Personal profile


I am currently Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, where I have worked since 2004. My work focuses on a range of interrelated social, economic and educational questions including contemporary and historical education policy; the political economy of education and training; and education and social justice – although I am perhaps best known for my research into youth unemployment and the lives marginalized young people, especially those categorised as NEET (not in education, employment or training) or vulnerable to becoming NEET.

I am co-author of two books on the lives of marginalised youth: NEET Young People and Training for Work published by Trentham in 2011, and Education, Work and Social Change published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. My latest book, Education and Working-Class Youth, co-edited with John Smyth, from Federation University, Australia, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. I have also written numerous reports, commentaries and research papers on the lives of NEET young people, including work published in leading academic journals.

I have acted as principal investigator and co-investigator on a range  of significant research projects, including work funded by the Higher Education Academy, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Raymond Williams Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and, most recently, the Society for Educational Studies. Methodologically, I am interested in using critical policy analysis, ethnography and other qualitative methods to examine the lived experience of teachers, learners, guidance workers and other practitioners, particularly those working with young people on the margins of education and employment.

I have worked with voluntary groups, trade unions, think tanks and organisations such as Unicef and the EU on questions of education and training for young people, and I am an experienced media commentator on youth employment, education and the economy, and I have taken part in a number of television and radio debates on such matters, including programmes broadcast on BBC1 and Radio 4. I have also been a keynote speaker at numerous professional and academic conferences including events in London, Oxford, Belfast, Dublin, Copenhagen and Sofia.

I am an editorial board member of two leading academic journals: Research in Post-Compulsory Education and the Journal of Further and Higher Education and have acted as a referee for 28 academic journals. I have refereed funding applications in the UK, Australia, Brazil and the Netherlands.

Currently, I am external examiner for post-compulsory teacher education programmes at the University of Ulster and will, from September 2018, be external examiner at the Centre for Adult learning, National University of Ireland, Galway; from 2013-2017, I was external examiner for the University of Bolton's EdD programme. I am an experienced supervisor and examiner of doctoral theses and have recently examined research degrees at the Universities of Bristol, Bolton, Huddersfield, Lincoln, Portsmouth, Southampton, Staffordshire and Worcester. I am former course leader of the University of Huddersfield’s Doctor of Education (EdD) programme.

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Education policy
  • The political economy of education
  • Education and social justice
  • Educational and labour market experiences of marginalised youth, and those of teachers, support workers and other practitioners working with young people


  • Lifelong Learning
  • Vocational Training
  • Education Policy
  • Political Economy of Education
  • Education
  • Social Justice
  • Marginalised Youth
  • Educational Experiences
  • Labour Market Experience
  • Teachers
  • Support Workers
  • Young People

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Research Output 2006 2018

Education and social class: how did we get to this and what needs to change?

Simmons, R. & Smyth, J. 29 May 2018 Education and Working-Class Youth: Reshaping the Politics of Inclusion. Simmons, R. & Smyth, J. (eds.). Basingstoke, p. 233-259 27 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

social class
working class youth

Education and Working-Class Youth: Reshaping the Politics of Inclusion

Simmons, R. (ed.) & Smyth, J. (ed.) 29 May 2018 Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan UK. 259 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

working class youth
sociology of education
working class
social class

Where Is Class in the Analysis of Working-Class Education?

Simmons, R. & Smyth, J. 29 May 2018 Education and Working-Class Youth: Reshaping the Politics of Inclusion. Simmons, R. & Smyth, J. (eds.). Basingstoke, p. 1-28 28 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

working class youth
working class

Book review: 'Betraying a generation: how education is failing young people.' By Patrick Ainley

Simmons, R. 17 Jan 2017 In : British Journal of Educational Studies. 65, 1, p. 125-126 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

Book review: Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education. By Linden West

Simmons, R. 13 Jul 2017 In : British Journal of Educational Studies. 65, 3, p. 1-2 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

Activities 2013 2018

External Examiner

Simmons, R. (Examiner)
1 Sep 201831 Aug 2022

Activity: Examination

Journal of Vocational Education and Training Conference

Simmons, R. (Chair)
7 Jul 2017

Activity: Participating in a conference, workshop, ...

Society for Educational Studies (External organisation)

Simmons, R. (Member)
2016 → …

Activity: Membership of a Society or Institute

The Liberal Studies Movement Revisited

Simmons, R. (Speaker)
8 Aug 2016

Activity: Invited talk