Institute of Education’s Postgraduate Research Conference 2015

Maxine Watkins

Saturday 17th October saw the Institute of Education’s second annual Postgraduate Research Conference. Ann Jordan, Head of the Institute, welcomed participants from the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford, alongside Worcester colleagues, illustrating that we are very much part of a wider research community.

The title of this year’s conference was ‘Reform, Resistance and Transformation in Education’ reflecting successive governments persistence in reforming education policies over the last three decades, which has meant changes in the experiences of teachers in training, practising teachers, school leaders, and changes in what it feels like to be a student in our schools. Three panels of PhD students presented their research under the headings of ‘Media and Materiality in Education’, ‘Transformation in Education’, and ‘Methods and Innovation’.

There were nine presentations from students throughout the day, with time given for questions, and constructive feedback. Conference organisers Rachael and Maxine are well aware that undertaking a PhD can sometimes feel like a lonely experience and so endeavoured to nurture a sense of collegiality throughout the day, with lunch and coffee breaks providing further opportunity for networking and discussion.

An important contribution to the day came from the keynote speaker Professor Jane Martin. Jane has published widely in various international journals in the field of gender and education, history of education, sociology of education, and women’s history. Revealing an obvious passion for social justice, the presentation of a prosographical study centred around the collective biographies of seven professional women from history who worked both inside and outside of academia. Jane teased out common threads running through each woman’s individual stories, and considered the combination of scholarship and activism.

Delegates were also fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to a panel of academics working at University of Worcester. Professor Jaswinder Dhillon, Dr Sean Bracken and Dr Colin Howard shared their personal and engaging insights on the subject of ‘Impact in Educational Research’, exploring how educational research can be disseminated and have a positive influence in schools and other educational establishments.

The following quotes are illustrative of participant feedback;

‘A great variety of topics and guests. Thoroughly enjoyed.’

‘The group was small, which made for a safe and productive atmosphere.’

‘Useful to mix with other colleagues and listen to their research journeys.’

‘Loved the afternoon cakes!’

‘The intimate format allowed us to exchange information and enhance our own network.’

The conference was successful in bringing together researchers from a broad range of disciplines within educational research, and provided a diverse and dynamic forum for the dissemination of ideas.

Many thanks are extended to students and staff who elected to support and contribute to the conference, and we look forward to next year’s event.

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