Sarah is a Research Assistant at the Department of Education working with Professor Charles Hulme and Dr Gillian West.
Sarah completed her MSc in Social Cognition: Research and Applications at UCL. Her dissertation project was supervised by Dr Anne Schlottmann and investigated the development of a sense of fairness in children aged 4 to 7 years.
She is currently assisting on the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) trial for Reception children, working directly with schools as well as supporting the development and delivery of professional online training courses for school staff.
The British Academy has today announced the election of 86 new Fellows, including the Department’s own Professor Kathy Sylva.
An Honorary Research Fellow and Professor of Educational Psychology, Professor Sylva specialises in preschool development and education, with particular expertise in the effects of early education and care (including parenting) on children’s development. She is well-known for longitudinal studies and for robust trials of interventions in both the UK and low-income contexts, with findings of her studies directly informing policy decisions. In the past 10 years, she has received >£30m of research funding and is frequently asked to advise on education matters nationally and internationally. Awarded an OBE in 2008, she is also a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Academy of Social Sciences.
Commenting on her election as a Fellow of the British Academy, Professor Sylva said: ‘It is an honour to be elected to the British Academy at a time when research in the Humanities and Social Sciences is contributing to an inter-disciplinary response to health and social challenges. My work lies at the intersection between psychology and education, a no-man’s land characterised by very practical needs and a range of research methods. When I first embarked on applied research, I knew it was a risk to leave well-trodden paths in psychology. However I try to bring the rigour of psychological methods to interventions that support families and childcare centres as they shape the child’s intellect and imagination. I am delighted that the British Academy has recognised the work of researchers who aim to make a difference, no matter how small, to the lives of children, families and teachers.’
Professor Jo-Anne Baird, Director of the Department and Professor of Educational Assessment, added: ‘Professor Sylva is an outstanding scholar who has achieved far-reaching research impact with her work. This honour, in recognition of her achievements, is well-deserved. The Department is fortunate to have Professor Sylva as a member of our research community.’
Read the British Academy’s full announcement here.
Alex Hodgkiss is a research officer working on the LiFT project, which is a collaboration with Ferrero international.
Within this project, Alex’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of a digital tool to support parent-child conversation in the home, with the overall aim of supporting pre-school children’s language development.
Before joining the Department of Education, Alex completed his PhD in Psychology and Education at University College London. His previous research focused on the role of children’s spatial thinking skills in the development of conceptual understanding in science.
- Cognitive development in educational contexts.
- Cognitive training and interventions.
- Early language development: the role of parental input and parent-child conversation.
- Spatial tools: gesture, spatial language, diagrams/models.
- Children’s conceptual understanding and development.
Gilligan-Lee, K. A., Hodgkiss, A., Thomas, M. S., Patel, P. K., & Farran, E. K. (2020). Aged-based differences in spatial language skills from 6 to 10 years: Relations with spatial and mathematics skills. Learning and Instruction, 73, 101417.
Gilligan, K. A., Hodgkiss, A., Thomas, M.S.C., & Farran, E.K. (2019). The developmental relations between spatial cognition and mathematics achievement in primary school children. Developmental Science
Hodgkiss, A., Gilligan, K. A., Tolmie, A. K., Thomas, M. S. C., & Farran, E. K. (2018). Spatial cognition and science achievement: The contribution of intrinsic and extrinsic spatial skills from 7 to 11 years. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(4), 675-697.
Gilligan, K. A., Hodgkiss, A., Thomas, M. S. C. & Farran, E. K. (2018). The use of discrimination scaling tasks: A novel perspective on the development of spatial scaling in children. Cognitive Development, 47, 133-145.
Pinar is a doctoral researcher at the Department of Education. Her thesis research focuses on the language and identity development of children growing up in immigrant families in the UK. She is interested in the effects of home environment and family resources on the development of minority children.
Her thesis work is supervised by Prof. Edward Melhuish. Prior to her doctoral studies, Pinar completed a MSc degree in Child Development and Education at the University of Oxford and received a BSc degree in Psychology from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.
Over the past two years, Pinar has been working for European Union’s Horizon 2020 project ISOTIS: Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Societies. She coordinated the survey research with the Turkish families in the UK and collaborated in the design of an ICT-based family intervention. She recently led a study on the cultural and linguistic identities of minority children.
- Kolancali, P. (2019). How do home and school experiences of Turkish children in the UK interact with their language attitudes and preferences? ISOTIS: Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Societies. Utrecht University.
- Kolancali, P. & Melhuish, E. (2019) How Family Characteristics and Migration Shape Home Learning Environment of Turkish Children in the UK. ISOTIS: Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Societies. Utrecht University.
- Broekhuizen, M. L., Guerra, R. & Kolancali, P. (2019). Acculturation orientations, intergroup relations and well-being of Turkish and Maghrebian immigrant parents across Europe. ISOTIS: Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Societies. Utrecht University.
Sandra is part of the Child Development and Learning research group. Her main research interests are the quality of early education and its effects on child development, early language development and professional development.
She began her career as a primary school teacher, and her work remains strongly practice and policy-focused. In addition to her research, Sandra is a Trustee of the charity Early Education and a regular adviser to local and national policy-makers. For example, she recently served as a member of the Department for Education Expert Panel on early years language, literacy and communication apps (2019) and on the proposed revisions to the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum (2017-18).
Current research projects
- Murphy, V. with Mathers, Nag & Hodgkiss. Investigating the home language environment for disadvantaged UK families speaking EAL (John Fell Fund, £55,199, 2021-22)
- Dockrell, J., Law, J. and Mathers, S. Empowering Staff to enhance oral language in the early years (Nuffield Foundation, £357,257, 2019-20)
- Miner, S., Black Country Consortium Members, Mathers, S., Williams, C. Ryders Hayes School – Strategic School Improvement Fund Round 3 Project (Language First) (£745,517, 2018-20)
- Curtis, L., Mathers, S. & Williams, C.Everton. Nursery School and Family Centre – Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) Round 3 Project (Language Leaders) (£498,634, 2018-20)
- Murphy, V., Mathers, S. & Eynon, R. Learning for Families Through Technology (LiFT) (Ferrero, £500,000, 2017-20)
Previous research projects
- Barlow, J., Lindsay, G., Sylva, K., Mathers, S., Solomon, E., Summerbell, C., Glover, V. and Bick, D. Fulfilling Lives: A Better Start Evaluation (BIG Lottery Fund, £5.5m, 2013-2019)
- Mathers, S., Siraj., I., Evangelou, M. and Williams, C. Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years (Intervention Study) (Education Endowment Foundation, £907,544, 2015-19)
- Mathers, S. and Sylva, K. Evaluation of the Oxfordshire Leaders of Early Learning Programme (Oxfordshire County Council, £51,102, 2015-19)
- Mathers, S. & Broome., E. Starting Out Right: Early education and looked after children (Nuffield Foundation, £44,483, 2015-16)
- Sylva, K., Mathers, S. & Eisenstadt, N. Sound Foundations: What do we know about quality for under-threes and what are the implications for policy? (Sutton Trust, £30,869, 2013)
- Mathers, S. Quality and Inequality: Do Children from Deprived Areas Experience Lower Quality Preschool Provision? (Nuffield Foundation, £32,723, 2012-14)
- Mathers, S., and Singler, R. Improving Quality in the Early Years: University of Oxford, Daycare Trust and A+ Education Ltd (Nuffield Foundation, £79,672, 2011-12)
- Mathers, S. and Sylva, K., Evaluation of the Graduate Leader Fund (Quality study) (Sub-grant to main DfE grant held by the National Centre for Social Research. Sub-grant: £766,000; main grant: £1,244,794 to all partners)
Sophie Booton is a research officer working on the LiFT project.
The Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project is a collaboration between Ferrero international and three research groups in the Department of Education: Applied Linguistics, Learning and New Technologies, and Families, Effective Learning, and Literacy. The project aims to examine key questions about children’s learning with technology, with a focus on language and literacy skills.
Within the project, Sophie is investigating vocabulary development in children with and without English as an Additional Language. Sophie’s research interests lie in children’s cognitive and emotional development, particularly in in how areas of development interact to affect children’s learning and well-being.
Before joining the Department of Education, Sophie studied for her PhD in Psychology at the University of Sheffield. Her doctoral research in collaboration with Dr Daniel Carroll focused on the impact of emotional states on children’s self-control. Prior to her PhD, Sophie gained a MEd on the Mind, Brain and Education programme at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a BA in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford.
Dr Katharina Ereky-Stevens works as a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Education at the University of Oxford.
She has worked on a number of research projects on early childhood education, including the Families, Children and Childcare project (FCCC), the Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project, a Viennese Transition to Childcare project (WIKI), and the EU project CARE (Curriculum and Quality Analysis and Impact Review of European ECEC). Her main focus of research is the quality of young children’s relationships and interactions with caregivers, firstly in the context of early childhood education and care, and secondly in the context of families. She has post-graduate training in parent support, and has a particular interest in support for disadvantaged families and their young children. She currently works on the EU project ISOTIS (Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequality in Society).
Lyudmila Nurse is a sociologist with over 25 years of experience of research into social institutions, education, culture and identities. Her current research interests are:
- Cultural diversity
- Education (both formal and informal) and families
- Cultural reproduction
- Identities and belonging
- Identities and music
- Biographical research methods
- Mixed research methods
In the Department of Education, she is a Research fellow. She works for the H2020 ISOTIS: Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Society project. She leads a qualitative study of mothers with pre-school and primary school children from low-income families in two metropolitan areas of England: Greater London and Merseyside. She also coordinates comparative qualitative study of mothers from low-income families, families with immigrant background and ethnic minority background in ten EU countries: Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal.
Her experience includes coordination of large-scale international multi-disciplinary research projects funded by the European research agencies. Previous projects include qualitative and biographical studies in European identity :“ENRI-East: European, National and Regional Identities ” (EC FP7) and “United States of Europe” (EC Culture Programme) in which she worked on the analysis of families’ cultural reproduction, identities of ethnic minorities; identities and music, inter-generational comparative analysis. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. She studied Modern Sociology on a post-doctoral summer Sociological school at the Department of Sociology, University of Manchester. She has been a visiting research fellow at Universities of Edinburgh, Warwick, City (London) and the Institute of Education, London. Between 1994 and 2009, she worked as an international social development consultant and from 1999 was a Director for Social development of Hart group. Her international consultancy related to social development, poverty alleviation, policy evaluation and monitoring. From 2006, she was Research Director of Oxford XXI, a think tank and innovative research organisation that she co-founded.
David is a Research Assistant at the Rees Centre.
He is currently working on several projects including an evaluation of the Mockingbird Family Model, and the evaluation of the Lifelong Links as part of the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. Prior to this he contributed to five Education Endowment Foundation evaluation projects.
David completed his MSc Psychology (conversion) at Coventry University in 2018, while working in the department. Before arriving at Oxford he was a part-time researcher at Durham University, where he trained as a primary teacher, and completed his MA Education. He graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BSc (hons) Forensic Anthropology.
His main research interests lie in the areas of widening participation, “non-cognitive” skills, and perseverance. David is experienced in quantitative and qualitative analysis, and has approved researcher status from the Office of National Statistics.
- Nunes, T., Malmberg, L-E., Evans, D., Sanders-Ellis, D., Baker, S., Barros, R., Bryant, P., & Evangelou, M. (2019). Onebillion Evaluation Report. London: Education Endowment Foundation.
- Nunes, T., Barros, R., Evangelou, M., Strand, S., Mathers, S., & Sanders-Ellis, D. (2018). 1stClass@Number Evaluation Report and Executive Summary. London: Education Endowment Foundation.