By Julia Howe
Yesterday we said goodbye to one of our longstanding colleagues on the tutor team at the University of Birmingham. Jane Leadbetter has been a course tutor since 1995. Her contribution extends must further than the trainees who have benefitted from her wisdom and expertise. Jane has supervised the doctoral studies of 3 of her fellow tutors (including myself). She has been involved in international research projects from which she has championed Socio-cultural Activity Theory as an approach that can be utilised by educational psychologists. Jane was also a longstanding member on the DECP committee and contributed notably to the development of guidelines for supervision for the profession.
To celebrate Jane’s retirement we invited a number of colleagues to talk about her life and work as an educational psychologist. Graeme Douglas our head of department at the university spoke about Jane’s calm approach in the face of challenges. While Amanda Daniels, head of the educational psychology service in Birmingham, talked about Jane’s inspirational approach as a woman in a leadership role, at a time when these roles were dominated by male colleagues.
Sandra Dunsmuir from University College London told us about her work with Jane on supervision, citing Jane’s survey on supervision in 2000 as the inspiration for the work that has followed. This includes the guidelines that she co-authored with Jane for the DECP. Sandra also commented on Jane’s love of shapes and how they reoccur in all aspects of her work.
Halit Hulusi, Principal Educational Psychologist in Solihull, told us how Jane’s research has influenced educational psychologists conducting research at the Tavistock, working from a psychodynamic perspective. In a strikingly different approach Halit showed how researchers using psychodynamic theory have drawn upon stories and myths, such as that of Echo and Narcissus, in order to understand the supervision process.
Peter Leadbetter, Jane’s husband, talked about his work in coaching. He suggested that educational psychologists are well placed with our skills to take on the role of coaching leaders in educational, health and other settings. Peter suggested that the courage that educational psychologist have to step in be the critical friend and to challenge with impact is undervalued. He reflected what many of us in the profession are aware of: very few people know how difficult it is to become an educational psychologist or what the role involves. Peter offered a challenge to the audience for the people least interested in coaching to go away and to find out more.
Jane rounded off the evening with thanks to all of her colleagues and the trainees and other doctoral student whom she has supported. She mentioned her interest in researching the history of the profession and her realisation that she had become part of that history, as a motivation for deciding that it was time to retire. In a highlight of the event she paid tribute to our course director, Sue Morris and presented her with a pair of Freudian Slippers, which Sue then modelled for us.
On behalf of all of the course tutors and trainees, past and present, I would like to wish Jane well for the future. The word cloud below, cleverly made by Sandra during the event, reflects all of our hopes for Jane’s future.
Julia Howe is course tutor on the initial training course of educational psychologists at the University of Birmingham.
A selection of Jane’s research can be found at:
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