About Us

    Dr Anna Tsakalaki

Anna joined the University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) in August 2018 as a Lecturer in Education with research interests in literacy difficulties in different languages. Her roles include serving as the Director of the PG Cert SENCo programme and teaching on the MA and BA in Education programmes in modules relevant to her expertise. Previously, she has worked at Oxford Brookes University and at the University of Winchester. Anna completed her PhD at Reading back in 2016, which explored spelling in English and Greek native speaking children with and without dyslexia.

As a researcher, she has explored the areas of literacy development and literacy difficulties in different languages, led educational research at an independent school, and collaborated with colleagues at Oxford Brookes, Reading, Winchester and UCL in educational research projects in various fields. Past projects include the development of literacy skills, vocabulary, language teaching and learning, interaction between EAL and mathematics abilities, partnerships between schools, practitioners and parents, and inclusion of learners with special educational needs.

See Anna’s profile at Reading: http://www.reading.ac.uk/education/about/staff/a-tsakalaki.aspx


   Jo Billington

Jo is a Doctoral Researcher in the Centre for Autism at the University of Reading. Her PhD focuses on the lived experience of autistic students in mainstream primary schools with a specific focus on wellbeing. She is committed to enhancing public understanding and acceptance of autism and neurodiversity.

In addition to her research, Jo is a specialist autism practitioner for Parenting Special Children (www.parentingspecialchildren.co.uk) and a mental health trainer for The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (www.cwmt.org.uk) where she offers SEND-specific support to schools, families and young people.


  Catherine Hewitt

Catherine is a second-year student at The University of Reading studying Primary Teaching with a Specialism in Art. She has worked in both mainstream and special education schools and is interested in developing her knowledge as a new educator.

At university, Catherine has gained a Level 1 Child Safeguarding qualification. She has also acquired committee positions for the Yogalates and The Sign Language Society to support the welfare and inclusion of all students. Outside of university, she has helped at local nurseries, volunteered in Poland teaching children English, and worked in Corsica in a hotel as part of the childcare team.

Catherine is interested in investigating the diversity within pupils; through cultures, individual needs and learning preferences. She was keen to take on this UROP experience to explore and learn more about how teaching should differ to be catered to individuality.


 Laura Turpin

Laura is a second-year student studying Psychology at the University of Reading. She mainly is interested in child development, and particularly, in the development of reading and reading disorders. She has spent the last two years volunteering in local schools to support students in the classroom and with their reading, including both SEND and EAL students.

In University, she has worked on improving her research skills through relevant modules and assisting PhD students in their projects. Most recently, she has been elected as ‘welfare officer’ on the committee of a RUSU society.

As her interests reside in reading development, she is excited to undertake the UROP placement to explore how distance-learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can affect this, and in what way.

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