Professor Valsa Koshy, Emerita Professor of Education at Brunel University London, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list, released today.
The honour is in recognition of Prof Koshy’s distinguished contribution to education in a range of roles spanning four decades. A significant part of her research has focused on the recognition and fulfilment of submerged talent of students living in challenging circumstances. Her most-quoted statement is that “talents may be submerged but not eradicated by social disadvantage”.
Prof Koshy joined Brunel in 1996 to found the Brunel Able Children’s Education (BACE) Centre, which focuses on the search for and fulfilment of talents of children aged 4 to 16 years. Her work, based on a broadened conception of talents and gifts (rather than on labelling children as ‘gifted’ and ‘non-gifted’), has focused on the uniqueness of a child’s special strengths, passions and interests. Her mission has been to empower teachers with strategies for effective classroom provision, so that they can provide enriching and enjoyable learning experiences to all pupils.
Prof Koshy’s many achievements include:
- Urban Scholars, the multifaceted intervention programme she founded in 2000 to enhance the educational aspirations and prospects of children – and which has transformed the lives of hundreds of teenagers from low-income families. This work is energised by her deep commitment to inclusion, social equality and social justice.
- Several projects supporting schools. In her most recent one, funded by the Mayor of London, she introduced mathematics talk in classrooms, which showed statistically significant improvement in children’s mathematical achievement – especially that of children with special needs and for whom English is an additional language.
- Authoring numerous papers in national and international journals, and more than 20 books. Her latest book, Find and Nurture Your Child’s Gifts, forms the basis of her current project involving low-income families. Funded through Brunel Access and Participation, the project aims to enhance children’s learning potential and wellbeing by promoting greater parental engagement.
Prior to joining Brunel, Prof Koshy gained two research degrees in Mathematics Education, from Kings College London and Exeter University, and was a member of the mathematics advisory team for the Inner London Education Authority. She has continued to lead professional development programmes to support teachers with mathematics subject knowledge and pedagogy.
“I am extremely grateful to Brunel for the support I receive for undertaking some very complex projects,” Professor Koshy said. “When a 7-year-old tells me ‘My mum could only speak Polish before; now she talks maths’, and when parents tell me that their young children are ‘making nuisances of themselves in supermarkets studying the sugar content of packs of cereal’, you know you are doing something worthwhile”.
Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London, said: “We are immensely proud of Professor Koshy’s many achievements. This national honour is testament to her outstanding and sustained contribution to tackling social inequality through innovative approaches to primary and secondary education.”
“Her pioneering intervention programmes have transformed the lives of many underprivileged young people, giving them the knowledge and skills they need to secure places at leading universities and setting them on the path to successful and rewarding careers. Her work has been informed by her extensive research, which has provided a powerful evidence base to support the design and delivery of her programmes and maximise the potential for delivering real value.”
Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
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