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PhD, University of Bristol
MEd Research Methods in Education, University of Bristol
MA Infant Observational Studies, University of East London/Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust
PGDip Creative Arts Therapies, University of Hertfordshire
PGCE, University of Durham
BA (Hons.), University of Warwick


My background is in inclusive education and disability having worked for over 20 years in a range of roles, including teacher, SENCo, specialist teacher and creative arts therapist. I have experience of supporting children and young people with a variety of learning needs – most recently in relation to autism – as well as their teachers, families and carers. Throughout my career in education I have been interested in understanding difference and diversity, specifically in relation to how this is constructed in schools and its impact on personal lives and individual learning.

In 2007, I commenced a PhD study at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, investigating the play cultures of autistic children and their friends in school settings. I subsequently moved into higher education and continue to do research in this area. Recently, I completed postdoctoral research which investigated pedagogy in relation to autistic pupils in mainstream classrooms through analysis of naturally occurring learning interactions. I am interested in exploring the relevance of understandings about what constitutes effective pedagogy and inclusive practice to the learning of pupils on the spectrum. I also have a great interest in participatory research as an approach to the investigation of inclusive pedagogies and pupil experiences of learning.

Other recent research projects include a large-scale evaluation of the SEN system in Wales and an investigation of how additional learning needs are being considered in the development of the new curriculum for Wales.

I am course leader for the MA/Postgraduate Certificate in autism.


Course leader for PG Cert/MA SEN/ALN (Autism)
PhD supervisor
Member of ethics sub-committee, Faculty of Life Sciences
Cognate group co-ordinator for autism and developmental disorders
External examiner


Conn, C. (in press) Autism, Pedagogy and Education: Critical Issues for Value-Based Teaching. Palgrave Macmillan.
Conn, C. (2019) Do educational practitioners invest in specialised discourses of autism? Professional knowledge landscapes of teachers and teaching assistants in mainstream schools, British Journal of Special Education.
Thomas, H., Duggan, B., Conn, C., Glover, A., Lane, J., Evans, K., Drew, S. and Kelland, A. (2019) Research to Establish a Baseline of the SEN System in Wales. GSR report number 8/2019. Cardiff: Welsh Government.
Conn, C., Lewis, M. and Matthews, S. (2018) Analysis of classroom dialogue as support for learning for young pupils with autism in mainstream schools, International Journal of Inclusive Education. DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2018.1458254.
Barnard-Dadds, T. and Conn, C. (2018) Challenges of listening to an autistic pupil in a person-centred planning meeting, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 18(s1), pp. 15-24.
Conn, C. (2018) Pedagogical intersubjectivity, autism and education: Can teachers teach so that autistic pupils learn?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(6), pp. 594-605.
Conn, C. and Drew, S. (2017) Sibling narratives of autistic play culture, Disability and Society, 32(6), pp. 853-67.
Conn, C. (2016) Observation, Assessment and Planning in Inclusive Autism Education: Supporting Learning and Development. London and New York: Routledge.
Conn. C. (2016) Play and Friendship in Inclusive Autism Education: Supporting Learning and Development. London and New York: Routledge.
Conn, C. (2015) ‘Sensory highs’, ‘vivid rememberings’ and ’interactive stimming: Children’s play cultures and experiences of friendship in autistic autobiographies, Disability and Society, 30(8), pp. 1192-1206.
Conn, C. (2015) Essential conditions for research with children with autism: Issues raised by two case studies, Children and Society, 29(1), pp. 59-68.
Conn, C. (2014) Autism and the Social World of Childhood: A Sociocultural Perspective on Theory and Practice. Oxford and New York: Routledge.
Conn, C. (2014) Investigating the social engagement of children with autism in mainstream schools for the purpose of identifying learning targets, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 14(3), pp. 153-159.
Jarrold, C. and Conn, C. (2011) The development of pretend play in autism. In A. Pellegrini (ed.) Oxford Handbook of the Development of Play. New York and London: Oxford University Press.


Fellow of The Higher Education Academy


EAS Consortium: Professional learning, quality assurance and impact capture. Sept 2019. 10k.
EAS Consortium: Evaluation of the implementation of the Evaluation of Teaching and Learning Framework (ETLF) within the EAS region. Jan-June 2019. 30k.
HEFCW/Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD): Additional learning needs and the new curriculum for Wales. Nov 2017-March 2019.
Welsh Government: Research to establish a baseline of the special educational needs system in Wales. With Arad Research. 2017-19. 80k.

Conference presentation:
09/2019 ‘Consideration of additional learning needs in the process of curriculum reform in Wales’, British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference, University of Manchester.
09/2019 ‘Socio-material realities of learning for primary-aged autistic pupils in inclusive education’, European Conference of Educational Research (ECER) 2019, Hamburg.
09/2017 ‘Responding to autistic sociality in conversations with pupils about their learning’, British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference, University of Sussex, Brighton UK.
05/2017 ‘Negotiating deficit discourses of autism in narrative inquiry’, Nordic Network on Disability Research, Orebrö University, Sweden
11/2015 Policy Forum for Wales Keynote Seminar: Additional learning needs provision in Wales, Cardiff. Speaker and panel member.
09/2011 3rd European Conference on Child and Adolescent Mental Health in Educational Settings, University of Cambridge.
07/2011 International Play Association (IPA) Triennial Conference, UK.
07/2011 Wales’ 4th International Autism Conference.
07/2010 Centre for the Study of Childhood & Youth, University of Sheffield.



Inclusive education
Participatory research
Children’s play and friendship cultures



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