Researching with children and young people

The Department undertakes research into children’s experiences, rights, voices, perspectives, and practices. In researching children’s lives and learning, the group uses a variety of social science perspectives and explores local, national and global challenges.

Strand conveners

The research expertise of the strand encompasses a range of areas, including, but not limited to:

  • Early education and learning
  • Teaching, early childhood pedagogy and curriculum
  • Education policy
  • Professional development and learning for educators
  • Language development
  • Researching multilingually
  • Parental engagement in children’s learning
  • Literacies, learning and identities
  • Sociology of childhood
  • Ethical and methodological approaches of research with children

Our staff have experience in examining and supervising research students in the area of research with children and young people. We welcome new postgraduate research students to conduct research with us.

Research projects

Changing perceptions of Roald Dahl in the primary school sector and beyond: Dahl family reading project

Project contacts: Dr Ann Alston with Jane Carter

Creating welcoming learning environments: Disseminating arts-based approaches to including all learners (CWLE)

This project was a follow-on grant from the AHRC large grant Researching Multilingually at Borders (2014-2017) in which arts-based methods were used to research interpreting, translation and multilingual practices in contexts at the borders of language, the body, the law and the state. The CWLE project brought together artists and teachers in four workshops and a practitioner conference to exchange ideas on how arts-based methods can be woven into teaching and learning and into the generation of a welcoming ethos in schools.

Outcomes included tried and tested activities in primary, secondary and special schools such as

  • pupil-to-pupil interviews about home languages as part of a whole school film;
  • collage and crafting used in facilitating assessment of pupils’ English language development; and
  • art work-based around Adinkra symbols to facilitate language work.

Project contacts: Dr Jane Andrews and Dr Maryam Almohammad
Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Sounds Bristolian: From talk to writing at Fonthill Primary School

The Sounds Bristolian initiative, launched in 2015 by the UWE Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL), led by Dr Kate Beeching sets out to chart and celebrate the range of different languages and language varieties spoken in Bristol, including Bristolian.

This project brings together researchers in BCL, eight student volunteers from both the Linguistics and Education Departments, primary teachers and pupils to develop activities around the languages, dialects and accents of Bristol, and how these can be translated into written English. Insights from research and publications by academics in BCL will be drawn upon to inform materials development.

Student volunteers will support teachers in helping pupils to value their own variety, to recognise register and how it changes according to context and mode of delivery (eg informal spoken, formal spoken, text message, written document), and to develop their writing in standard English.

Outcomes from the project will include a colourful poster celebrating register differences and learning activities which will be piloted in primary classrooms, revised and published in hard copy format and online.

Project contacts: Dr Kate Beeching with Karan Vickers-Hulse and Laura Manison Shore

Expert practitioners working in the Baby Room

Project contact: Helen Butcher

Professional childminders working in South Gloucestershire

Project contact: Helen Butcher

The Reading Recovery Bristol Team

Project contact: Jane Carter

An illuminative evaluation of the Phonics Screening Check: Listening to the voices of children and their teachers

The Phonics Screening Check (PSC) was introduced in England in 2012 for year one children. There have been criticisms of the check in relation to its reliability and appropriateness as an assessment for early reading, although supporters see it as a valuable tool in securing early reading progress. However, the government’s own evaluation (2015 p8) concluded that it “did not find any evidence of improvements in pupils’ literacy performance, or in progress, that could be clearly attributed to the introduction of the PSC”.

With this in mind, this study seeks to illuminate through evaluation, the intended and possible unintended consequences of the PSC foregrounding the voices of those most affected by the PSC: children and their teachers. The study focuses on a range of schools in the City of Bristol, selected for their diversity in relation to attainment data (PSC and reading) and socio-economic status. Available from eprints

Project contact: Jane Carter

An evaluation and impact study of the Bristol Reading Partner (BRP) intervention on Initial Teacher Training students (ITE), children's reading and partnership schools' reading attainment

'Being a reader' has a significant impact on a child’s future social and economic success. This project builds on work over the last six years which has involved the training of second year ITE students in the Bristol Reading Partner (BRP) intervention programme. It has targeted over 1,200 underachieving children.

Students work with two identified children over a period of five weeks, implementing the intervention programme for 20 minutes twice a week. Teachers assess children before and after BRP using the British Ability Scales test (BAS), generating a standardised score and reading age. Children typically make an average of four months' progress over the five weeks of the intervention.

This research will focus on the nature of the student interaction with children during the intervention and try to identify the factors that contribute to the success of the programme in relation to children’s progress.

Project duration: July 2018 to July 2019
Project contact: Jane Carter

Investigating the use of children’s literature in classrooms across Europe

Project contact: Jane Carter

Children as engineers

Children as Engineers, a four-year project led by Dr Fay Lewis and Juliet Edmonds, paired undergraduate Initial Teacher Education students with undergraduate engineering students, training them in the use of engineering challenge materials which they then delivered in upper key stage two classrooms.

The impact of participation in the project for these students was evaluated and indicated that for the pre-service teachers there were significant benefits in terms of their science and engineering subject knowledge and the confidence in their ability to teach these subjects (a key factor in ensuring positive outcomes for children).

This positive pedagogical practice has now been embedded within engineering and educational undergraduate programmes to ensure that all students can experience such work rather than just volunteers.

Project contacts: Laura Fogg Rogers with Dr Fay Lewis and Juliet Edmonds
Funder: Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

Oracy and storytelling in schools

Project contact: Joan Foley


There is ongoing research cooperation between our Department and other departments across UWE Bristol.

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