Portrait of Dr Samantha McMahon Dr Samantha McMahon

s.mcmahon@hud.ac.uk | 01484 478223


Qualifications: BSc(Hons), PGCE, MA, PhD, FHEA

Subject Leader (SL) (Undergraduate Education) with responsibility for leading developments relation to the student experience on the Undergraduate Framework, including implementing strategies to improve student satisfaction, achievement and retention within the Division of Academic & Professional Studies. I joined the University in 2004 and my first task was to design and implement the Sector Endorsed Foundation Degree in Early Years. This role and course were absolutely key to the current suite of successful early years programmes we offer, not only at Huddersfield but with partners in Oldham, Barnsley and Wakefield. To build this suite of programmes has required me to work closely with a number of external agencies including CWDC, Local Authorities, FE Colleges, Schools, early years settings and an expanding team of tutors.I have been instrumental in growing the course from the first cohort of 25 students to more than 500 students and providing opportunities for many non-traditional students to access Higher Education. Testimony from the Local Authorities and many settings shows that these students are also practitioners who make a significant and positive difference to lives of children. I still teach many modules on these courses and retain lead responsibility for the course to ensure quality and equality across the provision.

Prior to joining the University I taught for ten years in a range of settings including Primary School, Pre-School and FE College.

Research and Scholarship

Current Research Interests

  • The title of my Doctoral Thesis is Early Years Professional Status: A Narrative Study of Leadership and Contradictory Professionalism

    Other research interests include children’s physical development and leadership in early childhood education and care

Publications and Other Research Outputs


McMahon, S (2016) ‘'You have to be a leader but don't want to come across as taking over' : Leading Practice in Early Childhood Education and Care’. In: BERA Annual Conference 2016, 13th-15th September 2016, Leeds, UK

McMahon, S (2016) Early Years Professional Status: A Narrative Study of Leadership and Contradictory Professionalism Doctoral thesis, Sheffield Hallam.

McMahon, S. and Firth, N.(2016) Evaluating practitioners' experiences of developing fine motor skills for emergent writing. University of Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield (Unpublished).

McMahon, S (2016) ‘'You have to be aleader but don't want to come across as taking over': Leading Practice in Early Childhood Education and Care’. In: School of Education and Professional Development Post Graduate Research Festival 2016, 7th April 2016, University of Huddersfield

Harvell, J. and McMahon, S. (2016) ‘Observation’. In: The Early Years Handbook for Students and Practitioners. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 402-415. ISBN 9781138776395

McMahon, S., Dyer, M. and Barker, C. (2016) ‘Mentoring, coaching and supervision’. In: The Early Years Handbook for Students and Practitioners. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 433-447. ISBN 9781138776395


McMahon, S. and Dyer, M. (2014) ‘A narrative approach to professional identity’. In: EARLI SIG 14 Conference - Learning and Professional Development, 27th - 29th August 2014, University of Oslo


Marsden, F., McMahon, S. and Youde, A. (2013) ‘Inter-agency working, observation and assessment’. In: Safeguarding and Protecting Children in the Early Years. : Routledge. pp. 165-179. ISBN 9780415527507

McMahon, S. and Percival, J. (2013) ‘Supervision and reflective practice’. In: Safeguarding and Protecting Children in the Early Years. : Routledge. pp. 180-193. ISBN 9780415527507


McMahon, S (2011) ‘A lasting Legacy: Higher Education and Work-based Learning Making a Difference in Early Years’. In: Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) Annual Conference, 20th-22nd March 2011, Stirling, UK

McMahon, S (2011) ‘With the benefit of hindsight: Reflections of new researchers engaged in an externally funded, collaborative research project’. In: University of Huddersfield Research Festival 2011, 28th March-2nd April 2011, University of Huddersfield, UK


Daniels, C. and McMahon, S. (2010) ‘Professional identity in children and young people's workforce’. In: Personal & Public Lives Conference, 9th September 2010, University of Huddersfield

Daniels, C. and McMahon, S. (2010) ‘Professional identity and multi-disciplinary working: is there a crisis in the children and young people's workforce?’. In: University of Huddersfield Research Festival, 8 - 18 March 2010, University of Huddersfield




  • Member - Kirklees Early years Partnership
  • Member – Kirklees Early Years Quality and Training sub-group


  • Member - Sector Endorsed Foundation Degree in Early Years Network
  • Member-TACTYC Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators
  • Member-European Early Childhood Education Research Association

External Examiner

  • University of Worcester  FDA Early Years/BA (Hons) Early Years ‘Top up’ (2012-2016)

Other External Work

Collaborative project with ‘Teamworks’, an alliance of Teaching Schools and the LA in Calderddale on ‘Evaluating Practitioners’ Experiences of Developing Fine Motor Skills for Emergent Writing’           

BERA/TACTYC Early Childhood Special Interest Group –Policy Advice and Research Agendas (2014)

  • Working in partnership with the Nationwide Children’s Research Centre on a longitudinal project evaluating the impact of three children’s centres in Oldham funded by Oldham LA. The project will run for 18 months and is due to be completed in September 2011.
  • Developed and designed, in partnership with Barnsley Early Years Service, FdA Early Years for Parenting Practitioners (2010)
  • Developed and designed in partnership with Barnsley Early Years FdA Leading in the Children’s Workforce (2009)
  • Successful Bid to secure new route to EYPS BA (Hons) Childhood studies with EYPS (2009)
  • Working with WYLLN (West Yorkshire Life Long Learning Network) and partner colleges developing Progression agreements for vocational learners into Higher Education (2008)
  • Design of a Professional Skills module with Bradford University and WYLLN to meet the needs of learners and employers around the Standards for Social Care (2008)
  • Design and delivery of In-service training for teachers on Child Development (2006/2007)
  • Successful bid to CWDC to deliver EYPS (Early Years Professional Status) and subsequent design and delivery of three training pathways (2006)
  • Work on a pilot franchise arrangement with St Helens College to deliver the Foundation degree in Early Years (2006)


Research Degree Supervision

Recent supervisions have included:

  • Exploration of Professional Identity in Early Years
  • Professional Identity in Child-minders
  • What motivates practitioners to study a Foundation degree in FE?

I am interested in supervising studies which primarily relate to early years policy, practice and pedagogy for example I recently supervised a study which focused on how the environment in a setting supports language acquisition for children with EAL. I also supervised a student who carried out an evaluative study on the implementation of Every Child a Talker.

Currently I am supervising  a student whose focus is on childminders and their training and development needs and another who is evaluating technological applications for tracking children's progress.

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

Enterprise Activities

  • 2016 Collaborative research project to evaluate practitioners’ experiences of developing children’s fine motor skills to support emergent writing
  • 2009-2011 collaborated with NCRC, Consult (private research company) and LA on a study to evaluate three Children’s Centres.
  • 2007-2011 Collaborated with Local Authorities to design and develop courses to meet the specific needs of the workforce for example Leading in the Children’s Workforce and Parenting Practitioners plus inservice training on Child Development.

Teaching and Professional Activities

Teaching and professional activities

In my teaching I focus  specifically on how children learn and develop in Perspectives on Learning and Development, , work based learning and other professional issues in Professional Practice modules. I also deliver specialist sessions focusing on Leadership in ECEC at undergraduate and Masters level. I have responsibility for teaching The Major Study module to year 3 Early Years students.

Modules I teach:

  • Perspectives on Learning and Development
  • Professional Practice 1
  • Advanced Professional Practice
  • Major Study

    I also supervise research studies at Honours,, Masters  and Doctoral level.

    In addition I provide personal and professional tutor support to part time and full time students.