Philippa Thompson

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Philippa Thompson B.Ed (Hons), MA, SFHEA

Principal Lecturer


I am currently a Principal Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Sheffield Hallam University, Business and Enterprise Portfolio Lead and Co-Chair of the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network (ECSDN). My research interests in Early Childhood include play, participation, co-production, outdoor learning, and parents/children living with anaphylaxis. Engaging students in experiential learning in modules such as Forest School is a passion linked to future employability of graduates. I have a strong practice background of 20 years across a broad range of settings in the UK and internationally. I advocate regularly for changes to policy and practice , recognition for the sector and the importance of a graduate workforce in early childhood.


My early career began as an early years teacher for fourteen years, progressing to Head of Nursery/Foundation Stage and Assistant Head Teacher roles and finally an Early Years Advisory/ Community Teacher for Sheffield City Council. I also taught internationally in outdoor education (Australia), Carmel International School Hong Kong, and at a private Hong Kong Chinese kindergarten. As an advisory teacher based in two nursery schools and Sure Start provision, I supported a wide range of settings to develop creative pedagogical approaches embedded in the local community with children and families at the heart. Moving into Higher Education in 2006, I have been keen to engage practitioners, parents, and students in a range of scholarship and research activity to enhance practice. I am currently co-chair of the ECSDN which advocates for graduates in the workforce alongside lobbying for better pay and conditions in the early childhood workforce. The ECSDN is part of the coalition in support of Birth to Five Matters and many of the executive were involved in the writing of this document. I am also completing a review of the QAA subject benchmark statements for Early Childhood Studies as Chair which aims to ensure the longevity of the degrees as an academic discipline.

Business and Enterprise Portfolio Lead

Teaching interests

play, pedagogy of play

outdoor learning, forest schools

children with high learning potential (gifted children) in mainstream school

children with anaphylaxis

young children's literacy development using popular culture

young children's motivation and self-confidence within the learning environments

learning environments for young children, the role of the adult in early years


Sheffield Institute of Education

College of Social Sciences and Arts

Relevant Action Research

2010 -2012 Supporting infant schools to develop their outdoor learning, Sheffield

2005- 2006 Supporting Early Years settings by use of the ECERS (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale), Sheffield LA

2000 -2002 Media Boxes, Birley Spa Community Primary School, Sheffield

Funded research

2011 Boys and Reading; Leading Transformational Change

Early Childhood

Primary Education


Early Childhood Studies

Childhood Studies

Forest School

Research modules

Pedagogy of Play

Participation and Children's Rights


Doctoral Research - The hidden voice: parental experience of child anaphylaxis in ECEC settings.


Thompson, P. and Simmons, H. (pending: April 2023) Partnership with Parents in Early Childhood Today. London: Sage.

Thompson P. (pending: July 2023) Partnership with Parents and Caregivers : Competency Seven. In Bradbury, A. Musgrave, J. & Perkins, H. (Eds) A Practical Guide To Early Childhood Studies Graduate Practitioner Competencies. (tbc) London: Learning Matters.

Thompson, P. (pending: July 2023) Play In Early Childhood. In Fitzgerald, D., & Maconchie, E. (Eds) Early Childhood Studies. London: Sage.

Bell, G., Borland, S., Summerscales, R. & Thompson, P. (pending September 2023) Digital Dilemmas in the Early Years. In Leask, M. & Younie, S. (Eds) Teaching and learning with technologies in the primary school. London: Routledge Taylor Francis.

Thompson, P. (2021). Professor Tina Bruce. In A. Bradbury and R. Swailes (Eds), Early Childhood Theories Today (currently awaiting print). London: Sage.

Thompson, P. (2018). Supporting Play. In D. Fitzgerald and H. Maconochie (Eds), Early Childhood Studies: A Student’s Guide (pp.131-144). London: Sage.

Thompson, P., Bulloss, J. and Vessey, S. (2017). If you go down to the woods today: young children learning outdoors. In G. Goodliff, N. Canning, J. Parry, and L. Miller, (Eds.), Young Children's Play and Creativity: Multiple Voices, (pp247-256). London: Routledge.

Levy, R. and Thompson, P. (2015) Creating ‘buddy partnerships’ with 5- and 11-year-old-boys: a methodological approach to conducting participatory research with young children. Journal of Early Childhood Research 13 (2), 137-149, first published on July 15, 2013, doi: 10.1177/1476718X13490297.

Thompson, P. (2012) Play in Early Years Education. In: J.Kay, (Ed), Good Practice in The Early Years, 3rd ed. (pp 13-44) London: Continuum.

Thompson, P. (2008) Telly Addicts: How TV and film can be good. Practical Pre School, 1 (91), i-ii.

Thompson, P. (2004) Using Film and Television. Practical Pre School 1 (46), xix-xx.

BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE PRIMARY EDUCATION WORKING GROUP (2003) Look again: A Teaching Guide to using Film and Television with 3–11-year-olds. London, Bfi/ DfES.

Marsh, J. and Thompson, P. (2002) Media Boxes: How video viewing can help develop literacy skills. Early Years Educator 3 (12), i-viii.

Marsh, J. and Thompson, P. (2001) Parental Involvement in literacy development: using media texts. Journal of Research in Reading, 24 (3), 266-278.

Mauritius Study Trip

Sandwich Placement Development

Doctoral research



Journal articles

Levy, R., & Thompson, P. (2015). Creating 'buddy partnerships' with 5- and 11-year old-boys: a methodological approach to conducting participatory research with young children. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 13 (2), 137-149.

Book chapters

Fleming, K., & Borkett, P. (2023). The potential of co-production. In Thompson, P., & Simmons, H. (Eds.) Partnership With Parents in Early Childhood Today. SAGE

Other activities

2023 - External examiner, Stranmillis University College, Belfast

2023 Co-chair ECSDN

2021 Chair of QAA Subject Benchmark Statement Review Early Childhood Studies Degree

2021 External advisor, Programme Revalidation Norland College, BA (Hons) Early Years Development and Learning, in addition to the prestigious and unique Norland Diploma

2021 External validator, Early Years Education moving to Early Childhood Studies, Nottingham Trent University

2021 External advisor, validation event, Bishop Grosseteste University, BA Early Childhood Studies and Graduate Practitioner Competencies

2021 Journal reviewer, Al-Athfal: Journal of Early Childhood Education

2020 Contributor to Birth to Five Matters curriculum guidance

2020 Journal reviewer, Pastoral Care in Education

2019 External Advisor for MA Educational Research Practice, University of Hull/ North Lindsey College, Lincs

2019 - External Examiner, University of Northampton, BA Early Childhood Studies, BA Early Childhood Studies (Top Up)

2018 - External Examiner, University of Roehampton, London, BA Early Childhood

2016/2017 University and Faculty Inspirational Teacher Award

2015- Journal reviewer - Journal of Early Childhood Research

2014 -2018 External Examiner for BA (Hons) Applied Studies (Early Childhood)/FdA

Applied Studies (Early Childhood), Bishop Grosseteste University.

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