Dr Deborah Robinson

Position: Director of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

College: College of Arts, Humanities and Education

Department: Education and Childhood

Subject area: Education Studies & SEND

Research Centre: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

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I am the Director of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, a research and income generation hub at the heart of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education. The work of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation can be seen at http://www.derby.ac.uk/education/institute-of-education/.

I am the 2016 winner of the Vice Chancellors Award for Staff Excellence in the area of Outstanding Individual Impact as a consequence of my contribution as a lecturer (see student testimonials), researcher and deliverer of CPD in the local region.

I am the chair of the Ethics Committee for the Institute of Education.

Teaching responsibilities

I am an active researcher and writer in the field of special educational needs and inclusive education and I teach across undergradate and postgraduate programmes, including PhDs. I also provide CPD for schools and colleges in the area.

Current supervisions

Shepherd, R. (Due for submission, December, 2017). Turning up the light on hidden disabilities: students’ experiences of support in Higher Education. University of Derby.

Anastasiou, C. (Due for submission, May 2018). Exploring the factors contributing to the inclusion and exclusion of learners with ASD through the lens of complexity theory. University of Derby.

Hall, D. (Due for submission May, 2020). Understanding the social experiences of pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder within secondary schools. Open University.

Fisher, L. (Due for submission, May, 2018). The politics of exam reform: understanding the impact on young people with special educational needs. Open University

Professional interests

My research and teaching expertise is in the area of special educational needs, disability and inclusive practice and I have a passionate interest in developing confidence and preparedness for diverse learners among classroom practitioners. I also have a broad interest in teacher education (at secondary and primary level) and in how models of teacher education might be developed to better prepare teachers for supporting children with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms.

Research interests

My research has been in the area of teacher education for diverse learners including those with special educational needs. I have sought to make a contribution to the knowledge base in this area given that there are gaps in our understanding of what models of teacher education are most likely to bring about readiness for inclusive classrooms.

Current research is centered around the work of the Professional Development Network for Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Practice (PDN - SENIP) so that further knowledge might be cast on how professional development in this area can be made more effective in securing inclusive outcomes for learners in classrooms.

Examples of recent research projects:

Evaluation of the Young Enterprise Team Programme
Commissioning body: Young Enterprise

Evaluation of service users experience of Education, Health and Care Plans
Commissioning body: Department for Education. Now published at 

Exploration of reading for pleasure among children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities: Evaluation of BookTrust's additional needs resources.
Commissioning body: BookTrust

Experiences of Education, Health and Care Plans: A survey of parents and young people. Adams, Tindle, Dobei, Thomson, Robsinon and Shepherd.
Commissioning Body: Department for Education available on the Department for Education website

Membership of professional bodies

  • I am a member of the National Association for Disability Professionals, NASEN and the Alliance for Inclusive Education.
  • I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)


  • BEd (Hons) Primary Education with QTS
  • MA Education (Child development, primary literacy, special educational needs and research methods)
  • Doctorate in Education (Teacher Education for SEND and Inclusion)

Recent publications

Professional Journals

Robinson, D. (2015) The difficulty with inclusive pedagogy in teacher education: some more thoughts on the way forward. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, pp 164-178.

Garner, P. and Robinson, D. (2000) Which SEN books to primary school teachers find Influential? British Journal of Special Education, 27 (2) pp.87-92

Goodey, C. and Robinson, D. (2017). The inclusion phobia and teacher education: Scaling the problem. Teaching and teacher education. Pending

Research Reports

Adams, L, Tindle, A., Basran, S., Dobie, S., Thomson, Robinson, D. and Shepherd, C. (2017) Education Health and Care Plans: a survey user experiences. London: DfE

Robinson, D., Moore, N. & Parker, G (2016) An evaluation of BookTrust additional needs resources. Institute of Education: University of Derby.

Moore, N., Sahar, A., Robinson, D. & Hoare, M. (2016) Young Enterprise: Evalauting the impact of the Team programme. Derby:  International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.

Robinson, D., Hanson, J. and Esmond, B. (2017) Improving teaching on apprenticeships. Centre for Educational Research and Innovation: University of Derby.


Robinson D. and Trussler, S. (2015) Inclusive practice in the primary school. London: Sage.


Robinson, D. (2017) Special Educational Needs: Categorisation and naming. In Marshall, J, (ed) Controversial Issues in Education Studies. London: Routledge.

Robinson, D. (2017) Inclusion and special educational needs: key messages for Early years. In Nahmad-Williams, C. and Oates, R. (eds) Early childhood education. London: Routledge.

Recent conferences

Conference Seminars

Robinson, D. Developing effective inclusive teacher education. 5th Annual Conference of the Teacher Education Advancement Network (TEAN), Birmingham, May 2014

Robinson, D. and Trussler, S. Developing ITE in the areas of SEN and Inclusion. University Council for the Education of Teachers:  2011 Annual Conference, Hinckley, November 2011

Robinson D. and Trussler, S. In relation to preparedness for SEN and Inclusion, how are the perceptions and practices of student teachers undertaking a four-year undergraduate ITE programme developed during the course of their training? International Council on Education for Teaching 2011 World Assembly: Glasgow, July 2011

Conference Publications

Robinson D. (2014) Developing effective inclusive teacher education. 7th International Conference Teacher Education in Europe 2014: Diversity in Education in Europe: Insights from Pedagogy and Psychology, Slupsk, Poland

Flint, K. and Robinson, D. (2008). The reflective curriculum and triple loop thinking. TEAN 4th Annual Conference 2008: Innovation in teacher education. Lancaster

Experience in industry

I have worked in primary education as a classroom teacher, Special Needs Co-ordinator and Deputy Head in Inner London, Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City.

In Teacher Education I have worked at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Derby teaching on primary and secondary programmes. I was Professional Studies Lead for Teach First in the Midlands.

I also teach with the Open University on their undergraduate courses about inclusion and equality.

I am an external examiner for Teacher Education programmes and SEN diploma courses at three universities.

I am a PhD tutor for the Brilliant Club and I deliver scholarship programmes to young people in year 12.

International experience

I have worked as a consultant with SENAD to deliver professional development programmes for SEN advisors in Doha, Qatar.

I have worked with the Derby Diocese to deliver CPD for teachers in Kolkata and Durgpur, India.

I have provided masterclasses in inclusive classroom practice at the Zwolle College of Pedagogy in the Netherlands.

In the media

Appearance on East Midlands Today, discussing the Opportunities Funding given by the government to the City of Derby

Article in SecEd: The evidence is against selection. http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/blog/the-evidence-is-against-selective-education/

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