‘Marvellous Mums’

Building impact from the bottom to the top


What is the project?

  • A 10-week bespoke programme designed to promote greater self-confidence and targeted at women
  • Carried within the local community with a group of 15 mums
  • The project offered weekly sessions featuring goal setting, skills auditing as well as practical support, such as interview techniques. Our key goal though was self-reflection
  • A partnership between the University of Reading, the local community and international companies



What was the underpinning research?

  • Professor Carol Fuller’s research has focused on the role of confidence and attitudes as an internalised feature of self-identity and consequently aspirations and ambitions. Her research also explores the mechanisms by which these can be re-framed.
  • Promoting confidence and self-efficacy via a bottom up rather than top down approach i.e. to promote change from within the individual as opposed to simply telling that individual what they need to change is key.
  • Parents support the development of  the confidence and aspirations of their children, it is therefore important that developing these areas within parents are also included in initiatives that seek to develop in young people.
  • Dr. Maria Kambouri‘s research has focused on the importance of working together in partnerships to improve outcomes, identifying the key characteristics that can support the development of effective and meaningful partnerships.


“This group has helped me a lot more than I was expecting if I’m honest. I’m more confident to talk about what I want to do with my life, I do want to get my GCSE grades I need to get me in to teaching (nursery)…with this group I feel I can do it and I have more support to help me get where I want to be. I feel I can speak up for myself. It has helped my anxiety as I came and I met new people and before I wouldn’t do that, and talking about how people have come to where they are has helped me open my eye to know how to get where I want to get and know what to do, but with this group I do now.”



NEWS – Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos interviewed by BBC Radio Berkshire about her research and the ESRC Festival of Social Science

Dr. Maria Kambouri-Danos (Lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care) was recently interviewed by BBC Radio Berkshire about an event titled ‘Working with parents: A holistic approach to fostering partnerships’, which took place on Tuesday 6th November 2018. The event was co-organised by Professor Carol Fuller, and was part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, and funded by the ESRC.

When asked what this event set out to achieve, Dr Kambouri-Danos said: “What we’re really hoping to do is to share some of the learning we have gained from previous projects we have worked on [the Marvellous Mums project and the 4Ps project]. I have been working on these projects with another colleague from the University of Reading, Professor Carol Fuller, and our work has been really focusing on finding out more effective ways to work in partnership with parents specifically in supporting them to develop their confidence and self-efficacy. What we want to do through this event is to share these knowledge and this learning with other professionals who are working with parents. We are also hoping to get some of the mums who had participated in our programme to share their own their own experiences, challenges and benefits from taking part in this project.”

The event was a big success with more than 30 professionals who work closely with parents attending the event. Attendees were very interested to hear about the research and found the opportunity to talk to some of the mums that participated in the Marvellous Mums project exciting. Their feedback include: “Excellent work. Good learning experience! Very interesting and informative”, “Great session. Marvellous Mums sessions will be a great resource for the families and women” and “This is a great group doing wonderful work in the community that are changing women’s lives”.


Selected references

  • Fuller, C. (Feb., 2009). Sociology, gender and educational aspirations: Girl’s and their ambitions. London: Continuum.
  • Fuller, C., Powell, D., & Fox, S. (2016). The outdoors indoors: The role of outdoor residential experiences and students’ perceptions of confidence in school. Educational Review, 46(2), 232-247.
  • Fuller, C. (2016). The existential self: Challenging and renegotiating gender identity through higher education. Gender and Education, 66(2), 131-147.
  • Kambouri-Danos, M., Wilson, T., Pieridou, M., Quinn, S.F., & Jie, L. (in preparation). Working in partnership: A model to support the development of partnerships in early years education for practitioners and parents.



All our wonderful mums and community partners at the Whitely Community Development Association


Contact information

Professor Carol Fuller
Dr. Maria Danos