BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award

The British Educational Research Association Public Engagement & Impact Award recognises the important impact of research and practice in the education community and celebrates significant educational research and its activities that have demonstrably engaged the public

The primary applicant must be a BERA member to apply.

Nominations are sought in respect of:

  1. individuals or teams whose educational research work has shown demonstrable public engagement and/or impact;
  2. practitioner(s) or policy-maker(s) whose activities are well grounded in educational research and have led to demonstrable public engagement and/or impact;
  3. persons whose activities have boosted public engagement with educational research and/or its impact, or whose efforts have increased recognition and support for education research in public policy.

For the purposes of this Award, ‘public engagement’ is broadly defined as activities that bring research and/or researchers and the public (or specific groups within the public) together. It is more than just disseminating research – effective public engagement is about two-way communication, with the researchers listening to and learning from participants or other stakeholders at different stages in the research process. Research Councils UK provide a helpful definition of public engagement – see
‘Impact’ is broadly defined as an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.  It includes, but is not limited to, an effect on, change or benefit to:

  • the activity, attitude, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy,
  • practice, process or understanding; of an audience, beneficiary, community, constituency, organisation or individuals; in any Geographic location whether locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

Nominations are scored by a BERA selection panel and are framed by the following criteria:

  • Relevance (e.g. to the Association’s purposes)
  • Clarity (e.g. of the case as set out)
  • Quality (e.g. of the work undertaken to achieve impact)
  • Significance (e.g. of the impact itself).

Prize Details 

Featured article in BERA’s magazine Research Intelligence
Your research presented as a BERA Blog
This award is currently open and will close 28 September 2018 .

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The winner of the 2017 BERA Public Engagement and Impact award was Dr Sue Sentance (King’s College London) for her work on removing the barriers to effective computing education.
She was nominated for her sustained and wide-ranging contribution to the advancement of computing education

Dr Sentance conceived and developed a model of professional learning for computing educators, developed and disseminated a new model of programming teaching built around collaborative working with teachers, promoted through a growing network of practitioners, and worked with key industry players, including Microsoft, to evaluate the potential of physical computing devices to develop motivated, creative learners. Previously, professional development in this area had commonly taken the form of short-lived, subject-focused workshops based on a deficit model and top-down approach. In contrast, the model Dr Sentance developed places emphasis on engaging teachers in research and in decision making and is built around peer-to-peer, face-to-face, and local community based learning.  As well as informing a national programme for the professional development of computer science teachers, the model has directly fed into the development of a nationwide research group in computer science education (CAS Research), the design and implementation of the BCS Certificate for Computer Science Teaching, and the project Teaching Inquiry in Computing Education through which teachers are supported to carry out small action research projects.

Working with Valentina Dagiene, founder of Bebras (an international computational thinking challenge running annually in 50 countries), Sue has also developed a two-dimensional categorisation for Bebras tasks which will be implemented by several countries this year. Google are supporting further development of this work. She has recently been awarded an EPSRC/Industrial CASE Studentship with Microsoft to work on the pedagogic potential of physical computing for the visually disabled.



The winners of the 2016 BERA Sage Public Impact Award were Dr Alice Bradbury and Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes (UCL-IoE)

They were nominated for their work in challenging the goals set out for Baseline Assessment for assessing and tracking the progress of 4-5 year olds within the primary system, which led to the subsequent withdrawal of the policy as announced by the DfE in April 2016.

Baseline Assessment, was part of the policy “Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools” (DfE, 2014) and was designed to produce a ‘baseline’ figure from which four and five year old children’s progress across the primary years can be measured. According to a DfE report from 2016, BA was to be ‘the only measure used to assess the progress of children from entry (at age four to-five-years) to the end of KS2 (age 10-11), alongside an attainment floor standard of 85 per cent’ (DfE, 2014: 4). Although other measures could still be used to demonstrate progress to KS2 for children starting reception in the school year 2015/16, all schools were encouraged to use the new baseline assessment – and most did.

The research was carried out in the autumn term of 2015, using a mixed methods approach involving a nationwide survey and five case studies of Reception classes in primary schools. An online survey was distributed via the NUT and ATL e-mail databases using the Bristol Online Survey service, and was completed by 1,131 people.



The winner of the 2015 BERA Public Impact award was Professor Robin Alexander (universities of Cambridge and York) for his initiation and ten-year leadership of the Cambridge Primary Review and its successor the Cambridge Primary Review Trust. The Review remains the biggest, most comprehensive and most influential enquiry into English primary education for half a century.