Professor Barry Carpenter OBE

Barry Carpenter

Areas of Interest

Charity, Education, Literature

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of the University, 2007


Professor Barry Carpenter is Honorary Professor at the University of Worcester and Limerick, and a Fellow of the University of Oxford. He holds the International Chair in Special and Inclusive Education.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Barry has held the leadership positions of Academic Director, Chief Executive, Principal, Headteacher, Inspector of Schools and Director of the Centre for Special Education at Westminster College, Oxford. In 2009, he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as Director of the Children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project. Since completing that research, Barry has overseen the development of a national project developing on-line training materials for teachers of children with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities.

The author of over 100 articles on a variety of topics in special educational needs, he has won the prestigious Times award for his co-edited book 'Enabling Access'. He has recently written a series of booklets on Complex Needs. With Jo Egerton and Carolyn Blackburn, he has prepared the first British text on the education of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Barry lectures nationally and internationally. In 2012, he will be giving lectures in Abu Dhabi, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Norway and Borneo.

He has been awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Societies of Arts and Medicine, and was created O.B.E. by the Queen for services to children with special needs.

Barry has 3 children - one a teacher, one an occupational therapist, and a daughter who has Down's syndrome and now has a home of her own.


"The Senate of Anglia Ruskin University has great pleasure in recommending the award of Honorary Doctorate of the University to Barry Carpenter OBE for his services to children with special educational needs.

Professor Barry Carpenter is Chief Executive of Sunfield, a UK national charity for children with autistic spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities, which provides education and care for children and young people for 52 weeks of the year. He acts as Director of Research to the Sunfield Research Institute and is Honorary Professor of Early Childhood Intervention at the University of Worcester (the first such Chair in the UK).

Barry trained as a teacher at Westminster College, Oxford and held teaching posts in Special Education in Sandwell, Dudley and Essex, before taking up the headship of Blythe School, Warwickshire in 1982. From there he joined Solihull LEA as Inspector of Schools. In 1993 he was appointed the first Director of the Centre for Special Education at Westminster College, Oxford.

Barry chaired the National Inquiry into the Mental Health of Young People with Learning Disabilities, a UK-wide Inquiry supported by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills. It involved evidence-gathering in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, as well as throughout England. He also chaired the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities' 'First Impressions' Advisory Committee.

Currently, he represents the Disability Rights Commission on the General Teaching Council and is chairing the National Disabled Teacher Taskforce. He is the UK representative on the European Working Group on Early Intervention, and represents Europe on the World Organising Committee of the International Society for Early Intervention.

He has been awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2001 was awarded the O.B.E. by the Queen for services to children with special needs.

Barry has 3 children - one a teacher, one a student and Kate who has Down's syndrome and has just acquired a home of her own.

Barry is the author of over 100 books and papers, most relating to disability and special educational needs. I shall cite just three which demonstrate the breadth of his knowledge and expertise.

The National Curriculum, nominally a 'curriculum of entitlement', presented teachers of children with special educational needs with significant challenges. 'Enabling Access' which Barry wrote in 1996 with Rob Ashdown and Keith Bovair, won the Times Educational Supplement/National Association for Special Educational Needs Academic Book of the Year award and became, almost immediately, a seminal text in relation to curricular inclusion in education.

The following year saw the publication of 'Families in Context' which examined the support given to families with young children with disabilities. It reflected Barry's knowledge of, and expertise in, disability within the family context.

More recently he was co-author and lead editor of 'Early Childhood Intervention: International Perspectives, National Initiatives and Regional Practice', providing understanding of early childhood disability at local, national and global levels.

Barry lectures nationally and internationally, most recently in Spain, Portugal and New Zealand. September of this year saw him in China giving a keynote lecture at the fourth International Networking for Education Transformation Conference. There he addressed the issue of children's emotional wellbeing, arguing that twenty-first century childhood is pressurised and that many children are mentally fragile and emotionally ill-equipped. He challenges schools to respond by providing high quality curricula and a positive environment with effective pastoral care to ensure that the child is emotionally resilient and prepared for the challenges of life in our high speed societies.

In combining his role of Chief Executive of Sunfield with his academic writing, Barry 'lives' the close relationship between research and practice.

We honour Barry today because of his work of promoting understandings of disability, some born of his family's experiences, and I am delighted to announce that Anglia Ruskin will be working closely with the Sunfield Research Institute to develop further professionals' understandings of disability. Our first joint conference in the Eastern Region, 'Perspectives on Autism' will take place at Anglia Ruskin in November.

Barry, I have known of, and have respected, your work for a long time and so am particularly pleased to speak on behalf of our University as we confer this honorary doctorate today.

For his exceptional achievements in helping children with special needs, I hereby exercise the power conferred on me by Senate, to invite the Vice Chancellor to bestow the award of Honorary Doctor of the University upon Barry Carpenter."