Image of Margaret Lewis

Margaret Lewis

Community Outreach Manager


I began my working life as a bi-lingual secretary, working in York, Brussels and London. On moving to Sheffield and completing a PGCE I taught French in a North Sheffield comprehensive for eight years. This was followed by a career break while my two children were very young; then a chance meeting led to a career change and I started working for a consultancy as an educational researcher. Early projects included:

  • Barriers to Learning project – researching causes of low take-up, early drop-out and low levels of interest in adult education and training provision, in some of the most deprived Enumeration Districts in Doncaster.
  • SME’s and Open and Flexible Learning, looking at factors influencing its use and reasons for unwillingness to use OFL among 50 SME’s in Sheffield.
  • Evaluation of Denaby and Conisbrough Sure Start programme. An evaluation of one of the first Sure Start programmes, encompassing all the services delivered by the programme as well as the processes involved.

In 2001 I joined a team of researchers tasked with evaluating Rawmarsh Sure Start programme and have worked at the University of Sheffield almost continuously since that year (see ‘Research’ section below).


I am involved in the delivery of several of the ‘Discover’ course sessions; ‘My Community’, ‘My Education’ and ‘Next Steps’. ‘Discover’ is the free 10-week course offered by the Department for Lifelong Learning aimed at adult learners who are interested in studying for a degree and who would like to find out more about what is involved.

My role

Community Outreach Manager (jobshare)

Since 2010 I have worked on a job-share basis within the Department for Lifelong Learning at the University of Sheffield. The ‘Community Outreach Manager’ role aims to enhance progression pathways to the university for adult learners within the Sheffield city region and involves networking with local and regional adult education providers, raising awareness of our courses, and managing the team of DLL mature student ambassadors who provide invaluable support for our outreach activity.


Between 2001 and 2010, the research projects I worked on within the University of Sheffield’s School of Education include:

  • Vocational Learners and Transitions in Further and Higher Education, research that aimed to develop an understanding of the culture within a Russell Group university as experienced by learners who had gained access to the university with non-traditional qualifications. The research involved in-depth, qualitative exploration of learners’ experiences, motivations and decision-making.
  • National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy (NRDC)/University of Sheffield) project, ‘Improving the quality of teaching and learning in adult literacy’; working as part of a team (as lead researcher on the phonics strand of the project) investigating the effectiveness of three different adult literacy teaching strategies, namely phonics, oral reading fluency and sentence combining.
  • University of Sheffield Transitions project in Burngreave and Fir Vale, bringing together relevant stakeholders in the Burngreave and Fir Vale areas, in order to develop practical strategies to improve transition experiences from pre-school provision to Reception and through to KS1.
  • Learning Together: a research project, undertaken by the University of Surrey and the University of Sheffield for the Learning and Skills Development Agency, exploring the significance of age mixing in teaching and learning in a number of adult education settings.
  • Aimhigher/Higher Futures Practitioner Research Network; working with my jobshare colleague, I led this project which aimed to build capacity for research within the Higher Futures Lifelong Learning Network and Aimhigher South Yorkshire. The role involved increasing individuals’ capacity to undertake measurement and evaluation of practice, developing and supporting a practitioner research network, and delivering research and evaluation skills-building workshops for the network.


• the decision-making processes and the nature of choices made by adults in relation to engagement (or non-engagement) and progression in learning, both formal and informal
• inter-generational learning – how family learning impacts upon the individuals and groups involved
• transition into higher education - how adult learners who progress to higher education experience ‘fitting in or cooling out’ within the university learning setting


Lewis M, Ritchie L, (2010) The research journey – developing and supporting a practitioner research network. A report for Aimhigher South Yorkshire and Higher Futures Lifelong Learning Network.

Warren S, Owen J, Lewis M, Ritchie L, Chapple F, Jones G, Webb S, (2009) Fitting in or cooling out? Vocational learners in a traditional University – moving beyond the triad of interview, theory and background information, in: P. Coare and L. Cecil (ed) ‘Really Useful Research? Critical perspectives on evidence-based policy and practice in lifelong learning’ University of Sussex pp 427 – 434