About Us

Professor Valsa Koshy, BSc, MA, MPhil, PhD

Valsa leads the education strand. She has worked at Brunel University for many years – leading teacher-training courses, Masters and doctoral research degree programmes, as well as carrying out extensive research in gifted education and mathematics education. Prior to this, she was a primary school teacher and a member of the mathematics advisory team for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). In the early 1990s, she led professional development courses in mathematics education for government-funded 20-day and 10-day courses for teachers in 13 local authorities in London.

Valsa was the founding director of the Brunel Able Children’s Education (BACE) Centre, which has supported talent development for 20 years. BACE’s work has been based on a broader concept of talents and gifts, rather than on labelling children. It focuses on the uniqueness of a child’s special strengths and interests. Valsa and the BACE team have strived to empower teachers with strategies for effective curriculum provision so that they can provide the enriching and enjoyable learning experiences for all pupils. A significant part of her research has focused on the recognition and fulfilment of talent in special groups of pupils, such as students with high potential in inner-city areas and very young children.

The unique feature of her work has been celebrating academic excellence in children and at the same time recognising multiple gifts and talents with the ultimate aim of helping them to reach their full potential, irrespective of their background. She has published 18 books – academic and teachers’ resources – in the field of talent development and mathematics education. She has also published widely in international academic journals and has made over 40 conference presentations, including some at the America Education Research Association (AERA) conference and at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) conferences. She has supervised several UK and international doctoral (PhD) students.

The work Valsa is most proud of is founding the Urban ScholarsProgramme, aimed at raising the aspirations and achievements of teenagers who live in challenging circumstances and following up their subsequent journeys towards happy and successful lives. She has also directed a significant number of research and development projects for the government and several charities.

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Dr Elizabeth Koshy, BSc, MBBS, DRCOG, MRCGP (Distinction), MSc, PhD

Elizabeth leads the wellbeing strand. She has worked as a general practitioner (GP), a course lead (teaching medical undergraduate students) and a medical researcher. She obtained a PhD in Medicine from Imperial College London. One of her passions is supporting parents and teachers to create the right foundations to boost children’s learning potential and happiness, to help towards leading healthy and fulfilled lives. Her passion for helping children was ignited while at medical school, when she won prizes relating to paediatrics and child health. For instance, she was one of only two medical students in her cohort year to obtain a Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health prize during her final year at medical school. She worked as a junior doctor in hospitals and then in general practice, obtaining a distinction from the Royal College of General Practitioners for her Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) examinations. She completed a Masters degree in Epidemiology prior to obtaining a PhD degree in Medicine from Imperial College London. Becoming a mother further cemented and extended her passion and interest in aspects of children’s wellbeing.

Elizabeth has worked as a GP in affluent as well as in very deprived areas, and has seen a range of physical, psychological and social problems among children from different socio-economic backgrounds. She has seen countless children who were stressed and anxious, frequently because of social problems and fear of failure in tests. This has made her passionate about helping to improve and foster children’s wellbeing in relation to their general physical and emotional wellbeing.

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Professor Susan Capel, B.Ed (Hons), MSc, MBA, PhD

Susan is an Emeritus Professor at Brunel University, where she was the Head of School of Sport and Education for many years. She has been involved in supporting the development of a health and wellbeing programme for both staff and students at Brunel University.

In the last 40 years, Susan has worked in physical education. She gained a BEd degree and taught both physical education and geography in secondary schools in Wales and Hong Kong. Following completion of her PhD and a year lecturing in USA Susan returned to the UK to take up a post in higher education, where she worked in initial teacher education, both in physical education and in general professional studies. She has continued to teach and research in this area ever since.

From 2001-2003 Susan was President of the Physical Education Association of the United Kingdom (the subject association for physical education) and in 2004 received the Ling Award from the Association. She is now an honoured member of the Association for Physical Education (the new name for the association). Susan’s major research interest is in improving the quality of physical education teaching in schools. Other work is focused on trying to increase the current low rates of participation in physical activity once young people leave school and throughout their lifetime to enable them to reap the benefits of such participation – one of the aims of the subject, particularly in light of increasingly sedentary lifestyles of many in the population. Susan has a particular interest in translating research into practical application, in a way that is accessible for teachers and other practitioners – as well as parents – something she feels is not particularly well done at the present.

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Dr Alexis Taylor B.Ed (Hons), MA, EdD

After completing her first degree in Education with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), Dr Alexis Taylor worked all her professional life in education. She taught across the secondary age range, including examination level, in south-west London for 16 years, holding the position of Head of Department. She also held the pastoral role of Head of Year, which involved much interaction with parents. During this time, she obtained her Masters in Education with special reference to Ethnic and Cultural Diversity. Following this she was appointed to the West London Institute of Higher Education where she worked in initial teacher education and on professional courses for serving teachers. While working at Brunel University Dr Taylor undertook a variety of roles. She was responsible for initial teacher education and the development of partnership with schools, as well as the Masters and Doctorate of Education programmes. She has sustained experience of teaching, examining and supervision of several students at up to doctorate level.

For her own Doctorate of Education, Dr Taylor researched how the learning context is experienced by learners in partnership and how teaching can enhance the learning experience. Her continued research in this area resulted in a number of publications and a variety of activities.

We also work with several consultants with expertise in specific areas.