Staff profile

Professor Deborah Robinson

Professor of Special Educational Needs, Disability and Inclusion


Education, Childhood and SEND


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


Institute of Education

Research centre

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation




Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a Professor of SEND and Inclusion in the Institute of Education. My research explores policy and teacher education for inclusion with a particular focus on Special Educational Needs and Disability. My most recent work has been about literacy and assessment for pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties. I began my career as a primary teacher working for the Inner London Education Authority which was a pioneer in supporting the transition of pupils with SENDs into mainstream schools. As an NQT I found myself unprepared for inclusive practice and wanted to be better. This propelled me into a career of practice, leadership, scholarship and research in this field - I am always driven by the need to know more, to do better and to work with others to bring better inclusive outcomes for this constituency of children and young people.

You can find out more about my experience and background on my website

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the discipline of Education, inclusion and SEND.

I have also worked to support professional development nationally and internationally.

International work


Research interests

My research interests are in the area of Special and Inclusive Education and I focus on national policy for educational inclusion, leadership, inclusive pedagogy and teacher education.

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)

Reviewer roles and editorships


Recent conferences

Conferences and Symposia

Experience in industry

I have worked in the education sector for over thirty years, beginning my career as a primary school teacher working in London, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. In these roles I was a leader in the areas of Inclusion and SEND, being a Special Needs Co-ordinator in three of the schools and a Deputy Head and SENCo in one. I moved into Higher Education and Teacher Education for SEND and Inclusion, leading modules and partnership strategy. My experience in this area is broad and including working for Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Derby. I have also worked as the regional Professional Studies lead for Teach First.

I have also worked as an external examiner in five universities and am currently active at Liverpool John Moores and St Mary's University.

More recently I have worked as a Head of Research in the Institute of Education moving to a Professorship in SEND and Inclusion.


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

Recent publications

Research Monographs

Robinson, D. (2020) Forthcoming. Effective Teacher Education for Inclusion: Critical perspectives and the role of Higher Education. London: Routledge

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


Robinson, D. (2017). Thinking differently about difference: the problem with categories. In Marshall, J, (ed) Controversial issues in education studies. London: Routledge, pp55-72.

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, pp191-205.

Academic Journals

Robinson, D., Moore, N. and Harris, C. (2019). The impact of books on social, emotional and cognitive development: recognising the unrecognised cohort. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, (1), pp. 1-14. DOI:10.1111/bld.12262. Externally assessed as REF 4*

Robinson, D., Moore, N. and Hooley, T. (2018). Ensuring an independent future for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The impact of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). British Journal of guidance and counselling. 

Robinson, D. and Goodey, C. (2017). Agency in the darkness: ‘fear of the unknown’, learning disability and teacher education for inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education. DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1370738. Externally assessed as REF 3*+

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. Externally assessed as REF 3*+

Garner, P. and Robinson, D. (2000). Which SEN books to primary school teachers find Influential? British Journal of Special Education, 27(2) pp.87-98

Commercial & Policy Research Projects and Publications

IFF Research and Robinson, D.  (2019) Piloting the 7 aspects of engagement for summative assessment: qualitative evaluation: Research report: London: DfE £88k (UoD Principal Researcher)

Adams, L. Tindle, A. Basran, S. Dobie, S., Thomson, D., (IFF), Robinson, D. and Shepherd, C. (University of Derby). (2017). Education Health and Care Plans: A survey of user experiences: Research report. London: Department for Education. £48k (UoD Principal Researcher)

Adams, L. Tindle, A. Basran, S. Dobie, S., Thomson, D., (IFF), Robinson, D. and Shepherd, C. (University of Derby). (2017). Education Health and Care Plans: A survey of user experiences: Technical report. London: Department for Education. (UoD Principal Researcher)

Robinson, D. Hanson, J. and Esmond, B. (2017). Improving teaching on apprenticeships: evaluation for the Education and Training Foundation. University of Derby: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. (£132k) with project extended to 2017-18 (158k) (Project Director)

Adams, L. Tindle, A. Basran, S. Dobie, S., Thomson, D. (IFF) and Robinson D. and Codina, G. (University of Derby) (2017) Experiences of Education, Health and Care Plans: A qualitative review. Research report: London: Department for Education. 5k (UoD Principal Researcher)

Robinson, D, Moore, N. and Parker, G. (2016) Evaluation of BookTrust’s additional needs support and resources. University of Derby: Institute of Education. £24k (Project Manager)

Moore, N., Sahar, A., Robinson, D. and Hoare, M. (2016). Evaluation the impact of the Team Programme. University of Derby: ICeGS. £18k (Lead Academic Advisor for SEND)

Robinson, D. and Wond, T. (2016). Review of UCET staffing structures: Alignment to 2016-20 strategic priorities. University of Derby: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. £2k (Project Manager)

Derby Opportunities Area, Whole School SEND and Inclusion, SENCo forum, annual conferences and rolling programme of school reviews (SEND), Leadership programme for secondary middle leaders (100k)(Project Director)

Leicestershire County Council, Commission to design, validate and deliver two SEND and Inclusion programmes for the early years workforce as follows. 68k (Project Manager)

L3 and L4 University Certificate of CPD: Developing effective inclusive practice for SEND in the early years: Early Years SENCo qualification (40k)

L6 and L7 University Certificate of Credit: Effective Area SEND Co-ordination for the Early Years (62k)