uppingham seminars
Some of the participants in the 1992 Seminar on Literacy and Language, University of Reading 1992.


Background and ownership

The Uppingham Seminars have grown out of a series of seminars on education and development issues started by Education for Development (EdDev) (UK)  in 1990. These were held in a variety of locations. In May 1998, one was held in Uppingham, and it was proposed that future Seminars might continue to be held there.

Alan Rogers had organised the earlier Seminars. After his retirement from EdDev in 1998, it was agreed that he should continue to convene these Seminars at Uppingham and that EdDev would be loosely associated with them. A small Steering Committee was formed to assist in this process.

The Seminars are held from time to time, usually in Uppingham, Rutland, UK, England's smallest county, although seminars have been held in other locations, including overseas. The sixteenth-century inn, The Falcon Hotel, set in the market place of this small rural town, provides a comfortable setting for unhurried exploration and debate - and indeed a challenge: how to reconcile traditional values with the challenges of the new age. There is time during the Seminars for the participants to visit Uppingham's ancient market and to look at the bookshops in the town.


Back yard of Falcon Inn in nineteenth century - it has been greatly improved since then!

The aim of the Seminars is to provide space in pleasant surroundings for a group of practitioners in 'development' activities to engage with each other around a central theme (an open-ended think-tank). The Seminars aim quite specifically to try to bring about a mixture of academic debate at the highest level and practical field experience. Both practitioners and academics are invited to participate. Again senior development workers are mixed with younger persons so as to help build up the constituency. A gender balance is carefully kept and as far as possible a balance between persons from overseas and from the UK is maintained.

The atmosphere is intended to be informal (even deliberately non-formal!). There are few (if any) formal papers and presentations, and lots of time for social interaction between the participants. In most cases, a formal paper is prepared and sent out by e-mail to all invited participants, and responses are sought before the Seminar begins. The opening session merely presents the findings of the paper and responses.

From that point, the agenda and timetable are constantly negotiated throughout the Seminar. The participants are warned that they may find themselves offering to make presentations without having the advantage to prepare in advance and are invited to bring with them relevant material especially with case studies relating to the theme of the Seminar.

To move the process forward, a draft outline timetable is prepared, and some members of the group agree to be responsible for the sessions, one as convenor (not a formal presenter of a paper, but an opener of the discussion with a few well-chosen words, and a controller of the debates!) and another as respondent (without limiting their role to contribute to the discussion, their task is to sum up or devise ways of encouraging some reflection/evaluation of the session). But in each Seminar it is made clear that this timetable will be negotiated by the participants.

uppingham seminars professor alan rogers

The themes always relate to education in development contexts, and in the past considerable attention has been paid to discourses of development. Seminars have been devoted to:

2006 Numeracy (at Reepham, Norfolk).

2003 Ethnographic Approaches to Measuring Literacy (with follow-up seminar London 2004)

2002 Urban Literacy (Delhi)

2002 Literacy and Livelihoods

2001 Unpacking the Discourse of Social Exclusion/Inclusion

2000 The Implications of Increasing Diversity in Education in Developing Societies

1998 New Understandings of Literacy

2008 Ethnographic approaches to literacy and numeracy (Uppingham)

Reports of most of these Seminars and other activities of Uppingham Seminars will be found on this website.

For further information contact: mailto:info@uppinghamseminars.org