Evaluation of the 2014 School Library Pack

Two ESRI researchers, Sarah McNicol (PI) and James Duggan (Co-I) have recently completed an evaluation of the Book Trust’s School Library Pack. The evaluation included 21 exploratory interviews with librarians (or other staff responsible for administering the School Library Pack) from a range of schools which have used the School Library Pack, and 6 case studies involving staff interviews, student focus groups, observation of activities and other data as appropriate. The report available to read or download below includes recommendations for the Book Trust and librarians.

School librarians (or other staff member with responsibility for the library) should consider:

    • Sharing ideas for using the School Library Pack, and promoting reading for pleasure more generally, for example, at local networking meetings or online
    • Using the School Library Pack to support transition, for example, through running joint activities with primary feeder schools
    • Stimulating wider interest throughout the school through celebrating activities carried out with the School Library Pack (e.g. presentation assembly, award ceremony)
    • Encouraging students to use the multiple copies to read in friendship groups (especially if it is not possible to organise a formal reading group in the school)
    • Planning a celebration activity around the opening of the School Library Pack to generate interest
    • Sharing the School Library Pack books with teachers
    • Reflecting on the case studies for ideas and inspiration on alternative ways to make use of the School Library Pack.

Download (PDF, 1.85MB)

James Duggan


Hulme Treasure HuntYou are invited to the Hulme Treasure Hunt! 

On Sunday 25th October we’ll be running a treasure hunt, starting and finishing at Hulme Garden Centre. We’ve bought books from the Waterstone’s ‘buy books for Syria‘ campaign. Those that complete the hunt will get a book and the money will go to help refugees. There’s also free cake and drinks (T&Cs apply)! The event will start at 11 and finish at 4 but it should only take 30 minutes or so to finish the hunt.

The treasure hunt will be using ActionBound, an app to make digital scavenger hunts, you can download it from the App Store or on Google Play. Someone in your group will need to have a smart phone.

Hulme Garden Centre is running a pumpkin carving event and there’s lots of other activities.

James Duggan

This project is the culmination of a youth self-organisation project. You can read more about the ‘Design Research Get Lost’ project here.

Co-operative Academies: Tensions and Possibilities research talk

PhD candidate Jo Dennis gave an update on her research into co-operative Academy schools at the latest instalment of lunchtime session Holyoake House Hour.

Jo is undertaking a doctoral studentship at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research concerns the expansion of the co-operative schools model, which was developed by the Co-operative College in 2008 and has grown to a network of more than 800 schools across England. Initially based on the co-operative Trust model, where schools continue to receive funding directly from their local education authority but seek greater stakeholder engagement in the running of the school, the sector expanded to encompass co-operative Academies in 2010. Academies are independent state schools which are taken out of local authority control and receive funding directly from the government. They are often driven by rhetoric such as ‘innovation’ and ‘autonomy’.

Jo reminded colleagues from the Co-operative College of the background to the co-operative Academies model. Though co-operative schools had been presented as an alternative to government ambitions to turn schools into Academies, the co-operative Academies model was developed as a necessary response to the increasing trend for schools to become Academies. Jo explained that Academies remain a “highly contested model”, with low levels of support among education professionals and a high level of centralisation that “raises questions for democracy”. Although there are also tensions within the co-operative Academy model, she says, there is also “masses of possibility”, which is supported by people working in schools.

In the course of her research Jo has visited a range of co-operative Academy schools in order to understand the motivations, expectations and experiences of stakeholders such as staff and students. She has sought to find out how co-operative practice is embedded in schools, which have already got long histories and embedded interests, and to explore the challenges presented by the process of becoming a co-operative school. Jo chose schools which were deemed to be performing (by external standards, such as Ofsted) at differing levels, aiming to go beyond the small number of ‘flagship’ schools which receive most attention. This raised questions about how school success is measured, and which factors should be taken into account when judging schools to be ‘successful’ or ‘failing’. A school can be unsuccessful by narrow Ofsted criteria such as exam pass-rates, but be an example of successful co-operative practice by, for example, encouraging student voice and maintaining strong links with its wider area. Jo’s PhD research makes use of qualitative methods such as case studies, interviews, observation and photos. It also involves document reviews and thematic analysis around the key themes of engagement, community, structures, pedagogy and development.

Jo argued that, despite the challenges, co-operative Academies are a “very, very exciting, positive prospect for people who work in education”, due to a “values-driven approach” that “is what schools, professionals and school leaders want”. She commented: “As educational professional I think it is vital that values-based alternatives are explored, as that’s how schools work.”

The session also enabled College staff to feed in with observations from their own experiences of working with co-operative schools. Julie Thorpe, Lead: School Programmes and Digital Learning, commented: “The rules of the game have changed several times over the past ten years, and the goal posts have changed as to what constitutes success or failure. However, Academies are here to stay, and co-operative Academies can change the way success is measured, for example by looking at what type of people schools turn out at the end of their school experience.”

Dr Cilla Ross, the College’s Vice Principal: Education and Research, commented: ““Co-operative schools are a critical part of the College’s work and it is incredible to have such a critical lense with which to view co-operative Academy schools. It is really valuable for colleagues in the College, who work with and hear about co-operative schools all the time, to have that understanding of key issues around co-operative schools and models.”


This was originally posted on the Co-operative College’s School.Coop blog.

Check out @EdLabMMU

The Faculty of Education has launched @EdLabMMU! The project is based on 3 interlinked ideas:

Doing Good Stuff

By doing good stuff based upon the interests of students and the needs of the community, EdLab encourages students to enrich the experiences of learners, youth and communities through the opportunities present in informal spaces.

Exploring Innovation in Education

EdLab enables students to explore and create innovation in education through ‘real life’ challenges posed by partner groups. This is supported by workshop spaces, inspiring talks, project development with outside partners and reflective practice.

Enhancing Employability

EdLab is a creative space in which students can develop employment skills by engaging with ‘real world’ educational experiences driven by their passions.

@EdLabMMU works by providing students with inspirational talks and great opportunities to respond to ‘challenges’ to contribute to great projects in-and-around Hulme. For example:


Support and Improve Manchester’s Code Clubs

 Code Club builds a community of volunteers who share their passion for digital making with children and teachers across the UK.

We support our volunteers, who inspire the next generation by running weekly Code Clubs in their local area.

Design Fiction Workshop – @EdLabMMU


2nd Floor Resource Centre MMU Brooks Building
M15 6GX Manchester
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 2:30 PMOpen to all – Please reserve tickets here. 
Design fiction is part science-fiction and part science-fact and it allows you to develop new ideas and then prototype them in storyworlds. We’ll be creating design fictions to explore how MMU can support the Manchester Hive in providing young people in Manchester with exciting opportunities to develop the digital skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the future.

What if we gave every young person in Manchester a robot with a virus and they had to learn to re-programme it in order to save the robot’s life? Would that work? Would it be too expensive? Would the young person be traumatised if they failed? Would it lead to back-of-the-playground robot wars competitions? These are the kinds of scenarios you can play out through design fictions but in the end we think through bigger questions such as what’s it like to be young in a changing world, what do we owe children, how might we build stronger communities?
Open to all – Please reserve tickets here. 

If you’d like more information please contact…

j.duggan@mmu.ac.uk |+44(0)161 247 2083 | @dugganjr

Keynote and Seminar Talks from @ESRI_mmu #SIQR 2015

The 4th Summer Institute in Qualitative Research (SIQR) hosted by ESRI in July 2015 was a fantastic success. With 9 internationally renowned keynote speakers from UK, USA and Canada, intellectually challenging workshops, diverse delegate-led sessions and a stimulating day of arts-based provocations, the event was inspiring.

You can view videos of the keynote presentations below. For more information about the conference and talks please visit the SIQR website

Ecstatic Corona: From Ethnography to Art Documentation

Patricia Clough – CUNY Graduate Center

For the past seven years, Patricia Clough has been returning to the place where she grew up in Corona Queens, NY. Her visits to Corona have resulted in the creation of a performance group who have created and perform a multimedia production called Ecstatic Corona. Focusing on the process of creating Ecstatic Corona, Clough addresses her own development from ethnographic researcher to critical theorist to co-producer of art documentation.

Against Proper Objects: Toward the Diversely Qualitative

Patti Lather’s – The Ohio State University

This paper looks at the present conjuncture of qualitative research via a genealogy of how I have looked at it over the years. It begins with a memoir of what ushered me into my own thinking, presents various mappings of the field and concludes with a meditation on what the post-qualitative might be made to mean. Its particular interests are to make intelligible our own framings, to challenge the idealizations of the Enlightenment subject and to rethink praxis by unpacking the methodology of a variety of empirical projects. Its goal is to do so in a way that foregrounds the proliferations, migrations, and circulations of what is always on the move in a way that takes incommensurability seriously.

Number sense, calculating matter, and immanence

ELIZABETH DE FREITAS – Adelphi University/ MMU

This presentation explores the implications of new materialist philosophies that re-assemble the quantitative with the qualitative. I focus on how human and non-human matter are newly commingled in current approaches to number sense. I discuss philosophies of immanence that decenter the phenomenological subject and relate this to recent neurocognitive research on number sense. I draw principally from the work of Gilles Deleuze, Claire Colebrook and Vicky Kirby. This paper asks: What is the role of number and calculation in a philosophy of immanence? My aim is to imagine a calculating matter and a non-human number sense, keeping in mind that this imaginary offers both an image of dystopic societies of control, but also vitalist openings onto new recombinant mixtures of number and matter.

Bridging Sociology and Psychoanalysis in Qualitative Analysis: Mixing Bourdieu and Psychoanalytical Approaches

Professor Diane Reay – Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge

Sociology and psychoanalysis should unite their strengths (but to do so they would need to overcome their prejudices against each other) to analyze the genesis of investment in a field of social relations.(Bourdieu, 2000: pp 198-199)

It is this fusion of psychoanalytic insights with sociological understandings that I suggest has the potential to be analytically generative. My own research focus is social inequalities, and in this paper I attempt to bring together Bourdieu and a range of psychoanalytic approaches in order to develop richer understandings of how, in particular, class inequalities are lived, felt, contested and accepted in contemporary Britain.

The paper explores the potential of habitus to provide a window on the psychosocial. It works with a notion of psychosocial study as inquiry into the mutual constitution of the individual and the social relations within which they are enmeshed. At the same time it attempts to deepen and enrich notions of habitus. Although the strong focus on agency and structure has overshadowed the role of emotions and the emotional life of individuals within conceptualisations of habitus in Bourdieu’s work, the paper argue that there are strong links between the psychosocial and Bourdieu’s concept of habitus. Drawing on empirical data on the affective aspects of living in an unequal society, the paper seeks to develop a psychosocial understanding of habitus that allows for a better and richer understanding of how the exterior – wider social structures – are experienced and mediated by the interior, the psyche.

Propositions of Activation for Research in Education

Stephanie Springgay – OISE – University of Toronto

Disciplinary models of research shape knowledge as static, fixed and organized according to pre-formed categories, where the conditions of research are posited before the exploration or experimentation. This results in “stultifying its potential and relegating it to that which already fits within pre-existing schemata of knowledge” (Manning, 2014, p. 4). We must, Manning contends, find ways of activating thought that is experienced rather than known, and where experience accounts for ‘more than human’ encounters. If research is to loosen its ties to humanist orientations it needs to untether itself from pre-programmed methods and consider techniques that are immanent to its own research design, disrupting the idea that the human/self exists prior to the act of research. I borrow the concept of ‘techniques’ from Erin Manning who describes techniques as a thinking-in-movement. Techniques are ways of engaging and expressing activities, such as research. They are not tools or methods by which research is defined. Techniques are processual; they are emergent and they constantly reinvent themselves. Entering into the diverse conversation about new materialism, posthumanism and Deleuzian methodologies this paper will put forth propositions of activation in order to bring matter to the forefront of educational research. In doing so I will examine a multi-site school-based research project.

Working at the Wonder: Collaborative Writing as Method of Inquiry 

Jonathan Wyatt – University of Edinburgh and Ken Gale – Plymouth University

For ten years, both together and with others, we have been inquiring into, with and through collaborative writing. From the outset we have been enchanted by Deleuze, drawn by the disruptive, creative, revolutionary world he and his collaborators offer us; and in more recent years, we have been captivated by posthumanism and its affirmation, echoing and extension of, Deleuzian theorizing as practice. We’ve wondered, with Deleuze, Barad, St. Pierre, Jackson and Mazzei and many others: where can collaborative writing take us? What will we find? What will we create? How does collaborative writing take us somewhere different? How do we take collaborative writing differently? What do we mean by the terms that trip so easily from our lips and fingers as we write, those easy, everyday signifiers such as ‘we’ and ‘I’? What do they mean to us? We wonder about the ‘we’ that purports to ask these questions. As an approach to inquiry, collaborative writing is entangled, intertwined and enmeshed. In seeing it as constantly processual, it is always changing, contested and open to problematisation within the context of post-qualitative inquiry.

In this keynote address we wish, through collaborative writing as inquiry, to push at collaborative writing, to take it to task, to hold it up for examination, and to wonder. Yes, we will wonder, with each other, with Deleuze, and with our use of multiple forms of posthumanist theorising in mind: what is im/possible?

Storying the self in forbidden spaces: using Holland and Bakhtin to explore identity and agency

Yvette Solomon (ESRI, MMU) 

Much of my research has focussed on understanding how the apparent ‘masculinity’ of mathematics excludes women, and the ways in which some women nonetheless occupy this forbidden space. Some have argued that they must do ‘identity work’ in order to achieve what is often an uneasy presence, while others have commented on the protective function of invisibility. In this paper I discuss the theoretical and methodological issues in exploring identity and agency within women’s narratives of choosing and doing mathematics. Taking as my starting point Mikhail Bakhtin’s emphasis on the dialogic space between interlocutors, I will illustrate how an awareness of the addressivity and otherness of utterances, and of the role of genre and heteroglossia in self-authoring, can be used in interview analysis to gain insight into women’s narratives of self as mathematicians and mathematics learners. Emphasising the production of identity in practice, I will draw on Dorothy Holland’s work on hybridity and worldmaking to examine how we might then understand agency and challenge in the established world of mathematics.

Prodigious performances, posthuman subjectivities: viral videos of young children imitating adult performers 

Maggie MacLure (ESRI, MMU) 

I explore the question of post-human subjectivities through a focus on viral videos of young children ‘imitating’ popular musicians and singers. The affective power of these child performances is evident in both in their mass appeal, and in anxious responses that associate them with animals, machines and monsters – parrots, puppets, automata. Such responses point to the more-than-human affinities that precede and accompany the ‘autonomous’ human subject. The ‘powerful body’ of the prodigious child (de Mink, 2011) challenges the binary architecture of humanist prerogative: adult/child, nature/culture, imitation/creativity, fake/authentic, originality/reproduction, innocence/corruption. I ask who/what speaks in and through these imitative performances, and suggest that they are not degraded, failed or ’empty’ performance of the less-than-human, but the expression of affective capacities that are always already more-than-human.

Putting Theory to Work: Workshops

Deleuze & Guattari at work

Ken Gale, Plymouth University
Jonathan Wyatt, The University of Edinburgh
Josie Gabi, MMU
Linda Knight, Queensland University of Technology
Eileen Honan, University of Queensland
Mary Dixon, Deakin University
Susanne Ganon, University of Western Sydney

Through round table discussion and examples of research studies, panel members will explore how the theories and concepts of Deleuze, and Deleuze & Guattari are put to work in their art, education and other research practices.


From Lacan to Barad: the body and material entanglements 

Margaret Somerville (University of Western Syndney, Australia) & Sue Collins (Monash University, Australia)

In this workshop we explore the theoretical trajectory from Freud and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory through feminist philosopher Elizabeth Grosz, to the new materialisms emerging from philosopher of physics, Karen Barad. Grosz’s theorizing of the relationship between the body and language culminates in Chaos Territory Art(Grosz, 2008), closely aligned with new materialism. The new materialist turn, however, has drawn heavily on Barad’s ‘entanglement’ of bodies and matter in Meeting the Universe Halfway(Barad, 2007). We explore the application of these ideas in dialogue, initially with each other and then with the participants. Margaret follows her research trajectory from her early writing in Body/landscape journals to recent explorations of material entanglements in young children’s intra-actions with the more-than-human world. Sue begins with the proposition that if familial relations provide the basis for the theorisation and practice of psychoanalytic theory, then materiality also provides the substance. We consider the implications of these theoretical trajectories for the relations between bodies, language, and materialities in an open dialogue with participants, proposing that generating new knowledge involves a creative process of renewal between theorist and researcher, drawing on our own experience of working together as writer and editor, supervisor and doctoral student.


Alchemy/Schmalchemy – A performative ‘live art’ installation 

Geoff Bright, Walt Shaw, & Gillian Whiteley

Geoff, Walt and Gillian have been working since 2009 on this multimedia project, with a strong emphasis not only on sonic improvisation but also on the underlying philosophical concepts and ideas, in particular, the notion of ‘becoming’. They operate with a set of practices and activities which deploy the process of alchemy and schmalchemy.

The Pregnant Box – A presentation of artefacts from the Pregnant Box 

Catherine Conlon, Evangelia Rigaki, & W.N. Herbert

Inquiring into women who are concealing a pregnancy, commissioned qualitative research that combines post-humanist theories of the subject with critiques of qualitative ontology leaves data that resembles ‘ruins’. This project puts those ‘ruins’ to work with creative arts practice. Through the medium of Opera it generates a ‘sonic r e- enactment’ of the data. ‘The Pregnant Box’ was performed in September 2014 in Trinity College Dublin. It was a series of Miniature Operas for singer and flautist performed for one audience member at a time in a specially constructed confession box while outside a wandering choir performed choral pieces.

Moving with Affective Methodologies

Jên Angharad, Professor Emma Renold, & Professor Gabrielle Ivinson

Inspired by the work of Erin Manning we offer two films: “Light Moves” and “Dance of the not-yet”. Each film enables us to glimpse how the body, entangled in objects, landscape, movement and light align, intra-act and call our participants and us into the world. Led by Jên Anghared, the workshop then opens up to encourage participants to think with the body and affect, and how ‘movement moves’ and composes us.

Rachel Holmes