Dr Katie Gathercole

Dr Katie Gathercole


I came to academia after working as a youth worker in schools and as an education officer in two local authorities. During this period I worked with children and young people permanently excluded from school to reintegrate them into education. I also worked for the statutory service Parent Partnership (now SENDIASS) and set up and managed a project that connected parents with trainee barristers who could support them at SEND tribunals and exclusion independent appeals. Following this I worked for a service that aimed to raise the educational outcomes of looked after children. I completed the MA Special Educational Needs in 2010 at the University of Leeds. I then worked as a research assistant on two reading intervention projects, and a NASEN funded study concerning the transformations experienced by SENCOs following the new nationally approved training, before undertaking my ESRC funded PHD at the University of Leeds, supervised by Sue Pearson and David Sugden (2012- 2017: The Educational Experiences of Children and Young People with Cystic Fibrosis). My work sits at the intersection of education, childhood, and health. I have contributed to several clinical research studies in a patient advisory capacity, engaging patients in clinical research processes and ensuring that patient experiences and perspectives are listened to and acted upon in the design of clinical studies. I began working as a Teaching Fellow in childhood and inclusive education at the University of Leeds in 2018.


  • Programme Leader BA Childhood Studies

Research interests

My research interests are interdisciplinary and span the areas of education, childhood and health. I am especially interested in children and young people with chronic illness and their experiences of education. My PhD explored the educational experiences of children and young people with cystic fibrosis (CF) from a biopsychosocial perspective. The research demonstrated the value of school as a place of ‘normality’ for the children and young people involved. However, through the practice of ‘normality’, children’s needs could be obscured. This issue was compounded by their needs not being considered through mechanisms of support, such as through SEN and disability frameworks. Their obscured needs coupled with poor access to education support systems increased the likelihood of them falling beneath the radar and experiencing unmet needs.

I am also interested in patient engagement and involvement in the CF clinical research context, and particularly the involvement of children and young people. I have engaged patients in shaping the research agenda, identifying priority areas for future clinical research. My work has enabled the perspectives of children and adults with CF to be integrated into the design of several clinical research studies. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • MA SEN
  • MSc Educational Research Methods
  • PhD
  • FHEA

Student education

I have teaching responsibilities on BA Childhood Studies, BA Education, BSc Psychology with Education and MA Special Educational Needs

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>