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Lincoln Study Shows Dyslexia Does Not Reduce Pass Rates For UK GP Licensing Exam


UK GPs with dyslexia are just as likely to pass the knowledge component of the licensing exam as their counterparts, a new study has found.

The Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) is part of the qualification needed to become a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) and become licensed to practice independently. Researchers examined pass rates of doctors-in-training who had taken the AKT and found that, once other factors linked to exam success were taken into account, those who declare dyslexia prior to taking their exams do not have lower pass rates.

Candidates who declared dyslexia after initially failing the exam were more likely to be minority ethnic candidates with a primary medical qualification outside of the UK.

The research, led by researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, in collaboration with the MRCGP examination, compared data from 14,801 candidates who were tested between 2010 and 2015, of whom 379 declared dyslexia. Factors linked to exam success such as age, sex, ethnicity, country of primary medical qualification, stage of training, number of attempts, and the time spent completing tests were taken into account.

Significantly, findings highlight that those who did not declare their dyslexia initially and therefore were not given extra exam support, such as additional time, had higher failure rates. Data showed that overseas candidates were less likely to have initially declared their dyslexia.

Dyslexia affects around 6% of the UK population and around 2% of medical students. Features of dyslexia in adults can include problems with recall, reading, time management and task prioritisation which can make high stakes, multiple choice examinations like the mandatory AKT challenging.

The research has raised questions about dyslexia diagnosis during medical training, especially in those who use English as an additional language, who may not have been tested at an earlier stage in their education.  Currently, screening for dyslexia is not routinely provided by those responsible for training GPs. Lead researcher, Dr Zahid Asghar, Senior Lecturer in statistics at the University of Lincoln said: “Our research has found that, once the candidates’ age, gender, stage of training and other demographic traits are taken into account, dyslexia is not associated with lower pass rates in the AKT. However, the fact that doctors from overseas were more likely to declare dyslexia after initially failing the test is a significant finding.”

Niroshan Siriwardena, Professor of Primary & Pre-Hospital Health Care at the University of Lincoln, co-author of the study and research and development lead for assessment for the MRCGP said: “Our findings were reassuring for candidates declaring dyslexia in that they performed as well as other candidates taking the exam once other factors had been taken into account.

“The findings have highlighted that we need to look in more detail at screening and educational support for doctors with dyslexia, in particular those from minority ethnic groups, to remove potential barriers and create an inclusive training environment. We advocate more consistent and earlier screening to identify dyslexia as soon as possible during medical training. This is an approach that has proven successful in other clinical settings.”

The paper was published online in the Postgraduate Medical Journal. The full paper can be accessed here

Social and Political Sciences Professor Steve McKay Featured in The Express


Professor Steve McKay, from the School of Social and Political Sciences has contributed to a study that has recently been featured in an article about planned pregnancy and it’s impact on relationships. The research, jointly undertaken by the Marriage Foundation and the University of Lincoln, used data from 18,374 mothers in the Millennium Cohort Study and was published to mark the start of Marriage Week. The study explains that less than a fifth (18 per cent) of married parents who planned to start a family had broken up by the time their child reached 14 years old, but almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those whose baby was not a joint decision had split by the same point. Amongst cohabiting couples, the rate of breakdown was almost half (47 per cent) while fewer than two in five (38 per cent) separated if they had made a plan to have children. But the contrast over the first three years of a relationship was especially stark, according to the Marriage Foundation analysis. Only four per cent of married couples whose first pregnancy was planned split up within three years compared to more than 20 per cent of non-married parents who never made it to their third anniversary after not discussing a potential pregnancy.

Professor Steve McKay adds that “Even after controlling for mother’s age, education, ethnicity, marital status and relationship happiness nine months after their child was born, the odds of a couple splitting up before their child becomes a teenager were 28 per cent greater if they had not planned the birth.”

You can read the full article here

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Upcoming Editalks at the Eleanor Glanville Centre

The Eleanor Glanville Centre is hosting a series of 20 minute Editalks starting on the 22nd February. This unique series will explore the links between industry and ongoing research around equality, diversity and inclusion taking place at the University of Lincoln. The seminar series will take place during lunchtimes and will adopt a TED talk style approach.

The first talk of the series, ‘Supporting Fathers Better: An Academic and Health Visitor in Conversation’ will bring together Dr Anna Tarrant from the School of Social and Political Sciences and Health Visitor Leanne Mchugh, who works for the NHS and will look at the shift in expectations regarding men’s increased involvement in care and family life, particularly in fatherhood.

The first talk is talking place on Thursday 22nd February, 12.15pm  to 12.35pm at University of Lincoln, David Chiddick Building, room DCB1102

Book your tickets here

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Marie Curie Funded Research Fellow Joins Lincoln Law School

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The Lincoln Law School has welcomed a new Marie Curie funded Research Fellow who will work under the supervision of Professor Duncan French, to conduct research into the current body of environmental law.

Professor Louis Kotzé joins the University of Lincoln from North-West University, South Africa where he is a Research Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law as well as teaching on the postgraduate programme in Environmental Law and Governance. His wider research focuses largely on the Anthropocene; a proposed geological epoch in which humans have made a significant impact on the Earth and its ecosystems meaning that the Earth’s systems are dislodged and in disarray. Specific examples of these impacts include an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, urbanisation, rising global temperatures and the depletion of ocean ecosystems.

Having been awarded the prestigious European Commission Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Fellowship, Professor Kotzé will lead a research project entitled ‘Global Ecological Custodianship: Innovative International Environmental Law for the Anthropocene’ (GLEC-LAW). The research aims to critique the body of international environmental law – more specifically, the multitude of environmental treaties that are designed to address global environmental degradation – through the lens of the Anthropocene.

The research, which will take place over the next two years, will address the implications of the Anthropocene for international environmental law with a focus on why and to what extent current environmental treaties are unable to respond to the global socio-ecological crisis and how these treaties can be reformed alongside a framework of global ecological custodianship so that they can better respond to current global environmental challenges.

As part of his fellowship, Louis will also spend six months at Utrecht University in The Netherlands working with Professor Frank Biermann and his team of Earth system scientists.

Professor Louis Kotzé said of his appointment: ‘I’m grateful for the support provided by the University of Lincoln, and specifically the Law School and its Centre for Environmental Law and Justice. The University has made massive strides in situating itself as an outstanding centre of higher education and research excellence in Europe and I am immensely excited and proud to be associated with this institution.”

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New Book by Lincoln Law School’s Professor Matthew Hall


Lincoln Law School’s Professor Matthew Hall has released a book titled ‘Victims of Crime: Construction, Governance and Policy (Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology), which is available in hardback and as a Kindle download

This book critically engages with the development of official policy and reform in relation to the support of victims of crime both within and beyond the criminal justice system of England and Wales. Since the election of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government in May 2010 it is argued that victimization has increasingly taken on a greater cultural resonance both in England and Wales and in other industrialised countries. Images of terrorism, public debates around the handling of sexual victimisation by the courts, and the issue of child sexual exploitation have catapulted victim issues into the public consciousness like never before  – generating a new form of what Hall terms ‘victim capital’. As such, this book utilises a combination of cultural victimological analysis, governance theory and legal scholarship to address fundamental questions concerning the drivers and impact of victim policy in England and Wales in the 21st century. An engaging and original study, this book will be of particular interest to scholars of victimology and the criminal justice system, as well as activists and policy makers.

Congratulations Matthew!

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TEDx Talk ‘How to Sleep Better’ by Lincoln School of Health & Social Care Professor, Graham Law

Lincoln Law Lecturer Co-Authors Paper on Supporting the Success of Forced Migrants in Higher Education

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Access, participation and success in higher education are rarely considered as priorities when contemplating ways to support forced migrants that is refugees, asylum seekers and others in need of international protection. Yet, education, including higher education, is critical to supporting forced migrants establish themselves in a new country.

Education creates life-enhancing opportunities, and helps forced migrants to shape their own futures and gain a sense of belonging in their new community. However, many forced migrants living in the UK are unable to avail themselves of such opportunities due to limitations placed upon them, such as their international student status or their ineligibility for vital student finance.

Many universities in the UK are working hard to facilitate the entry of forced migrants into highereducation, by offering scholarships and other types of support. The Article 26 project was founded in 2010 and supports universities in developing and implementing scholarships, and sanctuary scholars themselves, with the aim of maximising their participation and success in higher education. We are beginning the new year with the launch of a set of guiding principles that assist universities and other higher education institutions in enabling, encouraging and supporting the participation of forced migrant students in higher education.

Introducing the Guiding Principles on Sanctuary Scholars in UK Higher Education

The Guiding Principles provide the foundations for any sanctuary initiative designed to support the success of forced migrants in higher education. They are a vital strategic planning tool for institutions, tailored to assist them in establishing, sustaining or growing their scholarships and wider initiatives that support forced migrants at their institutions.

There are 10 main principles. These are:

  1. The right of forced migrants to access higher education – as is evidenced in international, European and domestic law.
  2. Equal treatment and non-discrimination – the primary identity of Sanctuary Scholars should be that of a student, and not their immigration status.
  3. The right to privacy – protecting the privacy of Sanctuary Scholars and preventing the unlawful disclosure of their immigration status, especially without their permission.
  4. An outline of Sanctuary Initiatives – Sanctuary Initiatives can vary in design and scale, but they need to be tailored to meet the needs of forced migrant students.
  5. Underlying principles for the design and implementation of Sanctuary Initiatives – Sanctuary Initiatives should be accessible, fair, inclusive and transparent, and give due consideration to the needs and academic interests of Sanctuary Scholars.
  6. Selection processes and removal of procedural barriers – processes need to be transparent, fair and accommodating.
  7. Communication – clear, effective and timely communication is key.
  8. Academic, pastoral and professional support – it is vital that Sanctuary Scholars have access to support services that effectively consider their specific needs as forced migrants.
  9. Student progress and participation – keeping track of academic and social engagement is important for maximising student success.
  10. Staff training – championing knowledge and awareness of the specific needs of Sanctuary Scholars among key staff.

The Guiding Principles are authored by Ben Hudson – Lecturer in Law at the University of Lincoln, and Rebecca Murray – Director of the Article 26 project. Their formulation has benefitted greatly from insights provided by expert gatherings of university representatives, students, academics and practitioners. Their development has come in response to the need for overarching guidance that supports the design and administration of clear, coherent, accessible and transparent educational initiatives targeted towards championing forced migrant students in higher education.

Sanctuary Scholars: Compendium of Resources

The ‘Guiding Principles’ are the first in a series of six resources aimed at providing the most up to date information:

  • ‘Identifying Sanctuary Scholars’ – a guide to identifying the different groups (collectively described as forced migrants) that we encourage universities to include in their eligibility criteria for scholarship schemes.
  • ‘Reaching out to Sanctuary Scholars’ – an outline of key outreach strategies for the promotion of sanctuary scholarships within universities, in the locality and via national platforms.
  • ‘Who Needs to Comply?’ Sanctuary Scholars and Compliance – produced in partnership with Coram Children’s Legal Centre, this provides a framework to assist compliance teams to monitor forced migrant students studying within their institution.
  • ‘Sanctuary Scholarship Standard Application form’ – a revised and updated application form and accompanying guidance notes to support universities in the establishment or review of their existing scholarship scheme.
  • ‘Selecting Sanctuary Scholars’ – a selection framework built on and directly connected to the revised application form, which will support universities in the process of shortlisting, interviewing and assessing the specific needs of prospective forced migrant students.

In February 2017, universities and students from across the UK participated in a seminar to explore how policy and process in respect to scholarships for forced migrant students could be improved. A working group (comprised of university representatives, Article 26 student and Let us Learn’ campaign representatives) was convened to take forward the production of this series of resources. The Guiding Principles underpin this catalogue of resources and will help form the basis of discussions to establish scholarships schemes, or revise and grow existing initiatives.

Achievements we’re proud of to date

Central to project’s work is the coordination of a higher education network, which offers support and guidance of what to include in a scholarship. They typically includes a full tuition-fee waiver and funding to help meet the additional costs of studying. The model of support designed by project was pioneered over a four-year period (2010 – 2014).

The project curates a comprehensive list of bursaries available across the UK that support forced migrants to qualify for university. For example, secure English language or intersessional qualifications, and opportunities to study at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The production of a library of resources has been one of the project’s top priorities. In 2014 the project published ‘Education for All’; a comprehensive guide to supporting forced migrant students in higher education, from recruitment to graduation.

The eighth annual Article 26 conference will be hosted by Kings College London on the 28 – 30 August 2018. The conference is a three-day event: the first day is aimed at sanctuary scholars; the second day brings together sanctuary scholars, university practitioners and additional project stakeholders; the final day is an academic symposium on forced migration and higher education.

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University of Lincoln Graduate Establishes Unique Lincolnshire Counselling Hub

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A University of Lincoln graduate has established a successful counselling service in Lincolnshire supporting local children, young people and families. Alex Parkin, from Lincoln, graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care from the University in May 2017 shortly after co-founding the successful NW Counselling Hub CIC. Having worked in various care and supporting roles for most of her adult life, Alex felt that there was a gap in the provision and support available. With some communities in Lincolnshire finding it difficult to access mental health support, and counselling services, Alex and co-founder Naomi Watkins recognised the need to make counselling services more accessible in the county. The counselling hub now has a team of eighteen trained counsellors, offering mental health support for local communities as well as training opportunities for those looking to pursue a career in counselling. The hub provides a range of supportive therapies to suit age, need and demand and has been specially designed to create an environment where people feel comfortable and safe to talk. The team also has two therapy dogs.

Alex said: “People can sometimes be waiting months for the counselling support they need in the here and now. By creating the hub ourselves, we have been able to tailor a service for the wider community. Since opening in April 2017, we have been able to help more than 180 people. We believe this is down to the family-friendly feel, our open-minded staff and the lack of waiting lists along with the funding support we can provide.

She said her time at the University of Lincoln studying Health and Social Care had enabled her to develop her ideas.

“The course wasn’t just focused on one way of thinking or one specific idea,” she said. “In addition to the underpinning laws, policies and guidance, the course offered varied modules, viewpoints and learning materials which have enabled me to take a holistic approach to my job now. “I believe being self-employed and running a company has allowed me to use the knowledge even more as I have been able to use the teaching materials and also my tutor’s experiences and knowledge to ensure I shape the business in a way that works for the service user and empowers them. I couldn’t be where I am now without the tutors on the Health and Social Care team.”

Julie Burton, Programme Leader in the College of Social Science at the University of Lincoln said: “Alex is quite simply inspirational. She has taken every opportunity offered while at University and used it to its full advantage.

“Alex actually met her co-director when attending a Domestic Abuse conference organised by the students which led to work-based practice. Alex was also a student rep and we have seen her confidence grow so much during her time studying Health and Social Care.”

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Lincoln Social & Political Sciences Lecturer on Martin Luther King Day


School of Social & Political Sciences Principal Lecturer, Mr Liam McCann has kindly written a brilliant piece for us about Martin Luther King Day and its ongoing importance.

‘The ongoing importance of Martin Luther King Day, our human rights and civil liberties brings together many of the concepts developed in my recent research. As a critical criminologist, the intended pejorative description of criminology as a pilfering discipline, which allegedly fails to respect the academic boundaries of more ‘traditional’ subjects, does not offend me. On the contrary that self-determination to breach academic barriers excites me, as my most recent contributions on Authoritarian Populism, Censorship, Hegemony, Multiculturalism, National Identity and Rendition in Morley, S. et al eds. (2017) A Companion to State Power, Rights and Liberties, Bristol: Policy Press exhibits some of the breadth of my research interests. These specific areas, as my eight earlier contributions to this companion series, are pertinent to the continued relevance of Martin Luther King Day, not just to the USA, but the wider world and certainly Brexit ‘bound’ GB.

The overtly racist USA of the 1960s flaunted authoritarian populism, as white mobs aligned themselves with policing policies and practices which repressed so many others in the Black, LGBT and working class communities of an unambiguously multicultural society, but in denial of that fact. The dominant hegemonic political culture therein sought to resist progressive social and political reforms, and censor and repress their opponents. But with the overtly liberal and Christian Dr Martin Luther King, they struggled to caricature him as a subversive threat. King’s ‘simple’ dream of a world wherein everyone was treated with respect and dignity, and not judged by the colour of their skin, had and has a simple rationale firmly located in classical principles of equality before the law.

But that dream has yet to be achieved, as racism has been reinvigorate by the repugnant caricaturing of purportedly alien cultures, and the alleged threat these pose to a fictional and romanticised ‘western’ culture. The presumption of modernity as an incontestable facilitator of intellectual, political and social progress, is clearly called into question by the contemporary and their regressive attacks on hard-won rights and freedoms. The attempt to reshape American national identity was exemplified in the Black Power salutes at the 1968 Olympics and is echoed contemporarily in the Black Lives Matter kneeling during the American National Anthem. That has led to the predictable attempts to censor and marginalise those Black Americans, whose constrained gestures of protest, is portrayed as an unjust offence and anti-American. Yet at the same time black deaths are too often normalised as the inevitability of being black and therefore allegedly potentially suspect of anything and/or everything.

Martin Luther King was an exemplar of the power of the weak to resist and seek justice. Bernadette Devlin said of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement’s resistance to sectarian discrimination: “If the Black people of America could take on that great state, we could take on this tuppenny-ha’pennyone!”

That Civil Rights inspiration has inspired many of the most socially marginalised and criminalised to challenge their repression and resist their labels as ‘deviants’ and demand respect and social justice. Research may not provide the ‘answer’ but it should always seek to stimulate the necessary reflection upon who and what we are, what we want to achieve and why. Reflecting upon what Martin Luther King achieved invites that necessary and rewarding thoughtfulness.’

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St Barnabas Christmas Donation


Thank you to everyone who donated to the St Barnabas Christmas appeal rather than sending cards this year. £100 was raised for a fantastic cause.

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