Inclusion and Special Educational Needs Research Cluster

What we do

Inclusion and social justice for all is an area of central importance to the Institute of Education. As a team we have particular expertise in removing barriers for those described as having special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Through a commitment to cross-college working, we also have a strong interest in including those seeking sanctuary and refuge in the UK.

We pursue research and development work with a wide range of partners, including the Department for Education (DfE), a number of Local Authorities including health professionals, the National Association of Special Educational Needs (nasen), The Careers & Enterprise Company, the SENAD Group, the Supreme Education Council in Qatar, a range of teaching schools and alliances, disability artists, and professionals from local colleges and schools.

This research and development aims to:

  1. Work collaboratively in pursuit of more inclusive and socially just outcomes for children and young people
  2. Design, promote, and deliver professional development events that enhance the confidence, skill, and reflective capacities of practitioners to work in inclusive ways;
  3. Enhance the understanding of others regarding inclusive practice
  4. Offer a critical perspective on policy and practice
  5. Present results in ways that might challenge and inform policy

Research with us

We supervise doctoral students researching topics related to inclusion and special educational needs. We are interested in discussing further proposals in this area.

Contact Dr Geraldene Codina at

Professor Deborah Robinson

View School improvement for SEND and inclusion video transcript


Would you like to study for a PhD Studentship focused on supported internships for young people with disabilities?

Key facts

Successful candidates will:

  • Usually be full time PhD students
  • Start their studies in the autumn of 2021, preferably in September and finish their doctorate towards the end of 2025.
  • Have their fees paid by the University of Derby with an annual maintenance stipend of £15,409 up to the target submission date (International students will be responsible for paying the difference between international and UK fees, which is 10k per year approximately).
  • Contribute to research and teaching activity in the Inclusion and SEND research cluster and the International Centre for Guidance Studies.

If you are interested in applying, please  see our advertisement for a study entitled, ‘An ethnographic study of a supported internship programme within a large private sector organisation: understanding the ecologies of social inclusion’  on, or view the listing here.


Professor Deborah Robinson is sharing guest editorship with Dr. Vasilis Strogolis (University of Southampton) of a special edition of the British Journal of Learning Disabilities.

The special edition explores the link between education and social inclusion for people with learning disabilities. They will be joined by Dr. Eleni Dimitrellou and Dr. Geraldene Codina (University of Derby) who are part of the editorial team.

For further information or queries regarding this Special Issue, please contact the Guest Editors: Professor Deborah Robinson,, Dr Vasilis Strogilos,, Dr. Geraldene Codina,, Dr. Eleni Dimitrellou,, or Editor-in-Chief, Professor Melanie Nind,

Meet the team

Dana Abu Omar (PhD student), title: Can we end the dyslexia debate? (Director of Studies: Dr Geraldene Codina, Second Supervisor: Dr Sean Broom)

Konstantina Anastasiou (PhD student), title: Teachers’ lived experience of including children with Autism (Director of Studies: Dr Geraldene Codina, Second Supervisor: Prof. Dawn Forman)

Wendy Conrad (EdD student), title: Supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of learning-disabled learners in the mainstream secondary classroom (Director of Studies: Dr Geraldene Codina, Second Supervisor: Dr Sarah Charles)

Kim Smith (EdD student), title: Using research circles to investigate a multi-sensory physical intervention aimed to develop the manual signing of children who use Makaton (Director of Studies: Dr Geraldene Codina, Second Supervisor: Dr Sarah Charles)