I came to St. John’s in September 2012 as President and Honorary Professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology. I also hold an honorary contract as a clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry. Before this, I was Professor of Psychology at the University of York where I co-directed the Centre for Reading and Language.
I completed my first degree in Psychology at Bristol and my doctorate at University College London under the supervision of the eminent psychologist, Uta Frith. Later I qualified as a clinical psychologist. I am a Past-President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading and was one of the Joint Editors of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. I served as a member of Sir Jim Rose’s Expert Advisory Group on provision for Dyslexia in 2009 and as an expert member of the Education for All: Fast Track Initiative group in Washington DC in 2011. I have offered advice to the Government Departments of Education and of International Development, particularly in relation to the early years and specific learning difficulties (SpLD).
I am a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. I hold honorary doctorates from Goldsmiths London (2010), University College London (2014), Warwick University (2016) and University of Bristol (2019) for contributions to the science of reading and dyslexia and was appointed CBE for services to science and the understanding of dyslexia in 2016.
My research focuses on children’s language and learning and I am specifically interested in the nature and causes of children’s reading difficulties and how best to ameliorate them. In recent years, my work has focused on longitudinal studies of children at high-risk of reading problems, and I have been involved in the implementation of randomised controlled trials assessing the efficacy of reading and language interventions in projects led by Charles Hulme in the Department of Education.