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Research Panel

Our research panel consists of an exceptional group of academics, researchers and school leaders from around the world committed to research, genuine evidence-based practice, and social transformation through educational innovation. The panel will commence with a series of focused discussions to inform the integration of practice and research in our context and other similar spaces, with a long term openness to emergent possibilities for collaboration and potential expansion of our research agenda.


Dr Harriet Patterson

Harriet is a senior lecturer in early childhood studies at Liverpool Hope University with expertise and research interests in alternative education, philosophy of alternative education, and constructions of childhood and parenthood. She is the author of 'Rethinking Learning to Read' an accessible book which reports her rigorous study of 311 families with a total of 400 children who learned to read outside of school. The book offers a unique insight into how young people learn to read when not subject to normative coercive structures and as such contributes valuable perspectives to our understandings of childhood and learning in general. Her current research focuses on concepts of progress and assessment in non-coercive education. 


Dr Elizabeth Rahmam

Elizabeth is a medical and social anthropologist based at Oxford University who specialises in hands-on, indigenous and applied techniques that cultivate mindfulness in diverse environmental and socio-political settings, with a special focus on Amazonia and rural Spain (Canary Islands). Elizabeth is currently interested in applying biosocial anthropological research to promote wellbeing and sustainability; as part of the curriculum and through outdoor pedagogic approaches. She is a founder and chief coordinator of the Educere Alliance, a global network whose goal is to generate healthy environments through care-full participatory learning that embodies an ethic of awareness which is extended to living beings and materials.


Dr Bilal Nasim

Bilal is a quantitive social scientist with a background in economics. He is based at the Social Research Institute at the UCL Institute of Education where he is a researcher, lecturer, and PhD supervisor. His main research area is the determinants of life chances and social mobility in the UK. Of particular relevance to our context is his research and expertise in the determinants of non-cognitive skills in childhood and their relationship to long term life outcomes. He is currently the PI on an ESRC funded project looking at the impact of the teacher pay reforms in England on the teacher labour market and pupil outcomes. 


Lucy Stevens

Lucy is the founder, co-headteacher and charity director of The New School an innovative school in south London that offers young people from all backgrounds access to empowering democratic education with no fees. The pedagogy of the school is based on research outcomes that indicate a democratic model is one that can meet the needs of all young people, particularly those who are marginalised in the current education system, enabling education to move beyond a zero-sum paradigm in which many children fail by design. Commitments to research and evaluation are central features of the school's architecture, as part of its pedagogy and in service of its aim of changing education for the better.


Melania Horcajuelo Torres

Melania is a co-founder and pedagogical director of Madrid Active School (MAS) which was the first school of its kind to be accredited by NEASC in Spain. In addition to her roles at MAS Melania also collaborates with NEASC/CIE since 2018 as an ACE-approved Visitor, participating in the assessment of international schools during their accreditation process, and since 2020 has worked as an independent consultant to provide startup alternative schools with guidance and advice. She has special expertise in the Montessori Method and Active Learning and an interest in the potential relationships between assessment and research in alternative education.


Dr James Mannion

James worked as a Science teacher for 12 years and spent 8 years in school leadership roles. He has an MA in Person-Centred Education from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in Learning to Learn from the University of Cambridge. He is the co-author of 'Fear is the Mind Killer' a book about learning to learn, Bespoke Programmes Leader at the UCL Institute of Education, and the Director of Rethinking Education, an independent education consultancy. In all his work James promotes dialogue, discourse, and research-informed approaches to professional development and school improvement underpinned by an obvious care for the education and well-being of young people.


Kate McAllister

Kate is the founder of The Hive, a democratic educational community in the Dominican Republic that supports world schoolers alongside local children and organises its activity around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to The Hive Kate spent 14 years as a french teacher with 10 of those in leadership roles, developed and refined a whole school approach to teaching and learning known as the 'Learning Skills' curriculum, co-authored 'Fear is the Mind Killer' with James Mannion, and set up both the School Bus Project - a charity which provides mobile education for refugees - and The Human Hive, a global community of organisations and individuals working together to create a more welcoming and inclusive world.


Dr Naomi Fisher

Naomi is a practicing clinical psychologist and writer, passionate about helping children learn and grow in whatever way works best for them. In her clinical practice she uses EMDR, CBT, and acceptance and commitment therapy to support people of all ages with specialisms in responses to trauma and autism. It was when working as a psychologist with school refusers that Naomi first began to question the underlying premises of traditional education. This process of questioning eventually led to the publication of 'Changing our Minds: How children can take control of their own learning' which brings together research, theory and practice to explain the psychology of SDE, why it makes sense and how it works.

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