Research Interests

Rose’s research interests cover three main areas; the first of these is the education of children in public care. As a former foster carer, an adoptive parent and teacher, Rose is interested in examining the relative contributions to children’s educational experience, of parents and carers, teachers and other educational professionals, and of children themselves, especially in mathematics.

A linked area of research was childhood bereavement and loss. Many people who have contact with children want guidance as to how to help them when they are bereaved. Rose’s research in this area aimed to find out more about the particular ways in which children might react when bereaved, and to develop materials providing advice for adults working or living with bereaved children.

Learning and teaching in mathematics is another particular interest. Rose’s work investigates the links between counting and arithmetic, and examines the difficulties that can arise when a child’s learning is disrupted.

Recent Research Projects

Making numbers (2014 – 2017)

Working with Dr Jenni Back (University of Leicester) and Dr Sue Gifford (University of Roehampton), this Nuffield-funded project explored ways of using manipulatives in teaching arithmetic. The team worked with teachers of children aged 3 to 9 in three geographical areas, to find ways of using practical equipment to develop deep understanding of mathematical relationships and concepts. The project included a survey of past and present use of manipulatives in early years settings and primary classrooms. We developed examples of enjoyable and effective number activities, and to provide support for the professional development of practitioners.

Nuffield Research Project EDU/41683: A guide to the use of manipulatives in the foundations of arithmetic, 2014-2016.

"Making Numbers" (2016) by R. Griffiths, Jenni Black and Sue Gifford; Oxford University Press.

The Letterbox Club  (2003 – 2017)

The Letterbox Club began as an action research project with just 20 children aged 7 to 11 in 2003 in Leicester. The project aimed to find a way of providing educational support in reading and number directly to children in care at their place of residence. The project was extended to Suffolk in 2005, and the results from these two authorities over four years helped us win major funding from the DCSF (The Department for Children Schools and Families)  for a two-year national pilot in England, working with 52 local authorities and 1500 children and their families, for 2007 and 2008. The project was also supported with books and funding by Penguin and Pearson.

In partnership with Booktrust, the programme has now been established as a subscription service benefiting children across the UK. Further research helped to extend the programme both to children with special needs, and to children aged 11 to 13 and 5 to 7 (with financial support from the Siobhan Dowd Trust). There are now pilots in Denmark and Sweden. A pilot for children aged 3 to 5 was completed in 2016.

Childhood Bereavement  (2004 – 2008): ‘Not too young to Grieve’ and ‘Teenage Grief’

Rose initiated two projects funded by the Parenting Fund and carried out in partnership with the Childhood Bereavement Network and Leeds Animation Workshop. ‘Not too young to grieve’ concentrated on bereavement as it affects children from babies to those aged 7 or 8; ‘Teenage Grief’ tackled the needs of adolescents. Our aim was to identify the key ways in which adults living or working with bereaved children and young people might be able to support them, and to provide stories on two DVDs that illustrated both how children might react, and how adults can help.

Getting children counting  (2003 – 2007)

Rose worked with local Sure Start children’s centres to conduct this research which examined the ways in which parents, carers and other family members help young children learn to count.  Video material from twelve families gave Rose a rich source of examples of parents and carers providing individual attention to children’s developing skills in counting, and of children directing their own learning in enjoyable and sociable contexts. A selection of clips from the video material was used to make a DVD for families and early years practitioners.

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