Elaine Sharpling BEd, MA, Senior Fellow
Research Director: Education and Enquiry
Tel: 01792 482 091
As a teacher educator, my work involves supporting student-teachers and qualified teachers in developing their skills of research and enquiry. This involves working with schools on small-scale research projects, contributing to national and international work around teacher education, and equipping the next generation of teachers to be research-engaged.
After a career in nursing, I hopped across to university to undertake a joint honours in Education and English with Qualified Teacher Status. On qualifying, I taught in the primary sector and was soon invited to join the team at Birmingham University where I taught literacy on the PGCE programme.
A move to school-centred Initial Teacher Education, brought me in closer contact with teachers and headteachers and highlighted the need to empower practitioners with the skills of research so that they could ‘own’ their classrooms, schools and communities.
In 2006, our family moved to Wales and I secured a post in teacher education which included both the under-graduate and post-graduate programmes. In 2018, as the Director of Initial Teacher Education, I led the team through an accreditation process where the bringing together of theory and practice was front and centre of the new ITE programmes. This process demanded working very closely with schools and was a pivotal moment in my understanding of how practice, research and policy could come together for the benefit of all.
My doctoral studies continue and have allowed me to develop my identity and confidence as a teacher educator. In particular, I have learnt that trying to connect research, practice and policy gives me an appetite to keep learning. More than that, I have learnt to invite different voices to my ‘learning table’ as I have experienced the benefits of collaborating with colleagues . So much so, that my starting point on any new venture is to consider who needs to be round the table, and whose voice might be missing!
- Teacher Education Advancement Network (TEAN) – current President.
- International Teacher Education Research Collective (ITERC) – member of the ethics and politics group.
- BERA Teacher Education (Special-Interest-Group) – representative for Wales
- University Council for Teacher Education (UCET) – member
- International Education Assessment Network (IEAN) – member
I have taught a wide range of modules across both undergraduate and postgraduate. These have included:
- Primary Languages, Literacy and Communication
- The Enquiring Teacher
- Researching the Learning – how, what and why am I teaching?
More recently, I have moved to teaching on the National Masters in Education (Wales), and specifically teach on:
- Advanced Research and Enquiry Skills
- and am the module lead for the Dissertation Module
I regularly supervise Masters students both on the National programme and the university programme.
My personal research interest is focused on understanding and defining quality in Initial Teacher Education, and how different stakeholders across the education system reach a shared understanding.
Related to this, I am interested in how policy, research and practice come together to make a positive difference across an education system. In Wales, this relates to curriculum reform and how teachers become active participants in shaping the school curriculum.
I am also a member of the research team for Camau I’r Dyfodol, a three year project carried out in partnership with the University of Glasgow to develop a shared understanding of progression in the new Curriculum for Wales.
I always will have a love of literature and language and watch with interest the developing research evidence to do with teaching reading.
My expertise lies in teacher education and supporting teachers to become active participants in designing meaningful research in their own classrooms and schools.
This also involves developing the skills of research in student-teachers so that they are well-prepared to take enquiry forward in their classrooms.
I have supported various externally funded projects beyond the Camau project listed previously. For example:
- National Professional Enquiry Project (NPEP) – supporting upwards of twenty schools with classroom-based enquiry.
- Middle-leaders programmes – supporting accredited programmes in secondary schools
- Consortia led programmes – research projects funded by regional school improvement.
Hayward, L. et al. (2020) So far so good: Building the Evidence-base to promote a Successful Future for the Curriculum for Wales. University of Glasgow
Waters, J. & Sharpling, E. (2020) Changing the Lens: mapping the development of research dispositions in programmes of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Wales Journal for Education 22 (1)
Camau Team: Assessing for the Future Workshops available here: CAMAU Assessing for the future Workshop 1 progression and assessment (gov.wales)
ITERC: Critique of positive and negative universality in determining effective practice. Accepted for TEAN 2023, ATEA 2023, ECER 2023