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Personal profile

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20 Last checked 30 September 2020.


Currently, I am Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, where I have worked since 2004. My work focuses on social, economic and educational questions including contemporary and historical education policy; the political economy of education and training; and education and social justice. I am, however, 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. Currently, I am working with colleagues from Hungary, Italy, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Romania and the UK on the Erasmus+ funded project Improving Transitions, Enabling Results which is focused on improving vocational learning opportunities for NEET young people. 

I am co-author of two books on marginalised youth: NEET Young People and Training for Work published by Trentham and Education, Work and Social Change published by Palgrave Macmillan. 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.

I have been involved in a range  of significant research projects, including work funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Raymond Williams Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and 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. I am an experienced media commentator on questions of 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, Edinburgh, Oxford, Belfast, Dublin, Copenhagen, Sofia and Bucharest. I have refereed funding applications for funding bodies based in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Currently, I am an external examiner at the National University of Ireland, Galway and at the University of Greenwich. I am also an experienced supervisor and examiner of doctoral theses and have examined research degrees at the Universities of Bristol, Bolton, Canterbury Christ Church, Huddersfield, Lincoln, Liverpool, 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

External positions

External examiner, University of Greenwich

2 Jan 202031 Dec 2024

External examiner, National University of Ireland, Galway

1 Sep 201831 Aug 2022

External examiner, Ulster University

1 Sep 201531 Aug 2019

External examiner, University of Bolton

1 Sep 201331 Aug 2017

Research Expertise and Interests

  • 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

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Research Output

  • “Hello Again, Mr Macfarlane”: Tertiary Colleges for the Twenty-First Century

    Simmons, R., 20 Oct 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : FORUM.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Career planning and continuing professional development

    Simmons, R. & Walker, M., 2019, Teaching in Lifelong Learning: A Guide to Theory and Practice . Avis, J., Fisher, R. & Thompson, R. (eds.). Third Edition ed. London: Open University Press, p. 263 - 272 10 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Social Haunting or Reclaiming the Past? Education and the Working Class in a Former Mining Community

    Simpson, K. & Simmons, R., 30 Dec 2019, In : Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies. 17, 3, p. 1-23 23 p., 1.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • Activities

    Former YTS trainees' historical experiences of the Youth Training Scheme

    Robin Simmons (Speaker)

    30 Jun 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    Disappearing Colleges: revisiting the abolition of the colleges of education

    Robin Simmons (Speaker)

    13 Feb 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    External Examiner

    Robin Simmons (Examiner)

    1 Sep 201831 Aug 2022

    Activity: Examination typesPhD Examination

    12th Journal of Vocational Education and Training Conference

    Robin Simmons (Chair)

    7 Jul 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipating in a conference, workshop, ...

    Press / Media

    UTCs Give Young People the Skills to do the Job: Overcoming the Academic-Vocational Divide

    Robin Simmons


    2 items of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    The Changing Face of Youth Culture in the UK

    Robin Simmons


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment