Early Childhood Research Centre Staff


Peter Elfer

Peter Elfer - Interim Lead

Dr Peter Elfer is Principal Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. His long-standing research centres around babies and children under three in nursery provision. He is particularly interested in attachment and peer interaction in this setting and how psychoanalytical tools can be used to explore this relationship. His doctoral research concerned the nature of nursery cultures and their impact on individuals and interactions. The aim was to see whether particular patterns of management are associated with particular outcomes for children.

Please note: if you are interested in making an initial inquiry about doing a Doctorate in the early childhood field, please contact Peter Elfer, Interim Director of the Early Childhood Research Centre, to discuss this informally before contacting other members of the research centre.


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 interests 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 years'.

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. She is a member of the steering group of the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network, England.

Penny Lawrence

Dr Penny Lawrence is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. Penny's main research interest is in agency and dialogical learning, particularly in non-verbal multi-modal interactions and including the more-than-human. Her background as a specialist documentary maker (BBC Producer in Broadcast Features and Documentaries) and as an early years teacher meet in expertise in observation, documentation and analysis of children’s learning experiences for research and for practice. She has worked extensively in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and with children and families in Pen Green in the UK. Her recent publications are about dialogical agency from her doctoral thesis ‘Observing and Understanding Decision-making in Two Year Olds in Dialogue’. Penny teaches on the BA and MA programmes specialising in children under 3 years of age, play, representation, thinking, creativity, communication, relating, emotions and wellbeing and on research methods.



Dr Amy Palmer

Amy Palmer is a Senior Lecturer on the BA and MA Early Childhood Studies programmes. Her PhD focused on the history of nursery education in England from 1918 to 1972, analysing national and local policy-making.  Her subsequent research has continued to be located in the field of History of Education and she has particular interests in biographical research, children’s literature and its use in educational settings and in the history of arts education.  She has recently co-edited British Froebelian Women from the Mid-Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century with Jane Read, writing chapters about the author Enid Blyton and the teacher Clara Grant.  She is currently co-editing a book about pioneers in arts education, and has written about the folk-music and folk-dance promoter, Cecil Sharp; the industrialist and producer of arts materials, Harry Peach and the music inspector, Walter Carroll.  Her next project, working with Deborah Albon, will revolve around the history of children and food

Antonia Zachariou

Antonia Zachariou

Dr Antonia Zachariou is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, in the School of Education. Antonia's research interests lie in the area of studying young children's learning and emotional, social and cognitive development, Antonia researches on the link between play and the development of children’s self-regulation and metacognition. She is also interested in studying the role of the arts, particularly music, in fostering children's development.

Antonia’s current research projects focus on Developing, Implementing and Investigating the effects of a musical play intervention on young children's self-regulation (funded by the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research), and on studying The role of autonomy support from teachers and young children's self-regulation in music education (funded by the Southlands Methodist Trust). Her most recent research has looked at musical play and self-regulation in young children.

Antonia has also been co-investigator on the Froebel Trust funded project on Developing close, thoughtful attention to children and families in early years pedagogy: Evaluating the impact of Work Discussion Groups as a model of Professional Support and Reflection, which was led by Dr Peter Elfer.

She has previously held a Research Associate post at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, working on the Play, Learning and Narrative Skills (PLaNS) project, with Dr. David Whitebread being the Principal Investigator. She has also been employed as a researcher in a multitude of projects including the Learning in small-group contexts project (funded by the British Academy), led by Prof. Christine Howe, and the Family Thinking Skills international project (funded by ESRC), led by Dr. Michelle Ellefson and Prof. Claire Hughes.


Associate Members

Evelyn Corrado

Dr Evelyn Corrado

Evelyn is a lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Froebel College. Evelyn uses Multidisciplinary approach in her teaching and research. Her study background is in Psychology (MSc and BSc) and Sociology of Education. Evelyn's Ph.D. research explored dialogic pedagogies in Kenya to enhance learning. Additionally, equip students with skills for emancipation and active participation in local and global spheres. Evelyn grew up in Kenya and has a tremendous social-cultural understanding of the African context, which informs her work.

Previously, Evelyn worked in UK Mental Health Sector for almost ten years and later as an academic tutor at Middlesex University for four years (in the BA Education program).

Her research interests include: dialogic pedagogies, Social Justice in Education, Ethnographic research, African Childhoods and Education, Children Health and Wellbeing.

Michelle Cottle

Dr Michelle Cottle

Michelle Cottle is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. Her current research interests include policy enactment within early years settings and primary schools with a particular focus on discourses of creativity and performativity. She is interested in children's experiences and their participation in research, practitioners' perspectives on their work with children, quality in the early years and Children's Centre development.


Dr Dalvir Gill

Dalvir Gill worked as a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care at Newman University (Birmingham) for almost 10 years. Her key teaching and research interests around Human Rights and Social Justice encourage learners to deconstruct the inter-relationship between theories and practice. Other previous experience includes working with diverse communities as part of a successful DfES research project in 2001 to develop innovative inclusive strategies aimed to increase the take-up of early childhood services by Black and other ethnic minority groups. This work also included the development and implementation of the ENCO (Equalities Named Co-ordinators) training. Dalvir has rich international research collaboration and participation. She managed the England part of a Five Country research project, Children Crossing Borders. This study examined the early childhood education and care (ECEC) systems of five countries, in relation to how they include the needs of children of recent immigrant families. Dalvir is a member of the RECE (Reconceptualising in Early Childhood Education) Network and has presented keynotes and symposiums at several international conferences. Additionally, she is currently the Vice Chair of the European Network Diversity in Early Childhood Education and Training (DECET) and has been an active member for over 12 years.


Sofia Guimarães

Dr Sofia Guimarães is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. Her current main research interests include bilingualism and multilingualism, literacy acquisition and children's emotional wellbeing and learning.

Sally Howe

Sally Howe

Dr Sally Howe is Lecturer in Early Years and Programme Convenor on the BA Early Childhood Studies. Her research interests include children's perspectives on transitions in the early years, the development of identities in context, and the role of autonomy and interest in children's learning.

Kyara Rojas-Bustos

Kyara Rojas-Bustos

Dr Kyara Rojas-Bustos is a senior lecturer at the School of Education at the University of Roehampton. Her experience in teaching has been forged within multi-disciplinary perspectives on education, language and literacy practice in diverse societies. She has worked in special education and higher education in both Chile and England, developing a sound knowledge of curriculum development and creating collaborative working environments in which everybody can excel.

Her career as a researcher started very early as an undergraduate student, assisting data transcription on language development in young children with severe learning difficulties. This is when her interest in language learning flourished and undertook a master degree in linguistics studies. Her studies focused on the development of pragmatic skills during conversations and published two articles about young children linguistics skills in a professional journal in Santiago in Chile.

Her PhD research focused on a critical analysis of language ideologies which were conveyed in a language policy - Every Child a Talker- in England. The research provides readings about the formation of dispositions towards ‘other language/s’ in early years practice. This research is framed within Bourdieu’s theory of practice and Fairclough’s construct on critical discourse analysis.

Clara Rubiano

Clara Rubiano

Dr Clara Rubiano is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. Her main research interests include social justice in early childhood education, teacher education and international educational policies and practices that influence early childhood. With experience in teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students in Colombia, Clara teaches on modules introducing current issues, debates, research in early childhood and awareness of the importance of equity and inclusion in the early years: Contemporary Issues, Researching Social and Cultural Issues, Research Proposal and Being a Professional in Early Childhood: Inclusive Practice. She has been a co-researcher in the explorative study about implications of privatisation in early childhood education funded by Education International and she is currently working on the Erasmus Plus Project E+ Inclusion with the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit at the University of Roehampton. She is a member of the Research Network: Cultures of Early Childhood Education and Care (CECEC).


Valeria Scacchi

Valeria Scacchi is the Research Assistant for the Early Childhood Research Centre. Valeria is currently undertaking doctoral research for a PhD thesis titled 'Reconceptualising professional development in early childhood education and care'. Her research is concerned with the reconceptualisation of professional development for educators in Early Childhood Education and Care in Tuscany and London, aiming at developing and promoting an alternative approach to professional development and learning that is situated in the Froebelian tradition. Due to both her teaching and research experience Valeria is particularly interested in the fields of professionalism in early childhood, teacher education, and research methods development. 

Fengling Tang

Fengling Tang

Dr Fengling Tang is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. She had worked in schools and further education in China and a nursery school in London before she joined the Early Childhood Studies and Early Childhood Research Centre at University of Roehampton in 2007. Fengling's research interests include young children’s identities, early years professionalism, Froebelian perspectives and history of early childhood, play and creativity, children’s rights and child participation, early childhood pedagogy and policy, technology with young children, and ethnographic comparative research with young children. She has published book chapters and articles in peer reviewed journals such as Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development; Childhood Education: Infancy Through Early Adolescence; Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education; History of Education; and Problemy Wczesnej Edukacji.



Honorary Professor: Professor Mathias Urban 

Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Sue Robson

Emeritus Fellow: Dr Jane Read

Emeritus Fellow: Sue Greenfield 

Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Kristen D. Nawrotski

Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Hiroko Fumoto

Honorary Research Fellow: Dr Yukio Nishida

Visiting Professor: Professor Tina Bruce

Senior Lecturer, University of Reading: Maria Kambouri


Visiting Scholars:

Prof Helen May, University of Otago, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Rodrigo Gabbi Polli, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil

Yumiko Taoka, Ryukoku University, Japan

Dr Yukiyo Nishida University of New England, Australia


Founding Director:

Professor Kevin J. Brehony