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Dr April-Louise Pennant

Dr April-Louise Pennant

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow

+44(0) 292 087 0911
Glamorgan Building


I am a sociologist working in the areas of education and social justice with a particular interest in how identities- social class, gender, ethnicity, culture and race- intersect to shape and influence individuals, the ways in which they interact with others and how they navigate within society. I have recently started to venture into history, heritage and memory research as a Leverhulme Early Career fellow, guided by my mentors, Professor Bella Dicks and Dr Kate Moles.

I have always been a firm believer in the transformative power of education and with my work, I aim to contribute to ensuring that the curriculum reflects and includes diverse narratives and histories so that everyone understands how they belong and appreciates the contributions of their communities and others to society. Another of my aims is wanting to support all students to be equipped with the knowledge to understand the education system, and have access to resources to aid their journey within it.

Within my research, I centre marginalised communities, employing their experiential knowledge to explore and document alternative narratives, using critical and creative methodologies to frame and make sense of them. These narratives act as a critique to interrogate the unequal underpinnings and structure of the education system and society as a whole, to advance social justice. More specifically, my research contributes to creating detailed understandings of intersecting barriers, social injustices and specific challenges faced by Black communities, especially Black girls and women. But also the triumphs, resilience and ingenious ways that they, both historically and presently, manoeuvre within the education system and society- despite the many odds.

Ultimately, my work questions who is (un)seen, who is (un)heard, who has the power and why that might be the case, while reversing it. 


I attended the University of Kent where I earned a first class undergraduate degree in Sociology with a year in Hong Kong. Notably, during my year abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (C.U.H.K.) and alongside my studies, I co-founded the Black International Community (B.I.C.) to educate others and to celebrate global Black cultures, creating cross-cultural dialogue and engagement. The success of this initiative resulted in me being awarded the ‘Outstanding International/ Multicultural Initiative of the Year’ as well as the ‘Student of the Year’ at the 2015 Kent Student Awards.

Directly after finishing my undergraduate degree, I received the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) 1+3 studentship which enabled me to complete both my Masters and Ph.D. studies, as well as to participate in additional courses as part of my research training at the University of Birmingham. I was also selected to be one of the Westmere Scholars to represent the College of Social Sciences (2018-2019) and thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I completed my Ph.D. with a ‘virtual viva’ at the start of the global lockdowns in March 2020.

After being in education for most of my life, I decided to take some time out, opting to work at the Welsh Government before taking up a ESRC postdoctoral research fellowship at Cardiff University. Within my relatively short time at the Government,I held several roles as part of the teams involved in implementing the legislative framework of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act and developing the Anti-racist Wales Action Plan. I also used my expertise as a member of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum Working Group. Additionally, alongside my day job and as part of her roles in the workplace staff diversity networks’ steering groups, I researched and co-authored the award-winning report- Running Against the Wind: Report on Black Lives Matter & staff experiences of race, gender & intersectionality in the Welsh Government. The impact of the report was far-reaching, and its findings and recommendations were incorporated into both internal and external strategy about how to promote and strengthen workplace equality, diversity and inclusion, leadership and anti-racism.

Outside of work, I am currently part of the management committee for Black History Cymru 365 (BHC365) and I enjoy visiting and ticking off destinations from my travel bucket-list .

Honours and awards

  • The Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Cardiff University (2021)
  • Welsh Government 'Valuing Diversity' Award (2021)
  • WeAreTheCity and The Times and The Sunday Times 'Rising Star' Award in the Education & Academia category (2019)
  • Westmere Scholar for the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham (2018)
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 1+3 Award at the University of Birmingham (2015)
  • Outstanding International/Multicultural Initiative of the Year at the University of Kent's Student Awards (2015)
  • Student of the Year at the University of Kent'sStudents Awards (2015)

Professional memberships

  • African Carribean Research Collective
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)
  • British Academy Early Career Researcher Network
  • Learners Society of Wales Early Career Network

Academic positions

  • 2022- present: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Cardiff University
  • 2021 - 2022: ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Cardiff University
  • 2015 - 2020: ESRC 1+3 (MA and PhD) studentship, University of Birmingham

Speaking engagements

  • Mapping Out the all the Black in the Union Jack: Being a Black woman scholar-activist in modern Britain, Black Europe Summer School (BESS), The International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE), delivered July 2022
  • How to be a Transformer in educational spaces and places (webinar), Student Success (EDI) Inspirational speaker series, University of Kent (2022)
  • Penrhyn Castle & The Pennants: A Personal Journey by Dr April-Louise Pennant (webinar), Race Council Cymru/ Black History Cymru 365 (2021)
  • Promoting An Anti-Racist Wales: Lessons from Running Against the Wind (webinar), Race Council Cymru/ Black Lives Matter Wales Collective (2021)
  • Respecting Race in the Workplace (podcast), The Welsh Government (2021)
  • Black bodies in white educational spaces (webinar), Bristol Conversations in Education research seminar series (2021)
  • #NavigatingInSilence: Black British Women in education and the workplace (webinar), Centre On the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CODE), the University of Manchester (2021)
  • Pennant, A.-L. (2020) Session 5: “I mean the education system as a whole, ultimately it wasn’t really made for all the people that are now entering it”- The role of Race in Education and  educational trajectories. Lecture, Sociology of Race and Racism, University of Birmingham, delivered 14 February 2020.
  • Pennant, A.-L. (2018) ‘Black British female graduates and the role of social class within their educations,’ BSA Bourdieu Study Group 2nd Biennial International Conference. Lancaster University, 10th- 12th July 2018.
  • The University of Birmingham (2018) UNFILTERED: With Nando Sigona and April-Louise Pennant.
  • Pennant, A.-L. (2018) Week 8: ‘What does Intersectionality have to do with it?’. Lecture, Education Policy and Social Justice, University of Birmingham, delivered 28 February 2018.
  • Pennant, A.-L. (2018) ‘The Windrush- 70 years Later: An Educational perspective,’ Windrush Panel. University of Birmingham delivered 20 June 2018.
  • Pennant, A.-L. (2017) ‘The role of social capital in shaping the experiences of Black female undergraduates,’ Afroeuropeans: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe Sixth biennial network conference. University of Tampere in Finland, 6th - 8th July 2017.
  • Pennant, A.-L. (2017) ‘Survival Strategies and the role of Social Capital: Black Female Undergraduate Accounts,’ Research Across Campus. University of Birmingham, 22 February 2017.

Committees and reviewing

  • The SOCSI Research Ethics Committee



Previous teaching 

  • Year 2 undergraduate module: Education Policy and Social Justice, University of Birmingham (2018)
  • The Birmingham Project, University of Birmingham (2017)

I am also an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)

I am currently working on the Leverhulme Trust funded project : The source of the stream: centring the enslaved Africans who built Penrhyn Castle | The Leverhulme Trust

Previously, as part of my Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) postdoctoral fellowship, I worked on the project: Understanding to Overstand the education system: The educational journeys and experiences of Black British women graduates.

I am also a Research Associate at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at the Nelson Mandela University in South Africa. Additionally, I was a member of the GW4/National Trust partnership's expert Community of Practice (CoP), working with specific National Trust properties under the theme of Colonial Connections.

My research interests include:

  • Social justice
  • Educational inequalities
  • Education policy
  • Workplace inequalities
  • Workplace policy
  • Race, ethnicity, culture, gender and social class / Intersectionality
  • Black Feminist Theory and Epistemology
  • Black Girlhood Studies
  • Black British and Black diasporic identities and intersections
  • Anti-Black racism
  • Bourdieu's Theory of Practice
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Memory
  • History
  • Heritage