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Archive for the 'Forward Thinking' Category

UCL Year 12 Summer Schools 2022

By Lauren Sandhu, on 17 February 2022

Year 12 students at UCL summer schoolApplications are now open for our free Year 12 Sutton Trust Summer Schools.

This year we will be running our summer schools both online and in person (at UCL) during July and August 2022 in partnership with The Sutton Trust.

We will begin by delivering an exciting mix of online sessions over the first two days of the summer school. Then, we will welcome you to UCL the next week for a range of sessions with UCL staff and students.

You can expect to learn more about your chosen subject, take part in social activities and stay overnight in university accommodation.

This summer we are running summer schools n the following subjects:

  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Biosciences
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Economics
  • Fine Art
  • Geography
  • History
  • Languages and Cultures
  • Laws
  • Maths and Computer Science
  • Natural Sciences
  • Physics
  • Psychology and Education

Applications are open until Wednesday 9 March 2022.Year 12 students at UCL Summer School

Would you like to find out more about our Year 12 summer schools before submitting your application? Read about the experiences of people, from across the UK, who attended our summer schools in 2020.

In 2020 we ran our summer schools online-only and this year they will be happening both online and at UCL but you will still learn more about what previous attendees enjoyed the most via the below blog posts.

Sarah – Natural Sciences Summer School 

Natalia – Languages and Cultures Summer School 

Lena – English Summer School 



UCL Verbal Feedback Project

By Lauren Sandhu, on 28 March 2019

To what extent does Verbal Feedback* implemented over two terms improve student engagement** among disadvantaged pupils*** in Year 7 or 8?’

This is the question that the UCL Access and Widening Participation Office is trying to answer through the Verbal Feedback Project, led in partnership with Ross McGill of Teacher Toolkit and Mark Quinn from the UCL London Centre for Leadership in Learning. The Verbal Feedback Project reflects UCL’s commitment to school-based research that informs teaching and learning and supports the progression of disadvantaged students in particular.

We are delighted to be working with the following schools on the Verbal Feedback Project:

  • Batley Girls’ High School, West Yorkshire
  • London Nautical School, Lambeth
  • Oakgrove School, Milton Keynes
  • Ranelagh School, Berkshire
  • Reigate School, Surrey
  • Trinity Catholic School, Warwickshire
  •  Westminster City School, London

The teachers involved in the project come from a broad range of subject disciplines from English to Science, via Geography and MFL, but they all share a commitment to implementing verbal feedback techniques that aim to improve outcomes for their students. We also hope that this area of work will positively impact on teacher workload. Each teacher researcher is currently working with a Year 7 or Year 8 class and using verbal feedback techniques that reflect their classroom style, the needs of their students and subject area. Techniques used include teacher modelling, whole class feedback, and coaching.

Early signs are encouraging, with one teacher reporting that a focus on verbal feedback has led to more time planning and less time marking, which in turn has changed the nature of her lessons. Teachers are also reporting that relationships with students are beginning to change, because they are now spending more time engaging in conversations and noticing small shifts in the teacher/student relationship.

It’s important to recognise that participating in a research project whilst teaching full-time is not without a time cost, and participating teachers are spending time gathering evidence, recording the use of verbal feedback techniques and reflecting on their impact for the purposes of evaluation. We are fortunate to be working with a committed group of professionals who not only want to improve their own practice, but also make a contribution to the wider verbal feedback research base and support teachers across the sector.

The UCL Verbal Feedback Project will conclude in July 2019, and we will be reporting on the outcomes in autumn 2019. Project outputs will include a report produced by the UCL London Centre for Leadership in Learning and a toolkit for teachers written by Ross McGill.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, would like to speak with the teachers involved, or hear from our project facilitators, we will be hosting a Verbal Feedback Project event in September 2019 at the UCL Institute of Education. To register your interest in attending please complete the online form to receive further details.

This post is written by Carly Sandy, a Senior Access Officer in our team and a former secondary school teacher. Carly manages the Verbal Feedback Project and the Teacher Action Research Project. The post was also published on the Teacher Toolkit blog

*Verbal Feedback as applied according to the professional judgement of different teachers working in different contexts. (Each will explicitly describe their approach in their reflective journal)

**Engagement as defined as: ‘Written, non-verbal and verbal responses from students that demonstrate their active involvement in their learning.’

***Disadvantaged as defined by the UCL Access and Widening Participation Office

UCL Teacher Action Research Project – interview with teacher Becky King

By Lauren Sandhu, on 6 March 2019

We recently caught up with Becky King, a teacher (at The Duston School, Northamptonshire) who is currently participating in our UCL Teacher Action Research Project (TARP). Becky explains how she came to be involved in the project, her challenges and early success and the importance of cherry bakewell cakes!  

1.How did you come to be involved in the UCL Teacher Action Research Project (TARP)?

My first experience of UCL came from attending the UCL Teacher Summer School in 2017. I enjoyed myself so much that I applied the subsequent year. The focus of the 2018 event was on action research; something that I had begun to explore through being part of the DART (Duston School Action Research Team) and felt had the potential to improve the quality of my teaching. It still all felt quite a ‘woolly’ topic and I initially struggled to see how I could balance my day-to-day tasks with completing my own project but the sessions with experts in educational research soon made me realise that being research-informed would add value to every aspect of my practice. I now find myself questioning the impact of what I do in the classroom far more than in previous years. When the UCL Teacher Action Research Project (TARP) was launched, I jumped at the chance to work with the UCL Institute of Education and benefit from the expertise of Mark Quinn and left UCL in June feeling genuinely enthused about the journey I was planning for my top set Year 11 students in 2018-19.

2. What areas(s) does your research project explore?

My research question is ‘To what extent does teacher modelling, implemented for six weeks, improve the attainment for high achieving pupil premium students in English at GCSE?’ The question has evolved somewhat since June and it was valuable to spend over an hour writing and amending our questions as a group in October. I think we had all underestimated the importance of phrasing our research question in the most appropriate way. I came away with over fifteen versions of my initial question to reflect on and hone over time.

3. In what way does your research and development project focus on disadvantaged students?

Whilst the work I am doing aims to benefit every student in my Year 11 class, I am paying particular attention to the progress of the small number of pupil premium students. As a school, particular emphasis is being placed on improving the performance of high prior attaining students in English.

4.How does the project link to your role at school?

As KS4 Coordinator for English, looking at research into improving the grades of the most able students in the school fits in perfectly with my job title. It has been useful to reflect on conversations I’ve had with colleagues at UCL back at school with members of the English department. I have also been able to pass on resources like the pre-reading and frameworks that Mark shared with us in October to the Action Research Team at school.

5.Tell us a bit more about the implementation of your research so far; what challenges or early success have you encountered?

As every teacher knows, there are definitely times when it would be easier to dig out a PowerPoint from their hard drive than be innovative and take chances and I initially struggled to provide students with worked examples every week. I was constantly feeling as though my lessons were becoming dull and that I should be ‘entertaining’ the students (as my teacher training had encouraged me to do). Once the Head provided me with a visualiser, I found that talking students through planning and writing responses slowly and methodically was far more valuable than anything I had done previously with KS4 groups. From seeing more exemplars, students have a better grasp of how to write a conceptualised answer for Literature and how to reach the top bands on the mark scheme in Language.

6. How do you plan to share your learning from the project with colleagues from school/ the wider sector?

On the 30th of March, I will be presenting at the Educating Northants conference alongside three of my DART colleagues. Although it’s nerve-wracking, I’m excited to share the work that I’ve been doing and show other teachers that being research-informed will improve their practice and make their work lives simpler. I am also speaking at the forthcoming ResearchEd Northants event at The Duston School on the 5th of October, where I will be able to evaluate the success of my project against the 2019 GCSE results.

7. What one piece of advice would you give to a colleague thinking about undertaking a school-based research and development project?

Don’t be intimidated! I used to think that I wasn’t intelligent enough, well-read enough or a decent enough teacher to take part in a scheme such as the UCL Teacher Action Research Project (TARP) but everyone has been so positive and supportive that I really feel like my teaching (and confidence) is going from strength to strength.

8. Which fictional teacher (from film, TV or literature) do you most identify with, and why?!

My favourite literary character is Elizabeth Bennet. She’s opinionated, is a good sister, has a strong moral compass and won’t be taken for a fool, although I suspect I come across as more of a Jane Eyre that a Bennet!

For more information please visit our UCL Teacher Research projects webpage. 

Applications for the UCL Teacher Summer School 2019 are open now, for full details please visit our website

Forward Thinking: The dark net and anonymity on the web

By Emily Robinson, on 12 January 2018

The Researcher : Cerys Bradley

Cerys came to UCL as a student in Crime Science after completing her undergraduate studies in Mathematics at Kings College London. She first studied for a Masters in Security and Crime Science and now is completing her PhD in Crime and Security, and Information Security. Her research focuses on the dark net and especially how dark net users respond to different law enforcement interventions. Her work involves a combination of mathematics, computer science and crime theory.

In this post, she gives us an introduction to the subject of her research.