Portrait of Mrs Nicola Firth Mrs Nicola Firth

n.firth2@hud.ac.uk | 01484 478265


Qualifications:  MA, CertEd, FHEA

Nicola commenced employment at the University of Huddersfield in September 2014 as Senior Lecturer with the Early Years team on the BA (Hons) in Early Years, for full and part-time routes. Additionally as Personal Tutor to a group of full-time students and undertaking placement visits.  Nicola has worked with the University since January 2011 coordinating and teaching on the BA in Early Years with Early Years Professional Status in a college environment, and with a leading role in July 2013 in validating the BA (Hons) in Early Years for the college.

After 13 years in the early years sector managing in various nurseries including a college nursery Nicola began her teaching career as an FE Tutor working on full-time level 1 to level 3 Childcare and Education programmes and leading the part-time NVQ level 3 in Children's Care, Learning and Development; this role also required assessment of students in the workplace. In January 2007 the college validated the Foundation Degree in Early Years and the BA Childhood Studies and her teaching moved into Higher Education Programmes, becoming Course Leader and utilising the leadership and management skills and experience to make the course a high quality learning experience for students. Moving to a different college in January 2011 to take on the role of HE Lead Coordinator for Early Years Nicola played a fundamental role in developing their HE provision and working with the University of Huddersfield, Leeds Metropolitan University and Teesside University. With a promotion to Curriculum Development Manager responsibilities included developing new Further Education and Higher Education provision and leading a team of five staff.

Nicola achieved a Commended Award in 2011 for her Masters’ Degree in Childhood Studies and is currently working towards a Doctorate in Education. The MA dissertation has recently been published in a text book that supports early years practitioners reflective practice.

From a very young age Nicola had the passion and drive to work with children and young people and progression into teaching has been a natural one. The opportunity to teach others about childhood and utilising her extensive industry experiences assists putting this into practice; with the ability to explain and demonstrate to others how theory relates to practice through real life experience.

Research and Scholarship

Educational Doctorate:

  • The ‘Disengaged’ and ‘Underachieving’ Boy?: Boys Early Educational Experiences of Pedagogical Practices

Interested in:

  • Personal and Professional Development and Practice
  • Reflective Practice
  • Boys underachieving in comparison to girls with a focus on the early years


Commended Award on completion of MA Childhood Studies Member TACTYC Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators

External Examiner for the University of South Wales Early Years Education and Practice Honours Degree

Research Degree Supervision

Supervisor for the Major Study in Education for full and part-time Undergraduate Framework students and Masters Degree students; some examples of research project supervision includes:

  • Gender inequalities
  • Developing boys literacy and writing skills
  • The enabling environment in literacy and maths in nursery
  • Measuring quality in early years settings
  • Transitions in early years and key stage 1
  • Breastfeeding support in comparison to bottle feeding

Further information is available about Research Topics and Supervision within the School of Education and Professional Development..

Enterprise Activities

2015/16      Undertook a research project with a co-researcher at The University of Huddersfield, which was commissioned by Calderdale Local Authority Teamworks, to evaluate early years practitioners’ experiences as they took part in a project ‘Developing Fine Motor Skills for Emergent Writing’. The year long project was funded by the NCTL and sought to raise attainment in writing for young boys by improving fine motor skills. We produced a report analysing our findings, which was presented to and accepted by Teamworks in June 2016. To take this project forward we are currently planning a dissemination event in November 2016 at The University of Huddersfield for those involved in the research and teachers and practitioners from local early years settings.

2013/14     Collaboration with Teesside University to develop a new Foundation Degree in Young Children’s Learning and Development. Writing level 4 and 5 module specifications, Programme Specification and Validated Programme Proposal Document. Validated for college delivery commencing September 2014.

2012/2013 The Foundation Degree in Young Children’s Learning and Development underwent a re-focus exercise with Leeds Metropolitan University. Amending all modules to 20 credits and ensuring current policy and legislation was incorporated to reflect developments in the early years sector. The award was re-validated in May 2013.

2009         Part of a project team with West Yorkshire Lifelong Learning Network developing a combined award for a Foundation Degree Leadership and Management for Children's Care/Social Care. This was validated in 2010 by two Universities with the award now running at two colleges.

Teaching and Professional Activities

BA (Hons) in Early Years (full-time)

  • Self Society and Welfare
  • Theories and Strategies for Learning
  • Professional Practice 1
  • People in Action
  • Safeguarding

BA (Hons) in Early Years (part-time)

  • Theories and Strategies for Learning
  • Health and Well-Being

Leadership and Management in Educational Settings

  • Child Health and Well-Being

Supervisor on the Major Study in Education (full-time students) and Major Study (part-time students) and personal tutor for full and part time BA (hons) early years students

Placement visits to first and second year students