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Meet the Talent Development team

Valsa Koshy: Founding Director of Talent Development of Children


Professor Valsa Koshy has been the director of the Brunel Able Children’s Education (BACE) Centre at Brunel University, since she founded it in 1996. She has led a masters programme in Gifted Education and supervised both EdD and PhD students for many years. Professor Koshy is the author of several books and has written numerous papers in both national and international journals.

Valsa's research interests include: Mathematics education, action research, higher education orientation of gifted students in socially deprived areas, critical thinking, curriculum provision for gifted students, nurturing talents of younger children 4 to 7.

Carole Portman Smith: Urban Scholars Programme Director


Carole is the Urban Scholars Programme Director based within the Brunel Able Children’s Education Centre (BACE). In this role she designs, researches and delivers a sustained intervention programme for gifted secondary school students drawn from thirty London schools across nine Local Authorities. Many of the Urban Scholars come from socially deprived areas where their talents may not have resulted in them achieving successful examination results and having high aspirations. The evidence based programme aims to promote social mobility by raising the aspirations and achievements of the students attending and enhancing their life chances. Carole has published research on the impact of this programme and disseminated her findings at conferences nationally. 

As an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) Carole has published her research and developed a range of enrichment activities, including thinking skills programmes. She has introduced the Brunel Key Stage 2 and 3 critical thinking courses for gifted children, and supported the delivery of these in schools across the country. 

Carole is also a Lead Practitioner for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and her work with the Trust has focused on designing materials and supporting practitioners to tackle underachievement and increase the level of challenge delivered within classrooms. Case studies for this work have been published by the Trust. 

Prior to working in education Carole was a clinical biochemist, based at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London. Her research interest during this time was the causes and effects of lead poisoning on young children. Working with children on these projects prompted her to move into the field of education. Carole has worked in schools as a Head of Science, Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) for teaching and learning and a Gifted and Talented coordinator.

Catherina Emery: Urban Scholars Programme Co-ordinator


Catherina is the co-ordinator for the Urban Scholars Programme. Catherina is responsible for the smooth running of all the programmes of the centre: the Urban Scholars Programme, MA in Gifted Education, annual national conferences, and for supporting all the staff of the centre. Her role involves liaising with the Director of Urban Scholars, the co-ordinator of Urban Scholars, LEA co-ordinators, the scholars and their parents.

If you would like more information regarding the Urban Scholars or would like to discuss any aspect of our work, please contact our coordinator, Catherina Emery, at the below address.

Brunel University
Kingston Lane

Tel: +44 (0) 1895 267152
Fax: +44 (0) 1895 269806
Email: catherina.emery@brunel.ac.uk