COVID Vaccines bring us closer

A blog written by DR ARTHUR hOSIE – Course Director for Biological Science

The COVID pandemic has brought many challenges for all throughout this past year, not least isolation. Aside from the impact on people’s health and the devastating loss of loved ones, the impact of separation from family and friends, in order to contain the spread of the SARS-COV-2 (the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19), has been hard to endure. But in the UK, there is a hope that perhaps we are beginning to bring COVID-19 under control and once again we may be fully reunited with those who remain. This is due, at least in part, to the success of the COVID-19 vaccine development and delivery – a victory based on years of collaborative scientific research and delivery through the NHS. The COVID vaccines are bringing us closer.

The speed of the COVID vaccine development was due to building on past research. By January 7th, 2020 the virus that became known as SARS-COV-2 was isolated and only 5 days later the genome of this virus was published enabling vaccine developers around the world to begin work on the COVID vaccines. Using information gleaned from past research on related viruses, they designed the vaccine components most likely to provide a protective response and incorporated these into previously established delivery platforms. The swift progress through the clinical trials was enabled by the rapid recruitment of volunteers in sufficient numbers to ensure the required number of participants, and the prevalence of COVID enabled the impact of the vaccines to be evaluated. The data was rapidly but thoroughly scrutinised by the regulators to ensure the efficacy and safety of the vaccines was established. Therefore, we can have confidence in these vaccines, which have already saved many lives. Although extremely rare side-effects are now suspected with some of these vaccines, the benefits of these vaccines are beyond doubt. The COVID vaccination programme in the UK has happened at pace and a very significant proportion of the population is now protected. However, a very significant proportion of our society is still vulnerable also. Therefore, for a time we need to continue other public health measures, including social distancing, wearing of masks indoors & in crowded places, hand hygiene, and regular testing and isolating when positive. There is growing evidence that the vaccines not only prevent severe COVID, but also decrease transmission. Therefore, in the coming months we will reach a threshold required to achieve herd immunity, then we can ease restrictions more. However, there are too many unknown variables to be certain when this may be achieved. We also need to be aware that risks remain – not least the threat of variants that may escape the protection the vaccines provide. Therefore, we need to be wary of global travel and the risk of introducing such variants into the UK. Until the international prevalence of the SARS-COV-2 is greatly reduced, this threat will remain. The solution is to ensure an adequate supply and delivery of the COVID vaccines worldwide – something that needs greater attention, and indeed action, from governments.

This week (April 24th to 30th) is World Immunisation Week, an annual event in which we focus on the benefits of vaccination. Together with improved hygiene and antimicrobial chemotherapy, vaccinations have transformed human and animal health, saving countless lives, and decreasing suffering throughout the world. Although this is true, it is sadly also true that health inequalities remain. We must seek to ensure these benefits of vaccines are available to all and that none are left behind due to mistrust in vaccines, due to lack of access to affordable vaccines or due to vaccines not being available for dominant infections in their location. We need people willing to step up to the challenge, to lead and innovate to ensure pandemic preparedness, but also to overcome the avoidable infections that remain commonplace in some communities. We need biological and biomedical scientists to lead further research, appropriately funded in collaboration with the public and private sectors; we need appropriately supported healthcare workers to deliver the vaccination programmes; and we need the leaders of tomorrow to be ready to make the difficult public health choices for the benefit of our global community. The theme of this year’s world immunisation week is “vaccines bring us closer”: let us put vaccines fully to work to make this so. Not just regarding COVID, but improving the health of everyone, everywhere throughout life.

Staffs Hosts SEFDEY Conference

A blog written by Dominique Powell – Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies and Education; and Francesca Brown-Cornwall – Lecturer (TEF) in Education.

On Saturday 20th March, Dominique Powell and Fran Brown-Cornwall hosted the SEFDEY (Sector-Endorsed Foundation Degrees in Early Years professional association) Conference via SU Teams live events. The conference brought together tutors, students and professionals alike for a day of CPD, guest speakers and student awards.

The theme of the conference was ‘Being Unique in the Early Years’ with three esteemed keynotes:

Sandra El Gemayel – Keynote Address

The childhood and play of young child refugees: Case studies from the Northern Suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon.

Penny Borkett

Partnerships with parents and families of Children with SEND.

Aaron Bradbury

Gender and Masculinity in the Early Years.

Our very own Fran Brown-Cornwall presented an outline of her PhD project: ‘Higher Order Thinking and the Smile and Laughter Response in Two-Year Old Children’; inviting participants for the next stage of her research. You can also take part in Fran’s research here.

Finally, a huge thanks to Matt Coombe-Boxall for this support from the TEL team ensuring that this was a highly successful event with 112 attendees signing up.

Education Staff team up with The Makaton Charity to provide SEN tutor support

In early 2020 some of our Staff and Students from Education and Early Childhood Studies engaged with Makaton Tutor Amanda Glennon to deliver Makaton on Campus. As a result of the beneficial impact of this training Amanda Tayler, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies wanted to offer Makaton training to students in 2021. However with a UK lockdown in place creativity was needed and thus the sessions were hosted online. In February 2021, Amanda Glennon and a team of Makaton tutors delivered an intensive month of Level 1 Makaton training. 


The feedback from our students in regard to these sessions has been overwhelmingly positive with commendations made to the smooth delivery of the sessions, the teaching approaches used and the knowledge of the tutoring team. 

This training forms a key cornerstone of how we build the future of education here at Staffordshire University – regardless of which area of Education our students choose to pursue. 

If you want to read more from the perspective of Amanda Tayler and the Makaton Tutors, read more: Here 

Big Biology Day 2019 – The planning has commenced!

As the planning for BBD19 gets underway we wanted to take the opportunity to remind ourselves of the feedback that the attendees and exhibitors left for us at Big Biology Day 2018 to see what worked well and what we can improve for next year.

Last year’s event was a big success with over 500 people in attendance to see the stands and participate in the workshops and activities.

Feedback from the visitors was overwhelmingly positive,

here are just a few of the open comments we received from visitors:

  • “It’s been a great day, enjoyed it. Very informative”
  • “An excellent idea for children to attend and foster their love of science.”
  • “1 a month would be awesome (though probably impossible)”

It’s great getting feedback like this, and the middle feedback quote represents the ethos of the whole event really well. Unfortunately, if we tried to implement the last request we’d never get anything else done!

We did note that some in attendance would have liked better on campus signage, so we’ll work on making sure that we do that better for the 2019 event.

Overall Big Biology Day 2018 was a resounding success with more attendees than ever before.


Looking forward to BBD19 we’re gearing up to make this bigger and better than ever before. We’ll be continuing with the Great Biology Bake Off and our many and varied stands, activities and workshops. We already know that we’ll have new content that has not been seen before and there’s even a rumour about having a program of talks in the big lecture theatres.

Whilst we can’t spill the beans just now, we’ll add new blog entries as we confirm the event details.


Port Vale F.C. Foundation Trust – Coach Development Event

BSc Football Coaching & Performance students joined Port Vale F.C. Foundation Trust for their recent Coach Development Event

The first-year cohort of the BSc Football Coaching and Performance course were invited by Tom Sheratt, Head of Port Vale Foundation Trust, to visit Vale Park and participate in their in-house Coach Development Event for sports coaches.

The day started early for the students with an 8.30am meet at the Roy Sproson statue (popular player from the 1950’s and 60’s) directly outside Vale Park in Burslem. The first action of the day was to shake off the effects of the -2 degrees Celsius temperature with warm refreshments. After a short while meeting and greeting the club coaches and coach educator, the in-house training event started in earnest. The students were purposefully mixed with the club and community coaches to ensure that there was a variety of backgrounds and experiences to draw upon in the subsequent activities.

The activities on the day all revolved around effective coaching and how coaches can add their own ‘flavour’ when coaching. Coaching is a social activity, conducted in teams, and it always benefits to have the coach put their own stamp on what they do, making it unique and personal to themselves, whilst also focusing on the needs and development of the participants. The students enjoyed the coach development session, which was delivered by Tom Peever, F.A. Coach Educator, particularly because of the insight that it provided to students surrounding the type of CPD training they may have to undertake when they graduate from the course and gain employment in a football club. This was invaluable for the students and only provides them with more knowledge of the inner workings of a football club. Continue reading

Staffordshire University Proudly Presents: Level 4 Early Childhood Studies Degree; 1st Baby Conference

With Guest Speaker Midwife: Sylvia Baddeley

Staffordshire University observed its first (ever) Student Baby Conference on Friday February 8th, 2019. This event had been organised to co-inside with the delivery (pardon the pun) of the Working with Babies Module (0-3 years) and to cover specific topics related to the module.  The whole day event was an opportunity for students to engage and experience a conference style presentation, something new for many students.

Our Guest Speaker, Sylvia Baddeley is a Bonding and Attachment Specialist Midwife whose career spans nearly over 39 years; she is a Freelance Lecturer, an eminent speaker and researcher; has (also) worked with Stoke Speaks Out; pioneered Aqua Natal Classes and on top of all that, she still finds time for personal hobbies such as painting; art and local history. And so, it was our privilege to have some an experienced and knowledgeable professional delivering our first ever conference. Continue reading