Staff profile

Dr Deborah Robinson

Director of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation


Education Studies 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 an Associate Professor of Special and Inclusive Education and the Head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). The work of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation can be seen at

Researchers in CERI undertake multidisciplinary research across all phases from early years to higher education. CERI engages in theoretical, applied, pedagogic and policy-based research.

CERI has over 20 professional research staff and  is home to the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) and five research clusters as follows:

•             Changing Higher Education Research Cluster

•             Childhood Research Cluster (CRC)

•             Apprenticeship Research Cluster (ARC)

•             Post-compulsory and Vocational Education Research Cluster (PAVER)

•             Teacher Education Research Group (TERG)


CERI engages in research in the following specialist areas:

•             Careers Education and Guidance

•             Academic Freedom and Defence of the Subject

•             Higher Education

•             Special Educational Needs and Inclusion

•             Technical and Vocational Education and Training


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 and the programme leader for the National SEN Co-ordination Award. I teach on undergraduate and posgraduate programmes and supervise doctoral students in my specilaist area.

Teaching responsibilities

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

Doctoral 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.

Billett, J. (Due for submission, April 2018) The impact of coloured lenses on reading ability and wellbeing: a critical review. University of Derby.

Anastasiou, C. (Due for submission, May 2018). Exploring 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.

 I also deliver professonal development programmes in the region and abroad. The following are examples:

Provider of Continuing Professional Development and consultancy


Qatar: working in collaboration with SENAD to deliver professional development to Additional Educational and Support Needs (AESN) advisors from the Supreme Educational Council, Doha (2015)

India: Working in collaboration with Derby Diocese to provide CPD for government school teachers in Durgapur and Cathedral Relief School Teachers in Kolkata (2016 and continuing)

The Netherlands: Presenting a masterclass on professional development for special and inclusive education at KPZ in Zwolle (2017 and continuing)

United Kingdom

St Giles Special School, Derby: Teaching Assistants’ Development Programme (2014-15)

Brackensdale Junior School, Derby: Increasing the impact of Teaching Assistants on Academic progress (2015)

Leesbrook Community School: Improving behaviour (2015)

Derby Moor Community Sports College: Humanist behaviour management (inset, web resources, coaching programme, 2013-2016)

Derby Pride Academy: Heading of a crisis: constructive behaviour management (2015)

Newcastle Academy: Specialist Leaders in School Improvement: Adopting a research orientation to school improvement (2016 and continuing)

University of Greenwich, Faculty of Education and Health: Team development programme: preparing for Ofsted (2015)

PhD Tutor for ‘The Brilliant Club’

The Brilliant Club, 66 Hammersmith Road, London, England, W14 8UD.

Teaching year 13 students a scholarship programme in Disability Studies. The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. It mobilises the PhD community to share its academic expertise with state schools.

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 interests are in the area of Special and Inclusive Education and I focus on teacher education in this field, polices for SEN and inclusion and pedagogy.

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

Sept 2016 – present: Journal for Education and Training – Reviewer

March 2017 - present: British Journal of Learning Disabilities – Member of Editorial Board

January 2017 – present: Educational Research (NFER) – Reviewer

May 2017 – Apr 2018: British Journal of Learning Disabilities – Editor of Special Edition on the national and international policy context, Winter, 2018

October 2017-October 2020: Global Conference on Education and Research – Member of Scientific and Paper Review Committee

November 2011- July 2020: Academic Reviewer for the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress (ISEC), 2020

September 2015 – present: BookTrust Panel member – Annual book selection for additional needs resources and library packs.

October 2017 – present: Reviewer for the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI)


2014: Doctorate in Education. Open University: ‘Developing initial teacher education for SEND and inclusive practices’. Open University




2003: MA Module ‘Educational Research in Action’ required as a bridge to EdD. Open University




2001: Foundation Certificate ‘Person Centred Counselling, theory and practice’ Nottingham Trent University




1993: E243 Education for all, Open University (funded L3 module for Nottinghamshire SENCos)




1992: MA in Education: Language and Literacy, Psychology, SEN. Open University




1988: Bachelor of Education (Hons.) with QTS (English and Biology). University of Surrey

Recent conferences

Conferences and Symposia

Robinson, D. Keynote: The experience of Education Health Care Plans: Developing a future focus. Moving forwardLDD Centre of Excellence, London, September 2017.

Robinson, D. Teacher preparation programmes for inclusive classrooms. European Conference of Educational Research, Copenhagen, August 2017.

Robinson, D. Developing effective teacher professional development for special educational needs, disability and inclusive practice: Innovation is not enough: An argument for transformation.Innovations in teacher development research symposium, Kings College, London, June 2017.

Robinson, D. The transformational requirements of effective teacher education for Special Educational Needs and Inclusion in a global context. Global Conference for Education and Research (GLOCER), Sarasota, Fl., USA, May 2017.

Robinson, D. Teachers’ relationship with their work: why it matters for inclusive practice. Designated Teacher Conference, University of Derby, Derby, May 2017.

Robinson, D. Inclusion as resistance to othering. Essex Inclusion Conference, Essex, March 2017.

Robinson, D. Being and becoming an inclusive teacher: a masterclass. Masterclass programme, Katholieke Pabo Zwolle, Zwolle, NL, May 2017

Robinson, D with Booktrust. The Bookstart Packs: How to share books with children with additional needs. National Portage Association Annual Conference, 2017, Birmingham, September 2016.

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 Initial Teacher Education 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.

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

Pending Conference Presentations

Robinson, D. (2018) Title to be confirmed. International seminar on teacher education for inclusion. Bolzano, September 2018 (EERA funded in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh).

Experience in industry

Previous Employment in Schools


Jan 2006 to Aug 2006            

Class Teacher (Year 5) – FT, Temporary Secondment from Nottingham Trent University


to gain recent, relevant experience in a city school in an area of very significant deprivation

Huntingdon Academy, Alfred Street Central St Ann's Nottingham, England, NG3 4AY




Jan 1997 to Aug 1999            

Deputy Head Teacher – FT, Permanent


Sir John Sherbrooke Junior School, Calverton, Nottinghamshire, England, NG16, 6LA


Responsible for: School leadership, SENCo, inclusive practice, assessment co-ordination. Class Teacher (Year 3 and 6)



Sept 1993 to Dec 1996:                      

Class Teacher (Years 2, 3, 5, 6) and Senior Manager – FT, Permanent.


Willow Farm Primary School, Willow Lane, Gedling, Nottingham, England, NG4 4BN


Senior Teacher responsible for Literacy, religious education, staff development and special educational needs



Sept 1990 to Aug 1993            

Class Teacher (Years 3 and 6) and Senior Manager – FT, Permanent.


Manvers Junior School, Candleby Lane, Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire, England, NG12 6NS

Senior Teacher responsible for literacy and special educational needs, SENCo.



Sept 1988 – Aug 1990                        

Class Teacher (Year 2, Year 3) - FT,  permanent


Holy Cross Primary School, Basuto Road, Fulham, London, England, SW6 4BL. Responsible for literacy and library development


External Examining


Sept 2013 – July 2016            

External Examiner: Learning Works Professional Diploma in Special Educational Needs. PT, Fixed contract (extended)

University of Worcester, Institute of Education, St John’s Campus, Henwick Grove, Worcester, England, WR2 6AJ.


March 2011 – July 2015         

External Examiner: BA Primary Education (QTS), BA Early Years (QTS), PGCE Primary Education (QTS). PT, fixed contract (extended)

University of Middlesex, School of Arts and Education, Hendon Campus, The Burroughs, London, England, NW4 4BT.


October 2010 – July 2015      

External Examiner: BA Primary Education (QTS). PT, fixed contract (extended)

University of Greenwich, Faculty of Education and Health, Mansion House, Avery Hill, Eltham SE9 2UG.



Previous Employment in Higher Education




University of Derby


Sept 2009 – Jan 2013             

Partnership Development Manager in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Senior Lecturer


Responsible within a team for the strategic and operational management of the Ofsted ‘outstanding’ primary partnership including mentor training, university tutor training, quality assurance, equal opportunities, documentation, improvement planning, innovation and Ofsted inspection, bidding for and management of TDA funding forLeading Partners in EAL and SEN Extended Placements. Leader of SEN partnership steering group. Leader of EAL partnership steering group.


Senior Lecturer


Responsible for design, leadership and teaching of modules in the areas of Professional Studies, SEN and Inclusive Practice, curriculum, psychology, behaviour, wellbeing, and research methods (B.Ed Primary Education, BA Education Studies, MA Education, BA Child and Youth, BA SEND, PGCE Primary Education).




Nottingham Trent University


Sept 1999 to Aug 2009:          

Senior Lecturer, Stage tutor and Co-ordinator of School Based Training – FT, permanent.

Nottingham Trent University, 50 Shakespeare Street, Nottingham, England, NG1 4FQ


Co-coordinator of School Based Training in ITE (2007-2009)


Responsible for the strategic and operational management of the primary partnership to include mentor training, university tutor training, quality assurance, equal opportunities, documentation, improvement planning and successful journey toward Ofsted compliance and ‘satisfactory’ grading (2007-2009).


Senior Lecturer and Curriculum leader for SEN and inclusion



Responsible for teaching of modules that include:


Undergraduate: Counselling and Mentoring for children and young people


Undergraduate teacher education: Professional Studies, Inclusion and diversity, Special Educational Needs, English


Postgraduate teacher education: Special Educational Needs


Postgraduate at Masters Level: Special Educational Needs, Challenging Behaviour, Differentiation and Diversity, Dissertation, Independent Study Supervision


Year Leader: Responsible for co-ordination, management, and pastoral support of entry cohorts for ITE undergraduate programme


Teach First Regional Lead for Professional Studies (2007-2010)



Responsible for design of Professional Studies Programme, leadership of the teaching team, teaching, and evaluation. Professional Studies School Link Tutor (secondary).


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



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.

Books under development


Robinson, D. (2019) Transforming teacher education for inclusion. London: Routledge.


Academic Journals


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.


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.87-98.


Currently at Advanced Review Stage


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., Moore, N. and Harris, C. (2018) Intellectual Disability and the importance of pleasurable engagement with books and reading as a route to inclusion. British Journal of Learning Disabilities.


Under Development


Robinson, D. (2018) Constructing practicum tasks that counter disparity discourses. Teacher Education.


Robinson, D. (2018) Involving teaching assistants in Initial Teacher Education during the practicum. Teaching and Teacher Education.


Robinson, D., Adams, L. and Tindle, A. (2019). Education, Health and Care Plans: Surveying the experiences of children, young people and families: Messages for policy makers and practitioners. British Journal of Learning Disabilities (Special Edition, Winter, 2018).

Commercial Research Projects and Publications

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

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

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 Project Leader)

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)(Principal Researcher)

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 (Principal Researcher)