Rees Centre for Research in Education
The Rees centre works under the department of Education which is set up by Dr Lisa Holmes, Assistant Professor of the Department of Education. Rees centre aims at bringing better life chances and outcomes for people who work for social care services. The research initiatives by the centre are targeted for people who work and involved as carers, guardians, schools that benefit children in need, policy makers.
Rees centre is currently working in setting up a strategic partnership with Udayan care, New Delhi, India. The focus of the partnership is on supporting care leavers and also the cost effectiveness of child welfare services. Udayan Care currently have funding from UNICEF and Tata Trusts, and the Centre’s Director (Prof. Lisa Holmes) also has funding from UNICEF to explore cost effective child welfare systems and the development of an investment case for foster care in Jordan.
Difficult Dialogues 2019
The department's researchers have also attended the Difficult Dialogues conference in Goa, India. Difficult Dialogues conference is an annual event held in Goa University and International centre, Goa focussing on educational policies and practices in India, finding innovative methods which can be imparted to India's educational system. The conference is also partnered with Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (OXCHEPS).
Prof David Mills, Associate Professor, Pedagogy and Social Sciences and Dr Paul Flather from Mansfield College attended the conference in Goa which took place from 31 January to 2 February of 2019.
Prof David was one of the panel member on "Building World class University". The panel discussed on the role of universities in promoting democracy and growth and from India's point of view, what sort of steps can be taken to bring regional development, growth and inclusiveness.
Dr Paul Flather, Supernumerary fellow, Mansfield College, moderated the panel which discussed on "New threats to Academic Freedom".
Helga Todd Fund
Helga Todd foundation is a charity set up to advance education for aspiring teachers and students by partnering with charities and leading institutions. Since the inception of this foundation, various projects and initiatives are taken up to create better opportunities through innovative teaching methods in India. As a matter of achieving their aim, the foundation has allocated a yearly fund for students or interns to spend summer in India, teaching for schools from rural towns. The department of Education has been sending interns who has completed PGCE to India.
Sutra is a Knowledge Exchange project between academic and non-academic partners with a focus on early childhood education and primary school programmes. Non-academic partners include teacher trainers who are active practitioners and/or policy workers, teachers, local folklorists, story tellers and folk artists. The knowledge exchange outputs are in film and print formats using local cultural and artistic artefacts, and from this is derived the title of the project: Supporting Teachers with Resources and Art. Sutra in Sanskrit means a pithy message and is also the string that holds diverse matters together. This project was started in March 2019 with funding support from University of Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.
The project aims to:
- Develop easy-to-follow resources that demonstrate evidence-backed teaching practices for teachers in resource poor settings.
- Draw upon the local cultural and artistic idiom to present these teaching practices.
- Draw upon contemporary means of communication familiar to teachers. This includes tapping into the growing use of mobile phones, the free exchange of information through platforms such as WhatsApp and the ease of accessing pamphlets/posters in ongoing inservice teacher training courses.
The first phase of this project has seen involvement from local cultural actors, government and policy makers from the Indian state of Karnataka. As background, I have been supporting the local government and UNICEF with guidelines for a curriculum change for language and emergent literacy instruction for a mid-sized network of preschool centers (approximately 60,000) in Karnataka, a state in South India. This curriculum change is seen as a forerunner to a country-wide programme change which will be led by UNICEF and other state governments. For this effort, a group of non-academic partners have been meeting regularly in Bangalore with coordination by UNICEF India and the government. These meetings have focused on finalising the curriculum framework and incorporating the guidelines suggested by the PI. Developing teacher resources was a natural next step and my idea was that we learn from local cultural actors ways to interpret key theoretical insights about children's learning for teaching practice in local schools. The team that worked on the outputs were from NGOs, schools and members of the network supporting the curriculum reform.
As a result of the successful first phase, partners from other Indian states gave positive feedback and asked to share the resources more widely.