Fran Zanatta 410 x 208

Dr Francesca Zanatta


Department of Early Childhood & Education , School of Education and Communities

With over a decade of practice in the voluntary sector working with children and their families, Fran (she/they) is committed to advancing the implementation of Children's Rights Education. Fran is on the editorial board of the open access Journal of Childhood, Education and Society and is co-founder of ChildRightsChat, a multinational space for the teaching and learning of children's rights.

Areas Of Interest

Fran's is interested in research that disrupts conceptualisations of identity, kin(d)ship (Haraway) and interpersonal dynamics. Technology, queerness, mental health, immigration, anti-fascism and critical pedagogy are some of the areas covered in Fran's research and teaching. Fran's background is in Medical Anthropology and Psychology, and is currently training as a child psychotherapist with the hope of one day supporting children in navigating the complexities of gender and identity.

On This Page


Francesca is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies.

Following the completion of  her BA in Psychology from the University of Padua (Italy), Francesca commenced her career as researcher at the Centre for Immigrant Health at New York University. She moved to London in 2007 where she gained a MSc in Culture and Health at University College London and a PGDiploma in Infant Observation at the Tavistock and Portman Clinic. Following the successful completion of the PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at UEL, in 2015 Francesca was accredited as Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Francesca has completed her PhD at University College London with a thesis on Attachment in Caribbean Families in London.

Her professional career in Early Education started as LSA in a Primary School, where she worked  with children with Special Educational Needs and English as Second Language.  Francesca then moved onto the voluntary sector; first  promoting the right to play for children with Special Needs and Disabilities for Action for Children, and then managing a Family Project, Children's Rights and  Care Leavers Project for Barnardo's.

Francesca is a member of the British Association for International Comparative Education and of the Children's Rights Alliance for England; she currently volunteers for the Hackney Pirates and sits on the Board of Directors for the Play Association of Tower Hamlets. At UEL, Francesca is Module Leader for ED5005 (Advocating for Children's Rights in National and International Contexts) and its distance learning equivalent and for ED6007, Research Dissertation module.

External roles:

  • Member of the Board of Directors at PATH (Play Association Tower Hamlets) (Secretary)
  • Volunteer for Hackney Pirates
  • Member of BAICE and CRAE
  • Member of the Spokesperson Network at the New Economic Foundation


  • Trapped in the Dyad: Theorising Families Beyond Attachment Theory' (PhD Thesis)
  • TEL: Using videos and e-journals as formative assessment in Higher Education (funded by CELT UEL as LEO)
  • Children's Rights in the formation of practitioners
  • The use of technology in advocating for Children's Rights
  • The impact of Brexit on European children living in the UK

Recent conference papers:

  • Zanatta, F. and Cakir, N. (2017) Children's participation in the training of professionals and volunteers: reflections on bridging theory, practice and children's experience. Unpublished presentation at: Oxford Network for Children's Rights Seminar Series, February 2017, University of Oxford
  • Zanatta, F. (2016) 'Are we really doomed?' Critical pathways for Advancing Children's Rights Through theory and Practice Unpublished conference paper at: British Association International Comparative Education (BAICE) Thematic Forum - Children's Rights, October 2016, Cambridge University
  • Robson, J. and Zanatta, F. (2016) 'The status of children's rights: shaping an understanding of children's rights within the professional formation of education and children's services practitioners.' Unpublished conference paper at Children and Young People in a Changing World: Action, Agency and Participation June 2016, Liverpool Hope
  • Zanatta, F. (2016) Trapped in the Dyad.  Unpublished conference paper at British Sociological Association, What Next For Childhood Studies? April 15th 2016 University of Edinburgh.


  • Atkinson, C, Coll, L, McBride, R-S, Whittington, E, Zanatta, F. (2022) Growing sideways: Re-articulating ontologies of childhood within/through relationships and sexuality education (RSE). Child Soc. 2022; 00: 1 - 15.
  • Zanatta, F. and Long, S. (2021) Rights to the front. Rights based education in Early Childhood Degrees. Journal of Early Childhood Education Research, Vol 10(1) p. 139-165
  • Zanatta, F. (2021). Examining Relationships and Sex Education through a child rights lens: an intersectional approach. Human Rights Education Review.
  • Zanatta, F., Martínez Sainz, G. & Gillett-Swan, J. (2019). A Critical Realist Reflection on the Use of Social Media as Third Space for Rights Education in Early Childhood. International Journal of Early Childhood, 51, 319-333
  • Zanatta, F. and Bradley, G. (2019) Immigration Checks Used In Schools To De-Prioritise Children Of Undocumented Migrants. RightsInfo, 2 May 2019,
  • Zanatta, F. (2019) Forget me not? LGBTIQ+ representation and rights in education. BERA, 20 February 2019 
  • Zanatta, F. (2019) "Beyond the famil(y)ar: the construct of the self, outside the dyad. Intercultural therapy as an opportunity to explore the social self." In Littlewood, R. and Ababio, B. (eds) Intercultural Therapy 2nd Volume. London: Karnac/Routledge.
  • Virgili, E, and Zanatta, F. (2018) "Feminism is Dead! Long live Feminism! A reflective note on the FAW! workshop." ephemera, Theory and Politics in Organisation. Vol 18(2)
  • Zanatta, F. (2018) "Are We Really Doomed? Critical Pathways for Advancing Children's Rights through Theory and Practice" In Martinez Sainz, G. and Ilie, S. (eds) International Perspectives on Practice and Research into Children's Rights. Mexico: Centre for Human Rights Studies.
  • Zanatta, F., S. Dein and R. Littlewood (2011) Communication as magic: An ethnographic study on child-God communication in Northern Italy. World Cultural Psychiatric Research Review June: 61-74


In 2021, Fran was recipient of an Early Career Research Grant by the European Educational Research Association and Global Education Network Europe.

Fran is currently focusing on a British Council Newton Fund project in collaboration with Mahidol University, Bangkok

2015-2016 - London Scholars (project in collaboration with Barnardo's)

Learning Enhancement Opportunities - the use of videos and e-journals as formative assessment



  • Module Leader ED5005 'Advocating for Children's Rights in National and International Contexts '(both on campus and Distance Learning)
  • Seminar Leader ED6014 Children, Culture and Globalisation
  • Seminar Leader ED5004 Observing, Documenting and Researching with Children, Families and Practitioners
  • Seminar Leader ED4034 Pedagogy: Supporting Development in Early Years
  • Dissertation Supervisor BA
  • Dissertation Supervisor MA
  • Doctoral supervision PhD and Prof Doc

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Start a career working with and for children and their families, get an excellent foundation in early childhood studies.

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MA Education

MA Education will extend your understanding of teaching theory and practice and help teachers or those supporting teaching and learning.

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