School of Education

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Lauran Doak

Assistant Professor in Education, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Lauran Doak joined the University of Nottingham in September 2023 as an Assistant Professor in Education. She teaches on MA and BA Education courses and is available for doctoral supervision. Previously, Lauran was a Senior Lecturer in Special and Inclusive Education at Nottingham Trent University and an Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.

Prior to working in Higher Education, Lauran taught in secondary schools for nine years.

Lauran is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance HE) and an Editorial Board member of Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs.

Expertise Summary

  • Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
  • Special Schools
  • Severe and Profound & Multiple Learning Disabilities (S/PMLD)
  • Inclusive research involving non-verbal participants
  • Lived experiences of families of disabled children

Teaching Summary

Lauran enjoys teaching on any aspect of special and inclusive education and disability, as well as inclusive research design and methods.

Research Summary

Lauran is currently undertaking a research project exploring the perspectives of special school headteachers in England on national education policy in England. Specifically, the project looks at the… read more

Recent Publications

Lauran welcomes enquiries about doctoral supervision in the following areas:

  • Learning disability
  • Autism
  • Special schools
  • Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND)
  • Lived experiences of families with disabled children
  • Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)

Current Research

Lauran is currently undertaking a research project exploring the perspectives of special school headteachers in England on national education policy in England. Specifically, the project looks at the difficulties of meaningful policy implementation in special schools which occupy a liminal space in the education system and who are often forgotten in the mainstream-centric policymaking process, resulting in policy which is a poor fit for settings with disabled learners. The initial research report from this study is available here and Schools Week coverage of the project is here.

Past Research

Lauran's previous research project explored the use of iPad storymaking Apps by young people with learning disabilities, and was funded by the UK Literacy Association. This project resulted in multiple academic articles exploring the nature of 'literacy' and 'authorship' for the young people during the supported iPad storymaking process: for a project summary including academic outputs please see here. The study was also featured in practitioner-facing publications SEN Magazine (see here) and PMLD Link (see here).

Future Research

Lauran's next project aims to better understand 'moments of connection' with young people who have Severe/Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (S/PMLD). These young people may have little or no speech, may present with limited eye contact and conventional social skills, or appear withdrawn. Moments of interpersonal connection with reciprocity, joint attention and positive affect may therefore be facilitated using embodied multimodal communication including touch, gesture, facial expression and object manipulation (Doak, 2018). We currently know about how such moments are theorised in the language of specific therapeutic interventions such as Music Therapy and Intensive Interaction. However, we do not have a synthesis or meta-analysis of how much moments are conceptualised across different fields, nor do we have studies exploring non-professional family expertise and 'tacit knowledge' in facilitating such moments. This study intends to address these gaps through academic publications, and additionally produce family/practitioner-facing website with video/vignette based inspiration on the theme of connection, along with a 'Moments of Connection Self-Assessment Tool' to facilitate self-reflection, appreciation of current practice and opportunities for development.

School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

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