About the ACoRNS Network

The Autism Community Research Network @ Southampton [ACoRNS] is an education-focused initiative which seeks to improve the lives of autistic children and young people. The network began in November 2016 with initial funding from the University of Southampton’s Public Engagement with Research Unit and is co-directed by Professor Sarah Parsons, from the University’s Education School, and Dr Hanna Kovshoff from the School of Psychology in partnership with our Steering Group. More information about the members of the ACoRNS Steering Group can be found below.

ACoRNS is a unique collaboration between Education and Psychology at the University and local nurseries, schools and colleges who are interested in developing, researching, understanding, and sharing good practice in educational provision for autistic children and their families.

We believe that the best way for autism research and practice to genuinely meet the needs of children and young people in the local community is to involve the local community from the start. In ACoRNS we are striving to meet our aims through:

  • involving autistic children and young people at the centre of research and practice;
  • establishing a co-constructed research agenda for identifying, investigating and implementing evidence-based practices in autism education;
  • building a collaborative partnership between the University of Southampton, professionals, schools, early years providers, and children and young people.

Our focus is on understanding more about the trajectories and transitions of autistic children and young people. We want to know more about how to most effectively support children’s progress through school and enable them to have positive experiences. We also want to establish best practice for supporting children and families in making transitions, whether that be from home to school, from the classroom to the playground, or between and beyond stages of schooling.

We’d love to hear from you if you are interested in joining our network or just finding out more. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via the Contacts page.


ACoRNS Steering Group

Sarah Parsons

Hanna Kovshoff

Mark Fry

Professor of Autism and Inclusion, Director of Research, Southampton Education School, University of Southampton

Associate Professor in Developmental Psychology, University of Southampton

Director Of Education,
New Forest School

Kathryn Ivil

Leisa Quigley

Kate Buckingham

Nursery Manager, The Aviary Nursery

Commissioning Manager, New Forest Care – Education

Assistant Head at Springwell School and Lead Specialist for SEND, Autism, Shared Attention – Southampton Inclusion Partnership (SIP) and Southampton Advisory Outreach Service (SAOS)

Hilra Gondim Vinha

Kirsty Marsden

Louisa Burden

Learning Support Co-ordinator, Richard Taunton Sixth Form College

Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Hill House School, Cambian Group

Deputy Head, Hill House School, Cambian Group