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The steering committee

Our steering committee is a small, decision-making consortium comprised of key sector and policy actors and academics. The committee will advise and co-produce research bids, peer-review research, help disseminate research to sectoral constituencies and take part in joint submissions to inquiries.

Nathan Archer, Director of the International Montessori Institute, Leeds

Dr Nathan Archer is Director of the International Montessori Institute at Leeds Beckett University. Following initial education as a Montessori teacher, he has worked in a number of roles in practice, policy and research in early childhood education in England. His research focuses on issues of social justice through critical policy analysis and studies of the agency and professional identities of early educators. He has a keen interest in early childhood workforce policy and has published recently on the advocacy, resistance and activism of early childhood educators.

Laura Barbour, Early Years Lead, the Sutton Trust

Laura Barbour joined the Sutton Trust in 1997, helping with its establishment. Since then, she has had a variety of roles and in recent years has led the Early Years work. Laura’s role includes the management of action research projects, and she has been involved in commissioning a body of high-impact research reports that uncover and promote solutions to the issues around addressing the disadvantage gap in early years.

Sara Bonetti, Early Years Workforce Transformation Lead, NDNA

Sara Bonetti is the Early Years Workforce Transformation Lead at the National Day Nurseries Association. She is a researcher with 15 years of experience advocating on behalf of children and families within government, non-profit and research institutions. Her work focuses on the early years workforce, and the relationship between workforce characteristics and children’s outcomes, particularly socio-emotional development, and language and communication skills. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on early childhood education.

Caitlin Bray, Nursery Manager

Caitlin Bray is a Nursery Manager with more than fifteen years’ experience in the Early Years sector. Caitlin has a BA in Early Childhood Studies including EYPS and an MA Childhood and Early Years.

Tammy Campbell, Director, Early Years at the Education Policy Institute

Tammy Campbell is Director for Early Years at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE, where she spend seven years before joining the EPI. She undertook her PhD at the UCL Institute of Education; before that, was a Government Social Researcher; and before that, worked with children and young people. Her main research interests span childhood and education; forces causing inequalities and shaping lives; and intended and unintended ways in which policies play out. At EPI, Tammy’s focus is on building evidence to improve and equalise the experiences of children – and their families – in the early years.

Helen Donohoe, Chief Executive, PACEY

Helen Donohoe joined the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) as Policy Advisor in 2019, taking the role of Chief Executive in December 2022. With a background in policy development, campaigning, and senior leadership, including time as the Director for Public Policy at Action for Children and as a Parent Governor of Islington North Nursery, she is passionate about early intervention and ensuring every child gets the best start in life.

Kate Hardy, Professor in Global Labour

Kate Hardy is Professor in Global Labour at Leeds University Business School and Chair of the EYE Research Hub. She is an experienced researcher with a history of working in the higher education, non-governmental engagement and participatory research. Her research focus on women and work across various sectors and industries and she is currently engaged with workforce issues in the early years sector. Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the European Parliament, the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Sociological Review and Feminist Review funds.

Tina Haux, Independent Research Consultant

Tina Haux is a research consultant with over 20 years of research experience. Having previously worked as a researcher government, for a charity, and in academia, Tina has experience of researching the early years from a variety of angles, e.g. its funding through tax credits, the importance of childcare for lone parents wanting to move into work, issues of workforce retention and recruitment, the cost of childcare provision, evaluations of language interventions as well as longitudinal studies measuring the impact of early years attendance.

Abby Jitendra, Principal Policy Adviser, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Abby Jitendra is a Principal Policy Adviser at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and is working on developing a new programme of work on care, family and relationships. Her areas of expertise include energy policy and regulation, destitution, household debt and social security. Abby has previously worked at Citizens Advice and the Trussell Trust. She is a trustee of Quaker Social Action.

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive Officer, Early Years Alliance

Neil Leitch OBE, is Chief Executive Officer of the Early Years Alliance. Following a career in finance which culminated in him chairing the Finance Industry Standards Association, Neil was asked to volunteer his skills in business to what was then the Pre-school Learning Alliance. Neil is a strident leader of the largest early years membership organisation in the country, overseeing its rebrand to the Early Years Alliance in 2019 – a change that reflected its ambition to give a united voice to all involved in caring and educating young children.

Eva Lloyd, Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood, UEL

Eva Lloyd OBE is Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood in the School of Education and Communities at the University of East London and Visiting Professor at University College London’s, attached to its Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU). In 2007 she co-founded, with Professor Helen Penn, UEL’s International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare – ICMEC. She has published widely and has worked extensively with national and international policymakers. Her research explores pathways towards creating sustainable early childhood ECEC systems that promote children’s development, health and learning, their wellbeing and that of their families.

Catherine McLeod, Chief Executive, Dingley’s Promise

For the last 25 years, Catherine McLeod has worked in the charity sector to ensure equity and inclusion for people with disabilities. Since setting up her own charity in Sri Lanka in 2005 she has been in leadership roles and has a Level 7 Certificate in Leadership and Management. She was awarded an MBE in 2011 in recognition of her work with vulnerable children, and today actively lobbies to improve opportunities for children with SEND in the early years. Catherine has been the Chief Executive of Dingley’s Promise since 2015, growing the organisation from a small local charity to a national one that delivers training and influences policy alongside its core local support services. She is a mentor for ACEVO, an advisor to various early years bodies, and a Trustee of Charity Mentors Berkshire.

Josh Nava, Department for Education

Josh heads up the childcare markets research and analysis team at the Department for Education. His team leads on surveys of early years and childcare providers, surveys of parents, secondary analysis of the data collected and qualitative research studies. Josh is an experienced professional economist who has worked across multiple UK government departments, within the Government of Vanuatu and the UK private sector.

Helen Norman, Associate Professor, Leeds University Business School

Dr Helen Norman is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC) at Leeds University Business School. Her research and publications focus on fathers and fatherhood, early years childcare and gender inequalities in work, employment, and family life. In the last six years, she has won four major research grants from the Economic and Social Research Council and has collaborated on several external reports for major international organisations such as the International Labour Office and the European Commission. Helen sits on the academic advisory board for Working Families and is on the advisory board for the Department for Business and Industrial Strategy/ Department for Business and Trade's evaluation of Shared Parental Leave.

Gillian Paull, Senior Associate, Frontier Economics

Dr Gillian Paull is a Senior Associate at Frontier Economics where she undertakes research on the labour market and family-related policy for a variety of government departments and non-governmental organisations. Gillian specialises in analysing and evaluating policy relating to childcare, mothers’ employment and poverty and has published a wide range of Government reports as well as academic articles. She has previously worked for the IFS, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and held research and teaching positions at the LSE and Princeton University. Gillian has also served as a Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Committee on Affordable Childcare.

Helen Penn, Professor of Early Childhood, UEL

Helen Penn is an international expert on private sector childcare. She was recently co-author on the UCL/Nuffield Report Acquisitions, Mergers and Debt: The New Language of Childcare. Her new book Who Needs Nurseries - We Do will be published online by Policy Press in December 2023. She is Professor Emerita at the University of East London.

Nikki Pound, Women’s Policy Officer, TUC

Nikki Pound is the TUC’s Women’s Policy Officer and joined the TUC in 2019. Her background is in Economics and Retail Logistics, but her interest in Equality has seen her develop into an Equalities champion for trade union members. Nikki leads the TUC's policy and campaign work on women's rights, representation and equality in the workplace. She works on policy issues such as women's health and safety in the workplace, sexual harassment and gender-based violence, representation of women in unions, occupational segregation, women in the labour market, equal pay, sex discrimination and maternity rights

Sarah Ronan, Director, Early Education and Childcare Coalition

Sarah Ronan is Director of the Early Education and Childcare Coalition and led the development of the Coalition while working at the Women’s Budget Group (WBG). Prior to joining WBG, she worked at Pregnant Then Screwed, where she led its award-winning pandemic response, and has previously worked in policy and campaigns for a range of organisations including trade unions and early education providers.

Jennifer Tomlinson, Professor of Gender and Employment Relations

Jennifer Tomlinson is Professor of Gender and Employment Relations and Director of the Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change at Leeds University Business School. Her research interests focus on understanding patterns of gender and inequality in work, economies and societies. She has been commissioned by national organisations, trades unions and regulators and was the lead author of a major report on for the Department for Trade and Industry that fed into the Women and Work Commission report Shaping a Fairer Future. She has been widely published on issues around early years care employment.

Ivana La Valle, Independent Research Consultant

Ivana La Valle is a research consultant with extensive experience of carrying out research to inform and evaluate children's policy and practice focusing mainly on early years, parental support and children's social care. Ivana has previously led a number of large-scale national studies and is the former director of national evaluations of Children’s Centres, Family Intervention Projects (FIPs).