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Dr Liz Chamberlain

Profile summary

Professional biography

Dr. Liz Chamberlain (BEd, Brighton; MA, Sussex; EdD, Open) is a Senior Lecturer in Education at The Open University in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies.  She is Academic Director for the Leave No Girl Behind project, Strengthening Adolescent Girls' Education (SAGE), in partnership with the NGO, Plan International, working with 16,000 girls in Zimbabwe. She is past Director of the OU's Children's Research Centre (2017-2020).  

Liz has worked in Higher Education for 15 years, supporting both initial teaching students and practising teachers in addition to leading the PGCE (PT) course for a number of years. Liz’s specialism is Primary English, and for four years she was the Strategic Consultant on the DfE-funded Everybody Writes project, working closely with both the Book Trust and the National Literacy Trust. Liz is currently on the Executive Committee of UKFIET and is a member of INEE's Gender Task Team.  

Prior to working in HE, Liz was a practising teacher and taught in a number of primary schools in London, Devon, Southampton, and in Malaysia. She held a variety of positions including English Subject Leader, Leading Literacy Teacher, and Assistant Headteacher.  

Research interests

Liz’s internationally recognized research focuses on capturing what it means for children to be writers.  In particular, Liz’s main expertise is as a literacy case study researcher with a focus on developing writers’ experiences of writing both in and out-of-school.  In exploring children’s private worlds of out of school text creation, Liz seeks to evidence the full range of writing skills and practices children choose to select or reject from their backpacks of practice when asked to engage with school writing tasks.  Her recent publications, including Inspiring Writing in Primary Schools, articulates for teachers how to bridge the gap between the broader theoretical positioning of writing with the often narrow demands of the English curriculum. Her work within the OU's innovative Children's Research Centre, as its co-Director, highlights the potential of primary-aged children as competent researchers of their own lives.   She led on the first phase of the Brighton Rocks project; the outcomes of which saw children from a school in a low socio-economic area of Brighton sharing findings of their own research topics to PGCE students at the University of Brighton.  Most recently she led the Amensty International partnership and is currently working with the Children Heard initiative. 

Teaching interests

Liz brings together her substantial experience of primary education through her successful management for 3 years as Programme Leader for the Education Studies (Primary) qualifications (2015-2018). She led a team of 7 academics on the new Comparative Studies in Primary Education module (E309), which launched in October 2018, and is underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 Quality Education for All.  The innovations within the module were recognised by the university in 2019 when it won an Open University Teaching Excellence Award. She is passionate about ensuring that voices from across the primary education community are heard and that the module represents the very best primary practice at a local, national and global level.

She has co-authored and supported module design for a number of free OU courses including: TESSA: Making teacher education relevant for 21st century Africa; TESSA: Teaching early reading in Africa – with African Storybook; and, the Future Learn course Becoming a Teacher.

She authored the free OU course Global Perspectives on Primary Education and is the academic consultant on the new BBC programme Don't Exclude Me

Impact and engagement

Liz is Co-Chair of the Research and Learning sub-group for INEE's Gender Task Team.  She is a member of UKFIET's Executive Committee and is on UKLA's National Committe.  She has acted as a steering group member for literacy organisations including Book Trust and the National Literacy Trust. 

Liz is currently the English lesson study expert for University of Cambridge Primary School and its school cluster.  She is passionate about working alongside teachers on writing pedagogy and improving children's literacy outcomes.  She leads workshops at local and national events.  

She contributed to the NLT's annual survey: Young people's writing: Attitudes, behaviour and the role of technology. (2009) London, NLT & Booktrust. 

External collaborations

She is currently on the Executive Committee of UKFIET.  Liz is a long-time consultant for the National Literacy Trust, sharing her expertise in writing to support high profile projects including the recently relaunched Everybody Writes project (2020). Liz was also a book judge for the Book Trust's annual Read for My School project and a steering group member for The Write Book project.  

Liz has been external examiner for a number of HEIs including University of Exeter, University of Cambridge, London South Bank and is the current External Examiner for University of Brighton's PGCE programme. 

In 2016, Liz established a Primary Advisory Group that brings together stakeholders with an interest in primary education in order to advise and contribute to qualification design and development, and includes: the Eden Project; the National Literacy Trust; University of Winchester; University of Greenwich; the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust; the Natural History Museum; St Mary’s University College, Belfast; and, Voluntary Services Overseas. 

Liz volunteers for charities including CARE International and Link Ethiopia, regularly contributing educational consultant advice on support materials for teachers.  

Liz launched UKLA's International Ambassador scheme and currently works alongside colleagues on literacy projects in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US.  


Ugandan Teachers Epistemological Beliefs and Child-Led Research: Implications for Developing Inclusive Educational Practice (2021)
Sheehy, Kieron; Kasule, George Wilson and Chamberlain, Liz
International Journal of Disability, Development and Education. ((Early Access))

Literacy in Lockdown: Learning and Teaching During COVID‐19 School Closures (2020)
Chamberlain, Liz; Lacina, Jan; Bintz, William P.; Jimerson, Jo Beth; Payne, Kim and Zingale, Remy
The Reading Teacher, 74(3) (pp. 243-253)

Representing children’s rights from discussion through to illustration and interpretation (2019-05-09)
Chamberlain, Liz and Cooper, Victoria
Research Intelligence(139) (pp. 13-14)

Places, spaces and local customs: honouring the private worlds of out-of-school text creation (2019-01-18)
Chamberlain, Liz
Literacy, 53(1) (pp. 39-45)

Pedagogy for reading for pleasure in low socio-economic primary schools: beyond ‘pedagogy of poverty’? (2018-05-08)
Hempel-Jorgensen, Amelia; Cremin, Teresa; Harris, Diane and Chamberlain, Liz
Literacy, 52(2) (pp. 86-94)

Chatterbooks: creating a culture of reading for pleasure (2016-09-16)
Chamberlain, Liz
English 4 - 11

Choosing The Write Book (2016-04)
Chamberlain, Liz
Primary First (pp. 5-10)

[Book Review] Elborn, S. (2015) Handbook of Teaching Early Reading: more than phonics Leicester: UKLA. ISBN: 13:978–1–897638–98–9 (2016-04)
Chamberlain, Liz
Literacy, 50(2) (p 110)

Literacy in lockdown: learning and teaching in COVID-19 school closures
Chamberlain, Liz; Lacina, Jan; Bintz, William P.; Jimerson, JoBeth; Payne, Kim and Zingale, Remy
The Reading Teacher ((In press))

Inspiring Writing in Primary School (2019-01)
Chamberlain, Liz
ISBN : 1526460181 | Publisher : Learning Matters | Published : Exeter

Inspiring Writing in Primary Schools (2017-04-15)
Chamberlain, Liz
ISBN : 9781925132359 | Publisher : Primary English Teaching Association Australia | Published : Sydney, Australia

Teaching Writing Effectively: Reviewing Practice (2nd edition) (2016-12-01)
Bearne, Eve; Chamberlain, Liz; Cremin, Teresa and Mottram, Marilyn
Ideas in practice
ISBN : 9781910543764 | Publisher : UKLA | Published : Leicester

Jumpstart! Apps: Creative learning, ideas and activities for ages 7-11 (2016-08)
Kurcikova, Natalia; Audain, Jon and Chamberlain, Liz
ISBN : 978-1138940161 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Inspiring Writing in Primary Schools (2016-06-11)
Chamberlain, Liz
ISBN : 978-1473916104 | Publisher : Sage Publications | Published : Exeter

Teaching Writing Effectively: Reviewing Practice (2011)
Bearne, Eve; Chamberlain, Liz; Cremin, Teresa and Mottram, Marilyn
ISBN : 9781897638583 | Publisher : UKLA | Published : Leicester

Congratulations, you’re the English subject leader! (2018-10-23)
Baldwin, Lisa and Chamberlain, Liz
In: Baldwin, Lisa ed. Leading English in the Primary School: A Subject Leader's Guide (pp. 5-21)
ISBN : 9781138304918 | Publisher : Routledge

Pedagogical choices in primary English (2018-10-23)
Chamberlain, Liz
In: Baldwin, Lisa ed. Leading English in the Primary School: A Subject Leader's Guide (pp. 82-94)
ISBN : 978-1-138-30491-8 | Publisher : Routledge

Investigating the aims, values and purposes of primary education: The case of the Cambridge Primary Review (2018-03-14)
Chamberlain, Liz and McDonald, Roger
In: Cremin, Teresa and Burnett, Cathy eds. Learning to Teach in the Primary School (pp. 231-245)
ISBN : 9781315453729 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

The Power of Story (2017-07-16)
Chamberlain, Liz and Harrett, Jacqueline
In: Moyles, Janet; Georgeson, Jan and Payler, Jane eds. Beginning Teaching, Beginning Learning in Early Years and Primary Education (5th edition) (pp. 180-190)
ISBN : 978-0-33-522696-2 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : London

Creativity and literacy (2014-12)
Chamberlain, Liz
In: Wilson, Anthony ed. Creativity in Primary Education (3rd ed). Achieving QTS (pp. 85-96)
ISBN : 9781446280645 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London

The Power of Story (2011-08-01)
Chamberlain, Liz and Harrett, Jacqueline
In: Moyles, Janet; Georgeson, Jan and Payler, Jane eds. Beginning Learning, Beginning Teaching: In Early Years and Primary Education (4th ed) (pp. 191-200)
ISBN : 978-0-33-522131-8 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : Maidenhead

Writing (2011)
Chamberlain, Liz
In: Cox, Robyn ed. Primary English Teaching: An Introduction to Language, Literacy and Learning (pp. 37-50)
ISBN : 9781446210109 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London

Learning and Teaching Around the World: Comparative and International Studies in Primary Education (2018-06)
Safford, Kimberly and Chamberlain, Liz eds.
ISBN : 978-1-138-48521-1 | Publisher : Routledge and the Open University | Published : Oxford

Inclusive ways of knowing? Problematising the relationship between research and the design of inclusive education (2019-10-03)
Buckler, Alison; Mkwananzi, Faith; Chamberlain, Liz and Dean, Caroline
In : 2019 UKFIET Conference (17-19 Sep 2019, Oxford)

Learning Assistants in Sierra Leone: model, innovation, and impact (2019-09-12)
Chamberlain, Liz and Safford, Kimberly
In : 9th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning - Innovations for Quality Education and Lifelong Learning (PCF9) (09-13 Sep 2019, Edinburgh)

Supporting Professional Development Through MOOCs: the TESSA Experience (2019)
Stutchbury, Kris; Chamberlain, Liz and Amos, Sandra
In : Pan Commonwealth Forum 9 (PCF9) (9-12 Sep 2019, Edinburgh, UK)

Passageways of practice: punching through domain boundaries (2016-12)
Chamberlain, Liz
In : LRA Conference: Mobilising Literacy Research for Social Transformation (30 Nov - 3 Dec 2016, Nashville, Tennessee)

Passageways of practice: punching through domain boundaries (2016-07-09)
Chamberlain, Liz
In : UKLA 52nd International Conference: Literacy, Equality and Diversity: Bringing voices together (8-10 Jul 2016, Bristol, UK)

Exploring teachers' subject knowledge for teaching English. (2014-07-07)
Chamberlain, Liz; Flynn, Naomi and Daniel, Alastair
In : UKLA International Conference. 50 Years of Literacy: Continuity and Change (4-6 Jul 2014, Brighton)

Where are we now in our approaches to the teaching of writing? (2010)
Chamberlain, Liz
In : UKLA 46th International Conference. The Changing Face of Literacy: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (9-11 Jul 2010, Winchester)

Coronavirus and my life: What children say (2021-01-20)
Chamberlain, Liz; Karlsen, May Lene; Sinitsky, Gail; Bennett, Stephanie; Plowright, Linda and Vackova, Petra
Children's Research Centre, Milton Keynes.

Opportunities missed: Then the rains came down and washed the writing away (2020-05-07)
Chamberlain, Liz
British Educational Research Association

Remedying the impact of school closures: be kind, thank a teacher (2020-05)
Chamberlain, Liz
OpenLearn, Milton Keynes.

Supporting the teaching of early reading: An evaluation of the TESSA: Teaching Early Reading with African Storybook Badged Online Course (BOC) (2020-04)
Stutchbury, Kris; Chamberlain, Liz and Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy
The Open University, Milton Keynes.

Findings from research: Capturing children and young people's views on rights (2020-01)
Chamberlain, Liz
Journal of Innovate Teaching School Partnership, Milton Keynes.

Representing children's rights from discussion through to illustration and interpretation (2019-11)
Chamberlain, Liz; Afroze, Jiniya; Cooper, Victoria and Collins, Trevor
The Open University Children’s Research Centre and Amnesty UK International, Milton Keynes.

Understanding boys (dis)engagement with reading for pleasure: Project findings (2017)
Hempel-Jorgensen, Amelia; Cremin, Teresa; Harris, Diane and Chamberlain, Liz
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

A review of Link Ethiopia's sponsorship programme: learning from small stories (2016-08-15)
Chamberlain, Liz
Link Ethiopia