Expert advisors

EmpathyLab draws on the generous support and advice of a team of expert advisors

Professor Robin Banerjee

Robin Banerjee is Professor of Developmental Psychology in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex. He directs the CRESS (Children's Relationships, Emotions, and Social Skills) research lab, which investigates children's social and emotional development, and involves close working partnerships with practitioners and policymakers in the areas of education and mental health. Recent studies have examined the social and emotional dimensions of school ethos, factors involved in peer acceptance, rejection, and bullying, the social and cognitive processes involved in childhood social anxiety, the psychosocial development of children in the public care system, and the connections between consumer culture and well-being in school children. A core applied focus of the CRESS lab is the development and evaluation of strategies to support young people’s social and emotional functioning. 

Professor Teresa Cremin

Teresa Cremin is Professor of Education (Literacy) at The Open University. Teresa is a Fellow of the English Association and the Academy of Social Sciences, a Director of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust, a Trustee of UKLA and the Society for Educational Studies, a Board Member of Booktrust, co-convenor for the BERA Creativity SIG and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College. Her socio-cultural research is frequently co-participative, involving teachers as researchers within and beyond the classroom. Her research interests relate to teachers’ literate identities and practices, pedagogies which foster building communities of readers and writers and the role of creativity in teaching and learning. Teresa has written and edited over 25 books and numerous papers and professional texts, most recently Building Engaged Communities of Readers: Reading for Pleasure(2014, Routledge) Researching Literacy Lives : Building Home School communities (Routledge , 2015) and editing Learning to teach in the Primary School (3rd edition) (Routledge, 2014) and The International Handbook of Research into Children’s Literacy, Learning and Culture (2013, Wiley Blackwell) with colleagues. 

Gillian Cross, children’s author

Gillian Cross has been writing for children since 1979. Since then, she has had over fifty books published and her work has been translated into many languages.

Her novel Wolf won the Library Association’s Carnegie Medal for the best children’s book of 1990, and The Great Elephant Chase won both the Smarties Prize and the Whitbread Children’s Novel Award. Her Demon Headmaster books have been dramatised very successfully as a BBC television series. 

For over thirty years she has been working with children, in the UK and abroad, running workshops about writing and exploring character. She and her husband Martin have four children. They live in Dorset

Louise Johns-Shepherd, CEO, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education

Louise has a wealth of experience in education leadership and in primary schools. She was a Senior Director at the Primary National Strategies and Headteacher Consultant at the National College of School Leadership. She was also the director of an Education Action Zone. Louise trained as a primary school teacher at Homerton College Cambridge and has taught for her entire career in London. She studied for her MA at the Institute of Education. Louise has been the headteacher of two schools, a nursery school and children’s centre in Lambeth and, most recently, a primary school in Southwark. Under her leadership the school moved from a very challenging position to one of the fifty most improved schools in England. Louise’s interests are in assessment, progression and curriculum development as well as all aspects of organisational leadership. In 2014 Louise was pleased to be recognised by The Education Foundation as an Education Reformer of the Year

Bali Rai, young people’s author

Bali Rai was born in 1971 and grew up in Leicester. His debut novel, (UN)ARRANGED MARRIAGE published in 2001 to fantastic reviews and has since been shortlisted for nine regional book prizes, winning The Angus, Stockport, North Lanarkshire and Leicester Book awards. The novel is now in eleven languages and Bali is firmly established as a leading voice in teenage fiction after following his debut with a succession of acclaimed titles.

As a child, Bali wanted to be a footballer or to write stories. Always an avid reader, he hails Sue Townsend, Douglas Adams and Robert Swindells as his writing heroes. Bali grew up reading Dr Seuss and Meg and Mog and his first book purchase was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. He realised he wasn't good enough to play for Liverpool F.C. and after gaining a politics degree in London he returned to his home city and combined a variety of jobs in pubs and clubs with completing his first novel. Bali set about writing a story he had been thinking about for many years. He wanted to write accessible material for children of all ages and backgrounds and realising there were no British Asian authors writing for children, he saw a gap. Bali hopes his novels capture the unique ethnic mix of the UK, of which he is proud to be a part.

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