A quick introduction to me: In 2005, my second child was born and she was diagnosed as having Down syndrome. As a result, in 2006, I co-founded a Down syndrome support group Stepping Stones DS with a good friend. Initially, we envisaged a small support group running a monthly coffee morning, but soon it became evident that parents were looking for more than support. We ended up fundraising and putting on a wide range of training, activities for families, therapies/early intervention and outreach for local schools. The group now supports over 100 families locally.
In 2011 I stepped away from helping to run the support group and became involved with our local parent carer forum. I was keen to find a way to make sure local services met the needs of local families, instead of families having to rely on services offered by support groups such as the one I had co-founded. In particular, how could local services become more inclusive of all local children? I had joined the forum at the start of the Pathfinder trials relating to the SEN reforms, as Hampshire was part of the SE7 Pathfinder. I was elected Chair of our local parent carer forum, and was also chosen to be an SE7 regional representative. As a result, I became involved in local, regional and national initiatives as a parent representative, and was involved in developing and supporting parent participation locally and regionally, as well as contributing to national discussions. At this time, I was able to collaborate with researchers and parents from other forums in the What works for us project, looking at what parents of disabled children feel works for them.
In 2014, I stepped down from being Chair of the parent carer forum and started to work as a Contact Associate and Trainer, supporting the development of parent participation and parent carer forums. I offer consultancy and support in local areas, and develop and deliver a range of training, both online and face to face. I am passionate about improving inclusion, support, services and education for disabled children or those labelled as having additional needs, and their families. The various voluntary and paid roles that I undertake in addition to my research are always chosen with this in mind.
My main focus since 2014 has been a return to study. I spent four wonderful years (2014-18) at the University of Winchester, undertaking a BA (Hons) Education Studies course, which I followed with an MA in Philosophy of Education at the Institute of Education, UCL London (2018-2019). In 2019, I started a full-time PhD research study at the University of Birmingham. My broader research interests include the Philosophy of Education, postqualitative inquiry, critical disability studies, parents of disabled children/children labelled with SEN, participation, risk, inclusion and SEN/Disability. I was awarded the BERA’s Inaugural Doctoral Fellowship in 2019 and am grateful to BERA for their support of my doctoral research.
Alongside my studies, with a friend and colleague I have co-founded the Postgraduates in Education Support Network (PESN), to provide opportunities for fellow postgraduate students to share and develop their research in a supportive space. I am also on the lead group for the SEN Policy Research Forum and I am a member of NCB’s Family Research Advisory Group (FRAG).