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Past event

Exploring issues in English, Education, and Social Justice: current trends in research and practice

Kindly supported by the: The Institute for Research in Education at The University of Bedfordshire and NATE [The National Association for the Teaching of English]

This interdisciplinary one-day conference aimed to explore the relationships – the possible conflicts and complements – between English (understood here as a wide-ranging set of practices and subject areas), education (broadly conceived), and social justice.  Keynote speakers were Dr Velda Elliott, University of Oxford and Dr John Yandell, University of London.

English continues to be considered the most important school subject but also to attract endless contention about its content and future direction. It has often been a space for exploration of ethics, identities and cultural value through the study of literature, media and language.

English is experiencing a decline in popularity at ‘A’ level and degree level, this is one factor in an increasing shortage of English teachers. Recent research suggests considerable dissatisfaction amongst English teachers about the current ‘state’ of English, the corrosive effect of high stakes testing and the reduction in teacher autonomy and levels of choice over texts and themes. Another major concern is the reduction in diversity being increasingly felt in a highly prescribed curriculum.

However, at a time of change post Covid, and with the increasing likelihood of a change in political direction, there is considerable hope that English may be given much greater opportunity to recover its emancipatory potential to contribute to social justice education.

We encourage submissions from individuals and small groups at any and every career-stage, working in education, academia, and any other relevant field. University, college, and school students are welcome to submit proposals, or to attend as delegates. Student-teacher (and/or similar) collaborations are encouraged. As well as topics related to English, submissions are encouraged on Education more generally, such as :-

  • Social justice and diversity
  • Developing inclusive schools and environments
  • Education for sustainability and climate change
  • The post covid world for teachers and students
  • Social media and emergent identities

Draft programme:




Keynote Lecture – Anger, Hope, Joy: Affective Social Justice and Education Research

Dr Velda Elliot, University of Oxford


Parallel sessions


The Online Media Literacy Strategy: What happens when narrow literacy policies and narrow curriculum policies collide?

Dr Steve Connolly, Anglia Ruskin University


Whatever happened to Drama in secondary English lessons?

Sue Pinnick, University of Sussex


Teachers as agents and all students as ‘readers’: evaluating eight years of the ‘Faster Read’ approach
Dr Julia Sutherland, University of Sussex

‘Literature’s not for me’: reframing students as stakeholders in the English Literature classroom
Charlotte Wright, Leeds Trinity University


The Decline and Fall (?) of A Level English; Students’ Choices and Perspectives at 16

Dr Rachel Roberts, University of Reading


Light perpetual: Creativity in English – past, present and future

Dr Lorna Smith, University of Bristol





Parallel sessions


Tackling the challenges of GCSE re-sits and improving outcomes for the ‘forgotten third’

Dr Rebecca Morris, Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick


GCSE English Language Resit Teacher Training in Further Education: A Responsive Reform 

Kayte Haselgrove University of Derby


If at first you don’t succeed in GCSE English, resit, resit and resit again!
Dr Joanne Bowser-Angermann, Anglia Ruskin University

Que(e)rying leadership on an LGBTQ+ leadership development programme for UK Higher Education (HE) staff
Alex Baird, University of Bedfordshire


The Lived Experiences of Dyspraxic Young Adults in Higher Education

Dr Katie Brown, University of Bedfordshire


Do students with ‘hidden disabilities’ make you hide?

Sofia Mavrogeni, University of Bedfordshire




 A Taxonomy of Autistic Poetics?

Dr Gareth Farmer, University of Bedfordshire


 “Cutting my Fingers off and Chucking them at Love”

Dr Oliver Belas, University of Bedfordshire


Is there an ideological wolf lurking in the metaphorical sheep’s clothing? Metaphor analysis as a form of social justice
Caroline Godfrey, Aston University





Parallel sessions


What’s in a name?  Exploring professional identity through narratives

Dr Neil Hopkins, University of Bedfordshire; Dr Carol Thompson, University of Bedfordshire


“Decolonized” Assessment in HE?

Dr Oliver Belas, University of Bedfordshire; Dr Jim Clack, University of Bedfordshire; Dr Neil Hopkins, University of Bedfordshire


Tales from the Archive: the Hockliffe Collection and its contribution to our understanding of the history of education.
Dr Nicola Darwood, University of Bedfordshire


Ensuring Fair and Accurate English Language Assessment: The Role of Rasch Analysis in Detecting Rater Bias and Severity/Leniency

Dr Aynur Ismayilli Karakoc, University of Bedfordshire


A quiet word?

Theo Maniski, University of Bedfordshire


Fairness in language tests in the digital era: Time-extension accommodation for dyslexic test-takers 
Dr Chihiro Inoue, University of Bedfordshire





Keynote Lecture – From Experts to Novices: The Delivery of English?

Dr John Yandell, University College London


Concluding Remarks


Event Close


Keynote Speakers

Profile picture of Victoria Elliott
Victoria Elliott, Dr

University of Oxford

Velda Elliott is Associate Professor of English and Literacy Education at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Knowledge in English: Canon, Curriculum & Cultural Literacy (2020) which won the UKLA Academic Book Award 2022. Her work is...

Profile picture of John Yandell
John Yandell, Dr

HE Lecturer at IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society

John Yandell taught in inner London secondary schools for twenty years before moving to the Institute of Education, UCL, where he has worked since 2003. As a teacher and a teacher educator, he has written extensively on policy and pedagogy,...


Profile picture of Steve Connolly
Steve Connolly, Dr

Deputy Head, School of Education at Anglia Ruskin University

Steve Connolly is Deputy Head of the School of Education at Anglia Ruskin University. His research interests focus on Media Education, Literacies, Curricular Knowledge and Teacher Education. He is the author of "The Changing Role of Media in the...

Profile picture of Charlotte Wright
Charlotte Wright, Mrs

Senior Lecturer in Education at Leeds Trinity University

Charlotte (@commahound) has taught English in 5 secondary schools over nearly 3 decades, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Education at Leeds Trinity University. She is also studying for an Education Doctorate with a focus on how Secondary...

Profile picture of Sue Pinnick
Sue Pinnick, Ms

Lecturer in English Education at University of Sussex

Sue taught secondary English for 17 years before moving to Sussex University to lead the secondary English PGCE. Sue's Masters in Education dissertation was a case study exploring mentoring secondary English trainee teachers. She is currently...

Profile picture of Rachel Roberts
Rachel Roberts, Dr

Associate Professor of Secondary English Education at University of Reading

Rachel was an English teacher for 10 years before moving into HE; she is now Associate Professor of English Education at the IoE, University of Reading, where she runs the Secondary English PGCE and is Deputy Director of the Secondary PGCE...

Profile picture of Julia Sutherland
Julia Sutherland, Dr

Senior Lecturer, Co-Director of Teaching and Learning at University of Sussex

As a Senior Lecturer in English education and Co-Director of Teaching and Learning in ESW at Sussex, I teach and supervise on a range of courses, including the MA in Education, PGCE English and PhDs. Research interests include reading, dialogic...

Profile picture of Lorna Smith
Lorna Smith, Dr

Associate Professor in Education at University of Bristol

Lorna leads the secondary English PGCE course at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on secondary English education policy and practice past and present, particularly English as a humane discipline, creativity within the curriculum,...

Profile picture of Rebecca Morris
Rebecca Morris, Dr

Associate Professor at University of Warwick

Rebecca Morris is an associate professor in the Department of Education Studies at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include education and social policy; teachers and teaching (in both schools and higher education); social justice...

Profile picture of Alex Baird
Alex Baird, Mx

Senior Lecturer in Sport & PE & EDI Lead at University of Bedfordshire

Before taking up the position of Senior Lecturer in Sport and Physical Education at the University of Bedfordshire I worked in a wide variety of schools over twelve years. I am the EDI Co-lead across UoB as well as the faculty EDI champion. I am...

Profile picture of Kayte Haselgrove
Kayte Haselgrove, Mrs

Assistant Programme Lead for Post 14 PGCE at University of Derby

Kayte Haselgrove taught English and led on teacher training and professional development in Further Education from 2010 – 2021. She is now a full time university lecturer and Assistant Programme Lead at the University of Derby, working with...

Profile picture of Katie Brown
Katie Brown, Dr

Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University

I am a Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Canterbury Christchurch University. I am the module lead for several units from levels 4 – 6, including units focused on topics such as research methods, special educational needs and disability,...

Profile picture of Oliver Belas
Oliver Belas, Dr

Senior Lecturer (Education & English) at University of Bedfordshire

Dr Oli Belas is senior lecturer in the School of Education and English, University of Bedfordshire. His has teaching and research inerests in various areas of English, creative writing, education, and philosophy.

Profile picture of Joanne Bowser-Angermann
Joanne Bowser-Angermann, Dr

Associate Professor of Applied Teaching and Learning at Anglia Ruskin University

Dr Jo Bowser-Angermann is an Associate Professor in Applied Teaching and learning at Anglia Ruskin University. Jo specialised in English but has had experience of teaching all age ranges which has given her an excellent understanding of the...

Profile picture of Sofia Mavrogeni
Sofia Mavrogeni, Mrs

Academic Liaison Librarian at University of Bedfordshire

My name is Sofia Mavrogeni and I am an Academic Liaison Librarian at the University of Bedfordshire. I am new in my profession and my teaching experience is currently still limited. I undertook my personal studies in education studying Business...

Profile picture of Caroline Godfrey
Caroline Godfrey, Ms

PhD student at Aston University

I am currently working on a PhD in applied linguistics at Aston University, Birmingham, although I have been an English teacher for thirteen years, occupying a range of different positions, within a variety of different schools. My current...

Profile picture of Neil Hopkins
Neil Hopkins, Dr

Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Bedfordshire at University of Bedfordshire

Dr Neil Hopkins is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire. His books include 'Citizenship and Democracy in Further and Adult Education' (2013) and 'Democratic Socialism and Education: New Perspectives in Policy and Practice'...

Profile picture of Theo Maniski
Theo Maniski, Mr

Principal Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at University of Bedfordshire

I am a Principal Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at Bedfordshire. I trained as a language teacher in the 1980s and regularly work with universities at home and abroad. My interests lie in forensic linguistics and conversation...

Profile picture of Nicola Darwood
Nicola Darwood, Dr

Senior Lecturer in English Literature at University of Bedfordshire

I am a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire, UK where I lead the English undergraduate provision. I received my PhD from De Montfort University, UK in 2007 and my research interests include: early twentieth century women writers,...