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Personal profile


I am currently a Principal Research Fellow in the School of Education and Professional Development, having retired from my post as Reader in Education and Head of Division for Lifelong Learning at the end of 2014. My current research interests lie in two main areas: social class and educational inequality, and teacher education for the lifelong learning sector. These two interests are united by the persistent undervaluing of vocational education in the UK and associated perceptions of the further education sector in England as largely for 'other people's children'. I have published a number of articles in academic journals such as British Journal of Sociology of EducationBritish Educational Research Journal and the Oxford Review of Education. In July 2012 I was awarded the Ian Martin Prize for Social Justice in Education. I have acted as external examiner for doctoral candidates at universities in England and Australia. I regularly referee papers for academic journals, including Journal of Youth Studies, British Educational Research Journal, Urban Studies, and Journal of Vocational Education and Training.


Since 2008, I have worked with my colleagues Robin Simmons and Lisa Russell on a sequence of studies of marginalised young people, including a one-year ethnography of Entry to Employment programmes and a three-year longitudinal study of young people not in education, employment or training (funded by The Leverhulme Trust). With Robin, I co-authored NEET Young People and Training for Work: Learning on the margins, published by Trentham Books in 2011, and with Robin and Lisa I co-authored another book, Education, Work and Social Change: Young people and marginalisation in post-industrial Britain, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. More recently, with Robin I published a research report on employment opportunities for care leavers in Northern Ireland, and I am currently collaborating with Lisa on a literature review of recent research on identifying and supporting NEET young people. In addition to the projects on NEET young people, I have recently published two book chapters on social class and rational choice theories of educational decision making. My latest book, Education, Inequality and Social Class will be published by Routledge in late February 2019. 


My work on teacher education is represented by various articles on the policy and practice of teacher education and the Open University Press textbook Teaching in Lifelong Learning: A guide to theory and practice, co-authored with James Avis and Roy Fisher. This book is now in its third edition. I am currently working with Kevin Orr and other colleagues on a three-year project, funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, to investigate and enhance subject specialist pedagogy in vocational science, engineering and technology. The most recent publication from our collaboration with the Gatsby Foundation, a literature review of research on subject-specific pedagogy, was published in September 2018.


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education Social Sciences
further education Social Sciences
compulsory education Social Sciences
social class Social Sciences
learning Social Sciences
Teaching Social Sciences
discourse Social Sciences
teacher training Social Sciences

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Research Output 1995 2019

educational opportunity
social class
social background
Social Mobility
3 Citations (Scopus)
Open Access
learning method
labor market

Performance, Choice and Social Class: Theorising Inequalities in Educational Opportunity

Thompson, R., 25 May 2018, Education and Working-Class Youth : Reshaping the Politics of Inclusion. Simmons, R. & Smyth, J. (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, p. 79-103 25 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

action theory
educational opportunity
social class
class position
27 Citations (Scopus)
35 Citations (Scopus)
social inequality
labor market

Activities 2014 2018

  • 3 Publication Peer-review
  • 2 Oral presentation

Social Science Research (Journal)

Ronald Thompson (Reviewer)
2018 → …

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication Peer-review

Enhancing Pedagogy in the Teaching of Vocational Science, Engineering and Technology

Kevin Orr (Speaker), Ronald Thompson (Speaker), Pam Hanley (Speaker), Jonathan Hepworth (Speaker)
25 Aug 2017

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Understanding Class-Based Inequalities in Education: Rational Action Theories of Educational Decision Making

Ronald Thompson (Speaker)
8 Dec 2016

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Journal of Youth Studies (Journal)

Ronald Thompson (Reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication Peer-review

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (Journal)

Ronald Thompson (Reviewer)
2014 → …

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication Peer-review

Press / Media