings for understanding how and when autistic children might thrive in institutional educational settings in more normal times, focusing on the relationships between teachers and students, the nature of the physical learning environment and the need for greater flexibility in planning the school day.

About the Speaker

Professor Liz Pellicano is a leading developmental and educational psychologist committed to transforming autism science so that it more accurately reflects everyday autistic life. She has just commenced a position as Professor in Autism Research at University College London (UCL), and prior to that was Professor at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Previously, she was Professor of Autism Education and Director of the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at UCL Institute of Education. Her current research, funded by a Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, seeks to identify ways to bridge the gap between lab and life and open up research to greater involvement of autistic people themselves, with the aim of generating scientific discoveries that bring real benefits to autistic people and their families.


Please register via Eventbrite to register for either in person attendance or online attendance.



Upcoming GSE Lecture Series Events

The programme of speakers for 2022/23 will be announced in September, full details will be announced on the Graduate School of Education website.

Exeter IT account holders will be able to view the recordings and presentations on ELE following the lectures.


Research Participation Call: Social experiences of children with SEND

Call for Research Participants: The Social Experience of Children with SEND

About me: 

Hi, I am Junika and I study Psychology at the University of Exeter. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I had the privilege of working with students from disadvantaged backgrounds at a local school in Kent. Here, I provided Maths support for small groups of students, some of whom had special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). As well as improving their confidence in maths, I built meaningful relationships with students – this has led me to continue tutoring alongside my current studies. It has also driven me to focus my dissertation project on the social participation of children with SEND. 


Introduction to my study: 

For my study, I am looking to explore the social experience of children with SEND. Psychological research shows that students with SEND experience more difficulties in socialising with their peers. This is important because research also shows that children’s perceptions of their friendships are linked with their development. However, some children with SEND have high-quality friendships, so I would like to explore the protective factors that enable children to experience better friendships. I would also like to identify the risk factors which may be associated with poorer quality friendships. These factors can be used to inform educational policy in England.  


Identifying risk and protective factors in the social participation of children with SEND

What is the project about?
The project seeks to understand the experiences of children with SEND through a methodology called “Narrative inquiry”. This methodology has been consistently employed in research to focus on the lived experiences of individuals from their viewpoint. Educational policy can often neglect the child’s perspective; therefore, it is important for children as it includes the provision of their voice. This research aims to identify risk and protective factors in the social participation of children with SEND in Southwest England. These factors can be used to inform educational policy in England.

Your school has been invited to participate in this study because we would like to learn more about the views and social participation experiences of pupils with SEND.

What are the benefits of participation?

Through pupils’ participation in this study, your school will be able to learn more about their friendships and other issues from the child’s point of view. The school will be able to potentially address any concerns that arise. Concerns will be general to protect pupils’ confidentiality.

What would pupils be asked to do if they took part?

Pupils identified with SEND and in Key Stage 2 or Key Stage 3 will be invited to take part in a semi-structured face-to-face interview with the researcher. Questions will relate to their social participation and will include sensitive topics such as bullying and their feelings and opinions about themselves and other pupils. Before this, pupils will be assured that they don’t have to answer any questions if they wish not to, take breaks if required and also stop the interview without having to give reasons. A member of staff will be asked to observe interviews for safeguarding purposes. We will audio record the interviews on a digital device, and the recordings will be kept in secure, protected storage. Pupils will also be asked to draw a “life map” of their friendships, they will be provided with pens, pencils, and paper for this. Lastly, they might also be observed during social interactions with peers during breaktime by the researcher in one or two of her school visits so that extra notes can be taken.

How will pupils’ data be managed?
The data we collect will be treated confidentially, and only the researcher and their supervisor will have access to the raw data (by which we mean the recordings and the transcripts of the interviews). All information collected while carrying out the study will be stored on a database that is password protected and strictly confidential. The digital and textual data resulting from the interviews will be kept in a secure and confidential location. Pupils’ names will not appear in any database or any information which is then published. Instead, a pseudonym will be used as an identifier on all data associated with each child. The results of study may be used to produce publications.

What happens if the pupil does not want to take part or if they change their mind?
Every child’s participation is voluntary; it is his/her/their choice whether to take part or not. If he/she/they decides to take part, he/she/they is free to stop at any time and without giving a reason.
It will be possible to remove each pupil’s data from the research study up to two weeks after the interview takes place. This is up to the discretion of the child and their parent/guardian. It will not be possible to remove pupils’ data once data has been transcribed (two weeks or more after the study), as analysis of the data will have begun.

Next steps and what if I have queries and I want to find out more about the research?
If you are interested in your school to taking part in the study, please reply to the principal researcher or their supervisor using the contact details below.
Additionally, If you have any concerns or complains about the conduct of this research study, please contact the principal researcher, Ms Junika Gurung at or their supervisor, Dr Eleni Dimitrellou at
Thank you for your interest in this study

CPD event for Primary Teachers 23 June 2022

CPD event for Primary Teachers 23 June 2022

Art Education in New Times: Connecting Art Education with REal Life Issues (CARE)

We would like to invite you to join us for an exciting day of CPD, based on the CARE research project.  We will look at how art – especially contemporary art – can be used as a learning vehicle for Education for Sustainable Development.


Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society, for present and future generations, while respecting cultural diversity. It is about lifelong learning, and is an integral part of quality education. ESD is holistic and transformational education which addresses learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment. It achieves its purpose by transforming society. (UNESCO, 2019)


  • Attendance: Primary teachers * (30 places available)
  • Location: St Luke’s Campus, University of Exeter, EX1 2LU
  • Date: Thursday 23 June, 10am-4pm
  • Cost: Free! (Refreshments provided, bring or buy your own lunch)
  • Content: Information on Project CARE – scope, aims, training/ resources, research findings, recommendations etc.
  • Format: Presentations, discussions, hands-on activities
  • Follow-on: Takeaway info pack to use for teaching & school-based CPD


* Art, Science and Humanities coordinators may be particularly interested


Please register your interest here by 15 June





Free Event: Social Mobility Prospects in the Pandemic Era

GSE Lecture Series – Professor Lee Elliot Major (University of Exeter)

A Graduate School of Education seminar
Date 7 June 2022
Time 13:00 to 14:00
Place Baring Court 114 & Online Via Zoom

Social mobility prospects in the pandemic era

The Covid pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequalities inside and outside education. On the one hand, it has confirmed the prominent role that wider societal divides play in shaping social mobility patterns; on the other it has revealed the escalating expectations placed on schools and universities to act as social levellers. In this lecture Lee Elliot Major will discuss findings from several research projects to document growing divides in life prospects for current generations, but also to point to promising policies and practices that have the potential to improve prospects for disadvantaged children and young people.

About the Speaker

Lee Elliot Major is Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter. He was previously Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust and a trustee of the Education Endowment Foundation. His work is dedicated to improving the prospects of disadvantaged children and young people. He works closely with school leaders, universities, and employers and Government policy makers.

His award-winning books include: Social Mobility and Its Enemies; What Works? Research and evidence for teachers; and The Good Parent Educator. He commissioned and co-authored the Sutton Trust-EEF teaching and learning toolkit, used by 100,000s of teachers across the world. He is a Trustee of the Ted Wragg Multi Academy Trust and sits on the Exeter Place Board. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and serves on the ESRC’s Strategic Advisory Network.

He was awarded an OBE in the 2019 Queen’s Honours. He is the first in his family to go to university.


This lecture will take place in lecture theatre Baring Court 114 on the St Luke’s Campus and delivered simultaneously online via Zoom. 


Please register via Eventbrite to reserve a place.  

Using Lesson Study and Related Activities in Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

Using lesson study and related activities in initial teacher education (ITE)


Lesson study (LS) is a form of teacher research or study that uses curriculum and research knowledge, on one hand, and deriving knowledge from teacher enquiry, on the other. LS has been represented as involving a study-plan-teach-review cycle which acts as a formative process. It is a collaborative and reflective professional development approach which has its origins in Japan in the late nineteenth century, that has been adopted and adapted internationally especially over the last twenty years. LS combines practice and theory, with the aim of promoting a deep look into students’ learning, on one hand, and teaching and curricular programmes, on the other. For this reason it has relevance to practising and prospective teachers


Our interest in gaining a better understanding of the use of lesson study in ITE was triggered by an attempt to understand how LS practice might be integrated into ITE programmes in the UK. To start off we undertook an international review of literature about how LS is used in initial teacher education. Our article  about this review will be published in the journal Teacher Development, you can find the pre-print version here .


In this paper we do a mapping review of international research published in peer reviewed journals.  This has enabled us to identify variations in ITE LS practices  using a 7-dimensional framework to illustrate the range of practices and issues. We conclude that LS is an example of teacher enquiry-based practice; identified as one of the means of building the capacity for a self-improving education system. LS and related practices also play a crucial role in preparing teachers to adopt a research orientation to their own practice.  In the paper we also discuss the organisational and personal challenges for beginning teachers when introducing LS into ITE.


As members of the Lesson Study Network in the Graduate School of Education we are looking to work with teachers in 3 secondary schools over 2021-22 which are involved in the Exeter ITE partnership, and which use some form of enquiry-based approach to the education and training of teachers. By enquiry-based approaches, we mean that trainees engage in some form of collaborative enquiry into their learning to plan, teach and review their class teaching. This might be a form of action research, lesson study, a version of mentoring/coaching or some related practice.


If you are interested in this project or want to discuss any matter raised in this blog, please get in contact  .


Professor Viv Baumfield, Will Katene, Dr George Koutsouris, Professor Brahm Norwich

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