Dr Paulette Luff

Senior Lecturer

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education

Department:School of Education & Social Care

Location: Chelmsford

Areas of Expertise: Education and teaching

Paulette is a teacher, researcher and writer in the field of early childhood education and care. Her specialist areas of work are: observation for learning and research, professional enquiry and cultural education.

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Twitter @ecrgARU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1394059764180696


Paulette has worked in the field of early childhood throughout her career as a teacher, foster carer, school-home liaison worker, nursery practitioner and advisor, and as a childcare and education lecturer in further education. These different areas of work experience have inspired a deep interest in the ways that children and adults develop understandings of the world and the pedagogies that promote learning.

Paulette joined Anglia Ruskin University in 2003 and is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Education. She enjoys teaching modules linked to early childhood curriculum and pedagogy, especially 'Supporting Children's Learning' where students undertake projects on areas of continuous provision and also compare different curricula. Paulette currently leads the MA Early Childhood Education and is keen to share ideas about early years practice and professionalism.

Research interests

  • Observation for learning and research
  • Professional enquiry, including teacher action research
  • Early childhood education for sustainability
  • Creativity and cultural learning

Paulette's doctoral research focussed upon understandings and uses of child observation in early years settings, revealing the significance of practitioners' seeing and knowing of young children. This has led to two related areas of research and publication: firstly, about childhood observation and ethics of care; and secondly, educators' learning and professional development. Paulette is currently involved in a 'Creative Writing through the Arts' project, in partnership with Royal Opera House Bridge and Billericay Teaching School Alliance.

Areas of research supervision

Paulette is interested in supervising professional enquiries, particularly research into aspects of early childhood education and care and, especially, cultural and intercultural education as an aspect of early childhood education for sustainability.

Current first supervision:

  • Professional learning for inclusion, in early years settings in England and Spain
  • Educating young children through natural water
  • Uses of theory in social work education and practice
  • Children's rights and experiences of care in hospital
  • Promoting education for sustainable development in the early years

Current second supervision:

  • Educators fostering young children's peer relationships, in England and India
  • How and why children in a reception class use outdoor spaces and places
  • Early childhood studies students' participation in higher education
  • Cooperative learning in large compulsory English classes at University level, in Pakistan
  • Special education through environmental education as a means of effective inclusion
  • Educational experiences of adolescent Ghanaians in England

Recent successful completions

  • Developing a family-friendly charter for homework in a primary school (2nd supervisor)
  • Implementation of a new mathematics curriculum in Ghana (2nd supervisor)
  • Knowledge and use of healthcare ethics in health professional education (2nd supervisor)


  • Paulette teaches specialist modules on early childhood pedagogy: at MA level 'Early Childhood: Principles, Practice and Professionalism'; and, for BA students, 'Supporting Children's Learning'. She also leads a Professional Enquiry module, across all MA courses in Education, together with FdA and BA modules focused upon work-based learning and critical enquiry.


  • PhD Education, Anglia Ruskin University
  • PG Cert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Anglia Ruskin University
  • PG Dip Child Development, Institute of Education, London
  • MA Education, Open University
  • BEd (Hons) Education, Westminster College, Oxford

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Senior Fellow/Higher Education Academy
  • Committee member (co-opted)/OMEP UK
  • Member/Early Education, British Association for Early Childhood Education
  • Member/TACTYC, Association for Professional Development in Early Years
  • Member/Early Childhood Education and Care Special Interest Group member/British Educational Research Association

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Academic lead (coordinator teacher action enquiry), Creative Writing through the Arts project with Royal Opera House Bridge and Billericay Teaching School Alliance, September 2014 – July 2016
  • Principal Investigator, Reclaim, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle project (exploring understandings and uses of reclaimed materials in early years settings) funded by CYRI (Children and Youth Research Institute) and the University/Faculty Summer Studentship team, June – September 2013

Selected recent publications

Luff, P. and Kanyal, M. (2015) Maternal thinking and beyond: towards a care-full pedagogy for early childhood. Early Child Development and Care for the Special Issue on ‘Early Childhood Pedagogy’ Published online May 2015 DOI 10.1080/03004430.2015.102838

Luff, P., Miles, Z. and Wangui, C. (2015) A bat conservation project in the UK and Kenya. Early Education Journal, 76: 14-15.

Luff, P. and Webster, R. (2014) ‘Democratic and participatory approaches: Exemplars from early childhood education’. Management in Education. October 2014 28: 138-143

Luff, P. (2014)  'Necessary paperwork?  Documenting children’s experiences' .  In Moyles, J., Payler, J. and Georgeson, J.  (Eds) Early Years Foundations: Critical Issues, 2nd ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Gilbert, L., Rose, J. and Luff, P. (2015) ‘Early childhood education for sustainability in the United Kingdom'.  In Davis, J.M. (ed), Young Children and the Environment. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Luff, P. (2014) ‘Play and Creativity’. In T. Waller (Ed) An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies (3rd edn.) London: Sage.

Kanyal, M., Luff, P., Cooper, L. and Webster, R. (2014) ‘Participatory Approaches in Research Involving Children’. In M. Kanyal (Ed.) Children’s Rights 0-8: Promoting Participation in Education and Care. London: Routledge.

Luff, P. and Martin, E. (2014) ‘Participation in group care contexts: understandings and strategies’. In M. Kanyal (Ed.) Children’s Rights 0-8: Promoting Participation in Education and Care. London: Routledge.

Luff, P. (2013) ‘Observations: Recording and Analysis’ in the Early Years Foundation Stage In I. Palaiologou (Ed.) The Early Years Foundation Stage. Theory and Practice. (2nd edn.) London: Sage.

Luff, P. (2012) ‘Challenging Assessment’. In Papatheodorou, T. and Moyles, J. (Eds.) Cross-cultural Perspectives on Early Childhood. London: Sage.

Luff, P. (2012) ‘Reclaiming Care in Early Childhood Education and Care’. In C. Rogers, S. Weller and G. Phillips (Eds) Critical Approaches to Care. Understanding Caring Relations, Identities and Cultures. London: Routledge.

Podmore, V. and Luff, P. (2012) Observation: Origins and Approaches in Early Childhood. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Papatheodorou, T. and Luff, P. with Gill, J. (2011) Child Observation for Learning and Research. Harlow: Pearson.

Collins, S., Gibbs, J., Luff, P., Thomas, L. and Sprawling, M. (2010) ‘Thinking Through the Uses of Observation and Documentation’. In J. Moyles (Ed.) Thinking About Play: Developing a Reflective Approach. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Luff, P. (2009) ‘Looking and listening for participatory practice in an English day nursery’. In D. Berthelsen, J. Brownlee and E. Johansson (Eds) Participatory Learning in the Early Years: Research and Pedagogy. Routledge Research in Education. London: Routledge.

Luff, P. (2009) ‘Looking, listening, learning and linking: uses of observation for relational pedagogy’. In T. Papatheodorou, and J. Moyles (Eds.) Learning Together in the Early Years: Relational Pedagogy. London: Routledge.

Recent presentations and conferences

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Luff, P., Miles, Z. and Nikiforidou, Z. (2015) ‘Education for Sustainable Development’. Presentation and discussion at the OMEP UK Annual General Meeting and Seminar. London. 21st November 2015.

Luff, P. (2015) ‘Creative Curriculum Change through Collaboration: Early career teachers’ action research on arts and cultural activity’. Paper presentation at the CARN (Collaborative Action Research Network) Annual Conference, Action Research Across Disciplinary Settings: Challenges for Change and Empowerment. Braga, Portugal. 6th-8th November 2015.

Luff, P. and Miles, Z. (2015) The Bat Conservation Project: ESD resources for teacher training created via the OMEP UK pre-school partnership with Alderholt Sunbeams. Invited contribution to the symposium on Teacher Training Resources for ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) at OMEP (World Organisation for Early Childhood Education) 67th World Assembly and International Conference, Early Childhood Pathways to Sustainability. Washington DC, USA. 27th July – 1st August 2015.

Nikiforidou, Z., Miles, Z. and Luff, P. (2015) ‘Bat Conservation in the Foundation Stage: An Early Start to Education for Sustainability’. Paper presentation at the TEESNet (Teacher Education for Equity and Sustainability Network) 8th Annual Conference, From Curriculum Makers to World Shapers: Building Capacities of Educators for a Just and Sustainable World, at Liverpool Hope University. 9th July 2015. Access Online

Luff, P. and Davis, G. (2015) ‘Developing Creative Learning in Primary Schools: the value of working in partnership with the cultural sector’. Paper presentation at the Tenth International Arts in Society Conference. London, UK. 22nd-24th July 2015.

Martin, E. and Luff, P. (2015) Towards care-full, ethical assessment in early childhood education and care. Paper presentation at BECERA (British Early Childhood Educational Research Association) 5th Annual Conference. Documentation for Assessment and Evaluation: Testing the Current Agenda. Birmingham, UK. 17th and 18th February 2014.

Luff, P. (2014) Researching the use of reclaimed resources in early childhood settings. Paper presentation at OMEP (World Organisation for Early Childhood Education) 66th World Assembly and International Conference, Children’s Cultural Worlds. Cork, Ireland. 1st– 5th July 2014.

Luff, P., Clarkson, A., Cooper, L., Davis., Kanyal, M., Such C., Wright H. and Yassaei, S. (2014) An enabling environment: collaboration for learning and research within the Early Childhood Research Group. Paper presentation at the inaugural Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education Faculty Research Conference. Chelmsford, UK. 2nd June 2014.

Luff, P. and Martin, E. (2014) Parent participation in group care contexts: understandings and strategies. Paper presentation at BECERA (British Early Childhood Educational Research Association) 4th Annual Conference. Working with Diversity: Parental Participation in Young Children's Learning. Birmingham, UK. 19th and 20th February 2014.

Luff, P., Davis, G., Kanyal, M., Waller, T. and Wright, H. (2014) Early Childhood Education for Sustainability: Developing Co-operation and Communication. Early Childhood Research Group paper presentation at Anglia Ruskin University Annual Research Conference, Communicating your research. Chelmsford, UK. 16th January 2014.

Luff, P. and Austin, P. (2013) Understandings and uses of reclaimed resources in early childhood settings: early childhood education for sustainability – a neglected area of professional development? Paper presentation at: TACTYC (Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators) Annual Conference, The Early Years Continuum: Exploring and valuing high quality practice and research in early years. Birmingham, UK. 1st-2nd November 2013.

Media experience

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Preparation of information on Education for Sustainable Development on the OMEP UK website (with Zoe Miles and Zoi Nikiforidou) Access online.

Invited expert answering the ‘Family Friday’ ‘Question of the Day’ for Ask Jeeves (Ask.com)