Personal profile

Research interests

I am a qualitative reseacher with a particular interest in biographical methods. I have conducted research on my own and with others, primarily related to relationship based roles between professionals and young children in full day care provision. Joint projects have been developed from my well established affiliations with national and international scholars in the field of early childhood care and education. I enjoy working with early years partner organisations and value these connections. I disseminate my research through a varety of mediums including peer reviewed journals, books and book chapters as well as via early years practice publications including the popular and well respected Nursery World magazine

Supervisory Interests

I am working with PhD and EdD students within the field of Early Years and I welcome enquiries from prospective candidates who are interested in my specific areas of specialism which include:

  • 'Professional Love'
  • Infants, toddlers & children under 3 years of age
  • Attachment based relationships -  Love, Care and Intimacy
  • Theory, policy and practices with infants and toddlers
  • Quality and learning/ policy, practice and pedagogy
  • The Rights of babies and young children
  • Professional adult roles – e.g primary caregiving/key person approach
  • Parent roles

I have supervised nine students to successful completion of their doctorates and examined 17 full doctoral theses.


Scholarly biography

I am a Senior Early Years Lecturer and the Doctoral Studies School Lead in the School of Education at the University of Brighton. I was previously a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield. Before taking up my academic role, I was employed in both policy and practice roles. For over three decades I worked closely with young children and their families and it is from these humble beginnings that I first gained a unique insight into the importance of fostering careful, respectful, reciprocal and genuine relationships between infants, toddlers and their key adults in professional early years contexts. 

I am committed to research and practice that places the rights of infants,toddlers and young children at the centre and it is this view of children which inspired my academic research into the complex notion of attachment, intimacy, care and love in the earliest years of life. My PhD was a life historical study with mothers to examine their views on returning to work when their baby was under a year old and the complex issues of 'love' and 'care' in day care provision which I conceptualised as ‘Professional Love'. Following on from my doctoral research, I have developed further studies to examine the discourse on intimacy, care and Professional Love within the context of contemporary international debates on adult-child pedagogical relationships in the early years.

My research on attachment based relationships between adults and children under three years in group day care provision has brought national and international recognition. 

Most notably it is my characterisation of ‘Professional Love’ which led to me being awarded: The Association of Infant Mental Health UK Louise Emmanuel Award 2021: ‘To recognise those who have demonstrated a significant contribution to Infant Mental Health in terms of practice or through their work in research and policy’

Due to my vast knowledge and understanding of babies and young children, my expertise is much sought after in the UK and overseas. I am regularly invited to give keynote talks, seminars and workshop sessions on attachment and love. In my role as visiting scholar at the University of Huddersfield it was my work on Professional Love that inspired colleagues to engage with my ideas and to interrogate the boundaries of love and professionalism within the context of childhood studies and youth. More recently, I have been collaborating with Arts based colleagues and am embarking on a project to explore how my concept of Professional Love can be expressed in the early years through the medium of movement and dance.

Approach to teaching

I teach early childhood care and education at undegraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level. I am particularly experienced in student-staff relationships, ethics, assessment, presentation, individual tuition (both face to face and at a distance) and group teaching. I have taught in the UK and overseas and teach sessions both on the substantive areas of my own research: infants, toddlers and children under three, policy issues and international perspectives of childhood and in academic study skills including approaches to research; methods, methodology, ethical issues, library and referencing skills.I always aims to lead teaching and to advance understanding in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education by constructing supportive teaching contexts and to be an sensitively inclusive educator, recognising and supporting the challenge which students often face during their academic journey. I am committed to striving for excellence, underlined in my approach to teaching. Students have commented on their regard for my academic knowledge of early childhood care education as 'excellent' and on my skill in imparting that knowledge through different learning approaches as 'really inspiring'. Students have also recognised my ability 'to treat each individual as unique'

Knowledge exchange

My research feeds directly into my teaching. I have drive, passion, creativity and importantly have had extensive experience of working with a range of people including stakeholders in both the public and private sector. I have research-based, practice-based and policy-informed knowledge of current issues in early childhood care and education with a particular specialism in the age range of birth to three years. This is evidenced in my thirty plus years as a practitioner and policymaker in which I have significant experience of working with babies, children and families and in my academic role. I have sound knowledge of early childhood care and education and the issues that arise from these debates within education more broadly. I have supervised the work of undergraduate and postgraduate students including research based dissertations and 9 students to successful completion of their doctorates

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Mothers, Work and Childcare: Challenges, Beliefs and Dilemmas, University of Sheffield


Award Date: 12 Feb 2010

Master, Key Issues in Working with Under Threes: perspectives of three leading academics in the UK, University of Sheffield


Award Date: 16 Jan 2003


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