Acknowledgment: Thanks, Dr. Naomi Flynn, for her contribution on this news item.


Aniqa Leena, a former BA Primary Education student at the IoE, has won an ESRC-SeNSS collaborative PhD studentship award to study with Dr. Naomi Flynn and Professor Suzanne Graham. The collaborative project partners are Aspire Community Trust, a network of schools in Southampton, and they will provide the participant schools for this project  focused on ‘Raising EAL Learners’ Attainment’ (REAL). EAL pupils are those with English as an additional language. On returning to campus, Aniqa reflects:

“The IoE has always been special to me because it is where I completed my undergraduate teacher training degree. It was during my final year Advanced Teaching Project on improving EAL learners’ writing, with Dr. Flynn as my supervisor, that I  began to appreciate the power of uniting research with classroom practice. This stayed with me as I went on to teach at a Reading primary school, and later inspired me to return to academia and pursue a Master’s degree in education at the University of Oxford. I am so grateful for the opportunity to return to the IoE as a PhD researcher – and thoroughly look forward to building upon the knowledge, understanding and experiences I’ve gained since my trainee teacher days!”

The REAL project explores the effectiveness of training teachers to use the Enduring Principles of Learning; an evidence-informed pedagogy which has had success in the US. As a SeNSS Collaborative PhD student Aniqa’s project will be aligned with Dr. Flynn’s research using the Enduring Principles of Learning with schools where EAL pupil numbers are high. Aniqa will undertake a mixed methods study examining pupil outcomes, to complement Dr. Flynn’s qualitative work examining teachers’ practice. Commenting on Aniqa’ success at winning this highly prestigious funded PhD position, she said: “I can’t believe our luck in having Aniqa back from the classroom to study her PhD with us. She has a unique profile of excellence in practice and research insights for EAL learners. She is also multilingual and has all the people-person qualities needed for the messiness of classroom research”.

Aniqa hopes that this collaborative project between researchers and teachers will have direct, lasting impact on EAL pedagogy. Aniqa added that:

“I feel privileged to be working in partnership with schools and leading academics from the outset of this project. In undertaking the PhD, I  hope to contribute to the limited evidence base available on supporting EAL learners in UK classrooms, in addition to ensuring my research is of real, tangible use to school leaders, teachers and other professionals working closely with EAL pupils on a daily basis. I am thankful to the ESRC and SeNSS for offering a collaborative studentship which encourages wider research impact from day one of the PhD”.

Aniqa completed her BA in Primary Education degree at the University of Reading, specialising in English. She went on to teach upper Key Stage 2 pupils at one of the largest, linguistically diverse primary schools in the area, before moving on to complete a Master’s in Education at the University of Oxford. Aniqa’s PhD started in October 2020.