Centre for Research in Arts, Creativity and Literacy (CRACL)

CRACL Projects

Establishing a Midlands Oracy Education Group  

The ‘Midlands Innovation: Inclusive Transformation Theme’ research project, seeks to understand the varying experiences and expectations of spoken language in education and workplaces.  

The project’s definition of oracy includes both the development of spoken language skills and the use of spoken language as a strategy for collaboration and learning The notion of establishing a ‘Midlands Oracy Education group’ will also be investigated. 

Principal Investigators: Dr Rupert Knight and Dr Denise Sweeney
Research Associate: Dr Ben Scott
Funding body: Midlands Innovation
Further information: Project website


Knit and Matter: Material meaning making with amateur fibre craft

Although knitting is a popular everyday creative practice, its significance for meaning making in contemporary lives has not been fully recognised. The value of textile practice in meaning making has been overshadowed by narrow models of literacy which dominate formal education and public life and stereotypical views of amateur crafts have also meant that the significance of knitting as a creative resource for meaning making has been overlooked.  Recent research by Dr Susan Jones has sought to build on the rich conceptual connections between text and textile through a series of interviews with crafters. ‘Knit and Matter’ seeks to develop this further through a focus on material meaning making, though means which engage with the process of making itself. 

A lack of recognition of the role of everyday creative practice has wide-ranging symbolic and practical implications for individuals, communities and for wider society, and these implications need to be better understood. As we face global crises and consider our response to these, it is timely to seek better understanding of the role of everyday practice in addressing some of the most troubling questions we face, not least how we recognise and respect our material relationship with the world. 

Project duration: October 2022 to December 2023
Principal Investigators: Dr Susan Jones
Funding body: The British Academy
Further information: Project page


Sustainable School Leadership: Comparing Approaches to Training, Supply, Retention of Senior School Leaders Across the UK

Senior school leaders play an essential role in shaping educational experiences and outcomes for children, particularly in the most challenging communities. 

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were concerns that many existing leaders were leaving the profession early, while potential future leaders were often choosing not to apply for headship, due to the pressures and workloads involved. The pandemic has exacerbated these pressures, raising the risk of a headteacher succession crisis. Furthermore, there are challenges in terms diversity, with certain groups of leaders facing additional barriers to promotion, while schools in the most challenging contexts often face increased recruitment challenges. 

Policy makers across the UK have prioritised actions to enhance the supply, quality and diversity of senior school leaders. These approaches reflect a wider global trend towards defining and promoting a singular interpretation of 'effective' leadership, for example through national headteacher standards and training programmes. But these national frameworks can be problematic, given that individual, school and local needs differ widely. 

This study will develop a deeper understanding of approaches to the training, supply and retention of senior school leaders - in particular headteachers - for primary and secondary schools and will offer a vision for where and how these approaches can be enhanced.

Project duration: December 2022 to November 2025
Principal Investigators: Profesor Toby Greany and Professor Pat Thomson, University of Nottingham
Co-investigator: Dr Tom Perry, University of Warwick
Funding body: ESRC
Further information: Project page


Researching the Arts in Primary Schools (RAPs)

Are the arts in trouble in English schools? Enrolments in secondary school arts subjects have fallen, and time devoted to the arts in primary schools is apparently greatly reduced. Creative teaching and learning also appears to be very patchy, with frequent media reports of schools using very ‘traditional’ methods in all subjects and for all topics. RAPS will shed light on how these issues appear in primary schools.

Project duration: January 2021 to May 2024
Principal Investigator: Professor Pat Thomson
Funding body: Freelands Foundation
Further information: Project website


Crafting Literacy: Amateur Fibre Craft and Everyday Meaning-Making

Amateur fibre crafts, such as knitting and crochet, have long established, yet often tacit, meanings in everyday life. As these crafts surge in popularity, these meanings are changing. This research aims to develop a conceptual underpinning for understanding amateur fibre craft as a communicative practice through which individuals across diverse communities experience everyday life. It does this by developing a conceptualisation of craft as an everyday literacy practice, making the case that this will support a broader understanding of literacy, craft and creativity in policy and practice.

Project duration: 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2022
Principal Investigator: Susan Jones
Funding body: Leverhulme Trust
Research article in Journal of Material Culture: Making time: Knitting as temporal-material entanglement


Towards Ordinary Life – Developing the Model for Working with Refugee Pupils in Schools in Sweden

An innovative model for inclusive practice of refugee children has been developed through a small-scale collaboration between Nottingham and Lund Universities. Towards Ordinary Life builds on that prior work by developing a set of pedagogical tools for wider European application, initially in Sweden. It will support practitioners in schools, communities, and teacher education to establish transformative and inclusive approaches to refugee education.

Project duration: 1 March 2021 to 30 April 2023
Principal Investigator: Joanna McIntyre
Funding body: Open Society Foundations


The Hub for European Refugee Education (HERE)

In 2020, the Open Society Foundations generously agreed to provide funding to support the establishment of a Hub for European Refugee Education (HERE). The hub aims to review, collate, foster and disseminate research and knowledge and to bring together key stakeholders with academics and other experts in the field of refugee education. HERE will establish the knowledge base and curate published information about refugee education across Europe from academic and non-academic sources since 2015 in an online database, and establish the HERE network through online and related activity aimed at exchanging knowledge and developing research and practises on refugee education across Europe. The longer term aim is for HERE to become a sustainable Europe wide base for policy makers, researchers, agencies and relevant bodies supported by future funding bids. 

Project duration: 1 March 2021 to 30 March 2023
Principal Investigator: Joanna McIntyre
Research Team: Volker Wedekind (Co-Investigator), Jo-Anna Russon (Project Manager), Lucy Hunt (Research Assistant)
Funding body: Open Society Foundations


The Art of Belonging

Since 2015 cities across Europe have increasingly become destinations for young forced migrants. This project brings together city leaders, artists, and researchers to promote integration and increase social participation in communities affected by migration. Given that participation in the arts can enhance place-making and encourages social belonging, this project will develop, implement, and evaluate arts-programmes for migrants in case-study cities in England and Sweden. It will understand barriers to social integration amongst refugees and host communities, especially relating to gender This will lead to knowledge translation from this empirical study to develop sustainable solutions to social integration and citizenship.

Project duration: 1 March 2021 to 1 September 2022
Principal Investigator: Joanna McIntyre
Co-Investigator: Volker Wedekind
Funding body: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) / Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through JPI Urban Europe
Further information: Final report


Sorrell Foundation Pedagogy Report

Project duration: August 2021 to September 2022
Principal Investigator: Professor Pat Thomson
Funding body: Sorrell Foundation


Centre for Research in Arts, Creativity and Literacy

School of Education
University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

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