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Carolyn Blackburn

Carolyn has worked in childcare and education for nearly 20 years mainly in primary education and early years.  She has established a reputation for supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Carolyn is an external examiner for a Professional Master degree in Early Years and Inclusion with Specific Learning Difficulties at Bath Spa University and the University of Wolverhampton.  Carolyn is the recipient of a prestigious 2015 Churchill Fellow. This enabled her to travel to New Zealand for postdoctoral research to explore services for children with complex needs.

Carolyn was the Project Lead for two projects investigating the educational implications and practitioner knowledge of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Her work for one of these projects won the Nursery World Editor’s Choice Award and she is the lead author of the first British text on Educating Children with FASD resulting from the other. Carolyn was previously a reviewer for the Teacher Training Resource Bank managed by Canterbury Christchurch University and is currently a member of the editorial board for Infants and Young Children and a Board Member of the European Association of Early Childhood Intervention (EURLYAID).

Recent research involvement where Carolyn was the project lead or a research advisor includes:

  • Promoting children’s well-being, right to make choices and engage in playful activities in restricted environments through music and singing (Froebel Trust)
  • Born early: early care and education for children born prematurely (Birmingham City University)
  • Independent Evaluation of Fosterline England (FosterTalk/Fosterline/ Birmingham City University)
  • Communicative Musicality: sounds, rhythms and pulses in music and language (Birmingham City University)
  • Relationship-based early intervention services for young children with complex disabilities: lessons from New Zealand (Winston Churchill Memorial Trust/Birmingham City University)
  • The policy-to-practice context to the delays and difficulties in the acquisitions of speech, language and communication in the first five years, PhD study (Birmingham City University)
  • Arthur Terry Teaching School Community of Practice for ITT Project (Birmingham City University/Arthur Terry Teaching School)
  • Common Assessment Framework Children and Young People's Satisfaction Survey (Wolverhampton City Council Integrated Working Team/Birmingham City University)
  • Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project (The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, SSAT)
  • Facing the Challenge and Shaping the Future for Children and Young People with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FAS-eD Project) (NOFAS-UK)
  • Building Bridges to Understanding: The acquisition of Early Years Practitioner Knowledge in Relation to the Support and Education of children affected by FASD (Worcestershire Local Authority/Sunfield Special School)
  • The Effectiveness of Communication and Interaction as an SEN Specialism for Specialist Schools (The Schools Network)
  • Making a Difference: What information and advice do parents need when their child is first diagnosed with a disability? (Children's Workforce Development Council/Pre-School Learning Alliance)

In most of these projects, interdisciplinary working has been a feature of the research design and working with children, families and practitioners as co-researchers has also been an enjoyable aspect. Carolyn has presented her research nationally and internationally as a keynote/invited speaker as well as in parallel sessions.

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