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SEN academic combines academic theory with real-world experience

child psychology

Senior Lecturer David Bara has given important presentations this year 

A senior lecturer in Special Educational Needs (SEN) at the University of East London (UEL) has recently given a number of important guest lectures to nurses and healthcare play specialists, offering unique insights to the field.

UEL’s David Bara (picture above) is a sought-after speaker on the care and recovery of children with cancer, and the role parents, siblings, and grandparents play in that.

Mr Bara explains, “I worked as a SEN teacher before entering higher education as a lecturer, but I’m also the father of a daughter who several years ago was diagnosed with brain cancer and needed intense hospital care. I’ve got the theory but also the insider perspective of having lived that reality.

“It’s very much a case of real life informing academia, and that in turn informs care specialists and charities. It’s having an important impact.”

In November, Mr Bara gave the keynote presentation at a National Association of Health Care Professionals training day.

He gave a presentation on ‘The role of play specialists in the childhood cancer journey’ at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, a specialist children’s hospital.

Mr Bara was also invited by national cancer charity CLIC Sargent to give a presentation at a staff study day on ‘Ways play specialists can improve the child, sibling and parent pathway in the childhood cancer journey, from school to hospital and home.’

Play specialists help children understand their illness and treatment, and support them if they need to spend time in hospital. Using therapeutic play activity, these specialists also assist the children and their family during recovery.

Mr Bara’s daughter, who is a cancer survivor, continues to inform his own thinking and research on the topic.

He said, “As an academic and as a parent I’ve found social media incredibly helpful in sharing ideas and supporting others. I’ve even received invites to present my work on social media.”

Mr Bara has also written a briefing on the important role of families in the care of child cancer patients for the UK government’s Departments for Education, Health, and Work and Pensions, and provides cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support with regular research updates to help inform their work.