Dr Louise Kay

School of Education

Course Director of the Sheffield EdD

Deputy Director for Education

edu - photo of louise kay
Profile picture of edu - photo of louise kay
+44 114 222 8141

Full contact details

Dr Louise Kay
School of Education
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

Humanities/Social Studies BA

Qualified Teacher Status

Early Childhood Education MA

Early Childhood Education EdD

Research interests

My research interests focus on the transition between the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage One. I am particularly interested in how children who do not meet the expected levels of development at the end of the Reception year experience this transition. I am also interested in professionalism and workforce reform in Early Childhood Education. My current research focuses on developing children’s STEM and digital literacy skills through makerspace pedagogies.

Current Research Projects

Maker {Futures}

This project is a collaboration led by the University of Sheffield, working in partnership with the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action (CIVA), Arbourthorne Community Primary School, Sheffield and the company Erase All Kittens (EAK). The University of Sheffield’s School of Education has developed a Maker{Futures} programme, which aims to provide support for early years settings, schools, libraries, museums and community centres that wish to develop and deliver makerspaces. A makerspace is a space that enables users to tinker, design and make a range of artefacts. Engagement in makerspaces can develop knowledge across a wide range of disciplines, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and they foster the kinds of skills that are important for the future success of pupils.

The Internet of Toys: Benefits and risks of connected toys for children

This project aims to investigate the emerging world of the Internet of Toys (IoToys) where toys relate one-on-one to children and also connect to other toys, other children and/or database data. Using a ‘children’s digital rights’ framework and research methods germane to media and cultural studies, the project investigates the benefits and risks of these toys in terms of children’s communicative and play practices, as well as children’s data privacy and security. The project combines perspectives of international experts with a rigorous investigation into the implications of these toys for policy, practice and communicative play.

Previous Research Projects

Learning-rich leadership for quality improvement in early education

The aim of this research project is to explore how learning-rich leadership enhances service quality in ECE.  It is recognised that the field of schooling has benefited from decades of research that recognises the critical role school leaders play in developing teaching practice.  However, there is limited understanding of how leadership improves practice in Early Childhood Education (ECE). Focusing on the role of the Educational Leader in Australia and the Early Years Teacher Status in England, this collaborative project aims to generate knowledge about practices of educational leadership for quality improvement in ECE, and will form the basis for an ongoing programme of international research.

Engaging disadvantaged children in creative and innovative making to encourage engagement in STEM/ STEAM learning

The project involves the provision of a year-long after-school makerspace (a space that enables making and  tinkering, using a range of tools) for children and young people of Somali heritage.  The aim is to examine the possibilities offered by the use of this space to motivate marginalised children and young people towards the study of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects through the integration of these subjects with arts and humanities – characterised as STEAM.  The project also aims to enhance participants’ digital literacies and transversal 21st century skills. This is a collaboration between academics, community leaders, artists, makers and the digital business sector in order to enhance children and young people’s creative and employability skills.


Journal articles

Teaching activities

I have worked in the field of education for the past eighteen years and taught across the primary and Early Years sector before moving into Higher Education in 2013.

As part of my role at the University of Sheffield, I teach across the BA, MA and EdD programmes. I am Director of the EdD programme and module leader for EDU105 (Critical Curriculum Studies). I am also the Deputy Director of Education.

I supervise undergraduate, masters and doctoral students in the areas of:

  • Curricular and assessment policy frameworks
  • School readiness
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Cultural-Historical Activity Theory
  • Professionalism in the Early Years Workforce
  • Pedagogical documentation in Early Childhood
Professional activities and memberships
  • BERA convenor for Early Childhood Education and Care Special Interest Group
  • External examiner for Leeds Beckett University (BA (Hons) Childhood Studies
  • External examiner for University of Reading (EdD)
  • External examiner for University of Sussex (EdD)
  • Associate Investigator for Digital Child Centre of Excellence