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The Early Childhood Studies Degree Network has been in existence since 1993 / 1994 and in it's current format exists as a membership body.

ECSDN Executive


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Philippa Thompson

Philippa is a Senior Lecturer and Placement Academic Lead for BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies at Sheffield Hallam University which she joined in 2006. Her professional career has been varied and involved teaching in a wide range of educational settings. She has worked in educational fields in England, Australia and Hong Kong. As a Community Teacher and local authority early years adviser she supported parents alongside early childhood settings, schools and childminders to develop practice abd this gave her a deep understanding of the quality practice across the huge range of provision and the difficulties faced by the sector. Current doctoral research is designed to hear the voices of parents of children with anaphylaxis in early childhood settings. Published research and book chapters span a range of subject areas but all are underpinned by an interest in young children's and parental well-being.

Philippa is also the Vice Chair for
Early Childhood Academic Field and The Student Experience 


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Alex Sabine

Alex has worked in education since 2006 with a career spanning all phases of development. His professional background includes his current role as Early Childhood Studies course leader at the University of Portsmouth. His experience of international perspectives of early childhood education include regular visits to outdoor learning centres in Norway and as a local authority and practitioner consultant in China. Alex is also the consultant for a home-based early years setting on the Isle of Wight; a family pre-school and nursery which Alex co-managed in its transition from childminding to full ‘Childcare on Domestic Premises’ status. He has invested interest in community-centred pedagogy that benefit local children and families which have also helped to shape his doctoral research. Alex is an External Examiner for the Pen Green Children’s Centres MA programmes (University of Hertfordshire) and for Kingston University’s FdA in Early Years collaborative programme.

Treasurer and Membership Secretary

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Tanya Richardson

Tanya is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years at the University of Northampton. She has previously managed and led her own “outstanding” day nursery and out of school club. The nursery setting was fortunate enough to have a forest school as part of its ethos and Tanya became very interested in the impact that this environment had on children’s speech and language development. She therefore is lucky enough to have the practice wisdom that she is able to apply to the academic studies and her PhD researched the impact that different learning and play environments have on young children’s speech and language development. She is also particularly interested in the student experience for those studying Early Childhood Studies and researches aspects with the aim to enhance this experience and produce professionals who will be excellent advocates for children and their families.

Tanya is also the Vice Chair for
Workforce Development

Vice Chairs

Research and Knowledge Exchange
(Student Development)

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Jackie Musgrave

Jackie is Programme Lead for Early Childhood and Education Studies (Primary) at The Open University. Her research brings together her experiences as a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse and as a teacher of early childhood and explores the intersection of health, early education and inclusion. Jackie has published extensively, a sole authored book, several co-authored and co-edited books, as well as many chapters. Jackie has been Vice-chair of the ECSDN with responsibility for Research and Knowledge Exchange. Her work within the Network is focused on developing students’ voice as researching professionals. Jackie manages the ECSDN Student Publishing Opportunity

See Jackie's publications here: http://www.open.ac.uk/people/jm39645#tab2

Research and Knowledge Exchange
(Professional Development)

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Helen Perkins

Helen is senior lecturer in childhood and family studies at the University of Wolverhampton. She began her early years career working in nursery and reception. Following 13 years as head of school for early childhood education in a college of further and higher education Helen joined the University of Wolverhampton as a senior lecturer working on undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Helen’s doctoral research predominately focuses on agendas and policies in the early years with a focus on the workforce and their qualifications. Helen served as an expert panel member for the Nutbrown Review of Early Years qualifications and is a member of the Executive for the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network focusing on workforce issues and professionalism. Helen has co-edited a book recently with Routledge Using Innovative-Methods in Early-Years Research-Beyond the Conventional (Brown & Perkins 2019) and has published peer reviewed Journal articles.

Professional Issues

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Sigrid Brogaard-Clausen

Sigrid Brogaard Clausen is a senior lecturer and researcher in Early Childhood at the School of Education, University of Roehampton. She was previously a lecturer at the College of Social Education/ Kobenhavns Paedagog Seminarium - Copenhagen - Denmark. Her research interest arise from her experience of the Danish and English early years and range from the policy conditions for children's well being, learning and democratic participation to the development of professional identity in early childhood workforce. She has been a programme convenor for the BA Early Childhood Studies for 11 years and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, England.

Policy and Lobbying and Advocacy
(National and International) 

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Helen Simmons

Helen is a Senior Lecturer and International Link Tutor on the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies and Pathway Leader on the MA Education (Early Years Pathway) at the University of Derby. Prior to joining the University in 2008, Helen worked in early years settings and as a private nanny, she also taught vocational early years courses at Further Education Colleges in Sheffield and Coventry. Helen has undertaken research and publication relating to leadership in the early years and early years policy and her doctoral research and subsequent monograph publication provided a feminist post-structuralist analysis of modern motherhood. Helen lectures and supervises across Undergraduate and Postgraduate Early Childhood and Education programmes and her role also includes PhD supervision. Module leadership includes Wellbeing from Birth, Children's Workforce Development, Children’s Places and The Critically Reflective Practitioner.

Communication and Website

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Martin Needham

Martin trained and worked as an Early Years and Primary teacher in Nottinghamshire, London and Pakistan. This was followed by developmental roles in education management and leadership in Pakistan and then with early education, extended schools services and children’s centre provision in England. He became a Senior Lecturer in 2003 and a Principle Lecturer at MMU in 2014 as Associate Head of School for Childhood Youth and Education Studies. He has published work on multi-agency working, young children’s learning and leadership in early years conducting research projects in these areas funded by the DFE and NHS Scotland. He has recently been involved in international early education consultancy work in Kazakhstan and China. Martin is passionate about improving the well-being of children and young people and to developing professionals who are able to take a broad view of children's upbringing.

Marketing and Publicity

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Aaron Bradbury

Aaron is a Principal Lecturer in Early Childhood at Nottingham Trent University with a specialism in Early Help, Child Development and Child Protection. He has been working in the Early Years / Childhood sector since graduating he has been heavily involved in the Early Years and has worked in this sector for the majority of his career; he has also taught Early Years and Care in Further Education. His current roles cover many areas within the Early Childhood Arena and he has recently become the joint Co-Founder and Co-Chair of The Early Years Academy which allows Early Years professionals to gain professional Recognition through Fellowship Awards and founded a working group looking at LGBTQIA+ in the Early Years/Early Childhood Sector. Aaron is an active member of the Early Years community and positions his work within practice, still working closely with the PVI and Maintained sector, providing an online platform for practioners and all Early Years professionals via his app and website, Early Years Reviews by Aaron which includes a blog which is well situated in the workforce, with many researchers and practitioners discussing contemporary topics.

Minutes Secretary

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Kerry Moakes

Following completion of an Early Childhood Studies degree and a PGCE in Primary Education (early years specialism), Kerry worked in a variety of early years and special educational needs settings. She became an Associate Lecturer on the Childhood Studies Programme at MMU in 2006 and has worked extensively on the development of the early years strand of the childhood studies programme, particularly in relation to embedding students critical knowledge of child development as a key component in the development of the children's workforce. Kerry’s teaching is mainly on the undergraduate Early Years and Childhood Studies programme. She has a particular interest in engaging students in the processes of learning through creative methodologies. She enjoys working with students to reflect upon their own social and cultural experiences and how these have influenced their life experiences..

network support

Accounts, Administration and Website

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Juliette Davies

Juliette (Juls Davies) provides Support to the ECSDN Network including Administration, Events, Website and Accounts via her Virtual Support Company. More well-known for her work within the sector under the name of EY Matters, she has introduced regular networking via Twitter (#EYMatters and #EYECFC) free resources and CPD including #BrewEdEYOnline and the Continual Online Conference and many other initiatives.  In addition she provides Admin and Website support to the Ofsted Big Conversation (Nationally) and is the Co-Chair of The Early Years Academy; More recently she has taken on support of the Early Years/Early Childhood LGBTQIA+ Working Group, once again working closely with Aaron Bradbury 

honorary roles

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Carolyn Silberfeld

First Chair Emerita

Carolyn has spent 26 years developing and leading Early Childhood Studies degrees, contributing to all aspects of their development. Carolyn has participated in all developments within the ECSDN and has been a member of all working groups in different Executive Committee roles. She has a professional background in health (children’s nursing, midwifery, health visiting), social sciences (BSc), Education (MEd, Cambridge) and Practitioner Research (MEd, Institute of Education) and has worked in many different settings, cultures, and contexts. This has all contributed to her pedagogic approach which views childhood as being contextual and holistic. Carolyn has taught in HE since 1988 and her research interests include reflective learning in higher education; the influence of studying abroad; national and international child health and wellbeing; and the impact of the EYFS on professional practice and the subsequent effects on children’s learning and development. Carolyn retired as Chair of the ECSDN in November 2020


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Pamela Calder

Honorary President 

Founder member and former chair of the ECSDN.


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Helena Mitchell

Honorary Fellowship

Helena retired as from the combined roles of Deputy Chair, Membership Secretary and Treasurer in November 2020. Prior to this she was Head of the school of education at Oxford Brookes University, having previously been head of the department of early childhood and primary education. She led the primary PGCE programme and also the early childhood studies degree when it was introduced at Oxford Brookes in 2000. She has extensive experience as a classroom teacher. She is a member of BERA, TACTYC and the SRHE, and a Trustee of Peeple, a charity which supports parents and children learning together. Her most recent research has focused on graduates from early childhood studies degrees and their transition to professional status as teachers and leaders in early years’ settings. She was also involved in a research project on values and beliefs in primary education, a collaborative partnership with primary teachers.


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Ian Barron

Honorary Fellowship

Ian retired from the ECSDN Executive Group in 2020.

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