Invited Speakers

Invited Speakers

Featured Speakers

Steven Barnett

Professor Steven Barnett W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D. is Board of Governors Professor of Education and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Barnett is an internationally recognized expert on early childhood policy and programs who has served as consultant to scores of states and national leaders in the United States and numerous countries around the world. His research includes wide ranging studies on early childhood policy and economics including: research on long-term effects of early education programs; benefit-cost analyses of early childhood programs; educating bilingual/migrant populations; the effects of curriculum on executive functions, attitudes, and social behavior; and, the series of State Preschool Yearbooks providing annual state-by-state analyses of progress in public pre-K. Dr. Barnett published the first comprehensive benefit-cost analysis of lifetime effects of the Perry Preschool in 1985. Nearly thirty years later he summarized what has been learned about producing such results on a large scale in the journal Science. Dr. Barnett earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan.

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Andreas Schleicher

Andreas Schleicher Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. As a key member of the OECD Senior Management team, Mr. Schleicher supports the Secretary-General’s strategy to produce analysis and policy advice that advances economic growth and social progress. He promotes the work of the Directorate for Education and Skills on a global stage and fosters co-operation both within and outside the OECD. In addition to policy and country reviews, the work of the Directorate includes the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), and the development and analysis of benchmarks on the performance of education systems (INES). Before joining the OECD, Mr. Schleicher was Director for Analysis at the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA). He studied Physics in Germany and received a degree in Mathematics and Statistics in Australia. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the “Theodor Heuss” prize, awarded in the name of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany for “exemplary democratic engagement”. He holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Heidelberg.

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Paul Leseman

Professor Paul Leseman Paul Leseman majored in psychology at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his PhD in social sciences at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (1990). He was a postdoctoral research fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of educational sciences at the University of Amsterdam. Since 2003, he is a full professor of education at Utrecht University. He is chair of the interdisciplinary research focus area Education for Learning Societies at Utrecht University and director of the two-year graduate research master’s program Educational Sciences. He is principal investigator of the Dutch national cohort study pre-COOL (2009-2020) on the effects of early childhood care and education provisions on children’s development and school achievement. He is scientific coordinator of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Project CARE (Curriculum and Quality Assessment and Impact Review of European Early Childhood Education and Care; 2014-2016) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Project ISOTIS (Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Society; 2016-2019). He published on emergent literacy and numeracy, executive functions, bilingual development, and the effectiveness of early childhood education and care.

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Iram Siraj

Professor Iram Siraj As Professor of Education at University College London, Institute of Education, and a visiting professor at the University of Wollongong, Iram’s recent research projects have included the major DCSF 17-year study on Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE 3-16, 1997-2014) and the influential Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years project (REPEY). She has led longitudinal studies/RCTs as a principal investigator in a number of countries including the UK, Australia and Ireland. She has always been particularly interested in undertaking research which investigates disadvantage and gives children and families from these backgrounds a better start. She is a specialist, early years advisor to governments and ministers in the UK and overseas. She has published widely and been a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education. Recently she undertook a review of the Implementation of the Foundation Phase for the Welsh Govt. and is currently reviewing the early years workforce for the Scottish Govt. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Years honours list in January 2015 for her services to early education.

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Sally Peters

Associate Professor Sally Peters Sally Peters is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Waikato. Currently she is Head of School, Te Oranga School of Human Development and Movement Studies and one of the Associate Directors of the Early Years Research Centre. Sally has a background in early childhood education and a particular interest in children’s development from 0–8 years. Since completing her PhD on ‘Crossing borders’ in 2004, Sally has led or co-led a number of research projects exploring aspects of transition experiences, most recently leading the New Zealand team in a Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES) project focused on Pedagogies of Educational Transitions (POET). Her research interests also include understanding more about young children’s thinking, working theories and social development. Many of her projects have involved working in partnership with teachers and looking at ways to enhance and supporting learning over time. Recently she was part of the writing team for the update of the New Zealand early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki.

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Vanessa Paki

Vanessa Paki Vanessa Paki is a lecturer at the Faculty of Education, University of Waikato – Aotearoa/New Zealand. Her background began as a kohanga reo (indigenous early childhood) teacher and moved towards an early childhood practitioner in both early years and human development teacher education and government sectors. Her research and writing is focussed on supporting teachers and communities (Māori and mixed settings) to enhance their praxis around Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) in areas of cultural transitions and social justice from early childhood to school, and kaupapa Māori assessment in Māori and mainstream early childhood settings. Since 2007 Vanessa has co-led a number of research projects in early childhood both internationally and in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Her research has played a significant part in adding knowledge to the area of indigenous perspectives through different disciplines in education – early childhood.

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Jennifer Sumsion

Professor Jennifer Sumsion Jennifer Sumsion PhD is Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Education at Charles Sturt University. She was co-Director of the Australian Government-funded Excellence in Research in Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network (2011-2015) led by CSU in partnership with Queensland University of Technology and Monash University. She was also co-leader (with her colleague Professor Linda Harrison) of the national consortium of academics, early childhood organisations, practitioners and other key stakeholders who worked closely with the Council of Australian Governments to develop and trial Belonging, being and becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF). She has given keynote addresses about the development of the EYLF and hopes for what it would achieve in Canada, Malaysia and New Zealand, and around Australia. Since the development of the EYLF, much of Jennifer’s research has focused on investigated how the EYLF is understood and implemented, and how current understandings and practices concerning the EYLF might be further enriched and extended. Two of these projects have been funded by the Australian Research Council. The Education Meets Play project (2013-2016) focused on how educators are bringing together intentional teaching and play in their day-to-day practice, while the Babies and Belonging project (2013-2017) is endeavouring to understand how infants and toddlers come to develop a sense of belonging in early childhood centres and whether, and if so how, they contribute to fostering a climate of belonging. Jennifer has published widely. Her most recent book (with Linda Harrison) is Lived Spaces of Infant-Toddler Education and Care (Springer, 2014).

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Linda Harrison

Professor Linda Harrison Linda Harrison is Professor of Early Childhood Education and Associate Dean-Research in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Charles Sturt University. She completed her PhD in developmental psychology, and holds qualifications in early childhood education and the biological sciences. Linda is known for her contributions to the development and trial of Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and to the design of the child care and education components of Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Her research focuses on very young children's experiences in early education and care settings, and the processes and practices that underpin high quality programs. She has a particular interest in educator-child interactions and how supportive relationships encourage and promote a sense of belonging. Linda writes on a range of topics for a range of audiences; her most recent publication is Transitions in children's everyday lives, an ECA Everyday Learning Series booklet for educators and families.

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Sheila Degotardi

Associate Professor Sheila Degotardi Sheila Degotardi is an Associate Professor in early childhood education at Macquarie University, Sydney, where she teaches and researches in infant-toddler early education and care. Her research applies a relationships focus to explore the many ways that infants, their peers and educators connect with and relate to one another during their everyday experiences. Sheila has lead a number of research projects which have examined various qualities of these relationships, culminating with the publication of ‘The Relationships Worlds of Infants and Toddlers: Multiple perspectives from research and practice’ with co-researcher, Emma Pearson.

Sheila is active in advocating for and promoting high-quality professional practice in infant-toddler early childhood programs. She develops and presents research-based professional learning programs for infant-toddler educators, and co-hosts the ‘Infants and Toddlers: Practice, pedagogy and research’ conference with Gowrie NSW. Sheila’s current ARC-funded project (with colleagues Associate Professor Jane Torr and Professor Ben Bradley) focusses on the features of the language environment in infant-toddler rooms, and ways that infant-educator talk and interactions can support language and cognitive development. This lead to use the LENA system, and Sheila’s ‘insider knowledge’ of the potential of this technology for capturing children’s direct experience of their language environment.

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Karen Thorpe

Professor Karen Thorpe Karen Thorpe is a Professor and Group Leader in Early Development Education and Care at the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland and an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Children’s Health Research, Queensland. Her research examines the effects of early life experiences on social, learning and health trajectories across the lifespan. Her particular interest is early childcare and education environments. Karen was a Foundation Psychologist on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children at the University of Bristol, UK, she led the evaluation of the Preparing School Trial for Queensland Government, she led the Queensland team of the E4Kids study of quality in Australian Early Education and Care, and, in partnership with the Queensland Government, Goodstart Early Learning and the Crèche and Kindergarten Association, currently is leading a study of the Australian ECEC Workforce (ARC Linkage). In 2013 Karen was named by the Australian Financial Review as among Australia’s 100 Women of Influence for the impacts of her research on educational and family policy.

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Sleep in Early Childhood Research Group

Sleep in Early Childhood Research Group The Sleep in Early Childhood Research Group brings together researchers from across the fields of Child Development, Sleep Science, and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Their focus is building and sharing an evidence base to inform quality sleep, rest and relaxation policies and practices within the ECEC sector. Their research includes the most comprehensive study, internationally, of sleep practices in ECEC and their impact on child health and well-being. To date, they have conducted direct observation of sleep practices in over 170 ECEC environments and of more than 2500 children aged from birth to 5 years. Their research also includes studies of the experiences and perspectives of parents, educators and children themselves. With the support of the Queensland Department of Education and Training, their research has been translated into professional development resources, including films, podcasts, webinars and fact sheets. These are designed to support early childhood educators to reflect on appropriate practices for sleep, rest and relaxation under the National Quality Standard for ECEC.

The Sleep in Early Childhood Research Group is led by researchers from Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland; Professor Karen Thorpe, Dr Sally Staton, Aspro. Simon Smith, Aspro. Susan Irvine and Cassandra Pattinson.

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Kenneth Poon

Associate Professor Kenneth Poon Kenneth Poon is Associate Professor of Early Childhood and Special Needs Education at the National Institute of Education, Singapore where he also serves as Associate Dean, Research Quality at the Office of Educational Research. Trained professionally as a clinical psychologist, Kenneth received his doctorate in education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a focus on early childhood intervention. His research is currently focused on life course studies of young children with risk and/or with developmental disabilities. He is principal investigator of a study seeking to describe the outcomes of close to 400 young children with disabilities receiving early intervention in government subsidised early intervention centres across Singapore. He is also co-principal investigator of the Singapore Kindergarten Impact Study, a longitudinal study of about 1,500 preschool children from Kindergarten to Primary where he leads the research team seeking to understand the outcomes of at-risk children and to identify pathways of resilience. Apart from that, Kenneth is actively involved in the development and/or adaptation of instruments that are appropriate for the context of Singapore.

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Annette Michaux

Annette Michaux Annette is a Director at the Parenting Research Centre. Trained in social work and adult education, Annette has over three decades of experience in child and family practice, policy and research management. At the PRC, Annette leads significant, evidence-informed practice and policy initiatives that help PRC clients achieve their intended outcomes. She directs a number of government-funded, national and multi-year initiatives – including MyTime – and is responsible for leading a talented team of researchers, implementation, communication and knowledge translation and exchange specialists. Annette drives a number of PRC implementation projects in NSW, including a trial of the Quality Assurance Framework for children and young people in out-of-home care.

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Catherine Murphy

Catherine Murphy Catherine is a Senior Practice Design Specialist at the Parenting Research Centre. Over the last 5 years Catherine has worked with education and family support agencies across Australia to design and implement evidenced informed programs and practices. Catherine is currently working with an early childhood provider to implement a program aimed to improved educator-child interactions and child development. She is also working with a team to design resources for the early childhood sector to enhance how they collaborate with families. Catherine is psychologist who is committed to creating a more equitable society and improving the lives of people with multiple and complex needs.

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Marc de Rosnay

Professor Marc de Rosnay Marc de Rosnay is the current Professor & Academic Head of Early Start at the University of Wollongong. In this role, Marc is leading transformational initiatives between the University and the community with the goal of improving educational and social opportunities for young children in regional, rural and remote contexts. Between 2003 and 2006 Marc was awarded a prestigious College Fellowship (Churchill College, University of Cambridge) in recognition of his original work on emotion understanding in infancy and early childhood. In 2006 he moved to the School of Psychology, University of Sydney, where he held and Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellowship between 2007 and 2010. Marc joined Early Start in 2014 because of his belief that early intervention provides the single best mechanism to improve children’s lives. Marc’s own research focuses on social and emotional development in the early years, and the ways in which children’s growing understanding of the world (i.e., cognitive development) affects their experience; both social and emotional. Marc is widely published in leading international journals and has attracted over $1.5m of competitive research funding since graduating with his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2003. In addition to his scholarly outputs, Marc has worked consistently to communicate research and knowledge about early childhood and development in the public forum. He has taken a leading scientific role in various documentaries (including the Life at series on ABC television), contributes regularly to the print media, and has had a fortnightly radio slot on ABC702 since 2012.

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Anthony Okely

Professor Anthony Okely Professor Anthony Okely is Director of the Early Start Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, Australia and Theme Leader in the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute. He has been awarded over $10 Million in competitive funding, including being Principal Investigator on two National Health and Medical Research Council Project grants. He has published over 180 peer-reviewed journal articles, four book chapters, and four policy-related monographs or reports; has around 7,000 career citations, and his h-index is 48.

Okely’s research focuses on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and gross motor or fundamental movement skills in children. It encompasses observational studies that describe the prevalence and patterns of these behaviours; relationships with health, education, and other developmental outcomes; interventions; and guideline development.

Okely led the research team that developed the Australian Physical Activity Recommendations for Children 0-5 years, and the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Children and Young People and was an international expert on the Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years, the Canadian 24-hr Integrated Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, and the Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Canadian Children and Youth. He was also a member of the Early Years Expert Working Group for the UK Physical Activity Guidelines in 2011.

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Lisa Kervin

Associate Professor Lisa Kervin Lisa Kervin is an Associate Professor in Language and Literacy in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong where she is an active member of the Early Start Research Institute. Lisa’s current research interests are focused on young children and how they engage with literate practices and she is currently involved in research projects funded by the Australian Research Council focused on young children and writing, digital play and transition. She has researched her own teaching and has collaborative research partnerships with teachers and students in tertiary and primary classrooms and prior-to-school settings.

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Pauline Jones

Associate Professor Pauline Jones Pauline Jones is Associate Professor, Language in Education in the School of Education at UOW. She has been a teacher and teacher educator in Australia and overseas for over 30 years, often in disadvantaged communities. Her research revolves around language and the transformative potential of literacy in all its modes in contemporary educational settings. She is currently project leader of TRANSLIT, a major literacy research project investigating the literacy learning experiences of learners across the years of formal education from preschool to mid-adolescence. She currently teaches educational linguistics at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and supervises a number of doctoral students undertaking work in this field.

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Martha Johnson

Martha Johnson Martha Johnson is the Manager, Experiences & Visitors at the Early Start Discovery Space located at the University of Wollongong. With an education background and six years experience in educating children and adults in various roles before working with the Early Start Discovery Space, Martha has a passion and commitment to make learning experiences fun and engaging for both children and their families.

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Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones Rachel Jones is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences and a member of the Early Start Research Institute, University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on improving health outcomes for young children through the promotion of physical activity and healthy eating habits. She is currently a chief investigator on a National Health and Medical Research funded project which investigates the efficacy of a physical activity program for children based in areas of disadvantage. She is also interested in optimising professional development for educators within the area of physical activity. She currently teaches post-graduate students in these areas and supervises a number of PhD students also working in the field.

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Fay Gowers

Fay Gowers Fay Gowers has 20 years experience as an early years educator and director. Fay is an interventionist, Project Manager – Early Start Baseline Project and a part time early years lecturer at the University of Wollongong. She is a Masters of Education graduate (UOW) with research interests in promoting child outcomes and shaping educator attitudes in the area of physical activity.

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Last reviewed: 11 September, 2017