Meet the specialist - Dr James Galpin
How long have you worked in the education/SEND sector?
I began working with children and young people with SEND twenty years ago initially through working in afterschool and holiday clubs for minimally verbal autistic children and children with complex needs. I then worked as an SEN Teaching Assistant and then Teacher whilst completing my postgraduate studies.
What can you tell us about your background?
My undergraduate degree was in Modern Languages, just before leaving University I attended a talk on child development. I found it fascinating and so went on to complete a Graduate conversion to Psychology followed by a Master’s in Child Development. My research focussed on the relationship between language, emotion and children’s drawings. The practical application of theory into practice led me to then complete a Master’s in Research in Education. I was then offered the opportunity to undertake a PhD in Developmental Psychology. I continued to work in schools throughout this time as I enjoyed the hands-on work in schools, which undoubtably made me a better researcher. Upon completion of my PhD I worked as a lecturer delivering courses in developmental psychology, research methods and statistics whilst still ensuring I was able to work in schools for a day or two a week. An opportunity then arrived for me to combine my all my interests in a single role within a Local Authority providing SEND outreach support and CPDL to schools as well as developing practice-based evidence. I remained in that role until I then joined nasen.
What do you enjoy most about working for nasen?
Despite having only recently joined, it is clear that this is an extremely exciting time to be part of nasen. The drive to go further in the support we can provide those working with, and for, children and young people with SEND and learning differences permeates the entire organisation and makes for nasen a truly inspiring place to work. The opportunity to develop new ideas and translate emerging research into practice is something that I especially enjoy.
Are there any SEND topics that you feel particularly passionate about?
A lot of my practice has been with minimally verbal autistic children and young people with complex needs. Looking at ways to improve practice for this cohort of pupils has driven a lot of my research. I also have a particular interest in transdiagnostic support, so looking at universal strengths and universal needs that children and young people have. In light of this I am especially keen to highlight how needs can be met sustainably through whole school approaches as opposed to the piecemeal adoption of isolated strategies. The practical implications of research is also something that has been a constant throughout my career, looking not only at how to adapt support that has been shown to work within richly resourced therapeutic or clinical environments into schools but also the implications for practice for all children and young people that advances in our understanding of child development across social, emotional and cognitive domains can have.
Are there any qualifications/certifications that you would be happy for us to share with the community?
I am a chartered Developmental Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.