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BERA announces 2020 Public Engagement and Impact Awards

The BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award recognises and celebrates the impact of research and practice in the education community and how both have demonstrably engaged the public.

Every year we offer two prizes, one for individual applicants and one for team applications.

BERA’s College of Reviewers is pleased to announce that the 2020 Team Winner is The UCL Centre for Holocaust Education for their research– Tackling widespread myths and misconceptions through transformatory teacher training and sustained support for schools.

Congratulations to Dr Alice Pettigrew, Professor Stuart Foster, Dr Becky Hale, Dr Andy Pearce, Dr Eleni Karayianni and Dr Arthur Chapman.

The 2020 Individual Winner is Professor Tom Crick (Swansea University) for his research Leading the Future of Science and Technology Education in Wales.

The 2020 award is a partnership with Emerald Publishing who will be working with the winners to publish digital research summaries.

Emerald Publishing is delighted to support the 2020 BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award. We are thrilled to extend our congratulations to Professor Tom Crick for his work “Leading the Future of Science and Technology Education in Wales” and to the team at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education. Each of these winners have made a profound impact on education policy and practice within Britain, and have produced world-class research that can inspire and inform similar outcomes in other contexts. Emerald are deeply committed to supporting and mobilising the real world impact of research and look forward to working with the winners to create bespoke dissemination pieces about their research.

You can read more about the winners research below:

The UCL Centre for Holocaust Education

“Tackling widespread myths and misconceptions through transformatory teacher training and sustained support for schools.”

Over the last ten years, research by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education has critically examined teaching and learning about the Holocaust in England’s secondary schools. Its 2009 study of more than 2000 teachers revealed that, although the Holocaust has always been a mandatory subject within the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum, a majority of teachers had received no specialist support or training and many experienced concern and confusion as to how to approach this complex history. This in turn had significant implication for classroom practice.

In 2016, the Centre conducted a follow-up study, the largest of its kind internationally, exploring young people’s knowledge and experience of learning about the Holocaust in English schools. Over 8,800 secondary students completed a survey and 244 took part in interview. The resulting report was referred to by the UK Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission as “pioneering research”, and described by the President of the International Association of Holocaust Organisations as, “an invaluable guide to the field”.

The study exposed several distorting misconceptions and significant gaps in students’ understanding, and the Centre’s response led to a step change in the teaching of this history, across England and beyond. Building on empirical evidence drawn from both studies, Centre staff created a range of initial teacher education, CPD, MA and Beacon School programmes attended by more than 11,000 teachers to date, and recognised by UNESCO as “representing best practice internationally”.

The Centre’s Beacon School Programme – a nationally recognised and government-supported award – is especially significant in improving teaching standards and raising pupil achievement. Since 2014, 155 English schools have achieved Beacon status. They in turn work with local networks of over 1,550 further schools to annually impact the educational experience and outlook of around 1.5 million students. School leaders such as Adrian Packer, CEO of CORE Education Trust, emphasize the programme’s “positive impact on the knowledge and understanding of approximately 10,000 of our students”. Data collected by the Centre for DfE shows 90.7% of students in schools the Centre has worked with recognise and understand the term ‘antisemitism’, compared to 21.4% in a national sample of control schools.

In 2018, UNESCO and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) commissioned the Centre to create a research-informed curriculum framework for pre-service teachers and school directors addressing antisemitism and intolerance. The Centre’s materials were used in workshops to train key policy-makers and teacher trainers from over 60 countries.

Last year, the Centre collaborated with the Holocaust Educational Trust to deliver a DfE-funded national educational programme to commemorate and expand students’ knowledge of Bergen-Belsen and its liberation. Survivor of the Holocaust Mala Tribich MBE praised the Centre’s involvement in the initiative, saying it exemplifies its “critical importance for the field, informing the work that Holocaust education organisations across the country and survivors like me do when we engage with teachers and students”.

Centre research has also demonstrated the problematic and imprecise nature of many depictions of the Holocaust within school textbooks; in 2020, it published its own empirically-informed alternative, the first secondary school textbook to directly confront widespread student misconceptions. More than 30,000 copies of ‘Understanding the Holocaust’ were distributed to 1,000 secondary schools across England reaching over 1 million students annually.

During the recent lockdown, the Centre produced 34 high quality lesson-plans and online materials accessed by approximately 3,000 individuals as well as three, self-guided, online CPD courses completed by more than 2,000 practicing teachers. The team’s response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic is a testament to its commitment to ensure robust empirical research is utilised to build capacity and transform teaching in schools.

Professor Tom Crick

Leading the Future of Science and Technology Education in Wales.

Professor Tom Crick’s academic contributions sit at the research, policy and practice interface, and he is primarily recognised internationally for leading the reforms of science and technology education in Wales over a sustained period (2011-present). Directly addressing the criteria of this award, there are explicit examples of high-quality educational research, engagement and impact over this period, supported by underpinning themes of practitioner engagement and co-construction, system capacity-building, promoting research-informed policy and practice, and empowering young learners through enhancing children’s digital rights. Crick was appointed MBE in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours for “services to computer science and the promotion of computer science education” and was made a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2020.

Building on previous work as an inaugural member of the Welsh Government’s National Digital Learning Council (2012-2016), Crick was appointed to co-chair the independent review of the ICT curriculum (2013), whose recommendations directly influenced the 2015 independent review of curriculum and assessment, resulting in major changes to science, ICT, and cross-curricular digital skills.

To deliver these recommendation, Crick was appointed to chair the development of a new cross-curricular Digital Competence Framework (DCF) (2015-2016). The DCF was published in September 2016, and is the first cross-curricular framework of its kind in the UK (raising digital competence to parity with literacy and numeracy as a statutory cross-curricular skill), available bilingually for schools in Wales for all learners aged 3-16.

As part of the major Curriculum for Wales reforms, Crick was appointed to chair the development of the “Science & Technology” area of learning and experience in the new Curriculum for Wales (2017-2020). This brought together the traditional subjects of physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and design & technology, for all learners in Wales from the ages of 3-16. Explicitly co-constructed with practitioners from across Wales, as well as academic experts, professional bodies/learned societies, and the various layers of government. The new Curriculum for Wales was published in January 2020, to start from September 2022.

Related to this role, Crick was appointed as the chair of the National Network of Excellence in Science & Technology (NNEST), a £4m strategic investment by the Welsh Government to support the research capacity-building and professional development of practitioners in this key area of the new Curriculum for Wales (2017-2019). Based on extensive stakeholder/practitioner engagement, NNEST has improved confidence and capability within the STEM teaching profession in Wales, with major research-led policy and practice initiatives across primary and secondary-level settings, collaborating with all HE institutions in Wales. It has directly contributed to the development of a new national strategy for educational research and enquiry.

Alongside this, Crick supported the Royal Society’s two major reviews of computing education (in 2012 and 2017), which contributed to major ICT curriculum reform in England in 2014, as well as £84m funding from the Department for Education in 2018 to set up the National Centre for Computing Education. Crick was commissioned to write the review of the literature for the 2017 report: “After the reboot: computing education in schools“.

In addition to his curriculum reform work, Crick led Qualification Wales’ review of qualifications in the ICT sector in Wales (2018). This work has culminated in the development of new GCSEs and A-Levels in Digital Technology, to start from September 2021.


His extensive public engagement, policy, practice and media contributions across education/public policy are also underpinned by his traditional academic outputs.