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Education, Early Childhood Education

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Personal profile


Jane Murray PhD SFHEA is Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Centre for Education and Research at the University of Northampton. Jane researches, teaches, supervises, advises and has published widely in the field of Education across formal, informal and non-formal domains. Her specialist research interests include primary and early childhood education, participatory research and social inclusion in Education. Holding UK qualifications as a teacher and head teacher, Jane worked in primary schools and early childhood settings for twenty years before moving to work in higher education, where she has taught on a wide range of Education programmes, and led on early childhood Master’s and initial teacher education programmes. Jane has worked with government education departments and ministries in countries including Ethiopia, Bhutan, Georgia and the UK, as well as national and international organisations including The National Gallery in England and UNICEF. She leads on the Young Children Are Researchers (YCAR) Project and she is Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Early Years Education, a Taylor and Francis peer reviewed journal.

Research Interests

Primary and Early Childhood Education -

Although Jane researches and publishes across the wider field of Education in its formal, informal and non-formal domains, she has a major research interest is primary and early childhood education. Her research as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator includes a diverse range of funded projects ranging from international studies addressing social and emotional learning (UNICEF, 2014-2015) and science outdoors for children aged 3-11 years (European Commission, 2018-2022) to local studies about early literacy (Northamptonshire County Council) and children’s outdoor play (Northampton Leisure Trust). Jane has published many peer-reviewed journal articles from her research in this area. Additionally, from the Young Children Are Researchers study, she authored Building Knowledge in Early Childhood Education: Young Children Are Researchers (Routledge, 2017). For another book that Jane edited - Early Childhood PedagogiesCreating spaces for young children to flourish’ (Routledge, 2019) - she curated research from 40+ international authors. As Editor-in-Chief for the peer-reviewed International Journal of Early Years Education, (2016-) Jane is influential globally in the production of new knowledge pertaining to all aspects of early childhood education.

Participatory Research in Education -

Participatory Research in Education is another important strand of Jane’s work. Among other projects, as PI she collaborated with the National Gallery in England, children and teachers across a large school trust and university art students to research the integration of rich arts experiences in the primary curriculum for a project supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation (2018-2022). This research was awarded the BERA/Anna Craft Creativities in Education prize (2020). Jane also worked with colleagues across diverse European schools and higher education institutions including 2nd primary school of Kalamata, University Colleges Leuven-Limburg and VIA University College on the Cyber Safe Generation project (European Commission, 2016-2019), bringing together young people, teachers and academics to develop an evidence-based digital educational programme promoting young peoples’ online citizenship. On a smaller scale, Jane led a research collaboration with teachers and primary carers at a super-diverse inner-city school to investigate parents’ perspectives on ways free education and care for two-year-olds affected their family lives; by personal invitation of the Head of Research at the Department of Education (DfE), the research team presented the study findings to an audience of DfE policy advisors. Jane is often invited to work in participation with early years and school stakeholders at their request; past projects have featured topics including the social impact of early years provision, transitions in education and young children’s voices in their learning.

Social Inclusion -

Much of the funded educational research that Jane works on addresses social inclusion. She co-edited two books from the ‘Access to Lifelong Learning in Higher Education – ALLinHE’  project funded by the European Commission (2011-2014): ‘The Power of VPL and ‘Linkages of VPL’ (Inholland University AS & European Centre for Valuation of Prior Learning, 2014). Jane also undertook research with partners from nine organisations across six countries for the ‘Below 10’ project funded by the European Commission (2016-2019) which focused on new pedagogical strategies to prevent early school leaving. For the CHILD-UP project - also funded by the European Commission (2018—2022) - Jane collaborated with ten partners across seven European countries. CHILD-UP adopted a research approach that promoted children’s agency to investigate and foster understanding of migrant children’s social integration and active participation for successful inclusion. As part of her work for the CHILD-UP project, Jane was a contributing author for the book ‘Narratives and Agency of Children with Migrant Backgrounds within Schools’ (Routledge, 2023). Among other funded social inclusion research that Jane has worked on, topics including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) (National Lottery Community Fund, 2019-2022), childcare services for children with disabilities in England (Deutsches Jugendinstitut, 2012-2013) and knowledge, attitudes and practices concerning children with disabilities in Bhutan (UNICEF, 2016-2017) have been addressed. Additionally, Jane draws on research to make frequent contributions to the discourse around social inclusion in her work as an editor and co-editor, for example The Routledge International Handbook of Young Children’s Rights (Routledge, 2019).


Other Responsibilities






Rita Bromley [2nd Supervisor]

Social and emotional learning and its association with academic achievement in higher education.

Maitreyee Buragohain [Director of Studies, 2nd Supervisor]

The Impact of Dance on Sociability skills of CWCN (Children with Complex Needs): A step towards Inclusion

Gemma Boaden [Director of Studies]

Identifying the Physiology of Voice for Stage: Establishing a Unified Approach to Actor's Voice Training

Michelle Bugby [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

An Investigation of Early Childhood Practitioners' Mobile Technology Use in the Early Phase of Literacy Education

Claire Dugan-Clements [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

Perceptions of Age in Early Childhood Settings and their Communities: How do young children view people aged 55 and over? How do people aged 55 and over view young children?

Steph Flower [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

Teachers’ and school leaders’ autonomy and agency over curriculum and assessment in Multi-Academy Trusts in England

Colin Foster [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

A study of leadership and management expectations for the executive leaders of a children's trust

Alana Fount [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

How to support children with English as an Additional Language: A framework of strategies for primary school teachers

Brigette Gouda [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

Do dental nurses have a role in the early intervention of oral healthcare for infants and toddlers during mandated contacts by specialist community public health nurses?

Rebecca Humphreys [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

The Impact of Leadership on Provision in Early Years Education

Lee Livingston-Thomas [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

Enrichment, what's that all about, eh?

Philip Mathe [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

What is British PE? - Exploring the perception of PE in British International Schools and the subsequent influence on curriculum design and provision, from the perspective of practitioners and pupils.

Eucharia McCarthy [1st Supervisor]

A critical investigation into inclusion co-ordinators' (InCos') perspectives and experiences of implementing their role in pre-school settings in the mid-west of Ireland.

Rosie Robson [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

Children’s perspectives on play-based experiences in early childhood settings and their effects on their attitudes to school

Sally Sharp [1st Supervisor]

Mental health and wellbeing in higher education

Christopher Wilson [Director of Studies, 1st Supervisor]

A primary school’s role in enacting social mobility


Debbie Bailey PhD

An investigation into how headteachers of special schools in England for pupils with SEBD/SEMH maintained school effectiveness during an extended period of change 1998-2019.

Elaine Batchelor PhD

Primary Trainee Teachers’ Talk with Primary School Science Co-ordinators: Two Case Studies of Primary Trainees Learning to Teach Science

Wen Chen PhD

Students aged 3-6 years with special educational needs working in second language environments

Ayse Gursel PhD

The views of key stakeholders concerning leadership and professional development in schools in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Yahya Moalin PhD

Perspectives from the UK Somali Diaspora on the ways Peace Education may support the National Reconciliation Process in Somalia: An exploratory case study

Jess Newcombe PhD

Perspectives of Secondary School Students with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties Regarding a Peer Mentoring Programme: A Participatory Inquiry

Sumathi Ravindranath PhD

An investigation into the nature of and extent to which methods taught during Montessori teacher training in Bangalore are applied by teachers in Montessori and mainstream schools.

Tanya Richardson PhD

What constitutes a quality learning environment with regards to speech and language development for young children and how do factors in learning environment influence the characteristics of utterances made by young children?

Angela Scollan PhD

Children's Self-Determination as Pedagogy: Facilitation of children's narratives in London primary schools.

Helen Trory PhD

A Balancing Act: Perceptions of communication about young children with SEND in the early years. An IPA Study.

Emma Whewell PhD

Primary PE teachers' self-image and professional identity

Yu Zhao PhD

An Investigation of Experiences of Pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and School Provision during the Transition between Educational Phases in England


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, An Exploration of Young Children's Engagements in Research Behaviour

Award Date: 20 Mar 2013

Master, Professional Studies in Education

Award Date: 10 Jul 2002

Bachelor, Education

Award Date: 4 Jul 1983

External positions

TRUSTEE, Northampton Arts Collective, Northampton Arts Collective


TRUSTEE, Preston Hedge's Academy Trust, Northamptonshire UK

2018 → …

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, International Journal of Early Years Education

2016 → …

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, Early Child Development and Care Journal

2015 → …

TRUSTEE and NATIONAL EXECUTIVE MEMBER, TACTYC: Association for Professional Development in Early Years


TRUSTEE, ASK Education / Inspire Teaching School Alliance


CONVENOR, Young Children's Perspectives Special Interest Group, EECERA: European Early Childhood Education Research Association

2014 → …

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER, National Children's Bureau



  • LB1501 Primary Education
  • Education
  • Social justice
  • Pedagogy
  • Young Children as Researchers
  • Social inclusion
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Qualitative Research
  • Educational Research
  • Participatory Research


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