Penny began her career as a qualified teacher before studying psychology as an undergraduate. Her research interest in early psychosocial disadvantage and educational achievement developed through post graduate studies at the London School of Economics and as a Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry. Penny also qualified as an Educational Psychologist at the Tavistock Centre, and has worked clinically with, amongst others, 'looked after' children and young people, and hearing and deaf clients of all ages with concerns about literacy. After a number of years lecturing at the University of London, Penny moved to City University London in the 80s, where she completed her PhD. Penny has now taught her last cohort of pre- and post- registration speech and language therapy students, but continues to work part-time on collaborative research projects and research supervision.