M-BESC and You!

We will be having a start-of-year M-BESC get together, to introduce ourselves, outline forthcoming events for this term and year, and discuss suggestions for other events people would like to see. We will be meeting at 12.30pm on Thursday 10 October, in room 1.20/1.21 in 35 Berkeley Square. Look forward to seeing you there!

Evaluation of a reading intervention scheme

Dr Jo Rose and I, together with colleagues from the AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance), have been conducting an evaluation of a reading intervention programme for Year 2 children in a local authority in the South East of England. This work has focused on outcomes (improvements in children’s literacy skills) and processes (for example, exploring aspects of the programme that children, teachers and parents particularly valued). Key findings suggest that most pupils who received this intervention reached a level of reading which is appropriate for their age as indicated by their reading age scores on a word recognition test, and the number of pupils reaching the national target of Level 2 in reading. The interview data indicate that a principal benefit is the perceived boost this intervention gives to children’s confidence with reading. This is important because confidence and motivation are viewed as the key to accelerated progress. We plan to write two journal articles on this evaluation study during 2013/14.

Dr Anthony Feiler

The Everyday Maths Project

Next week, we launch a series of workshops in four Bristol primary schools. These workshops are part of the Everyday Maths Project – led by Tim Jay, Jo Rose and Ben Simmons.

The aim of the project is to empower parents to support their children’s maths learning. Through our previous research, we have found that parents often feel distanced from school maths teaching. This can be due to a variety of reasons. Sometimes, parents find it difficult to bridge the gap between the maths that they remember learning in school and the maths that they see their children learning. Sometimes parents suffer from a lack of confidence in their mathematical abilities. Sometimes parents are worried that they will confuse their children when they try to help. To help us deal with these and other issues, our approach is to focus on what parents already know and understand. Rather than teach parents how to do ‘school maths’ with their children, we are helping parents and families find the maths in their everyday lives – that’s where the ‘Everyday Maths Project’ got its name!

We are looking forward to seeing what our groups of parents can come up with this term – we will be updating this site as the project progresses. For more information, visit the project website at: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/education/people/project/1847

Bristol Neuroscience Festival


The Bristol Neuroscience Festival is the 10th Anniversary celebration of ‘all things neuroscience’ (including our work on many aspects related to the brain and nerves with psychologists, physiologists, biochemists, pharmacologists, engineers and so on).  Held at the University of Bristol’s iconic Will’s Memorial Building and Victoria Rooms, the festival will host a number of different free activities, with something for everyone, including a free plaster brain for everyone who attends!!! MBESC will be represented (of course): Adri Soni Garcia, Kate Fenton and Paul Howard-Jones will be doing a poster and asking visiting children to do a brain quiz and see if they “beat the teacher”. More details

Widening Participation – the High-Potential Learners Project

This term I start going into schools and colleges and working with sixth-form students for the High-Potential Learners project. It’s a really exciting time – I will be meeting students in a sixth-form college, an FE college, and four schools, and talking with them over the course of their time in sixth form to find out about how they make decisions about their future educational and career pathways. We will be working with students who have good GCSE results, showing potential to do well enough in A levels to get into Russell Group universities. Crucially, however, these students are from schools and colleges where there is a range of achievement levels at A-level, and going to university is not necessarily “the norm” for students there. Schools and colleges have been very excited by this project, as they are all keen to understand their students’ aspirations and support them on a pathway to educational success.