TELL update May 2018


This update includes plans for research into TELL itself (with thanks to Vicky Duckworth for a conversation we had about this at the Marjon meeting, and the encouragement to start some research); presentations and other resources from our most recent meeting at Marjon University, Plymouth; an update on our last two TELL meetings for this year; details of other relevant events, and new publications by TELL members.

As always, if you wish to join TELL, or offer updates, contributions, details of research or publications, just email me at


I am working on a survey of TELL members to ask them about how they feel we meet our core objectives, and to comment both on ways TELL has helped promote and carry out research, or further ways in which we could do better.

What I’d really like is some ideas about questions you think could be asked about TELL, and which could be included in an online survey of all members. I’ll do my best to include all suggestions so that we can end up with a survey which has been shaped by members in the same way that everything we do is. Please email suggested ideas and questions to me at


MARJON UNIVERSITY PLYMOUTH – Wed, May 16, 2018, 11:00 pm – 3:00 pm

DETAILS, RESOURCES AND DOCUMENTS FROM THE EVENT (items attached at the end with this email)

11.00 Welcome and introductions

Jim and Tanya – welcome, TELL and outline of the day 

11.15 Keynote speakers:

Dr Vicky Duckworth and Dr Rob Smith, Project Leads

Breaking the Triple Lock:  Further education and transformative teaching and learning

We will explore data from the UCU Further Education in England: Transforming Lives & Communities research project and through this develops a distinctive, theorised conceptualisation of transformative teaching and learning (TTL).

The research used an approach grounded in critical pedagogy utilising digital methods, including video interviews, to collect narratives from learners, teachers, family members and their communities from colleges across Britain.

Within a context in which there are structural pressures militating in favour of instrumentalising students in further education, TTL offers a way of theorising it as a transformative critical space that restores students’ hope and agency. The research provides evidence of how further education offers this “differential space” (Lefebvre 1991) and subverts the prescriptive, linear spaces of compulsory education. While productivist approaches to vocational education and training support ideologies that legitimate prescribed knowledge, reproducing inequality and injustice through the practices employed (Ade-Ojo and Duckworth 2016, Duckworth and Smith 2017b), TTL shifts to a more holistic approach, achieving a different level of engagement with learners.

The findings suggest that the TTL lens is a way of focusing on the dignity, needs and agency of further education students. The lens allows us also to identify how the existing structures associated with funding and marketisation can undermine the potential of TTL to activate students’ agency through education. Extending on existing literature around transformative learning, and drawing on a range of theoretical frameworks, the article formulates a new, contextually specific conceptualisation of transformative teaching and learning.


Presentation can be accessed from this link

12.15 Research showcase 

Peter Wolstencroft and Carol Thompson, research comparing the role of education and commercial managers.

The role of the middle manager has proved to be a difficult one to define due to the fluid nature of the tasks performed and the heterogeneity of understanding that exists for the term.  This is further complicated by the differences associated with the context in which individual manager’s work.  This research, which explores the drive towards neo-liberalism and the subsequent adoption of leadership and management practice from the private sector, makes a comparison between the roles of managers in English education with those in other settings.   Using a questionnaire with 252 responses and interviews with six managers in the private and public sector, the role of middle managers was compared to identify the similarities and differences between organisations driven by social policy as opposed to profit. Participants surveyed were based in Primary, Secondary and Further Education and the interview respondents were employed in non-education contexts.  The findings suggest that the initial reforms, which required higher levels of accountability through the introduction of key performance indicators, appear to be fully embedded within the education manager’s role and there is a high degree of convergence in relation to the expectation of managers at this level in all the settings.  The findings also highlighted a fundamental difference in relation to how middle managers were expected to carry out their duties, the autonomy they had to do so and the authority which was bestowed upon them.

TELL Plymouth_Wolstencroft_Thompson_Trust into Mistrust [Autosaved]

12.45 Lunch 

13.15 Dr Jim Crawley ‘Feeding back and looking forward – research into undergraduate academic skills and how they access and use feedback’.

This is new research, carried out with undergraduates, and asked them questions about their academic skills and the support they have to develop those skills and also asks about feedback, where and how it is accessed, and how they make use of it. Initial analysis of the results suggests that most undergraduates arrive at university with a low level of academic skills, and that they do make use of the wider variety of aspects of feedback available to them.

TELL Plymouth_JimCrawley

13.45 Professor Tanya Ovenden-Hope, Project Lead of ETF funded ‘Transferring CPD learning from schools to FE and skills settings: The Collaborative Pedagogy Project’

The project was contracted to The Cornwall College Group who seconded Tanya to develop and lead it.  The project ran from July 2017 to March 2018 and adapted five Teaching, Learning and Assessment (TLA) strategies/interventions, that had been evidenced to have a positive impact on student outcomes in secondary schools and were of low to no cost to implement.  The TLA interventions were ‘tested’ in five subject areas (academic and vocational), in five different colleges (general and specialist) through small scale action research led by Curriculum Innovation Leads (CILs) that were experts in their subject area.

The project was evaluated using qualitative methods to assess changes in learner satisfaction and teacher self-efficacy and to illuminate the impact of the intervention on student progress through teacher case studies that included formative assessment (and summative where available). Findings suggest that engagement with the project:

  • Improved learner outcomes

  • Increased teachers’ confidence against the Professional Standards

  • Had a generally positive impact on learner satisfaction

  • Provided new and effective TLA that was adopted across more than one college in the subject area

TELL Plymouth_Tanya_Ovenden-Hope 

14.15 Paula Jones – Senior UTF project lead of ‘The Transformers Project’

A brief overview of an employer centred project and how it is demonstrating the potential of learning providers and employer relations to provide benefits to business of productivity gains and, for learning providers, improved learner outcomes and better understanding of employer needs.

I work with an all-embracing national partnership funded directly by Government through the Union Learning Fund and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Our partners include colleagues from LSE, Kings College London and AELP and ET Foundation.  Our ambition is to advance the status of those people who support and develop others in the workplace to advance our economy and improve working lives…the Transformers ..I trust my work will stimulate a great TELL member discussion!


TELL Plymouth P Jones

TELL Plymouth_Paula Jones_Reflections and Findings on An Employer Engagement Resource 

TELL Plymouth_Paula_Jones_Transformers Project

14.45 Closing discussion 

15.00 Close



Thursday 21st June 2018 12.00 noon to 3.00 pm 

To book a place email Jim Crawley on


12.00 Introduction and welcome

12.10 Keynote speech – Robin Simmons – University of Huddersfield

‘Whatever happened to the teacher-training colleges?’ Can their abolition, in some ways, be seen as a prequel to the more far-reaching changes in education policy which have taken place over more recent years?

13.00 Lunch

Research showcase – research and development updates from:

13.30 Howard Scott – Wolverhampton University

How social networks are used to support classroom based practices, situated literacy and the views of ‘legitimate peripheral participants’. The research considers technology used in English GCCE re-sit classes among adults / 16-19 students. The data was drawn from two years of a case study in a college.

14.00 Colin Waugh – Independent and Editor, Post-16 Educator

The Liberal and General Studies Project

Just over 50 interviews have so far been recorded for this project with people who taught Liberal and/or General Studies (L/GS) as an element in vocational courses in FE colleges between 1960 and about 1990. The historical roots of this provision are also being investigated.

14.30Amanda Turner – University of Bolton

Incidental Learning for trainee teachers who are placed in the FE context for their teaching experience.

15.00 Close


Wednesday 11TH July – 11.00-3.00 – Central Brighton campus

We already have a good range of contributions for this meeting, but there is still room for some more, so please get in touch of you would like to make a contribution about your research.

Items already on the agenda

Paul Tully – Brighton Metropolitan College

Research which features capital (cultural, social, economic, symbolic) and its association with power in connection with professionalism in the FE and Skills sector.

Jim Crawley – Bath Spa University

New research into undergraduate academic skills and how students access and use feedback. 

Paul Demetriou-Crane – Havering College

Practitioner research into peer mentoring amongst adult learners on a Foundation Degree in Supporting Learning. 

Colin Waugh – Independent and Editor, Post-16 Educator

The Liberal and General Studies Project

Just over 50 interviews have so far been recorded for this project with people who taught Liberal and/or General Studies (L/GS) as an element in vocational courses in FE colleges between 1960 and about 1990. The historical roots of this provision are also being investigated.

It’s a very supportive atmosphere to share your research and ideas whatever field you are researching, or at whatever level. There is no theme or topic which will be irrelevant. It is even possible to contribute to more than one meeting, subject to the overall amount of offers received.

Just email me at  with your proposed contribution.


#FE ResearchMeet – Greater Manchester – Thursday 21st June 2018 – FREE

Are you a lecturer/assessor in the post 16 sector wanting to improve your practice? Have you been doing research you want to share in an informal environment? Join us on 21st June! 

Key note speakers are Professor Kevin Orr of Huddersfield University and Bill Watkin, CEO of the Sixth Form Colleges Association. Attendance is free and the event is being supported by LSRN, NEU and SFCA. Contact for the event is Jo Fletcher-Saxon

RE-imagining FE Conference at Birmingham City University – 27th June 2018

Link to conference website:

Twitter hashtag: #ReimagineFE18


#FEResearchmeet will take place on 4th July at Bedford Sixth Form.

A keynote from professor Jean McNiff, and two ‘strands’ of workshops.  The first will be the research strand that was so successful last year.  To present in this strand you need to be a researcher working within the sector.  The second strand is the ‘development’ strand. This strand is to support others on their research journey with workshops on everything from action research to masters, PhDs to publication.  This strand is open to ex-FE staff as well as present staff as we recognise that many ex-colleagues want to continue to support those working within the sector. 

The day will culminate with a panel made up of key ‘leaders’ from around the sector who will address some of the issues that arise from the workshops. For tickets, visit


Early Career Researchers in Post-Compulsory and Lifelong Learning

To support early career researchers and those new to research in Post-Compulsory and Lifelong Learning (PCLL), we are holding two events:

Wednesday 18 July 2018 at Birmingham City University

Thursday 19 July 2018 at Bedford College

Keynote lectures and workshops aim to target key concerns and develop the capabilities of early career and new researchers. This day provides networking and discussion opportunities for those researching PCLL.

Birmingham City University – 18 July 2018


Bedford College – 19 July 2018



BERA offer a limited amount of bursaries for BERA Student Members only.

Bursaries are available for BERA Student Members to the value of £75 towards travel. To apply for one of these bursaries, please email with a 250 word statement with a brief overview of your research, stage of your research, indication of particular experiences that you would like to discuss and why you want to attend this event and why you need the financial assistance. Bursaries are offered on a first come, first served basis. Travel expenses will be reimbursed after the event in accordance with our travel policies. You must not have previously received bursary funding from BERA.


Friday 14th September 9.00 – 3.00

The impact of policy on leadership practice: growing a research agenda is being organised by the BERA Leadership and Management SIG. Further details about the event are available from the BERA website: 

The event is convened to bring together practitioners, researchers and policy makers across the five nations of the United Kingdom and Ireland to discuss the impact of educational policy on leadership practice. The aim of the event is to gain a clearer direction regarding a timely, relevant and collaborative research agenda for educational leadership.

Of course you do not need to be going to BERA to attend this event. But if you’re in Newcastle anyway – why not stay for a few days longer? And if you can’t make BERA this will much less intense.


Please send in details of any research projects you would like to have included in a future update.


Please send in any publication details we haven’t featured.

Husband, G., 2018. The professional learning of further education lecturers: effects of initial lecturer education programmes on continuing professional learning in Scotland and Wales. Research in Post-Compulsory Education 23, 159–180.

Thompson, C., Wolstencroft, P., 2018. Trust into mistrust: the uncertain marriage between public and private sector practice for middle managers in education. Research in Post-Compulsory Education 23, 213–230.

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