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Helen Penn

Cass School of Education
Stratford Campus
Romford Road
London E15 4LZ
+44 (0) 20 8223 7672

Helen Penn trained as an infant teacher and worked for several years in schools in London and Kent in the UK. She became Assistant Director of Education in Strathclyde Region in Scotland, where she ran the first integrated care and education service in the UK, subsequently a model for development for the Labour Government. She held a budget of £18 million and was responsible for the administration of 500 nursery schools and other early childhood settings.

She entered academia when she left Strathclyde, and for many years was based in the Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, London University. She obtained a PhD and undertook a range of research projects including work on the integration of care and education services.  She undertook work for the EU Childcare Network and drafted the first set of Quality Targets in 1996, which in turn became a benchmark for the OECD. She has been rapporteur for the Starting Strong Reviews in Flanders and Canada, and contributed to the overall reports.

She is now Professor of Early Childhood in the Cass School of Education, University of East London. Her interests have increasingly been in the South (developing countries) where she has undertaken a wide range of consultancy work for organizations such as the EU, Asian Development Bank and UNICEF as well as for UK based charities such as Save the Children Fund. She is currently planning work on the costing of early childhood education and care projects in South Africa.

Latterly, she has founded the International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Market Economy in the School of Education ( ) which is a virtual centre for information about the operation of the private sector in the field of early education and care. The centre holds regular seminars and policy debates about the role of the private sector in a mixed market economy, and has an international advisory board.

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