Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coronavirus: Please be aware it may take us slightly longer to respond than usual. Find out about our coronavirus response and current contact hours.

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Mrs Karen Horsley

Mrs Karen Horsley

Profile summary

Professional biography

Karen is a Lecturer in Early Childhood. Karen's first degree is in Early Childhood Studies which she completed at the University of East London. Karen was a Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the University of East London for ten years before joining The Open University in January 2015. Karen has worked with children, parents and professionals in a variety of early years settings including local primary schools, nurseries, a women's refuge and child development centre.

Karen acheived her Doctorate in Education: 

Exploring young migrant children's ‘funds of knowledge’ through documentary photography.

In this qualitative participatory case study, the ‘funds of knowledge’ (González et al., 2005) of three young children, whose families have migrated to the UK, are foregrounded, and rendered visible, through documentary photography. The children’s intuitive and wise photography, at home and in a nursery, expresses the richness of their aesthetic authorial voices, as pedagogical resources. At a time of unpreceded global migration, this study interweaves theoretical insights from early childhood, documentary photography and visual sociology which challenge dominant deficit perspectives, to offer a new framework for layered listening and ongoing possibilities in practice. 

Karen holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGTLHE) and has been awarded Early Years Professional Status (EYPS). Karen is a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy. 


Research interests

Karen is interested in how documentary photography can facilitate young children's voices and partcipation in Early Childhood. 

Karen's research has explored the use of documentary photography to 'slow down' with practitioners and children:

Horsley, K. (2021) Slowing Down: Documentary Photography in Early Childhood. International Journal of Early Years Education. vol. 29, no.4, pp.438-454 [Online]. DOI: 10.1080/09669760.2020.1850430

Karen achieved her Doctorate in Education:

'Exploring young migrant children's ‘funds of knowledge’ through documentary photography'

Karen's research interests are: Young children's diverse voices and participation; visual research methods; participatory and creative approaches; young migrant and refugee children's funds of knowledge; visual stories, slow pedagogies; digital pedagogies; and globalisation

Teaching interests

Karen's teaching interests and experiences span a wide variety of Early Childhood / Early Years modules with students on the Extended degree at the University of East London (UEL) and Undergraduates at UEL and The Open University.

The Open University

  • E105 Professional Practice in the Early Years (Module Chair)
  • E109 Perspectives on Young Children's Lives and Learning (module team member)
  • E110 Young Children's Play and Creativity (in production)
  • E100 The Early Years: Developing Practice (module team member)
  • E229 Listening to Young Children Living and Learning: Critical Reflections (in production)


  • ED0007 Key Concepts in Early Childhood (Extended degree)
  • ED0003 Becoming an Early Childhood Undergraduate (Extended degree)
  • ED1009 Introduction to Early Childhood Studies
  • ED1034 Developing Learning in Early Childhood
  • ED1000 Critical Reading and Writing
  • ED2037 International Placement in International Settings
  • ED3000 Research Project supervisor
  • ED6014 Children, Culture, Globalisation



Slowing Down: Documentary Photography in Early Childhood (2021)
Horsley, Karen
International Journal of Early Years Education, 29(4) (pp. 438-454)

Researching Children’s Curiosity and Imagination Through the Our Story Tablet App (2019-05-20)
Canning, Natalie; Horsley, Karen and Payler, Jane
BERA Research Intelligence(140) (pp. 22-23)

An innovative methodology for capturing young children’s curiosity, imagination and voices using a free app: Our Story (2017)
Canning, Natalie; Payler, Jane; Horsley, Karen and Gomez, Chris
International Journal of Early Years Education, 25(3) (pp. 292-307)

Remembering childhood: Do our memories and experiences influence our understanding of early childhood and our practice with young children? (2014-10-01)
Horsley, Karen and Penn, Helen
Management in Education, 28, Article 9(4) (pp. 175-179)

Using digital resources to document young children’s everyday moments. (2017-07-14)
Horsley, Karen
In: Goodliff, Gill; Canning, Natalie; Parry, John and Miller, Linda eds. Young children’s play and creativity: Multiple Voices.
ISBN : 9781315446844 | Publisher : Routledge and The Open University

The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum in England: a missed opportunity? (2013-10-04)
Silberfeld, Carolyn Helena and Horsley, Karen
In: Ang, Lynn ed. The Early Years Curriculum: The UK context and beyond (pp. 12-32)
ISBN : 1408223325 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

The ‘Listening Project’: Seeing and hearing young children’s stories,voices and imaginations through documentary photography in one day nursery. Possibilities and dilemmas (2016-08-31)
Horsley, Karen
In : 26th EECERA (European Early Childhood Education Research Association) Conference, 2016 (31 Aug - 3 Sep 2016, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

Children’s imagination and curiosity: Facilitating and documenting through technology (2016)
Canning, Natalie; Payler, Jane and Horsley, Karen
In : 26th EECERA (European Early Childhood Education Research Association) Conference, 2016 (31 Aug - 03 Sep 2016, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

Exploring Young Migrant Children's 'Funds of Knowledge' Through Documentary Photography (2022-03-17)
Horsley, Karen
edd thesis The Open University