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Dr Steve Connolly

Deputy Head of School
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School of Education
Areas of Expertise:
Education and teaching
Research Supervision:
Courses taught:

Steve is an experienced teacher and lecturer who worked in a range of London schools before moving into HE. His research interests include media education, curriculum theory and literacies.

Email: [email protected]

View Steve's ResearchGate profile

View Steve's ORCiD profile


Steve worked in a range of London secondary schools for almost twenty years, teaching English, Media and Creative Arts subjects and occupying a number of roles as a middle and senior leader. For much of this time, he was also an active researcher, completing both his MA and PhD in Media Education at the Institute of Education, UCL.

Moving into HE in 2015, he then spent six years at the University of Bedfordshire teaching on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses and working extensively in school partnerships for Initial Teacher Education.

While in this role, he was also an Advanced Researcher in the School of Teacher Education, having responsibility for a range of research projects and knowledge exchange activities.

Arriving at ARU in 2021, he became part of the team delivering Education MA courses. Steve is currently the Deputy Head of the School of Education and also Co-Director of the Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD)

Research interests
  • Media Education and Media Literacy
  • Curriculum and Curriculum Theory
  • Cultural Capital in Education
  • Creativity
  • Vocational Education
  • English and Literacies Education
  • Teacher Education

Steve’s research interests have developed from his PhD, which focused on the way that young people learn to make their own films in classroom situations, and have broadened to include thinking about learning processes of all types – cognitive, social and creative.

Steve has also recently completed an evaluation of a large intervention programme for disadvantaged pupils in schools in Central Bedfordshire, and this has coincided with some publication work around both curriculum and the notion of cultural capital in schools. He also has published a number of articles in the field of teacher education, and continues to be fascinated by the way that teachers “get good” at what they do.

Areas of research supervision

Steve would be interested in supervising any Doctoral students whose work accords with the research interests outlined above.

Recent completed supervisions (as Second Supervisor)

  • "Distributed leadership in converter academies with Prof. Uvanney Maylor, University of Bedfordshire"

Onoing Supervisions (as First Supervisor)

  • "Exploring the multi-faceted identity of the home educator: A case study approach”
  • “A history of the 6th form college in England”

Ongoing supervisions (as Second Supervisor)

  • “The impact of the 2014 curriculum reforms on A Level Media Studies” with Prof. Julian McDougall, Bournemouth University
  • “Teacher perspectives on the effectiveness of teacher education in Somaliland" with Dr Phil Kirkman, ARU
  • “Building a teaching career: characterising strategies for navigating sources of instruction during pre-service preparation in England” with Dr Phil Kirkman, ARU
  • PhD, Media Education, Institute of Education, UCL
  • MA, Media Education, Institute of Education, UCL
  • PGCE, Secondary English, De Montfort University, Leicester
  • BA (Hons) American Studies and Philosophy, University of Nottingham
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Media Education Association, Chair, Executive Committee
  • British Educational Research Association, Member
  • National Association for the Teaching of English, Member
  • Media Education Research Journal (MERJ), Member, Editorial Board
  • Visiting Fellow, Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University

Journal reviewer

  • Journal of Early Childhood Literacy
  • Literacy
  • Film Education Journal
  • Teachers and Teacher Education
  • Education Sciences
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

2023; Anglia Ruskin. “Eye of Boudicca” – Harassment training for teachers KE project (£3,509) Principal Investigator

2021-2022; Anglia Ruskin/ Long Road College/Hills Road College. “Professional Enquiry for teachers” (£30,000) Co-investigator

2020-2022; Anglia Ruskin University/University of Bedfordshire. “Creating a Place for Race in English Schools” Research Project (£4,600) Co-Investigator

2019-2021: Central Bedfordshire Council. An evaluation of the RADY (Raising Attainment for Disadvantaged Youth) programme in Central Bedfordshire Schools (£10,000)

2019: European Regional Development Fund (Innovation Bridge). Think Mat Learning tool evaluation (£3,000).

2018: European Regional Development Fund (Innovation Bridge). Structural Learning learning resources evaluation (£3,000).

Selected recent publications

Gibson, P., & Connolly, S. (2023). "Fit for purpose? Taking a closer look at the UK’s Online Media Literacy Strategy". Journal of Media Literacy Education, 15(1), 109-115. https://doi.org/10.23860/JMLE-2023-15-1-9

Connolly, S., & Wicks, K. (2023) "Part-time higher education students’ interactions with a virtual learning environment as an exploration of theories of connectivism". Compass Journal of Learning and Teaching. 16 (1), https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v16i1.1357

Bates, G., & Connolly, S. (2023). ‘Different people, different backgrounds, different identities’: Filling the vacuum created by policy views of ‘cultural capital’. The Curriculum Journal, 00, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1002/curj.198

Connolly, S. & Green, B. (2022) “English Teaching and Media Education: The (Lost) Legacies of Cultural Studies” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2022.2053503

Connolly, S., Thomason, M., 2021. What does engagement look like in a Media Studies classroom? Participations, 18(2).

Connolly, S., 2021. The Changing Role of Media in the English Curriculum 1988-2018: Returning to Nowhere (London: Routledge).

Connolly, S., 2021. From Curriculum Theory to Curriculum Practice: Some observations on privilege, power and policy. In: Wearmonth, J., Lindley, K. (Eds.), 2021. Bringing the Curriculum to Life: Engaging Learners in the English Education System (London: McGraw Hill).

Connolly, S., Goodchild, A., 2021. Starting to see the bigger picture: ways of developing professional and paraprofessional understandings of behaviour and curriculum”. In: Wearmonth, J., Lindley, K. (Eds.), 2021. Bringing the Curriculum to Life: Engaging Learners in the English Education System (London: McGraw Hill).

Burn, A., Connolly, S., 2020. Unable to go it alone: Restating the case for a strengthened English/Media relationship. In: Daly, C., Davison, J. (Eds.), 2021. Debates in English Teaching, 2nd edition (London: Routledge).

Cannon, M., Connolly, S., Parry, R., 2020. Media literacy, curriculum and the rights of the child. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. doi: 10.1080/01596306.2020.1829551

Connolly, S., 2020. Towards an epistemology of media education: Confronting the problems of social realism. Culture, Pedagogy & Society. doi: 10.1080/14681366.2020.1759129

Connolly, S., Bates, G., Shea, J., 2020. First meetings: constructive first encounters between pre-service teachers and their mentors. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education. doi: 10.1108/IJMCE-10-2019-0096

Connolly, S., 2019. Student and teacher perceptions of the differences between “academic” and “vocational” post-16 Media courses. Media Practice and Education, 21(1), pp. 5-17. doi: 10.1080/25741136.2019.1631064

Recent presentations and conferences

“Contextualising Professional Enquiry: ‘outsiders’ constructing ‘close-to-research practice.” Symposium, BERA Conference (with Rachel Fossey, Ruth Platt, Deb Caws, John Parkin and Dr. Phil Kirkman.) Aston University, September 2023.

“The Online Media Literacy Strategy: What happens when narrow literacy policies and narrow curriculum policies collide?” BERA, English in Education SIG Conference, University of Bedfordshire, June 2023.

“What is the public value of disciplinarity?” FHEMS Faculty Research Conference (with Deb Caws), Anglia Ruskin University, May 2023.

“The problems of creating open data sets from interviews” FHEMS Faculty Research Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, May 2022, Online.

Challenging statutory disenfranchising and discriminatory practices in primary classrooms: mobilising popular cultures, media production and pupil voice. Media Education Summit, Leeds (with Dr Becky Parry, University of Sheffield & Dr Michelle Cannon, UCL/IOE), April 2021, online.

Creative Literacies in the 21st Century: A journey through creativity , cognition and curriculum. Keynote, NATE Annual Conference, November 2020, online.

What do film teachers need to know about cognitivism? Scottish International Film Education Conference, Glasgow, June 2019.

Carrying on Regardless: Media Literacy in Early Years. 2nd International Media Literacy Research Symposium, Lisbon, Portugal, April 2018.

Perceptions of the difference between academic and vocational post-16 media courses. Media Education Summit, Rome, November 2016.