About Jesus College/Our community/ People
Professor Kathy Sylva

Roles and subjects

Emeritus Fellow



Professor Kathy Sylva is an Emeritus Fellow and former Professorial Fellow of Jesus College and Professor of Educational Psychology in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Oxford.

Academic Background

B.A. in Psychology and Social Relations, Harvard University

M.A. in  Developmental Psychology, Harvard University

Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, Harvard University

Kathy is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the British Psychological Society.  She was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to children and families, and also the BERA Nisbett Award for Lifetime Educational Research.  She has honorary degrees from The Open University, the University of Gothenburg and Oxford Brookes.

Research Interests

Kathy’s research interests include:

  • Early childhood curriculum and assessment
  • The ‘effectiveness’ of education in the pre-school and primary phases
  • The contribution of parents to children’s learning
  • Children’s Centres and Family Hubs
  • Supporting parents in behaviour management and learning
  • Reading Recovery and other literacy interventions.

Other Interests and Information

Keen on wines and wine tasting.

Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Enquiry into Affordable Childcare (2014-2015).

Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education (2001-2008).

Specialist Adviser on Early Years to the Scottish Parliament (2005-2006).


  • Sammons, P. Sylva, K. Hall, J., Evangelou, M. & Smees, R. (in press). Challenges facing interventions to promote equity in the early years: Exploring the ‘impact’, legacy and lessons learned from a national evaluation of Children’s Centres in England.  Oxford Review of Education.
  • Hall, J E, Sylva, K., Sammons, P. M., Smees, R., Evangelou, M., Smith, T., & Goff, J. (2021). Investigating the reliability and validity of the Toddler Home Learning Environment (THLE) scale. Frontiers in Educational Assessment, Testing, and Applied Measurement.
  • Sylva, K. (2020). Thriving in the 21st century: the new science of early childhood. British Academy (refereed) Provocation Papers.
  • Sylva, K., Sammons, P., Melhuish, E. C., Siraj, I., & Taggart, B. (2020). Developing 21st century skills in early childhood: the contribution of process quality to self-regulation and pro-social behaviour. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft23(3), 465-484.


See also Professor Sylva’s departmental profile on the Department of Education website.