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2023- A Year of Changes and Fresh Starts

Pencil sketch of a daffodil

This year has been my first year of working entirely an indie, doing stuff that I’ve spent the last 15 years or so working towards. I never thought I’d be a work-for-myself bod, but since doing a really cool – and seminal in my little pathway through this life – project 18 months ago, and realising that I could only fit it in if I went fully freelance. It was terrifying. I had always planned to but it put the fear of God into me actually doing it.

So 2023 was a year where I was doing a lot more ‘firsts’ and working in different ways. It has been amazing. I’m not quite sure what the high-point for me was but I know I’ve had a few projects that have stood out from me having worked with such amazing people. Back in April, I reached out to some folks on the Women in Academia Support Network to see about linking up with a uni to develop a nascent idea I had, which has resulted in me winning some seed funding with two amazing colleagues from Liverpool John Moores University: Dr Peter Wood and Dr Elizabeth Malone. We’ve talked and thought and together made the little idea something proper and operationalizable. I’m excited and in the coming few months, we’ll be starting fieldwork. In April and May, I worked with Dr Kelly Pickard-Smith and Dr Amy Bonsall on a project looking at pathways for mid-career academics, which was fascinating and a huge privilege. I’ve got projects on with a couple of really exciting #edtech companies which will be looking at over the coming months too. They’re exciting projects because we’ll be looking at their impact in supporting kids who find learning tricky and that is the entire reason that I did my PhD for; looking at how we can make learning easier for people. I’ve seen charity launches and intimate meetings in the commons, interviews and podcasts with prominent politicians and think tanks, which were very much things that have always been on my hit list.

Aside of these bits and bobs, I got asked to write a book proposal that was then accepted, so I’m part way through writing that- none of which would be possible without the help of some amazing people who have shared their experiences. I’ve presented at conferences in Wales, online, in Birmingham and Ohio, met up with fantastic people in Australia, Norway, France and various other countries and I’ve been accepted to speak at 2 international conferences next year already (they’re in Manchester and Guildford, so not quite so glam!). There are lots of training things coming up, writing and whatnot. And all of this is alongside the massive privilege I hold of working with young people and their families to assess them and help understand their strengths and weaknesses as a learner, so that we can support them to flourish as they move through education.

What a year 2023 has been! I’m looking forward to 2024 and the new projects I’ve got in the pipeline. I’ve also got hopes for new insights, newer projects and some more policy work. But more importantly than that, I want to make new connections and equally important, I want to see all those lovely people I know and hold incredibly dear, who are too far away to meet up with for a cuppa and a cake!