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Ms Sara Venner

Lecturer in Education


 +44 (0) 1392 724863

 North Cloisters NC25


North Cloisters, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK

 Office hours:

Mon- Friday - 9am -


I have been involved in education for the past 25 years. I spent 10 years as a TEFL teacher teaching Business English within companies and then 15 years in schools teaching the primary curriculum with an additional specialism in Literacy. I was English Lead for a cluster of local schools.

I then joined the University of Exeter 6 years ago and exchanged the classroom for research into education, primarily around writing. I gained my MA in Language and Literacy (Distinction) from the University of Exeter. I am also a trainer for PGCE students at Exeter University and am currently a tutor on the School Distance Direct Programme.

My research interests are predominantly around the teaching of grammar and writing in the Primary National Curriculum, and how creative and explicit pedagogies, especially around the teaching of grammar, can enable children to make progress in their writing. 



2017-2020- Part-time MA Language and Literacy, University of Exeter

2001- 2002 PGCE in Primary Education with Literacy Specialism, Devon Primary SCITT

July 1990- RSA Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, International House, Vienna

Jan 1985 – Dec 1985- Post Graduate Diploma in Recreation Management, North London Polytechnic

1981- 1984 – BA Human Movement studies Sport and Recreation, Ripon and York St Johns College, Leeds University


Summary of current and past research activity:

June 2021- Oct 2021 Research Associate for the Centre for Research into Writing- Literature Scoping exploring socioeconomic factors and disadvantage in relation to reading, writing and oracy in education, more specifically, Early Years, Primary and Secondary Education.

Sept 2020- July 2021- A Curriculum Review into Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EDI) within the BSc Medical Imaging Diagnostic Radiography programme using survey data and focus group interviews of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students

Sept 2020- July 2021 – Education Incubator Project for the University of Exeter providing research to explore the quality of students’ collaborative and critically reflective posts in discussion forums on an online masters’ programme.

Jan 2020 – Metatalk for Writing funded by the ESRC funded study to investigate the impact of high-quality classroom talk on children’s writing.

Dec 2019 – June 2020 Education Incubator Project for the University of Exeter investigated the potential of flexible blended learning for mature students.

Sept 2018 – July 2019- Transforming Transitions HEFCE Catalyst Fund addressed barriers to student success with 3 partner Universities and 4 partner FE Colleges.

Sept 2018- Aug 2019 – Craft of Writing RCT funded by the EEF and the RSA aimed at enhancing attainment in writing in Year 5 students through professional development in the teaching of writing by Year 5 teachers

Feb 2016- 2018 - Grammar for Writing RCT funded by the EEF explored the effectiveness and impact of explicit teaching of grammar in the context of writing for Year 6 students.

Feb 2016 – 2017 - A Case Study at the University of Exeter with Pearson Education to understand how BTEC learners progress from post-16 into university and how they access and engage with the university educational experience.

Research group links


Research interests

My research interests are predominatley around the teaching of grammar and writing in the Primary Curriculum. More spcifically, how developing creative and explicit pedagogoes can help teachers to more effectively teach writing and through this enable children to make progress in their writing. 

Research projects

My involvement in research work has been through the Centre for Research into Writing in the Graduate School of Education, as well as more widely on GSE projects. As a Graduate Research Assistant for the last 6 years, I have worked on several RCTs: Pearson BTEC (2017); (EEF Grammar for writing (2017); HEFCE Transforming Transitions (2019); EEF The Craft of Writing (2019); BERA Teaching English when school are closed using a Case Study approach (2020); ESRC  Metatalk fro Writing (2021). I have also worked on an Exeter based Education Incubator Project looking at Blended Learning. My qualitative research practices include recruitment of participants, gathering data through focus group interviews, coding, analyzing and reporting on data collected from interviews. I also have extensive experience of project management and partnership working through dealing with many different stakeholders involved in the projects.


Supervision / Group

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