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Professor Liz Chamberlain

Profile summary

Professional biography

Dr. Liz Chamberlain (BEd, Brighton; MA, Sussex; EdD, The Open University) is a Professor of Primary Education (Knowledge Exchange) at The Open University and is Associate Head of School, Enterprise and Innovation in the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport.

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 13,000 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 a member of INEE's Gender Task Team.  She is on the panel for UKLA's Brenda Eastwood Award for good practice in diversity and inclusion and is part of UCET's Equalities Group. 

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 contributions are predicated on her expertise of complex professional contexts exploring the knowledge intersection between educational practice, learner and practitioner, through the lens of literacy education, leading to positive educational outcomes across the university’s formal/informal curriculum and beyond.   Liz’s internationally recognized literacy research focuses on capturing what it means for children to be writers.  Her main expertise is as a literacy case study researcher with a focus on developing writers’ experiences of writing both in and out-of-school.  Her work on exploring children’s private worlds of out of school text creation has been shortlisted for the UKLA/Wiley Research in Literacy Education award (2020).  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 university-funded Coronavirus and my life: What children say project with Children Heard.  She was Principal Investigator for the Amensty International UK (AIUK) partnership: the resultant research forming the resultant child rights-focused research underpins a new book Know your rights (And Claim Them), launched by AIUK/Angelina Jolie

Teaching interests

Liz brings together her substantial experience of primary education through her successful management for three years as Programme Leader for the Education Studies (Primary) qualifications (2015-2018). She led a team of seven 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 authored the free OU course Global Perspectives on Primary Education and the E309 Reader Teaching and Learning Around the World and she is the academic consultant on the new BBC programme Don't Exclude Me.  To support grassroots practitioners during the pandemic she curated the two OpenLearn Resources for Teaching Assistants and Primary Teachers hubs. 

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

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, a member of the UKLA-SIG Writing group and a Professional Affiliate with the Chartered College of Teaching.  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, contributing to its Unlocking Research initiative.  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

 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.  She past member of the Executive Committees of UKFIET and UKLA. 

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 regularly contributing educational consultant advice on support materials for teachers.  

As international Convenor for UKLA, she founded the International Ambassador literacy knowledge exchange network of 10 leading international academics, brokering productive spaces of encounter through their annual symposium.  


Supporting literacy skills and community cohesion for transnational young people (2023-07)
Chamberlain, Liz; Flynn, Naomi; Hafeez, Imran; Twitchen, Alex and Sells, Jim
EAL Journal(21) (pp. 32-34)

Professional development in the digital age: supporting improvements in teacher education through MOOCs (2023)
Stutchbury, Kris; Ebubedike, Margaret; Chamberlain, Liz and Amos, Sandra
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-learning ((Early access))

Disrupting language of instruction policy at a classroom level: oracy examples from South Africa and Zambia (2022-09-05)
Chamberlain, Liz; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Woodward, Clare
Literacy, 56(3) (pp. 264-274)

Out-of-school girls’ lives in Zimbabwe: what can we learn from a storytelling research approach? (2022)
Buckler, Alison; Chamberlain, Liz; Mkwananzi, Faith; Chigodora, Obert and Dean, Caroline
Cambridge Journal of Education, 52(2) (pp. 195-215)

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., 68(4) (pp. 600-615)

Literacy in lockdown: learning and teaching in COVID-19 school closures (2020-11)
Chamberlain, Liz; Lacina, Jan; Bintz, William P.; Jimerson, JoBeth; 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)

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)

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

Vignette: The role of home language in supporting adolescent girls’ learning in rural Zimbabwe (2024)
Chamberlain, Liz
In: Reilly, Colin; Chimbutane, Feliciano; Clegg, John; Rubagumya, Casmir and Erling, Elizabeth J. eds. Multilingual Learning: Assessment, Ideologies and Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa.. Routledge Series in Language and Content Integrated Teaching & Plurilingual Education (pp. 92-98)
ISBN : 9781003311553 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Overcoming adversity for marginalised adolescent girls in Zimbabwe (2023)
Chamberlain, Liz; Buckler, Alison; Worwood, Kelly; Chigodora, Obert; Chishava, Charlotte and Hedges, Claire
In: Holliman, Andrew and Sheehy, Kieron eds. Overcoming Adversity in Education (pp. 223-233)
ISBN : 978-1-032-01778-5 | Publisher : Taylor and Francis | Published : London

Building a case for inclusive ways of knowing through a case study of a cross-cultural research project of out-of-school girls in Zimbabwe: practitioners’ perspectives (2021)
Chamberlain, Liz; Buckler, Alison and Mkwananzi, Faith
In: Fox, Alison; Busher, Hugh and Capewell, Carmel eds. Thinking critically and ethically about research for education (pp. 27-39)
ISBN : 9780367556914 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

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

A whole school approach to the teaching of writing: Lessons learned from collaborative lesson research (2023-06)
Chamberlain, Liz and Drane, Rob
In : Writing Matters, UKLA International Conference (23-25 Jun 2023, Exeter, UK)

Exploring aspects of being and becoming writers: A symposium exploring notions of being a writer, from a sociocultural perspective (2023-06)
Cremin, Teresa; Chamberlain, Liz; Rowe, Deborah and Gardner, Paul
In : Writing Matters. UKLA International Conference (23-25 Jun 2023, Exeter, UK)

Disrupting language of instruction policy at a classroom level: oracy examples from South Africa and Zambia (2022)
Chamberlain, Liz; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Woodward, Clare
In : The 57th UKLA International Conference - Reaching out through literacy: Enabling advantage for all (1-3 Jul 2022, Birmingham, UK)

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)

Approaches to Reading and Writing for Pleasure: An Executive Summary of the Research (2023-12-06)
Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen; Chamberlain, Liz and Hulston, Samantha
The Mercers' Company, London.

Reading and Writing for Pleasure: A Framework for Practice (2023-12-06)
Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen and Chamberlain, Liz
The Mercers' Company, London.

Breaking the textbook gender bias: Inspiring girls and young women through providing role models they can identify with (2022-03-11)
Chamberlain, Liz and Dean, Caroline
UKFIET, London.

How schools are getting writing wrong (2021-05-21)
Chamberlain, Liz and Drane, Rob
Times Educational Supplement

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

Rapid Research Response: collective sensemaking around experiences and challenges of harnessing education research opportunities during a global pandemic (2021)
Ebubedike, Margaret and Chamberlain, Liz
Research Conversations, Open University Education Blog

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.

Minimising the ‘distance’ in distance learning during a global health crisis: Framing an international education response to Covid-19 (2020)
Buckler, Alison; Chamberlain, Liz; Stutchbury, Kris and Hedges, Claire
UKFIET The Education and Development Forum

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.

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