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Department of Education

Dr Sandra Mathers

Departmental Lecturer and Senior Researcher

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)