SDG4: Quality Education
In supporting our work beyond the campus, the University’s focus is on developing a quality workforce to meet the current and future needs to support this target. We achieve this through the development of new Early Childhood Graduate Competencies. Dr Eunice Lumsden’s work with the Department of Education is developing a new qualification levels in early years, which develops graduate competencies in early childhood that have international applicability to meet the national and international workforce developmental needs in this area. As a result, she worked democratically with the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network to develop the competencies, which are now embedded across nearly 30 HEIs across England, have been included in the QAA Benchmark Statement for Early Childhood and recognised as a ‘Full and Relevant’ qualification by the Department of Education. In 2020, 184 of our students graduated with qualifications that entitled them to teach at primary school level.
Our International Education (Top Up) has study pathways in early years, education and leadership and management in early years, specifically focused on providing higher level study opportunities for international students who are planning to be working in this area.
The University of Northampton works closely with local partners and other higher education institutions to inspire young people to consider entering higher education. Our Uni-connect programme is delivered with the Universities of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and supports young people from low participation neighbourhoods to explore studying in higher education with 16,553 pupils supported in the last two years. Our wider schools’ and community engagement work supports staff to take the University out into communities through public lectures, events such as the Big Bang and Car Crash as well as providing a range of learning resources, CPD, and careers advice. We engage young people in University life providing an annual programme of subject specific public lectures aimed at Year 12 and 13 pupils, Roots to empathy supported the development of young people by recognising attachment between infants and their parents and public lectures on the leather heritage of Northamptonshire raising the profile of this important industry. In the last academic year 46% of students starting a degree were first generation students.
The University has a collaborative arrangement with the Public Library service to offer computer access to communities. The University’s Library provides access to the physical book collection which is open to visitors, either on a day pass or, if they want to borrow, on an Associate membership. Both types of access are free. We also provide open access material that is available to the public e.g. the Skills Hub. The University provides public access to several archives containing local and national materials.
The University encourages staff engagement as school governors, joining senior management teams in schools and supporting local educational institutions to encourage lifelong learning by granting ‘community leave’ as an entitlement to all staff.
Please check out our latest research for SDG4: Quality Education
Current developments continue a proud, longstanding history of educational research at the University of Northampton and its antecedent teacher-training institutions. Research, evidence-based practice, and innovative, research-led pedagogies have always been foundational to the University’s offer of undergraduate, postgraduate and professional development courses in initial teacher education, Higher-Level Teaching Assistants, education, childhood and youth, early years, educational linguistics, and special educational needs and inclusion. Sustaining high quality educational research with significant regional, national and international impacts has been a key aim of the University’s Strategic Plans for 2010-15 and 2015-20.
Thematic priorities have been:
Special Education Needs (SEN) and inclusion.
Research and practice in relation to inclusive education, social justice and SEN has been a key, longstanding area of specialism at the University of Northampton. Colleagues have been active in:
- gathering new evidence about the experiences of children and young people with diverse SEN and autistic spectrum conditions in a wide range of institutional, geographical settings;
- developing opportunities for evidence-based teacher-, practitioner- or parent/carer- development in diverse global contexts, often in settings where no training, guidance or evidence about SEN or autism has previously existed; and
- critically retheorizing all manner of normative societal labels, assumptions and exclusions relating to SEN and autism. For example, Dr David Preece’s three-year EU Erasmus+ research award – ESIPP (Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting:) – which led the development of unprecedented new, research-based resources for parent/carer- education around autism in the Balkans and south-east Europe, through work with partner HEIs, NGOs and parent/carer organisations.
Preece’s concern to develop innovative evidence-based resources addressing inequalities in provision for autistic young people and their families is also evident in current collaborations with Dr. Ivana Lessner Listiakova, where careful, qualitative research is being used to rethink services, support and accessibility for families living with autism in remote and coastal regions of the UK (BA/Leverhulme Trust research award – LARCAE (Living with Autism in Rural Coastal Areas of England), and to develop new autism training for primary teachers in Croatia, North Macedonia and Poland (EU Erasmus+ research award – ASD-EAST (Autism Spectrum Disorder – Empowering and Supporting Teachers):
The international reach of research within this theme is also evident in, for example, Professor Richard Rose’s funded research about SEN, disabilities and inclusion in diverse communities in India, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Norway, Ireland, Georgia, Oman and Bhutan. For example, Rose has developed research-led training and resources for the Indian National Institution for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, directed a UNICEF research project exploring knowledges, norms and practices towards Bhutanese children with disabilities, and prepared a UNESCO Global Education Monitoring research report on para-professional support in relation to SEN/Inclusion.
Participatory and interdisciplinary research with (rather than on or for) children and young people has been a major focus for many colleagues at the University and Northampton, past and present. Colleagues working at the intersection of Education, Childhood and Youth Studies, Human Geography and Sociology continue to develop new research on this theme. Colleagues have been active in:
- developing new methods to engage children and young people as researchers;
- gathering new evidence about the experiences and participation of children and young people in diverse spaces of (formal and informal) education and care; and
- developing new theorisations of and with children and young people’s learning, play and identities. For example, Professor John Horton’s collaborations with Human Geographers and engineering scientists – Sharing Futures and (Re)Connect the Nexus have developed inclusive qualitative, visual, mapping and quantitative participatory tools to engage diverse Brazilian children and young people in research about their experiences of, and learning about/with water, food and energy.
These methods have gathered heart-rending data revealing the extent to which many children and young people in Brazil – as in many contexts in the global south – are intimately engaged in everyday work to mitigate deepening water, food and energy crises in their homes and communities. Noting that these kinds of deeply-challenging voices and experiences are almost entirely overlooked in Brazilian and international curricula for teaching climate science and Education for Sustainability (EfS), Horton and co-investigators are developing a range of evidence-based educational resources for schools, policy-makers and NGOs.
The transformative potential of engaging children and young people’s voices is also evident in Dr. Jane Murray’s work under the umbrella title ‘Young Children Are Researchers’ (YCAR). Through diverse school and community projects – collated in the monograph Building Knowledge in Early Childhood Education (Routledge, 2017) – Murray has developed new, participatory tools to engage young children in research, and resources to support teachers and practitioners in this kind of engagement. These methods have encouraged and facilitated a wide range of practitioners, school leaders and organisations to widen their participatory activities to consult younger children, as evidenced by Murray’s recent work to support the National Gallery’s education team to engage younger children, and in the substantial involvement of children as co-producers in the design, delivery and dissemination of the three-year, four-country CyGen project (Cyber Safe Generation) leading to the development of new evidence-based resources to support primary school children’s safe participation in digital media and online spaces.
The University of Northampton’s institutional strategic plan has challenged researchers to explore and foster educational ‘changemaking’ and social impact. In this context, a distinctive body of research has explored and evaluated diverse modes of pedagogic practice and educational leadership in terms of their capacity to constitute transformational impacts.
Colleagues working at the intersection of teacher education, organisational management, information technologies and theories of learning and teaching have undertaken new research on this theme. Colleagues’ work has been significant in:
- providing rich, evidence-based case studies of innovative learning, teaching and educational leadership practices in diverse (early years, primary, secondary, higher or informal) educational settings and at different scales (from the individual classroom, to the university campus, to national educational policies);
- evidencing the potential of new technologies and digital media to affirmatively ‘disrupt’ traditional forms of pedagogy and educational leadership; and
- critically theorising established models of learning and teaching through consideration of innovative forms of ‘active blended learning’ and ‘flexible’ learning spaces. For example, Cristina Devecchi is currently working with colleagues in computing sciences to undertake new research exploring the potential of digital and ‘blockchain’ technologies to safeguard, certify, translate and ‘make visible’ the educational achievements of complexly mobile learners such as transnational migrants, refugees or international postgraduates. This emergent research agenda builds upon Devecchi’s Co-investigator role on the three-year, six-country collaboration ‘Below 10’ project which explored causes, risk factors and outcomes associated with early school-leaving among diverse groups of vulnerable and marginalised young people.
A similar attention to both evidence-based strategy and everyday pedagogic practice is also evident in Professor Ale Armellini’s research exploring strategic leadership and innovation in Higher Educational learning and teaching. Armellini’s research reflects, and has centrally informed, the University of Northampton’s sector-leading work in developing institutional cultures of active blended learning, innovative and digital pedagogies, agile working and flexible campus design.
UON has had a partnership with the Village Education Centre (VEC), Thailand for 10 years. VEC is a non-governmental centre which supports children at international schools with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), both those who attended the Centre and through outreach work across the region. The UON programmes, MA Special Educational Needs and Inclusion and Postgraduate Certificate Special Educational Needs Coordinator, attract mainly Heads of Learning Support from international schools in the region and further afield who shared an interest in developing life chances for children with SEN/D.
The University’s commitment to a quality education for all is contained within the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy
Time Off and Special Leave policy