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First Appointment success

The annual First Appointments Conference for final year teacher training trainees took place on 6 January.  Mikeala Morgans, Principal Lecturer: Primary and Secondary Initial Teacher Training Lead, writes about the conference.

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Following last year’s conference, we used ‘You Said, We Did’ feedback to further develop the event.  Close to 400 Primary and Secondary trainees attended what was an enjoyable and highly informative event.

We were delighted to be joined by two leading educationalists – Andy Byers, Headteacher of Framwellgate School, and Les Walton CBE, Chair of the Association of Education Advisors - who delivered fantastic keynote opening and closing speeches.

Andy opened the conference by delivering a highly informative session entitled ‘Your First Appointment: What Headteachers are really looking for.’  Trainees learned some invaluable top tips to support them through the application and interview process of applying for their first posts.  They were also given an insight into the ways in which schools work and how Senior Leadership Teams organise recruitment and support of NQTs and early career teachers.

Throughout the course of the conference, trainees were given insights into the experience and expertise of University staff; including a super session by Melanie Tyson from Sunderland Futures pointing out how trainees can get further support with written applications and interview techniques amongst other things.

Gareth Garston from Vision for Education spoke about ‘Becoming an NQT’ and gave some great advice on the ways trainees should present themselves both through writing and attending a school.  He also introduced the CARS (Creating a Research Space) model, which will be of great benefit when submitting effective applications. 

An increasing number of trainees on ITT programmes make the decision to remain at the University of Sunderland for further study.  Our very own Dr Kim Gilligan gave superb presentation focusing on how our final year trainees have been readied for postgraduate and further study and the routes and support we can offer them moving forward.

We were very privileged that Les Walton CBE agreed to close our conference.  His keynote speech went down a storm!  Les spoke to the trainees about his personal reflections on education and linked these tightly not only to the current educational landscape, but also to how early career teachers should consider themselves.  His presentation was highly entertaining and caused much laughter and positivity whilst really encouraging our final year trainees to reflect on how children learn and assimilate knowledge.  Les’s key message was for our trainees to continue reflecting on their own practice as they move into the next stage of their teaching careers to support and understand their learners.

In the afternoon, trainees were able to visit a number of stalls from a range of exhibitors including local authorities, supply agencies and education support organisations. 

The conference was a superb event and was received professionally and positively by the trainees who attended: the team can already see the impact of it in the applications and successful job interviews that have come through since.


Celebrating nursing

The official launch of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 has taken place at the House of Lords, with representatives from the University.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honour of the bicentenary of the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

Dr John Unsworth, Head of Learning and Teaching Engagement at Sunderland and a national nursing leader, attended the launch to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives, as well as highlight the challenges of shortages within the profession.

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Dr John Unsworth with Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer, NHS England

The University of Sunderland regionally is rising to the challenge through innovative new provision across a range of fields including nursing apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship programme, developed in partnership with NHS trusts across the North East, aims to help the NHS save millions of pounds by tackling nursing staff shortages in the region.

Dr Unsworth, who is chair of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, a charity that works to improve the nursing care of people in their own homes, was invited to the House of Lords by Baroness Mary Watkins of Tavistock, an emeritus professor of nursing at Plymouth University and cross bench member of the Lords, who hosted the reception.

Dr Unsworth said: “I was delighted to have been involved in the official launch of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, 2020. This is an important and unique opportunity for us to showcase the extraordinary contribution nurses make to the lives of people and our communities every day.”

The 2020 celebration will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to commend the work of the 20 million nurses and midwives globally. It is also an opportunity to highlight the estimated shortfall of nine million nurses by 2030, across the world.

Dr Unsworth explained: “In the UK the NHS has more than 43,000 nursing vacancies with other nursing posts in the independent sector and social care masking the true scale of shortages. Tackling vacancies requires investment in retention and an increase in the numbers of nurses training.

“The University of Sunderland locally has risen to this challenge developing innovative new provision across a range of nursing fields including nursing apprenticeships.”

Sue Brent, Head of the Sunderland School of Nursing, added: “I’m delighted our university is supporting this milestone in the history of these two professions which are so invaluable to people’s health everywhere.

“The staff, students and NHS partners we work with have a real passion for what they do and we are wholly committed to delivering high quality, job-ready graduates who will make a real difference to patient care.

“As our school continues to grow, we are looking forward to continuing the exciting developments with our students and partner Trusts over the coming years.”

For more information about Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020, click HERE

Ambassadors Wanted

If you want to get ahead, get a hoodie.

Applications for the Student Ambassador’s Scheme are now open.

We’re recruiting for Student Ambassadors to work between April 2020 and April 2021 - students graduating in 2020 are not eligible to apply.

Gain experience, develop skills, represent your Uni, earn some extra money – and get to wear a bright orange Ambassador’s hoodie!

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For further information please call 0191 515 3000 or email

Be more Brew this Monday

Psychology student Nikita Barraclough gives advice on how to get the most out of Blue Monday.

Blue Monday is the third Monday of January, the longest month in history (at least that’s how it feels). It’s named Blue Monday because it has been scientifically proven (take this with a grain of salt) to be the most depressing day of the year. This Monday is when Christmas expenses really catch up with you, bills are coming in left and right and payday still seems a lifetime away. When you don’t have the excuse of Christmas to overindulge in food and drink; and quite honestly, by now you’ve probably failed in keeping your new years’ resolutions.

However, not all is lost, you can still beat the Monday blues.

First off, make sure you get a good night’s sleep, a solid 8 hours will help keep your spirits up. Second, although you may not feel like it, take part in some exercise! Exercise releases endorphins, which are the chemicals that make you feel happy. So, muster up some motivation and exercise, even 30 minutes can make a big difference. Lastly, smile! Smiling is contagious, if you smile, its likely people around you will smile back. Smiling also releases happy chemicals within the brain, this helps your body relax and can even help lower blood pressure. A compliment to friends or colleagues wouldn’t hurt either!

If you live in accommodation, the Residential Assistants will be hosting ‘Brew Monday’ sessions, a chance for you to get to know them and your fellow students living in accommodation a little bit better. These sessions will be held to raise money for Samaritans, a service which offers confidential, non-judgemental support for those who may be struggling.

Monday 20 January is a chance for friends, peers, and colleagues to get together and talk about things they may be struggling with.

You’ve got this. Don’t let the Monday blues get the best of you!

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Wednesday 22 January, 10am-12pm – City Campus Gateway

Pop along to our drop-in session to find out more about scholarships available to current students with DOSH (Development Office Scholarships):

DOSH scholarships currently available are:

The Hope Winch Scholarship – open to undergraduate Pharmacy students (up to £1,000)

The Silver Fund - open to all current students (up to £2,500) 

The Sir Cowie Scholarship Programme (from 31 January) - Business and Education students (£10,000)

If you would like to find out more about the scholarships available to current student from our Development Office go to:

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Wednesday, 22 January, 9am–4.15pm - Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s - book via Eventbrite

The keynote speaker for the University's 2019/20 Research and Innovation Conference will be Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University and Knowledge Exchange Champion for Research England.

The Conference will also include contributions from the University Executive team and research community.

Please note, no lunch will be provided on this occasion. If you have a general query, please contact:

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Draft Programme

09:00-09:30     Registration

09:30-09:45     Welcome: Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

09:45-10:30     Keynote: Knowledge Exchange Framework: Prof Trevor McMillan, Vice-chancellor of Keele University and Chair of the KEF Steering Group

10:30-10:40     University Research Strategy: Prof Michael Young, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

10:40-10:50     University Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise: Prof Jon Timmis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Commercial) 

10:50-11:10     Q and A session – morning speakers

11:10- 11:35     Break and networking

11:35-12:30     Supporting the Research Environment

  • Martin Finlayson, Head of University Research Office
  • John Fulton, Director of Postgraduate Research
  • Jane Peverley, Corporate Communications Manager
  • Natalie Bell, Head of Staff Development

12:30-13:45     Lunch and networking: Research student poster competition

Exhibitors – Research Professional, Research Design Service, Research Ethics System, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

13:45-13:50     Introduction to Afternoon Session: Prof Michael Young, Deputy Vice-chancellor (Academic)

13:50-14.50     Research Impact: 

  • Rachel Ramsey (University Research Office)
  • Ewan Clayton (FACI)
  • Kalliopi Dodou (FHSW)
  • Maggie Gregson (FES)

14:50-15:10     Break and networking

15.10-16:00     Supporting Interdisciplinary Research: Roundtable presentations and discussion                      

  • Angela Smith (Sunderland Gender Network)
  • Sarah Martin-Denham (Adverse Childhood Experiences Network)
  • Caroline Mitchell (Participatory Approaches to Research and Practice Network)
  • Yitka Graham (Health and Care Workforce Research Network)
  • Donna Chambers (Race, Class and Ethnicity Network)

16.00-16.15     Closing remarks and announcement of poster competition result: Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

16:15               Conference closes

Wednesday 22 January, 5pm-7pm- David Goldman Building, Sir Tom Cowie Campus - book via Eventbrite

Are you curious about coding?

Due to popular demand, we are re-running our Coding 101 session.

Coding is transforming the world, from the apps on your phone to medical devices that treat cancer.

Curious, intrigued or simply interested in coding but don’t know where to start?

Want to get involved and understand how digital skills such as coding, applies to you, your career or your business but don’t know where or how to begin?

Here at the Faculty of Technology, along with the Institute of Coding, we’re running a free, fun taster session for anyone in business or a graduate, student or member of staff at the University of Sunderland who is interested in learning the basics of coding.

So whether you work or run a business or a marketing student, a recent graduate in pharmacy, teach behavioural science or someone who simply wants to know more about coding, why not come along and give our taster session a try – it might just open up a whole new world of opportunity and who knows where it might lead!

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Last chance to complete the survey: deadline Friday 6 February.

We work hard to ensure that you feel safe at your University, both on campus and online.

Please fill in our Campus Security Survey.

Your responses are anonymous.

It should only take around 10 minutes to complete the survey.

The findings will be used to improve your safety, so please take the time to help with this important research.

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Monday 27 January 2020, 5:30pm-7pm - Room 009, Prospect Building, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's - To register visit eventbrite

In her professorial lecture, Professor Debs Patten will outline the developments in anatomy teaching and learning during her career and how the use of technology in clinical practice is driving undergraduate curriculum development.

As Professor of Anatomy, Debs Patten is responsible for establishing the new anatomy facility and developing and delivering the anatomy teaching strategy in our new MBChB Medicine course, as well as other undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University.

Professor Patten graduated from the University of Sheffield (Anatomy and Cell Biology) and gained a PhD in Neuropharmacology from the University of Durham and a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice from the University of Southampton.

Anatomy is her passion and her career in higher education spans almost 20 years. She has previously worked in anatomy teaching departments at St. George’s University Hospital in London and the Universities of Southampton, Durham and Newcastle. During this time she has led and delivered cadaveric anatomy teaching to undergraduate and postgraduate students in medicine, allied healthcare and bioscience programs, as well as designing and delivering anatomy teaching in many CPD courses for healthcare professionals and in student engagement events.

Her academic research interests and publications are focused on medical education research, particularly related to innovations in anatomy teaching, learning and assessments. More broadly, she is interested in curriculum development which includes the development of an undergraduate ultrasound curriculum to prime medical students for later encounters with Point of Care Ultrasound.

In her professorial lecture, she will outline the developments in anatomy teaching and learning during her career and how the use of technology in clinical practice is driving undergraduate curriculum development.

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Wednesday 29 January, 10am-12pm – Prospect Builidng

Pop along to our drop-in session to find out more about scholarships available to current students with DOSH (Development Office Scholarships):

DOSH scholarships currently available are:

The Futures Fund – open to all current students (up to £2,500)

The Hope Winch Scholarship – open to undergraduate Pharmacy students (up to £1,000)

The Silver Fund - open to all current students (up to £2,500) 

The Sir Cowie Scholarship Programme (from 31 January) - Business and Education students (£10,000)

If you would like to find out more about the scholarships available to current student from our Development Office go to:

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Hundreds of tweets about Meghan Markle contained misogynistic or racist abuse in the hours after she and Prince Harry announced they were stepping back from royal duties, Sunderland study shows.

An analysis for HuffPost UK carried out by digital journalism researchers at our University captured overtly sexist and racist tweets mentioning the Duchess of Sussex.

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Among the tweets were phrases such as “royal bimbo Meghan”, “the woke Meghan bint” and “poisonous cow”.

She was also described as a “calculating”, a “manipulative” and a “pompous classless”.

The vast majority of the tweets featured sexist trolling, but a handful also contained overtly racist sentiment. One message described her as a “self-loathing race traitor”, while another labelled her “meghan the queen, of monkey island”.

She was also labelled a “whore”, “slut” and “witch”, among other terms. 

Journalism and computer science researchers at Sunderland set up a program using negative sentiment analysis to capture all tweets mentioning variations of Meghan Markle’s name and a selection of commonly used misogynistic and racist terms of abuse.

Around 400 tweets captured were in the most severe category of abuse.

The team are working as part of a Google Digital News Innovation Fund project to build open software to help journalists investigate social media behaviour. The researchers previously investigated trolling of female MPs during the 2017 general election.

Journalism lecturers Neil Macfarlane and Dr John Price are working on the project with computer science academics Dr Sardar Jaf, Professor Lynne Hall, Dr Kate MacFarlane and Sophie Ketiku.

The royal couple announced their desire to scale down commitments and become financially independent on the evening of January 8. The sample of tweets was collected until midnight the following day. A number of the tweets have since been removed from the platform.

Dr John Price, Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Sunderland, said: “These results give a sense of the levels of abuse that have been published about Meghan Markle in the days after the announcement.

“There will be many more tweets not captured in the study, as racism and misogyny are often expressed in more subtle terms that do not use overtly abusive language.

“The vast amount of abuse captured in these findings is startling. It shows that aspects of social media, such as Twitter, have become a haven for people wishing to express hatred against women.”

The program captured tweets that mentioned one of seven variations of Meghan Markle’s name or associated hashtags, and any terms from a list of 380 racist and misogynistic keywords. Results were then refined to focus only on those using the abusive terms to be specifically critical of the duchess.

A new exhibition is highlighting the work of young artists who are bringing some of the tried and tested skills of traditional printmaking into the modern world.

The Print Club exhibition is at the University of Sunderland’s Showcase Gallery until 22 January.  The exhibition is a platform for the work of the University’s Print Club, which has seen students from fine art, photography and even engineering, studying the technical and artistic possibilities of traditional printmaking.

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The Print Club is the brainchild of Hannah Gawne, Senior Technician in Textiles and Printmaking at the University. 

She says: "We started last year offering students the chance to do traditional printmaking. They get a lot of very good printmaking teaching in their course, and I found there was a real passion for it, which they wanted to take further.

“In turn the students have taken the techniques they’ve learnt back into the classroom, and also into professional practice, such as producing their own business cards.

“The Print club is primarily focussed on art and design students, but we’ve also had some students from engineering.  It’s been good for them to step into a different discipline for a while, and also they come into a creative space with a different mindset, which has helped the arts students too.”

Hannah applied to the University’s Silver Fund to help launch the Print Club. Staff and students can apply for Silver Fund grants to enhance and enrich student experience. Hannah won funding for new equipment including lino cutters, exhibition equipment, sketchbooks, and wooden type.  “Wooden type is a press technique that had died out, so we didn’t have our own collection,” Hannah explained.  “We’ve been able to bring that back to life again in the Print Club.” 

Lydia Henley, 25, from Sunderland is in the second year of her Fine Art degree and is a member of the Print Club.  She says: “In the first year of my degree we had some lessons with Hannah in the print room, and I just fell in love with it."

“Hannah is so helpful and inspirational with all of her knowledge of the print machinery, the different printmaking techniques, and how you can make it useful for your practice as an artist.

“Printmaking isn’t just about creating nice cards, you can print on wood, metal, make t-shirts, there are so many things you can with it.

“I see my future in printmaking.  It’s the one thing I’ve really thought that I can make a career out of this.  I paint, make sculptures and performance work, but I really do feel that I can take printmaking outside of the walls of university and use it in the real world.” 

The Print Club exhibition is at the Showcase Gallery, Priestman Building, Green Terrace until 22 January.

Iain's words take flight

The University's Academic Registrar Iain Rowan has been named as finalist in one of the country's top short story awards.

Iain is a finalist for the 2019 Costa Short Story Award for his story, Birds of the Mountain.

You can read his story HERE - the story is also available as an audio download.

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Established in 2012, the Costa Short Story Award – run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently of the main five-category system – is judged anonymously without the name of the author being known throughout the process. 

It is open to both published and unpublished writers for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author aged 18 years or over and written in English. 

Iain is a published novelist and short story author and founder and Director of the Sunderland Festival of Creative Writing, and both founded and runs the Sunderland writers’ group, Holmeside Writers

You can read more about the Costa Short Story Award at:

The winning story will be announced at the Costa Book Awards on 28 January in London.


CitySpace are offering a special deal for students in 2020 if you join the gym before 8 February.

Students can sign up for a six-month membership for just £60 to train in CitySpace’s state of the art gym facilities.

In addition, CitySpace are offering personal training sessions with their trained personal trainers for a reduced fee of £15 per session or £60 for five sessions.

To sign up visit CitySpace reception or contact them on 0191 515 2009.

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The government has agreed a rescue plan for troubled regional airline Flybe.

Ministers agreed to work with Flybe to figure out a repayment plan for a significant tax debt that is thought to top £100m.

But while it is hoped the move will save jobs and ease customer concerns, rival airlines have criticised the move, with the chief executive of the owner of British Airways claiming it is a misuse of public funds.

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Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University, here weighs up the pros and cons of keeping Flybe in the air.

He said: “The airline industry is no stranger to corporate failure and Flybe have been struggling for some time, even under their experienced new ownership.

“The sector is highly regulated, requires substantial capital investment, is subject to operating cost fluctuation risk, is heavily taxed and has intense competition, with carriers trying to protect route niches.

“In addition environmental concerns are adding further pressure as customers look at the green credentials of carriers and alternatives including not travelling.

“For Flybe then any support offered by the Government could be considered as anti-competitive by other carriers, and so has to be equitably and justifiably administered and, in terms of tax-breaks, there is the equivalent loss to the Treasury to consider.

“Of course it is in the interest of the Treasury to support the ongoing viability of businesses within this caveat.”

As part of the agreement, Flybe's shareholders, which include Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group, have agreed to put more money into the business.

The government has promised to review the £26 air passenger duty that is levied on domestic UK return fights, which has added to the airline's losses.

Professor Bellamy said: “The further investment of cash by the owners is indicative of their understanding that this is a viable business and the previous purchase price indicates something of a bargain entry to the market, albeit taking on debts.

“The importance of Flybe as a regional carrier is significant, as it does provide connectivity within the UK between major conurbations which are not always well-served by alternative transport methods, with projects such as HS2 a long way from being implemented and completion still questionable.

“If the UK is to maintain competitiveness then the North needs to be fully engaged and until such time as other infrastructure becomes viable, then services such as those offered by Flybe remain not only useful for domestic, but also for business purposes.

“This is a long-term consideration against the short-term issues of consumer impacts and unwanted job losses, which add to the concerns of a flat economy.”