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Dr Sarah Cousins

Honorary Associate Professor

S dot Cousins dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk

Dr Sarah Cousins is an experienced early years teacher, leader, consultant, lecturer and inspector. She taught in London schools for ten years, worked for a local authority as an early years consultant, and led early years, primary and education programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels first at London Metropolitan University, then at the University of Bedfordshire and finally at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Warwick.

Sarah has a professional doctorate in education (EdD) from the University of Sheffield. Her doctoral research focused on the importance of love in out-of-home, early years settings.

In 2015 Sarah was appointed Director of Early Years at the Centre for Lifelong Learning. In 2018 Sarah was seconded to the role of Interim Director of Academic Studies at the Centre for Lifelong Learning.

In 2016 Sarah co-led a widening participation project to support university students to gain the maths and English qualifications they lacked in order to progress in their professional careers. In 2017 Sarah collaborated with Sue Johnston-Wilder to develop research about students’ maths anxiety, and how they are helped to become resilient. In 2019 Sarah became an Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) fellow.

Sarah is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She was chair of the Sector Endorsed Foundation Degree in Early Years Professional Association (SEFDEY) between 2019 and 2022.

Sarah leds a working group to develop the new Birth to Five Matters document for the early years sector in England. Sarah is working with Dr Hilary Minns on a book for Routledge about how teaching with rhymes and stories supports early development and learning.


Cousins, S. & Crowley, M. (in press) Students learning in a social context. In: Hayes, C. ed. SEFDEY Handbook. Routledge.

Baker, J., Cousins, S. & Johnston-Wilder, S. (2019) Maths - a place of loving kindness and resilience-building. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 17 (1), 111-126.

Cousins, S., Baker, J., Brindley, J. & Johnston-Widler, S. (2019) Stories of mathematical resilience: how some adult learners overcame affective barriers. Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 21 (1), 46-70.

Cousins, S. & Cunnah, W. (2018) Investigating emotional, sensory and social learning in early years practice. Abingdon, England: Routledge

Cousins, S. (2017) The use of poetry in a spiral-patterned methodology for research about love in early childhood. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30 (4), 323-339.

Cousins, S. (2017) Practitioners' constructions of love in early childhood education and care. International Journal of Early Years Education, 25 (1), 16-29.

Moate, J. Cousins, S. Cunnah, W & Roulotie-Lyhty, M. (2017) Educational research for democracy, In A. Raiker, A. & M. Rautiainen, M. Educating for democracy in England and Finland: principles and culture, Abingdon, England: Routledge: 127-139.

Cousins, S. (2016) ‘Policies for Quality Early Years Provision’, In E. Slaughter (Ed.), Quality in the Early Years, Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.

Cousins, S. & Knight, P. (2016), ‘Quality experiences for babies and very young children’, In E. Slaughter, (Ed.), Quality in the Early Years, Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.

Cousins, S. (2016) Is love important in early years? Children’s Centre Leader, June 2016,

Cousins, S. (2015) Perspectives on love. Early Years Educator, 17 (8), pp 25–27 DOI: 10.12968/eyed.2015.17.8.25

Cousins, S. & Dunne, U. (2013) Peer support for technology enhanced learning: developing a community of learners, Journal of Pedagogic Development, 3 (3), 47-53

Cousins, S. & Bissar, D. (2013) Adapting to the digital age: A narrative inquiry approach. Research in Learning Technology, 21 (1), 5-18.

Conference papers

2022, Perspectives on the value of studying an Early Years Foundation Degree (EFQ Level 5) in England: past, present and future destinations. Education Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) Triennial Conference, University of Milan Bicocca, Milan

2019, Early childhood students negotiate new, difficult spaces in the intersection between their places of study, homes and settings: a discussion paper. Early Childhood Studies Degree Network Research Conference, Hamilton House, London

2018, The establishment of a university GCSE/A Level English and maths centre of excellence to include non-traditional learners and address affective barriers to progression. Universities Association for Lifelong Learning Annual Conference, Downing College, Cambridge

2017, Changes to widen participation in ealry childhood programmes. European Early Childhood Research Association Conference, University of Bologna, Italy

2015, Practitioners' Constructions of Love in Early Years Care and Education. TACYC Annual Conference, The International Convention Centre, Birmingham

2015, Practitioners’ Constructions of Love in the Context of Early Childhood Education and Care, European Early Childhood Education Research Association Conference, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

2014, Landscapes of Love in Early Childhood Education and Care: a narrative and poetic inquiry, International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2014, Diverse Landscapes of Love in Early Childhood Education and Care, British Early Childhood Education Research Association, Birmingham

2013, Peer Support for Technology Enhanced Learning: a learning journey, University of Bedfordshire Teaching and Learning Conference, Luton

2013, E-Portfolios on a Teacher Training course: a peer support scheme to develop effective digital pedagogies, Teacher Education Policy in Europe, Finland

2013, Pioneers on the Frontiers of learning? A narrative inquiry approach to new pedagogical practices using technology in Arts and Humanities learning and teaching, Higher Education Academy Arts and Humanities Conference, Brighton