Learn about the research projects.
- Collaborative Evidence Network projects (CENs)
- Headsprout Early Reading in Special Schools project (HERiSS)
- Interventions promoting positive child outcomes - implementation science
- Mathematical fluency education - SAFMEDS
- Teaching Shakespeare in the UK and East Asia
- National Strategy for Educational Research and Enquiry (NSERE)
- Evidence Informed Profesional Project (EIPP)
- National Professional Enquiry Project (NPEP)
- Wales Collaborative for Learning Design (WCLD)
- Ein Llais Ni project
- Accessing Welsh during the Covid-19 pandemic
- Grwp ymchwil CaDWaB (Cymraeg a Dwyieithrwydd/Welsh and Bilingualism) research group
Collaborative Evidence Network projects (CENs)
The School of Educational Sciences and CIEREI won over £600,000 funding from Welsh Government in 2021-22 for a suite of research projects into the impacts of Covid-19 on the education sector in Wales and to aid pandemic recovery. In keeping with Welsh Government priorities, many of the projects focus on those most vulnerable to the negative consequences of pandemic disruption to education: children and young adults with Additional Learning Needs (ALN), from refugee families and traveller communities, and Welsh language learners in English-speaking families/communities.
The projects have seen members of the School work with colleagues from GwE (the North Wales regional school improvement service), Cardiff Metropolitan to Glyndwr universities, as well as the relevant national Collaborative Research Networks, to ensure nationwide representation and benefits.
Around twenty staff members in the School are involved in the twelve Bangor University projects, with oversight from Professor Carl Hughes (Head of School), Dr Richard Watkins (GwE), Dr Sarah Olive (School Director of Research) and PhD-student Fatema Sultana.
Headsprout Early Reading in Special Schools project (HERiSS)
For over 10 years, we have been conducting applied research in schools in Wales and England relating to aspects of literacy teaching practices in both mainstream primary and special schools. One aspect of this work relates to a programme called Headsprout, which is a commercially available computer-based programme developed by a group of learning scientists based in the USA. Given the scientifically robust instructional design and the extensive formative evaluation the programme underpinning the programme, we began piloting and evaluating the use of the programme in UK schools. The HERiSS project is led by Dr Emily Roberts-Tyler and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. It builds on pilot work conducted at Bangor University. It will evaluate the effects of a computer-based early reading programme on reading skills for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in special schools. For further details, please visit the project page.
The purpose of our mainstream school research was to determine whether the programme is effective for pupils in UK schools. In 2015, we published the first UK evaluation of the programme in mainstream schools. Since then, over 100 schools across north Wales have used the programme, including many schools we have worked with to use the programme to support reading instruction during covid-19 school closures. We’re in the process of establishing precise figures and estimated pupil numbers.
Our special school work has been the first published research to pilot and evaluate the use of Headsprout Early Reading with children with learning disabilities in special schools. We have several publications on this work (Grindle et al., 2013; Tyler et al., 2015; Roberts-Tyler et al., 2019, which has resulted in the development of an implementation support manual for use of the programme with children with special educational needs and disabilities. Following the promising outcomes of this pilot work, and that undertaken to establish that rigorous research designs can be successfully conducted in these settings, we were awarded over £400,000 by the Education Endowment Foundation to conduct a cluster Randomised Controlled Trial in special schools in England. This trial is now underway, with 55 schools and over 400 children participating.
In addition to the research and impact work relating to Headsprout, Roberts-Tyler is also leading ongoing work relating to reading fluency interventions in schools. In summary, we have developed 2 research-based reading fluency interventions, and have conducted a c-RCT comparing the two interventions (manuscript currently in preparation). We have recently further developed the intervention resources, including the development of equivalent Welsh language resources. Over 60 schools across the region have benefitted from these interventions. We are currently working on a school-home hybrid model to increase practice opportunities, and are collaborating with schools to develop a feasible model for progress monitoring to allow schools to effectively monitor the impact of reading interventions with their pupils.
Interventions promoting positive child outcomes - implementation science
Implementation science is the study of methods and strategies to facilitate the uptake of evidence-based practice and research into services. Since 1986 the team in the Centre for Evidence Based Early Intervention (CEBEI) have evaluated, devised and implemented child-focused programmes in service settings, including evaluating their long-term effectiveness against other treatments. Dr Margiad Williams is the School of Educational Sciences’ lead on this research, with Professor Judy Hutchings (Psychology) the overall Centre lead.
Critical research has resulted in global impact for childhood interventions including in low- and middle-income countries. This includes the uptake of the World Health Organisation sponsored Parenting for Lifelong Health 2-9 years programme in 25 countries (to date) and the training of 800 leaders and at least 9000 parents (to date). This also includes whole country implementation in Montenegro as well as initial evidence for the Book Sharing programme (originally from South Africa). CEBEI researchers have evaluated its feasibility as a school delivered and online intervention. A recent Nuffield grant with collaborators at Cambridge University, Early Intervention Foundation, and Dartington Social Research Unit, will extend the online work. Hutchings and Williams are also developing an online Book Sharing training for classroom support staff.
This research programme also involves work around the KiVa anti-bullying intervention in schools. The Children's Early Intervention Trust, a training charity closely affiliated with CEBEI, is the only KiVa training hub in the UK. Over 200 UK schools have been trained benefitting an estimated 31,500 children (to date). A large NIHR-funded trial, with partners in Cardiff, Exeter, Oxford and Warwick Universities, of the programme's effectiveness is ongoing. Previous evaluations in Wales have shown promising results. CEBEI has also developed parenting programmes based on Hutchings' earlier work (COPING online programme and Enhancing Parenting Skills programme). Small trials have shown promising results; current interest in Wales including a funded KESS scholarship with Flintshire Parenting service.
Mathematical fluency education - SAFMEDS
For the last 15 years education researchers in Bangor have been investigating the use of a fluency-building strategy called Say-All-Fast-Minute-Every-Day-Shuffled (SAFMEDS) that pupils can use to practice and assess fact-based skills, such as arithmetic. Over recent years, researchers in the Collaborative Institute for Education Research, Evidence and Impact (CIEREI) have been working with GwE (the North Wales regional school improvement service) to develop SAFMEDS resources and training for schools across the North Wales region. This work aims to develop teachers’ professional development and improve pupils’ mathematics/numeracy skills and is currently being led by Dr Kaydee Owen, Professor Carl Hughes, Dr Richard Watkins (GwE), in collaboration with GwE’s mathematics and numeracy improvement advisors.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a shift to emergency education leading to the launch of a bespoke website to facilitate additional fluency practice from home and a trial of online implementation support. A PhD studentship will help the project to continue its work, with a focus on evaluating different modalities of implementation and the co-development of a training programme with parents/guardians.
In 2021, we published a cluster-RCT evaluating the effect of implementation support following teacher training for the SAFMEDS strategy and a qualitative evaluation of the perceived benefits and challenges of the SAFMEDS strategy in schools across North Wales. Collectively this work has informed the development of future training and evaluations.
Teaching Shakespeare in the UK and East Asia
Dr Sarah Olive has developed a long-standing programme of research on Shakespeare in education, within which individual projects have been funded by the AHRC, British Academy, Daiwa Foundation, ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (University of York) and Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. This research explores Shakespeare in education internationally, although its publications concentrate on policy, pedagogy and performance in the UK, East and South-East Asia. The research programmes have analysed teacher and student perspectives on Shakespeare in Hong Kong, Korea, and Vietnam, with further research in the pipeline on Shakespeare in Japanese higher education. The research concentrates on the following sectors: secondary schools, higher education institutions as well as theatre, arts and heritage education. It has involved collaborating with Dr Victoria (Velda) Elliott (Education, Oxford) on the first national survey of teaching Shakespeare, with participating teachers from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Olive’s monograph, Shakespeare Valued: education policy and pedagogy, 1989-2009, was published in 2015 (Intellect, Bristol). She is the lead author of Shakespeare in East Asian Education, co-authored with Kohei Uchimaru (Osaka City University), Adele Lee (Emerson College) and Rosalind Fielding (University of Birmingham), published in 2021 as part of Palgrave's Global Shakespeare series. The research programme underpinned Olive’s founding of the freely available, online magazine Teaching Shakespeare through the British Shakespeare Association. She edited twenty-one issues from 2011-2021, working closely with the designer Becky Chilcott and guest editors of special issues on topics such as teaching Shakespeare in Leeds (Claire Chambers, York), in Japan (Uchimaru above and Anthony Martin, Waseda), as part of a wider spectrum of early modern drama (Duncan Lees, Warwick), and during Covid-19 lockdown (Ronan Hatfull, Warwick). Contributors during her editorship wrote out of 18 countries, with the readership spanning 60 nations. The magazine serves educators working across diverse sectors and levels of education including Special Education Needs (SEN) units and prison education.
National Strategy for Educational Research and Enquiry (NSERE)
To support the education reform in Wales, the Welsh Government has worked with organisations and individuals within Wales, across the UK, and internationally to develop NSERE. The aim of NSERE is that educational policy and practice in Wales should be informed by the best available research evidence and enquiries undertaken by educational professionals—making teaching a more evidence-informed profession. Collaborators include Lowri Jones, Amy Hulson-Jones, and Richard Watkins.
Evidence Informed Professional Project (EIPP)
The EIPP is funded as part of the NSERE and is aimed at improving the quality of research and evidence use in Welsh education. The long term aim of the project is to develop a model for an evidence-informed education profession in Wales, including the creation of structures and processes in schools that foster both the consumption and creation of evidence to improve outcomes for learners. We believe that EIPP will provide schools with additional funding and resource capacity to help them evaluate key aspects of their existing work related to Curriculum for Wales. The EIPP project will be working across Wales to evaluate different ideas and models for the more systematic use of evidence in schools.
National Professional Enquiry Project (NPEP)
As part of the National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL), the Welsh Government is working with Regional Education Consortia and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across Wales to improve teachers' use of research and evaluation to improve outcomes for learners. The National Professional Enquiry Project (NPEP) launched in 2018, culminating in phase 4 during 2021-22. During this phase, Bangor University are supporting 10 Lead Enquiry Schools (LES). These schools are mentoring 32 Partner Enquiry Schools (PES), overseen by ITE staff at Wrexham Glyndwr. Collaborators include Dr Bryn Jones, Dr Kaydee Owen, Professor Carl Hughes, Professor Enlli Thomas, and Dr Richard Watkins.
Wales Collaborative for Learning Design (WCLD)
Major education system reform in Wales, alongside the continued impact of Covid-19, provides the opportunity to change cultures, behaviours, dispositions and practice — especially reflecting the shift from traditional classroom teaching to approaches that utilise effective technology and learning design. The Wales Collaborative for Learning Design (WCLD) is an inter-university project funded by Welsh Government, focusing on (a)synchronous activities in the classroom to support innovations in the new curriculum. This includes the contribution of several outputs to build the capacity for educators (primary through to university-level) to collaborate, discuss, innovate, and research ideas through a series of ‘learning labs’. Throughout this project we are consulting with an international expert panel, to build on ideas around learning design, bilingualism, and equity in education. Collaborators include Dr Kaydee Owen, Professor Carl Hughes, and Owen Davies.
Ein Llais Ni Project
Ein Llais Ni is a collaborative research project between the CaDWaB (Cymraeg a Dwyieithrwydd – Welsh and Bilingualism) education research group, led by Professor Enlli Thomas, and GwE. Professor Enlli Thomas is the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Learned Society of Wales Hugh Owen Medal for outstanding educational research. The project is funded by Welsh Government and involves collaboration with 100 schools across the north Wales region (primary and secondary).
The project adopts a co-constructive approach to developing and evaluating teaching strategies, methods and approaches that are designed to develop pupils’ oracy skills in Welsh, whilst, at the same time, developing research-informed professional learning opportunities and training for teachers. This professional learning opportunity includes theoretical and practical applications of oracy development and production and their own abilities as teachers to evaluate their own practice. The development of good oracy skills is one of the key priorities identified by Welsh Government in delivering the new Curriculum for Wales, and is an essential component of fulfilling goals 1 and 2 of Cymraeg 2050: Miliwn Siaradwyr.
The outputs produced as part of this research project will feed into the development of a national resource and training package that will be made available to all schools in Wales to support the delivery of the new Curriculum for Wales and in aiming towards increasing the number of speakers who are confident and willing to develop their Welsh language and bilingual skills.
Accessing Welsh during the Covid-19 pandemic
Some of the immediate concerns around Covid-19 had to do with the sudden drop in frequency of pupils’ exposure to natural spoken Welsh, and the extent to which pupils – attending Welsh-medium schools in particular – had the opportunity, encouragement and support to use their oral Welsh skills in meaningful ways. The objectives of this study were therefore to identify how schools in Wales responded to the linguistic challenges set by the Covid-19 situation, with a view towards identifying the main hurdles faced, the limitations enforced by the situation, and examples of
interesting practice. It aimed to identify and evaluate the perceived and potential effectiveness of the provision offered at that time, and explored potential implications of the findings to learn from the current situation in order to develop recommendations for innovative bilingual practices that benefit language learners in the long-term and inform language policy planning, beyond Covid-19. This project was funded by Welsh Government (£75,000) and led by Professor Enlli Thomas (PI) from the CaDWaB education research group, supported by collaborators from Aberystwyth University and the University of Wales Trinity St David’s.
Some of the recommendations made within the report are now being actioned through the Ein Llais Ni project, the Translanguaging project, funded by the CEN project stream, and a collaborative ESRC/Welsh Government funded PhD studentship looking at effective bilingual teaching strategies employing the concepts of translanguaging.
You can read more in the report itself: Thomas, E.M., Lloyd-Williams, S. W., Parry, N.M., ap Gruffudd, G.S., Parry, D., Williams, G.M., Jones, D., Hughes, S., Evans R.A., and Brychan, A. (2021). Accessing Welsh during the Covid-19 pandemic: challenges and support for non-Welsh-speaking households. Cardiff: Welsh Government.
Grwp ymchwil CaDWaB (Cymraeg a Dwyieithrwydd/Welsh and Bilingualism) research group
The Welsh and Bilingualism (CaDWaB) education research group, led by Professor Enlli Thomas, conducts world-class research exploring issues relating to the acquisition, assessment, teaching and use of Welsh in immersion, bilingual and L2 educational contexts, in the HE sector and in adult language learning contexts. The group is comprised of a dynamic mix of academics, postgraduate students, and Research Project Support Officers working on a variety of research topics, including the following:
- Language-focused teaching pedagogies, including Translanguaging, Cymraeg bob Dydd, bilingual teaching in HE and classroom strategies employing the concepts of behavioural economics.
- Biliteracy, including the pedagogical impact and enjoyment of various types of bilingual texts and the application of learner analytic tools for the development of writing skills.
- Oracy, including the development of strategies to develop pupils’ oracy skills and willingness to communicate.
- Bilingualism, including the identification of bilingual language profiles, the relationship between bilingualism and self-esteem, and the potential costs and benefits of bilingualism.
- L1, 2L1 and L2 acquisition, including the acquisition of complex morphological structures under conditions of minority language input and the ultimate achievements expected of certain types of bilinguals.
- Language use and language attitudes, including engagement with Welsh at school and beyond, parental choices around linguistic medium of education for their child(ren).
- Psychometric assessment tools, including the development of bilingual and language-specific standardised assessment tools with meaningful bilingual norms and pupil and student choices around the linguistic medium of study.
- Technology and language, including the development and evaluation of Welsh language Aps for learners, the effectiveness of self-directed learning tools and corpus driven language learning tools.
The group is currently involved in research collaborations with colleagues from Universidad del Pais Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, the Basque Country; Dublin City University; Marino Institute, Dublin; University of Edinburgh; University College Cork, Ireland; Cardiff University; Swansea University; Aberystwyth University; University of Wales Trinity St David; and Umeå University, Sweden.
The group has previously worked collaboratively with colleagues in Psychology, Bangor University, York University, Toronto (Canada), Cardiff University, Swansea University, Lancaster University and Umeå University, Sweden on various research projects, including the following UKRI funded projects:
|Year||Investigators||Title||Funder / code||Amount awarded|
Gathercole (PI) & Thomas (co-PI)
Cognitive Effects of Bilingualism across the Lifespan
Clare (PI) Co-Is:
Bilingualism as a protective factor in age-related neurodegenerative disorders
Corpws Cenedlaethol Cymraeg Cyfoes (The National Corpus of Contemporary Welsh): A community driven approach to linguistic corpus construction
Addressing the literacy needs of bilinguals learning to read and write in languages with transparent orthographies