Professor Kathy Sylva, OBE

Honorary Research Fellow and Professor of Educational Psychology, Department of Education


Professor Kathy Sylva’s research interests include early childhood curriculum and assessment; the 'effectiveness' of education in the pre-school and primary phases; the contribution of parents to children’s learning; Children’s Centres and Family Hubs; supporting parents in behaviour management and learning; Reading Recovery and other literacy interventions. 

She has been Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education, the House of Lords Enquiry into Affordable Child Care and is currently a member of Ofsted’s Pedagogy Forum and the Early Intervention Foundation’s Evidence Panel. Professor Sylva serves on Government advisory committees concerned with Covid recovery, national assessment, evaluation of programmes such as Sure Start, and curriculum for children 0-7 years. She advised the Scottish Parliament on Early Years; and in 2006 advised the English Government on the teaching of phonics.

Professor Sylva is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the British Psychology Society. She was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to children and families and the British Education Research Association’s Nisbett Award for ‘outstanding research in education’ in 2014.


  • Early education from birth to age 7
  • Child care in UK and Europe
  • Evaluation of early interventions in high and low income countries
  • Parenting
  • Early childhood policy in UK and internationally
  • Early literacy at home and school

Media experience

Professor Sylva regularly speaks with journalists and others working in media about early education and care, community children’s centres, parenting, and the lasting effects of early experience.