Professor Kathy Sylva OBE

Professor Kathy Sylva OBE

Kathy Sylva is Honorary Research Fellow and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Oxford.

After completing a doctorate in Developmental Psychology at Harvard, she moved to England for post-doctoral research with Jerome Bruner at the University of Oxford Department of Experimental Psychology.   Her research interests fall into two themes.  She has conducted several large-scale studies on the effects of early education and care on children’s development, acting as a lead researcher on the Effective Pre-school and Primary Education study (EPPE/EPPSE) which following 3000 children from pre-school entry to the end of compulsory schooling.   She  co-led  the national Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England, another large scale study on the effects of early childhood services on development.  Her second interest is in parenting programmes aimed at enhancing parents’ capacity to support their child’s learning and behaviour.  She has led three randomised controlled trials to evaluate parenting interventions, the most recent on a parent programme aimed at supporting  early reading near the start of primary school. Currently Kathy is researching the early childhood curriculum across Europe, funded by the EU.

Kathy has published 7 books and 200 papers/chapters/reports on early education/care, early literacy, and ways to support families.  She has was  Specialist Adviser to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Education 2000-2009, the Tickell Review of the early childhood curriculum in 2011, and the National College Expert Panel on ‘Standards for Early Years Teachers’ in 2012. In 2014-15 she was specialist advisor to the House of Lords Enquiry into ‘Affordable Childcare’.  She was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to children and families and in 2014 was awarded the British Education Association’s Nisbett Award for outstanding contribution to educational research. She was elected Fellow of the British Psychological Society and also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Awards and Distinctions

  • OBE 2008, for ‘services to children and families’
  • Honorary Doctorates: University of Gothenburg, 2015, Oxford Brookes University, 2005; Open University, 2002
  • Elected (Full) Fellow of the British Psychological Society, 2006
  • Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences, 2004