Dr Marie Lavelle

Dr Marie Lavelle

Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Plymouth Institute of Education - School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)

Dr Marie Lavelle can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Social justice
  • Parenting
  • Sure Start children's centres
  • Early intervention
  • Parental voice
  • Child poverty


Dr Marie Lavelle is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the Plymouth Institute of Education. Playing in spaces of temporal entanglements, her research has focused on parenting and more recently grand/mothering in the (post)Anthropocene and how 'Greying Comes to Matter in the Academy'. Encounters with critical new materialism, post-humanist philosophies and members of the AiPH group have encouraged bravery to wander without a map and to gaze without a focus.


My route to the University of Plymouth has not been a conventional one, along the way I have gathered many wonderful and unforgettable experiences in the world that new parents inhabit as a midwife and working in the Third Sector with an essential organisation called Home-Start.


Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, University of Plymouth. Registered FHEA (Fellow of the Teaching Academy) (2013)
PhD Education, University of Plymouth (2011), 'A Sociological Investigation of Sure Start Children's Centres; Understanding Parental Participation'.
BSc(Hons) First Class, Social Science with Psychological Studies, The Open University (2005)
Post-graduate Diploma in Health Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University (1996)
Registered Midwife Burnley NHS Health Care Trust (1989)
Registered Nurse Manchester Royal Infirmary (1986)

Roles on external bodies

Journal reviewer – Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Children and Society, Children’s Geography’s and Research, Early Years.

Key publications

Lavelle M (2020) 'Mothering in Hindsight: Troubling time(s)' Genealogy , DOI Open access
View all publications


Teaching interests

My teaching commitments reflect my desire to remain connected to my health and social care professional heritage, whilst at the same time expanding my interest in sociology of childhood and the critiquing of the various perspectives and theoretical positions that are offered in the study of children and childhoods.

Teaching 2022-23

EEC411 Introduction to Early Childhood Studies
EEC423 Children and Society
EEC501 Introduction to Research Methods
EEC603 Adult's Concepts of Childhood
EEC645 Current Issues in Politics, Welfare and Society

PhD Supervision
I am currently Director of Studies for the following research projects:

I welcome enquires from those wishing to undertake post-graduate study in my areas of research interests which include - post-qualitative inquiry, post-human approaches, parenting, motherhood, social policy, auto-biographical methods or ethnography. 

Staff serving as external examiners

2021 - present University of Essex, MA Childhood Studies
2020 - present MMU, BA Early Years and Childhood Studies
2015-2019 External Examiner Herts University, BA Early Childhood Education



Research interests

2020-21: 'Connecting Communities', with Drs Karen Wickett and Louise Webber. UoP, Research Pump-priming, £2179.20.

2016-2018: 'Parenting in hindsight', UoP, R1Funding, £600.

2016-2017: ‘A University for All Ages’ project: explored how age is constructed, experienced and played with across the University space. With Drs Joanna Haynes and Cath Gristy, UoP, Pedrio £3,000.

2017: 'Ten Years of Austerity, Returning to Children's Centres',

2007-2011: 'A sociological investigation of Sure Start Children's Centres: Understanding parental Participation' (Funded by Devon County Council and HEFCE) Supervisors: Dr Norman Gabriel, Dr Julia Morgan and Professor Bill Jordan. Examined by Profs Peter Moss and Mary Jayne Kehilly.
This PhD study utilised an ethnographic methodology to explore influences on parental participation in two Sure Start Children's Centres. The study took a wide perspectival lens to analyse everyday micro social-interactions and practices in two Children's Centres in order to gain a deeper understanding of the issues that parents and these new institutions face in encouraging access.
Funded by HEFCE and Devon County Council.

Conference presentations

2019 RECE Conference, Copenhagen, 'Sure Start Children’s Centres: ten years of austerity'.
2017 Methodological Innovations Conference, UoP, 'A University for All Ages'
2016 Bristol University, 'Parenting in Hindsight'.
2016 Kent University, Parenting Cultures Conference, 'The Thin Blue Line'.
2015 ECERA Conference, Barcelona, 'Parenting in Hindsight'
2014 Plymouth Institute of Education Workforce Development Conference.
2012 International Child and Youth Research Network Conference, Preston. ‘Freedom to ‘be yourself': Understanding participation and non-participation in Sure Start Children’s Centres’.
2011 European Sociological Association Conference, Geneva, 'Turbulence in a Tea Cup: Sure Start Children's Centres governing families at a distance'.
2010 University of Plymouth Methods Conference, 'Exploring the use of qualitative outcome measures in Children’s Centres' with Verity Campball-Barr and Karen Wickett.
2010 Methods Conference, University of Plymouth 'Exploring processes: Creating a storm in a tea cup?'.
2009 Invited lecture - E-map Conference, Earls Court London, 'Performance The challenge of encouraging participation: A researcher’s perspective'.
2009 University of Leicester, International Postgraduate Conference, 'Making a difference: the (un)intended consequences of doing research in the ‘real’ world'.
2008 International Child and Youth Research Network Conference, Nicosia. 'Children's Centres, improving outcomes for children: the challenge of encouraging participation. Challenging dominant discourses - my first journey into 'troubling' waters'.
2008 Oxford Research Methods Festival Poster Presentation.
2007 Devon County Council Research into Practice Conference, 'It's the little things that matter: an ethnographic study of two Children's Centres'.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Awarded PhD/EdD

Pritchard, Christie (University of Plymouth, 2021) 'A Relational Analysis of the Writing Cafe: Social Learning, Participant Experiences and Tensions in Higher Education'.

Alanazi, Mubarak (University of Plymouth, 2020) 'The Experiences of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students and Specialist Teachers in Mainstream Schools in Saudi Arabia'.

Pleasance, Sasha (University of Plymouth, 2018) 'Illusio in lesson observation: making policy work by playing the game'.

Currently Supervising (PhD and EdD)

An exploration into the relationships young children make in their early years setting.

A critical investigation using facet methodology to identify children’s (3-4 years old) perceptions and expressions of learning and how this might relate to the entanglement of existing philosophical concepts within early childhood education and care (ECEC).

How does evidence influence teachers enactment of the Pupil Premium strategy?

Curriculum becoming dragon.



Key publications

Lavelle M (2020) 'Mothering in Hindsight: Troubling time(s)' Genealogy , DOI Open access

Key publications are highlighted


Campbell Barr V & Lavelle M (2020) 'More than Words for Working with Children and Families' Global Education Review 7, (2) 1-7 Author Site Open access
Lavelle M (2020) 'Mothering in Hindsight: Troubling time(s)' Genealogy , DOI Open access
Lavelle M (2015) 'A Storm in a Tea-Cup? "Making a Difference' in Two Sure Start Children's Centres' CHILDREN & SOCIETY 29, (6) 583-592 , DOI Open access
Campbell-Barr V, Lavelle M & Wickett K (2011) 'Exploring alternative approaches to child outcome assessments in Children's Centres' Early Child Development and Care 7, (182) 859-874 Publisher Site , DOI
Parker-Rees ROD; Leeson C (2015) Early Childhood Studies. 4th London Sage/Learning Matters Limited 1Publisher Site
Lavelle M (2018) 'The Politics of Children's Services' in Fitzgerald D; Maconochi H Early Childhood Studies: A Students Guide London Sage 179-192
Internet Publications

Lavelle, M. (2022) 'Teaching in a pandemic; a post-humanist pause' Thinking Education, https://plymthinked.wordpress.com/2022/01/11/marie-lavelle-teaching-in-the-shadow-of-a-pandemic-a-post-humanist-pause/