Karen Banks

Karen Banks


My career in education began in 2007 when I started teaching young people with learning disabilities at Joseph Priestley College (now part of Leeds City College) and commenced on a part-time PCET (Post-compulsory Education and Training) PGCE (Professional Graduate Certificate in Education) (achieved in 2009). I later gained specialisms in the teaching of literacy (2014) and the teaching of numeracy (2015) while continuing to teach on courses designed for learners with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and/or Disabilities.  

In 2018, after taking time off to study for an MA in Education at the University of Leeds, I was appointed HE (Higher Education) Course Leader, responsible for leading the SEN PGCE at Leeds City College, University Centre.  In addition to my course leader responsibilities, I also teach on the generic PGCE/Certificate in Education programme.  Currently (2020/2021), I am leading the Curriculum Design for Inclusive Practice module.

Teaching is not my first career: from 1991 until 2007 I developed and managed supported living services for adults with learning disabilities and before that I worked in bookselling and academic publishing in my native USA.

I am currently working towards an Education Doctorate at the University of Leeds.

Research interests

All of my academic and research interests stem from a desire to improve the FE (further education) experience and the educational outcomes of young people (aged 16-25) with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and/or disabilities.  

I am particularly interested in making maths and English concepts and curricula accessible for students with learning disabilities and in educational interventions for young people with social interaction/communication needs.

I am also interested in restorative practice in education: my masters dissertation was entitled The Potential of Restorative Practice: A Systematic Literature Review.

My EdD research proposal is a study of the impact of a curriculum based on PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) on student participants’ social functioning.


  • BA English
  • MA Education
  • Diploma in Teaching English: Literacy
  • Diploma in Teaching Mathematics: Numeracy