ESCalate Bulletin No. 22 (1 June 2005)


  1. Introduction
  2. Education in the Media
  3. Exams Handy tips - For Students
  4. Academic Consultant - Dr Jenny Moon
  5. Student Writing Award
  6. Development Grants
  7. Call for External Evalutors - A call for new team members
  8. Web Developments
  9. Initial Teacher Education Project: St Martin’s College
  10. Book Reviews
  11. Contributing to ESCalate


Welcome to the fourth bulletin of 2005. The main story on everyone’s lips is that of the general election. Although Labour did win the election there has been a change in the Education Department line up, read the new line up.

Here at ESCalate we having been taking the opportunity to look at our constituency to see how we can best serve you. During the rest of this year we are planning to hit the road in our own touring bus, getting out and about meeting you. We will be in touch shortly to arrange a meeting.

It is also getting to the time of the year that students of all ages dread – exam time. We have tried to think of some handy tips for you to pass on to your students.

We welcome any feedback you may have, either a response to our publications pieces, or your thoughts on the new website, or whatever it is you may wish to tell us about. Please do get involved, see for more information or email us at

Upcoming Events (see

  • FACE 6/8th July
  • Higher Education Academy Conference 29th June – 1st July
  • Assessment in Continuing Education Departments – June 14th


PDP Are you ready for the 2005-06 deadline?

We would like to know our community’s readiness to implement the PDP (personal development plans). Email for more details

  • What do you need to be ready for implementation?
  • What help/ support would you welcome from ESCalate?

QAA database available for research

Two of ESCalate’s team, Julie Anderson and Jane McKie attended the “Researching the Outcomes of Institutional Audit” seminar recently - hosted jointly by the Institute of Education, QAA and SRHE

The seminar focussed on subject overviews and the reports arising from these, held in the archives of the QAA(the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education). They contain very rich educational data for Educational researchers. The QAA are making these data available to any researchers, particularly analytical and/or comparative researchers into Higher Education. It may be interrogated using text-based searches.

The software recommended for such a search is the program QSR N6, a program that is relatively easy to get to grips with, providing instant searchable indexes amenable to initial and refined queries.

For further details please go to the QAA website where you can also find out more about the QAA's mission and work to date at David Cairns of the QAA has kindly offered to respond to queries to the database and may be reached at

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Education in the Media

  • Adviser Adonis made a minister (bbc website 10th May)


Highlighting the change in the Education Department line up as a result of the General Election.

  • Skills White paper main points (Guardian online 22nd March)


Ruth Kelly’s main proposals for addressing “the nation’s skills shortages”.

  • Education agenda set on reform (Mike Baker, BBC News education correspondent 6th May).


Labour aiming to make Classroom discipline a priority.

  • Money worries at eleven Universities (BBC website 18th April)


Eleven English universities are on an official watch list because of concerns about their financial health. (Confirmed by Hefce)

  • University 5% pay offer rejected (BBC website11th May)


  • Cabinet demotion rumours "nonsense", says Kelly (Tim Ross, PA Education Correspondent TES 10 May 2005)


Education Secretary Ruth Kelly today dismissed as "nonsense" reports that she had been in line for a demotion to the Treasury in Tony Blair's post-election reshuffle.

The new Ministerial team was confirmed today at the Department for Education and Skills.

1.      Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners) - Jacqui Smith

2.      Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Schools) - Andrew Adonis

3.      Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education) - Bill Rammell

4.      Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Skills) - Phil Hope

5.      Minister of State (Children, Young People and Families) - Beverley Hughes

6.      Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Children, Young People and Families) - Maria Eagle

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Exams Handy tips - For Students

Exams remain an important feature of the HE assessment process and for many students the written examination regime is quite stressful. Staff who are familiar with the exam process may overlook the fact that some students are unfamiliar with the whole process of written exams in HE. Giving and getting the right advice can improve students' exam scores by quite a margin.

Not all students see the point of preparing themselves mentally and physically for the exam ordeal. Because the exam period coincides with the end of the year party season not everyone is in top form when it comes to revision and taking their written papers. The best way to get good marks is to prepare equally carefully for both the academic and the physiological demands of written exams. It's important to make sure you know the regulations. Where is the exam to be held? What are you expected to take into the exam room? How late can you be and still be admitted? Are you revising the correct part of the year's work? If you have a learning disability, have you made sure that you will not be unfairly disadvantaged when taking written papers?

Most people do not realise that exam room performance burns up lots of calories. Sleep rather than late nights reduces the risk of making simple errors and losing valuable marks through carelessness. Sugar and chocolate can give a boost during the exam and water can help to prevent dehydration and reduced mental performance. Meditation and relaxation can reduce stress and help with processing complex information during the revision period. Hot exam rooms and a high pollen count can trigger disabling responses at a critical time. Pens have a habit of running out, pencils break and essential equipment that you've kept ready for days suddenly goes missing!

The body and the brain both need to be fit for the challenge of exams. It's bizarre that people will visit the gym regularly throughout the year to maintain fitness, but badly neglect their brain and body fitness during the exam period. Although the following link contains advice primarily for students in school, there are several useful tips on revision and exam preparation that could help you improve your performance. Good luck!

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Academic Consultant - Dr Jenny Moon

Putting Writing at the Centre, Dr Jenny Moon, University of Exeter

In the USA and often in Europe, it is common to have Writing Centres in higher education institutions to support the writing of students and to support staff in their work with students. Sometimes these are linked with provision of writing support for non-native language speakers and other writing linked functions. With some exceptions in the United Kingdom, we have not pursued this pattern. We have tended to deal with writing as a study skill that is mainly seen as a subject of deficit, rather than an ability that can and should be nurtured and developed.

Writing is of central importance in most degrees. If we see writing as a tool for learning and assessment, it seems logical to suggest that the more comfortable is a learner about her writing, the more easily she can use writing as a medium for learning and for representing learning in assessment tasks. Yet in these days of widening participation, many students come with little experience of sustained writing.

Who should teach writing? Subject teachers are not writing experts, but study skills experts are not familiar with the nature of writing in different disciplines. There are new forms of writing too, in the new technologies, in reflective writing. Who should be the researchers and developers here? There is a good case for initiatives that focus on the positive development of writing in a dedicated 'centre' that would take writing as a serious activity, worthy of research and development and dissemination across the institution. A Centre would work directly with students, but also would work with subject staff, helping them to help their students.

Improving student writing through such an initiative would be one of the most effective ways of improving learning achievements across an institution.

Read more in the ESCalate Summer Newsletter, soon to land on a desk near you.

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Student Writing Award

As a result of the very successful Student Writing Award the HE Academy have invited all the Subject Centre winners to attend the HEA Conference in late June, where an overall HE winner will be announced.

Wendy Belk is representing ESCalate with her winning essay. We wish Wendy every success.

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Development Grants

NEW Development grants brochure

GRANTS-Front-CoverAn easy reference guide to all you need to know about ESCalate development grants. It sets out why we offer them, how to put forward a proposal, examples of projects both current and completed and most importantly how to contact us for more details.

If you would like a copy please email or phone Teresa Nurser on 0117 331 4238.

Grants May Round

We have had a very successful round receiving 16 grant proposals, which we are in the process of sending out to our evaluators.

The next deadline for grant proposals is October 31st 2005 9am. Please contact Teresa Nurser for a copy of our updated development grant brochure or look at for the details of how to apply in full.

Completed Projects

As many of you will know, Small/ Development Grant projects produce resources available through the ESCalate web - but recent ones you might have missed while we were updating the website include (

Tony Rea (then at Oxford Brookes University) - Accredited Continuing Professional Development: the motivational and inhibiting factors affecting the completion of courses by teachers

Claire Taylor (Bishop Grosseteste College) - Assessment and Mentoring of Work-Based Learning in Foundation Degrees

Jenny Moon's work (University of Exeter) on investigating learning issues in the process of widening participation in higher education. Watch out too for Jenny's forthcoming writing on critical thinking, which will be in the new Discussion series

Keith Ross (University of Gloucestershire) - Developing an electronic science subject audit for primary ITE students. Note that the survey questions and pictures are available through the web and / or via Keith himself

Moira Hulme (School of Education, University of Wolverhampton) -Developing the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to facilitate reflective journal writing in the professional education of teachers Online dialogue journals.

Anita Pincas (I.o.E)- Effective use of CHAT in online learning.

Alison Swanson (University of Dundee) - Promoting good practice and innovations in learning and teaching: developing a multi-institutional learning and teaching forum.

For any further queries or comments and suggestions about the grants, you are most welcome to contact Julie Anderson.

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Call for External Evalutors - A call for new team members

Our Development Grant Project needs external evaluators. Could you become one of our team of external evaluators, looking at a project and helping to assess its viability in light of your area of expertise?

We currently have 20 evaluators but would welcome more. We provide the assessment sheet and criteria and you will not be contacted more than twice a year with each evaluation only taking only 20 minutes.

Please email or phone Teresa Nurser on 0117 331 4238 stating your area of expertise and contact details.

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Web Developments

Since the launch of the new style ESCalate website displaying The Higher Education Academy branding we have been working with our developer on a number of initiatives including:

  • The reinstatement of the e-bulletin providing the latest news relating to ESCalate’s work including events, the work of the academic consultants, and books held for review;
  • The ability to download an electronic version of paper publications including the Spring 2005 newsletter and soon “Towards a Framework of Professional Teaching Standards" written by Professor Bart McGettrick from the University of Glasgow, which is the first of a series of discussion papers.
  • The ability to view all ESCalate’s current and completed Development Grants (Small Grants) projects;
  • The cataloguing of all ESCalate electronic resources in a format that is compatible with the SOSIG (Social Science Information Gateway) database.

During late May registered members of ESCalate have been offered access to the new Members area of our website. By logging in to your ESCalate member account you will be able to:

  • Make an initial registration;
  • Update your personal, contact and professional details directly;
  • Register online for events organised by ESCalate and keep track of events you have attended;
  • Apply to receive free copies of recently published academic books for review, and keep track of reviews you have previously written for ESCalate;
  • Benefit from planned new personalised content and services as we introduce them.

Work continues to provide useful resources, which are browsable, searchable and transferable. Future work for this year includes an External Examiners database, and the ability to administer the Development Grants scheme through the website. As I think you will agree there is plenty to keep us going!

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Initial Teacher Education Project: St Martin’s College

The St Martin’s Project has been working on a number of areas related to learning and teaching in initial teacher education, both developing work from their 2003/4 programme and developing new areas.

The highlight of the programme was the ESCalate Initial Teacher Education conference on 19th May. The themes for the conference reflected the programme of work:

  • E-learning & distance learning for ITE
  • Connecting School-based and HEI-based learning
  • Working with externally-imposed curricula
  • Making the transition from school teacher to ITE lecturer

The ESCalate ITE Conference was specifically established to disseminate, share and debate practice. Over 120 delegates from across the UK had an opportunity to learn about 15 different examples of innovation in learning and teaching in ITE including very concrete strategies for supporting learning through to thought-provoking debates regarding challenging issues such as the tension between widening participation and quality assurance. It is hoped to produce a paper-based conference proceedings to extend this information to a wider constituency.

St Martin’s work for ESCalate has also been presented at three other national conferences this year: BERA, UCET and 'Discourse, Power and Resistance' at the University of Plymouth.

In addition, research is currently taking place in 10 – 12 ITE institutions and with several key policy developers across all four UK regions to explore how different perceptions and practice in ITE relate to different legislative frameworks. The research is exploring the impact of these frameworks on models of teacher education. The initial results from this study will be presented at the ESCalate Symposium at BERA Conference 2005.

A new area of work for 2004/5 is to investigate, and develop advice to ITE providers on the induction and preparation of new ITE staff making the transition from school-based teaching to HE-based teaching.

Research is currently taking palce with a range of staff in the difference stages of transistion from teacher to teacher educator in order to examine what factors have contributed to developing their new identity. Initial findings are exposing the complex range of communities of practice that teacher educators have to contend with. The project will produce recommendations for supporting new staff. Early findings were presented at the ESCalate ITE conference in May, with the main report being presented at the BERA ESCalate Symposium.

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Book Reviews

Interested in reviewing a book? Email for our current list of titles. A recent delivery of new books includes the following:

  • Sage, R. Wilkie M, 2004, Supporting Learning in Primary Schools (2nd Ed.) Learning Matters.
  • Jones,J,2005, Management Skills in Schools – a resource for School Leaders, Paul Chapman Publishing.
  • Wright,A., Brandom, A-M, 2003, Learning to Teach Religious Education in the Secondary School, Routledge-Falme
  • Cohen,L., Manion,L.,Morrison,K., (Eds) 2004 (5th Ed) A Guide to Teaching Practice, Routledge-Falmer.
  • Kerr,P., 2005, Straightforward- (Pre-intermediate) (A multi-level course for adults and young adults),Macmillan.
  • Cole,M.,Cole,S.A.,Lightfoot,C., The Development of Children (Fifth Ed), Macmillan.
  • Davies, B. (Ed) The Essentials of School Leadership, Paul Chapman
  • Hart, C. Doing your Masters Dissertation, Sage Publications
  • Bush, T. & Middlewood, D. Leading and Managing People in Education, Sage Publications
  • Tomusk, Voldemar The Open World and Closed Societies, Macmillan
  • Biggs, Victoria., Caged in Chaos : A Dyspraxic Guide to Breaking free, Jessica Kingsley
  • Muijs,D and Reynolds, D. Effective Teaching : evidence and practice, Sage Publications
  • Bligh, Donald. What’s the point in Discussion?, Intellect
  • Mcllroy, David, Exam Success, Sage Publications
  • Timmins, Geoff, Vernon, Keith, Kinealy, Christine, Teaching and Learning History, Sage Publications

Keep an eye on the book review section of our website, where there is a regularly updated list of books to be reviewed, and you can request titles.

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Contributing to ESCalate

Thank you for reading til the end, please do let us have news of developments and activity in your department. Or look out for the next bulletin.

Next Bulletin: August 2005.

Deadline for Copy: 18th July, emails to

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