I was born into a deeply political family and much of my childhood and youth was spent involved in conversations about the state of the world and our responsibility to try and make a difference. This has had a profound effect on how I see the world.
After studying for a degree in Politics at the University of York, I spent the first fifteen years of my professional life working in the community and voluntary sector (in HIV organisations, women’s centres and youth projects). My work at The Warren of Hull, a drop-in centre for socially excluded and disadvantaged young people aged 16-25, gave me a personal connection with hundreds of young people who continue, to this day, to inspire me. The Warren heightened my awareness of the impact of social exclusion and social inequality, and in particular, the role that education (or inadequate education) plays in this.
I left youth work when I felt that I couldn’t continue to meet young people who had left school with few or no qualifications without doing anything about it. They described themselves as ‘stupid’, as ‘thick’, as ‘educational failures’ yet they were, in fact, creative, intelligent and motivated. They had been failed by a system which was not set up to meet their needs.
I have been working as an education academic at the University of Hull since 2011. My teaching and research is about inclusion, equalities, democracy and social justice. I am co-founder of the Freedom to Learn Project and I am the Chair of Trustees at Phoenix Education.
In 2017, my life changed dramatically as I embarked on a new adventure. Through undertaking the year-long Call of the Wild programme in Devon, I encountered wild places and wild people and wild creatures, and I started to see life radically differently.
I continue to be passionate about radical, alternative and democratic education, rewilding, wild pedagogy, freedom and social justice.
This website and blog is published in a personal capacity.