Strategic Lead for Early Years as part of the South Yorkshire Futures Programme and Interim Director of the Early Years Community Research Centre. I work with early years partners and practitioners from across South Yorkshire to develop effective early years services for young children and their families. My particular areas of interest are partnership with families and communities, children's social and emotional development and trauma informed practice.
After graduating from University of Sheffield in 1985 with a degree in Sociological Studies I worked for a number of years as a civil servant and became an active trade unionist and Branch Secretary. I completed my MA in Women's Studies at Sheffield Hallam while working and then returned to Hallam to do my PGCE with QTS in 1997. After a brief period of teaching in Primary Schools I discovered my love of Early Years while covering for a colleague and soon after took up the post of Community Development Worker with a remit of establishing early years provision in an area of disadvantage. This project went from strength to strength and I became the Project Director of a 60 place day nursery that was judged as "Outstanding" by Ofsted and used as an example of best practice by National Strategies in relation to equality and working with Roma Families. I returned to Sheffield Hallam University to complete my Early Years Professional Status in 2007 and in 2008 took up a part-time lecturing post while continuing to manage the nursery and community project. I took a leading role in establishing the Community Childcare Forum in Sheffield which forged links between community providers in areas of disadvantage. I made the move to become a full-time member of staff at Sheffield Hallam University in 2014 and became course leader for the PGCE Early Childhood Education and Care with Early Years Teacher Status and the Head of Area for Early Years. In 2017 I became the Strategic Lead for Early Years on Hallam's South Yorkshire Futures Programme and working with partners have secured over £2 million for early years services in the region. In 2021 we opened the Early Years Community Research Centre in Shirecliffe, Sheffield in partnership with a local school, Save the Children UK and Sheffield City Council. In 2018 I was made a National Teaching Fellow for my collaborative work in early years and my focus on relational pedagogy. In 2020 I became a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and in 2021 I was awarded my Doctorate in Education for a thesis focused on professional love in early years practice.