I have wide and diverse experience of leading and implementing initiatives aimed at improving educational outcomes for children and young people and working towards inclusive schools.
For 15 years, within Tusla Education Support Service, I led the development and implementation of a range of prevention and implementation programmes across 10 DEIS primary and post-primary schools, supporting educational and socioemotional outcomes for children and young people who are most at risk of exclusion from formal education, many with experiences of trauma and adverse childhood experiences. From this role, I was seconded to a national role in Tusla Education Support Service to support the scale-up and adaptation of a LifeSkills Programme across 120+ primary schools in Ireland.
Throughout my career I worked with stakeholders from across the education system, and across sectors and disciplines, establishing and implementing many intersectoral initiatives, for example Speech and Language Therapy in Schools Project in collaboration with Trinity College and HSE Primary Care. I have dual qualifications in both Education (PhD, DCU) and Health (CORU registered Speech and Language Therapist).
I have expertise in the field of Implementation Science (PGCert, TCD) and a genuine interest in addressing the ‘implementation gap’ in education, knowledge translation, evaluations of the processes by which outcomes are achieved, and an overall analysis of implementation structures, barriers, and enablers. As a researcher, I am mostly interested in practical applications of research. I have experience and interest in promoting and conducting collaborative, engaged research and promoting new ways for people to work and new ways for people to work together.
As a Speech and Language Therapist working in Education, my research expertise is broadly around interdisciplinarity, language acquisition and pedagogy, linguistic foundations of reading, and speech, language and communication supports for children and young people in schools.
I have experience and interest in implementing and embedding participative and relational approaches like trauma-informed and restorative practices and solution-focused interactions in schools, and an overall interest in implementing inclusive communication systems. I am currently commissioned by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to review literature on approaches to participation of disabled children and young people in consultation, policy development, monitoring and accountability processes and to develop guidelines for policy makers on the involvement of disabled children and young people in decision-making.
I also have specialist expertise in Implementation Science and an interest in knowledge translation in the Education sector, this includes the science of reading. As an Implementation Specialist, I am currently Principal Investigator on a large-scale national research on the implementation of evidence-based practice among staff working in School Completion Programmes, Tusla Education Support Service.
I have extensive and multifaceted experience working towards improving outcomes for children and young people in Ireland, including through my work leading school-based multidisciplinary teams and implementing intersectoral projects, and this kind of work is also among my research interests.