Training for teachers on issues of race, belonging, migration and empire.


The TRACTION (Teaching Race, Belonging, Empire and Migration) project is based at the University of Oxford, and funded by European Research Council Proof of Concept grant number 966795.

Issues of race, belonging, empire, and migration have been at the foreground of public consciousness globally in recent years. Our collective understanding of history and culture is often unsurprisingly at the centre of this discourse, with the foundational role of school education coming particularly under pressure. 

The research and wider work undertaken by the ‘Travel, Transculturality, and Identity in England, c.1550-1700’ project (ERC-TIDE) formed the basis for TRACTION. The 2017-19 collaboration between TIDE and the Runnymede Trust made significant headway already by scoping stakeholder views and reviewing English and History curriculum provisions, which led to the 2019 TIDE-Runnymede Parliamentary Advisory report on Teaching Migration, Belonging and Empire in Secondary Schools. It also produced and tested a prototype training module on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through the first TIDE-Beacon Fellowship programme, an intensive teacher-training programme which was run by TIDE in 2017-2019 in online and in-person formats. 

TRACTION emerged from this major initiative. It is designed to function as a social enterprise that can achieve measurable social impact through the development of a pioneering platform of training, resources, and community network in one place that will equip teachers to engage with issues of race, belonging, empire, and migration in the classroom.

At the centre of it is the TRACTION online Teaching Toolkit. This consists of 3 specialist, interdisciplinary modules covering the historical timeline to the present day, along with an additional module on educational theory and pedagogy. Created by specialist researchers and education experts at the University of Oxford, these are aimed at teachers of English and History primarily, but not limited to, the KS3 level.

The Teaching Toolkit is supplemented by additional networking facilities: Community support through TRACTION online peer-to-peer communication resources, and the Expert Exchange, facilitating networking between teachers and specialist researchers in Higher Education through dedicated databases. Together, the aim here is to explore ways of ensuring that resources are constantly enriched, updated, and broadened through community interaction.

Meet the TRACTION Team:

Project Director: Professor Nandini Das

Nandini Das

Nandini Das is Professor of Early Modern English Literature and Culture at Oxford University and Fellow of Exeter College. She works on Renaissance literature and cultural history, and has published widely on Renaissance literature and cross-cultural encounter. She is project director for the ‘Travel, Transculturality and Identity in Early Modern England’ (TIDE), funded by the European Research Council, in addition to TRACTION, and co-authored the report Teaching Migration, Belonging, and Empire in Secondary Schools with Kimberley McIntosh and Jason Todd. A BBC New Generation Thinker, she regularly presents television and radio programmes.

Co-Investigator: Dr Jason Todd

Dr Jason Todd is a Departmental Lecturer in Education at the University of Oxford. He currently leads on the PGCE history programme at the University of Oxford. Prior to this he taught history in secondary schools for 19 years. He was involved in the TIDE Beacon Teacher Fellowship Programme, and co-authored the report Teaching Migration, Belonging, and Empire in Secondary Schools based on the project.

Research Associate: Wendy Lennon FEA

Wendy Lennon

Wendy Lennon FEA is an English Faculty Research Associate at the University of Oxford, a doctoral researcher at the Shakespeare Institute, an English teacher, and the Founder and Director of Shakespeare, Race & Pedagogy. Wendy is a member of the British Shakespeare Association’s Education Committee, the Everything to Everybody Education steering group, and the Early Modern Scholars of Colour Network. Wendy is a Fellow of the English Association and on the Editorial Board of The English Association’s journal, English.  Wendy’s book Shakespeare, Race & Pedagogy: Early Modern Colonialism to the Windrush is to be published by Cambridge University Press.

Co-ordinator: Emma-Louise Whitehead

Emma-Louise Whitehead

Emma-Louise Whitehead is the TRACTION Co-ordinator. She also works as a freelance bibliographer for the Oxford English Dictionary, dealing mainly with early modern religious and scientific texts. She is involved with Engagement for the Shakespeare North theatre project, and is studying for a degree in English, with a particular interest in Renaissance drama.


We would like to thank the following organisations and individuals for their support and contributions to the TRACTION project.

University of Oxford Subject Module Advisors & Contributors:

Nikita Arora

Dr Lia Brazil

Jacqueline Brown

Professor Santanu Das

Professor Peter Frankopan

Professor Dan Hicks

Dr Yasmin Khan

Caine Lewin-Turner

Arisa Loomba

Dr João Vicente Melo

Professor Joe Moshenska

Professor Ankhi Mukherjee

Dr Meleisa Ono-George

Dr Lucy Powell

Reyam Rammahi

Dr Tom Roberts

Dr Ruth Scobie

Professor Emma Smith

Dr Haig Smith

Dr Emily Stevenson

Martha Swift

Dr Lauren Working

University of Oxford institutional support

Faculty of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford

Department of Education, University of Oxford

TRACTION Advisory Board:

Clare Broomfield, Villiers High School

Dr Peter Canning, OCR

Ruth Davies, National Association of Head Teachers

Dr Velda Elliott, University of Oxford

Dr Megan Gooch, University of Oxford

Sharon Hague, Pearson

Alal Haque, Southborough High School

Eoin MacGabhann, AQA

Dr Rachel Roberts, NATE

Professor Helen Small, University of Oxford

Laura Thomson-Turnage, Museum of London

Professor Abigail Williams, University of Oxford

Suha Yassin, Pearson

Visuals and Web Development

Joe Clifton at DeltaEchoVictor

The Visuals Team 

Penguin Random House

Zaahida Nabagereka, Lit in Colour at Penguin Random House

For the initial Beacon Fellowship and Advisory Report, we would like to thank: Kimberley McIntosh, Dr Malachi McIntosh, Dr Sundeep Lidher, Martin Spafford, Andrew Payne (The National Archives), Dr Richard Benjamin (International Slavery Museum, National Museums Liverpool), Sarah Soyei (Equaliteach), Robin Whitburn (UCL institute of Education), The Runnymede Trust, and the University of Liverpool.

We also thank our 35 Beacon and TRACTION Teacher Fellows.