Ten things you might not know about Brunel University’s Education department

If you’ve read a previous post about our annual public lecture (given this year by John Cridland (former Director General of the CBI), you will be familiar with some of the history of Brunel as an institution. It’s what the British call a ‘plate-glass’ university (courtesy of Michael Beloff) set up in the 1960s (Brunel is 50 next year) to expand access to higher education. Like Sussex, Surrey, Bath, UEA, York, etc., it came out of the recommendations of the Robbins Report and was intended to be a new type of public university, an outward looking higher education institution and, in Brunel’s case, one with a technological focus. Like some of the other plate-glass universities, it grew out of predecessor institutions and this was Brunel College in Acton, for Brunel.

Education was one of the first departments to be opened at the new Brunel University in 1966 but, over the years, got somewhat lost in the expansion of the STEM areas and then also submerged in the incorporation of the West London Institute in the 1990s and the establishment of a School of Sport and Education in the mid-2000s. The sports people with their exercise bikes, biomechanics labs and respiration booths took centre stage.

It’s coming up to three years (shy of 3 months) since I joined Brunel and it is quite amazing to look back at how things have changed. We became our own department, of course, as a result of the major restructuring in summer 2014 but the work started long before then. And it’s down to the hard work of Brunel academics, administrators and professional staff as well as the schools we work with that things have changed quite so much. No magic; just hard work. From people who really care about what they do.

We are about to start using the following ‘Ten things’ in our marketing and recruitment activity as we know that many people won’t have heard of us unless they live nearby or are an aficionado or, like me, an HE nerd. So here goes;

1. We’ve gone from 29th to 10th place in the UK as an Education department – Complete University Guide 2016

2. We were the most improved Education department in the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework according to the proportions of 3* and 4* work and impact

3. Both primary and secondary PGCEs are graded as OUTSTANDING under rigorous 2015 Ofsted framework

4. Over 70% of our academic staff were entered in 2014 REF compared to 23% national average

5. We have fully recruited to all our secondary science PGCEs – including Physics. In fact, we’re over in some areas!

6.  Our NSS scores for our BA are outstanding and above the sector in all but one element. Top in UK in staff enthusiasm! And consistently brilliant now for 3 years

7. Our new part-time EdD for senior education professionals – coached to completion on a cohort model – begins in 2016

8. We will offer an innovative MSci in Mathematics and Computer Science as initial qualifications for secondary teachers in 2017

9. We are partner in a proposed ESRC doctoral training centre with Oxford University and the Open University

10. One of our predecessor colleges – Borough Road – was the first teacher education college in the British Commonwealth (1798) and, like Borough Road and Maria Grey College (another predecessor), we think the academic study of education is part of the development of professional practitioners

Not bad, really. And we have sticks of rock with ‘Teachers Rock’ running through them. What more could you ask for?! Come to the Train to Teach event at Hove Park School in Hove (where else) tonight and you can collect a free stick of rock!