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20 Last checked 30 September 2020.


Currently, I am Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, where I have been since 2004. My research focuses on a number of related themes including education policy; the political economy of education; and the history of education. I am, however, perhaps best known for my research into youth unemployment and the lives of 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, Ireland, Romania and the UK on the Erasmus+ funded project Improving Transitions, Enabling Results which is focused on improving vocational learning 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. My latest book, Education and Working-Class Youth, co-edited with John Smyth, from Federation University, Australia, was published by Palgrave in 2018. I have also written numerous reports, commentaries and research papers on the lives of NEET young people. Currently I am working on a book project on education and work in Britain's former coalmining communities with my Huddersfield colleague, Kat Simpson. 

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 learners, teachers 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 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 keynote speaker at numerous professional and academic conferences including events in London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Belfast, Dublin, Copenhagen, Porto, Sofia and Bucharest. I have refereed funding applications for funding bodies based in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Currently, I am external examiner at the National University of Ireland, Galway and at the University of Greenwich. I am 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; Murdoch University, Australia; Portsmouth; Southampton; Staffordshire; and Worcester. I am former course leader of Huddersfield’s Doctor of Education (EdD) programme.

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Education policy
  • The sociology of education
  • Education and de-industrialisation
  • Educational and labour market experiences of marginalised youth, and those of teachers, support workers and other practitioners working with young people

External positions

Executive Committee, Society for Educational Studies

18 Nov 2021 → …

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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