Centre for Teaching and Learning Research (CTLR)


CTLR members have a particularly diverse range of research interests and approaches. Some are involved in national and international projects while others are (also) closely involved in local research networks and active in the development of critical and reflexive practitioner-led research.

A common theme in all our work is an interest in creating the conditions in which good practice can be identified and shared – to the benefit of those currently in (all stages and forms of) education but also those involved in its delivery and development.

Researchers interested in visiting CTLR

We are always pleased to receive enquiries from academics based in other universities who are interested in visiting CTLR for a fixed period to further their research and/or make connections with us.  You are welcome to contact the member of staff whose work has brought the centre to your attention to initially scope out your ideas. However, you can also contact Dr Louise Gazeley, centre Director, for information and advice.


Research and impact activity

New toolkit to support care leavers' progression to HE

Members of CTLR have led on the development of a new 'Supporting Supporters’ toolkit for stakeholders. 

This practical resource came out of a project that aimed to support foster carers, educators, and social care professionals involved in supporting the progression of care-experienced young people to university. The Supporting Supports project was led by Senior Lecturer in Higher Education, Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith, and funded by the Sussex Learning Network under the Office for Students funded Uni Connect Programme. 

Tamsin said of the project: 

"We learned so much from our discussions with foster carers, social workers and school staff about their perspectives, anxieties and approaches around supporting care experienced young people in their educational progression journeys. The sharing of expertise between the different groups in workshops was a particularly valuable part of this.

We hope that, through the toolkit, the insights they shared will support other stakeholders to support young people in their care and those considering a future in higher education."  

Others involved in the project included Senior Lecturer in Education, Dr Louise Gazeley (Director of CTLR), Lecturer in Social Work, Dr Tam CaneAnne-Marie Bird from the University of Sussex's Widening Participation team, local artist Michi Mathias and a large group of local stakeholders who piloted the activities at a series of workshops.

SLN Toolkit cover    SLN artwork

Education and COVID-19:
Perspectives from parent carers of children with SEND

Researchers in the Department of Education at the University of Sussex have been working with parents across the country to obtain their views about the return to school for children with SEND and had over 500 survey responses. Their brief report (6 pages) summarises the key findings and recommendations. Further research with some of the respondents will take place later in the term to see how the transition back in to school is going.

CIRCLETS Research Student: Jacqui ShepherdDr Jacqui Shepherd said:

“In our survey, it was clear that parent carers of children with SEND had a number of concerns about returning to school including social interactions, social distancing, noise, all day learning and transport arrangements. Parent carers also reported a preference for ensuring the current needs of children are assessed given that some children might be at a very different level socially, emotionally and academically than they were before lockdown.”

The recommendations include schools being prepared to incorporate technology, phased returns, one-to-one support, small group work, social stories, checklist and visual supports to support children to transition back to full-time education as well as incorporating home learning preferences established over lockdown to allow them to be continued in the classroom. 

Christina HancockDr Christina Hancock said: 

“We believe the significant changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have created an opportunity to revitalize education for children with SEND if schools, government and policymakers consider retaining or adapting the aspects that worked well across the home learning experience."

If you would like to discuss any of it further then please do get in touch:
Dr Jacqui Shepherd
Dr Christina Hancock

See also article about the research in the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

Research conducted by Senior Education Teaching Fellow, Dr Ally Daubney, and Senior Education Lecturer, Duncan Mackrill, has provided a longitudinal view of music education across the period 2012-2016/17, through the completion of over 700 questionnaires from secondary schools across England.A range of factors having the potential to negatively impact on children’s opportunities in music education have been identified, including the impact of school type and Ofsted grading on the level of provision, accountability measures and the structure of the school day.

The research has attracted considerable attention. In March, the Earl of Clancarty raised concerns about the ‘increasing marginalisation of music in our schools,’ citing their research as evidence. A new survey with secondary schools in England to identify changes from 2016-2018/19 has just been launched. The results will be compared with data from previous years and will form part of a Westminster Forum debate in November 2018 about supporting a more creative curriculum in schools.

Full summary of the research