The 14th annual School of Education doctoral research conference took place on Saturday 28th November 2015. This was the most well-attended conference yet with over 120 delegates, 48 paper presentations and 30 poster presentations. Conferences like this provide an excellent opportunity for doctoral researchers to come together, discuss their work and learn about other research that is happening within the school and further afield.

Jesvir Mahil speaking at the 2015 Doctoral Research Conference

The 2015 conference opened with a poetry reading by the Reverend Canon Mark Pryce, an Anglican vicar, published poet and doctoral student in the College of Arts and Law. His aptly named series of poems, ‘On Data Analysis’, provided a novel and thought-provoking start to the day. This was followed by a fascinating and, at times, unsettling keynote address from Professor Susan Robertson (University of Bristol). Susan’s speech, entitled Globalisation, Privatisation and Transformations in Education Governance: Oh What a Cocktail!, reflected on the developing marketization and corporatisation of education across the world. She explored the effects of economic, social, political and cultural changes and the shifts in power that are occurring in relation to education provision.

Poster on display at the Doctoral Research Conference 2015

Following the keynote, a series of parallel sessions took place, allowing doctoral students to present and share their own work, and engage with the research of others. A number of delegates commented on the high quality of the research being presented and the diverse range of topics being addressed. To give an indication of this variety, just some of the subjects being explored included: superdiversity within higher education; the impact of early childhood interventions on academic outcomes; dyslexia in nursing and nurse education; sex education in Ghana; young women’s narrative accounts of Birmingham libraries; and language learning in the primary school.

Poster on display at the Doctoral Research Conference 2015

Later in the afternoon, an expert panel discussed and debated the question ‘How much educational theory do trainee teachers need?’ The distinguished panel included: Dr Janet Orchard (Programme Director: Secondary RE, University of Bristol); Frances Child (Vice Principal of University of Birmingham School and Director of School-Led ITE), Davinder Dosanjh, (Associate Professor and Programme Director of the Teach First programme at BCU) and Jacqui Ecoeur (Academic Director at Oxford Tutorial College). The viewpoints put forward by the panellists provided a stimulating and interesting debate, challenging the simple dichotomy of theory versus practice in teacher education. The discussion ended with a sense of optimism and a call for all Initial Teacher Education providers (whether school, college or university led) to underpin their work with a strong evidence-based approach. The conference closed with a presentation of awards and Sarah Knee winning first prize for her poster titled ‘Multilingual literacy learning of Nepalese children growing up in the UK’. 

Thanks go to all that attended the conference and supported the organisation of the day. We look forward to next year’s event.