1992-97 : Cheadle Hulme School; 1997-99: Ridge College, Cheadle (International Baccalaureate)
PhD in Psychology (2008; Kings College London); BSc Applied Psychology (2003; Cardiff University)
Assistant Clinical Psychologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, PostDoc Fellow at UCL and University of Pittsburgh
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Goldsmiths, University of London
Me and my work
I am interested in how social, emotional and behavioural strengths and difficulties contribute to school success.
Although academic outcomes are certainly important, I am also really interested in outcomes related to social inclusion and psychological adjustment – I’m interested in what makes a happy and healthy school. I work with schools to develop changes to school ethos or interventions; examples including creating a school without sanctions, and a cognitive-neuroscience informed behaviour management system.
I think evidence-based education policy and practice is really important; but I’m really keen that the work that we do feeds back into the research base, just as much as drawing from it.
I drop my toddler into nursery and head to the office. During the day, I might teach (I run a BSc/MSc module in Psychology and Education), meet with my PhD students to talk about their work, meet with my collaborators in the department, or escape from the office and go and visit a school or attend a committee meeting. The best kind of day would involve some productive research meetings and a visit to one of our research partner schools.
What topics do you work on?
I’m really interested in how emotion understanding relates to behaviour and school outcomes. Much of my work has been with children who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and I have also worked with children with autistic spectrum conditions. I work to develop evidence-based interventions in partnership with schools, and I’m really interested in how building social and emotional skills builds resilience, and allows children to better manage in the classroom.
What methods do you use?
I’ve used a range of methods, including neuropsychological testing; brain imaging to look at brain responses to emotional faces; behavioural genetics to look at the relative genetic and environmental influences on behaviour and emotion understanding; and qualitative methods to better understand how teachers perceive working with children with emotional and social difficulties.
Who was your favourite teacher?
I have two; both women who were great advocates for students meeting their potential. I met the first of these (Mrs Mullock) in my final year of primary school, and the second (Ms Hurst) during sixth form. Both woman shaped my educational career, and I am grateful to both of them for their commitment to seeing students as individuals.