Staff profile

Professor Liz Atkins


Professor of Vocational Education and Social Justice

College

College of Arts, Humanities and Education

Research centre

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Email

l.atkins@derby.ac.uk

About

I joined University of Derby in September 2018 as Professor of Vocational Education and Social Justice, and have a focus on supporting the activity within the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation ( http://www.derby.ac.uk/education/institute-of-education/ ). I am currently workng on a project at Guernsey College which is concerned with developing a more effective curriculum model for low attaining youth. In addition, I am interested in making research accessible, and in supporting and mentoring colleagues in the early stages of their research careers, this is something that forms a key focus of my role. I am involved with a number of different organisations both nationally and internationally. I am an editorial board member of Journal of Vocational Education and Training, a reviewer for BERA Annual Conference and for a number of other  journals including Research in Post-compulsory Education, and am an International member of the editorial board for International Journal of Training Research (Journal of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Association (AVETRA))

 

Teaching responsibilities

My current teaching responsibilities are focussed on PhD supervision. One student has recently completed, and I am currently supervising two PhDs. 

Professional interests

My professional interests are located in the broad further and vocational education sector with a specific focus on broad vocational education. In addition, I am interested in teacher education across all sectors and phases. In relation to this I have extensive experience in supporting and mentoring new and early career researchers as they begin to develop their academic profiles. 

Research interests

My research falls into three key areas:

Methodological concerns and ways of working with low-attaining young people

This concerns the ethical and methodological issues concerned with researching with young people, particularly those who have limited literacy and oral communication skills. I have engaged in narrative research using a range of innovative methods to elicit data in a respectful and collaborative way. I am particularly interested in how research which claims social justice as part of its purpose can be seen to be doing social justice in the context of its process.

The school to work transitions of young people in the context of broad vocational programmes

My research contributes to enhancing understandings of the lives, hopes, and aspirations of young people as they navigate their school-to-work transitions. It seeks to develop understanding of the ways in which vocational education can variously enable and constrain transitions and how transitions are influenced by different aspects of marginalisation and intersectionality. In this respect my primary interests are social class and gender.

 Professional Education and Identity of Teachers

I am particularly interested in the tensions between competency-based training, standards and other regulatory requirements and professionalism; and in how professionalism is perceived and enacted by teachers in the context of the dual-professionalism which is a defining characteristic of the lifelong learning sector. Within the regulatory context I am also interested in ways of creating ‘space’ for innovation and creativity in the curriculum, and understanding how knowledge and skills are acquired.

 

Membership of professional bodies

I am a member of the following professional bodies

I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of the SDociety for Education and Training

Qualifications

2007:  University of Sheffield

Doctor of Education

Thesis Title:

The Impossible Dreams of an Invisible Cohort: a case study exploring the hopes, aspirations and learning identities of three groups of level one students in two English further education colleges

Supervisor: Professor Ann-Marie Bathmaker

1999: Sheffield Hallam University

1st Class BA (Hons) Education and Training

1982: South Lincolnshire School of Nursing, Rauceby Hospital

Registered Mental Nurse 

2013: Institute for Learning (now Society for Education and Training)

QTLS

2014: 

Federation University, Australia

Certificate IV Training and Assessment

Recent conferences

Experience in industry

Prior to entering higher education in 2004 I spent fifteen years working in further education colleges and training providers; and it was in this context that I first developed an interest in the experiences of low-attaining young people. Whilst working in further education I was a health and social care teacher, having worked as a psychiatric nurse for some years before moving to education. My experience in both psychiatry and further education, working with some of the most marginalised people in our society, was instrumental in developing my interest in, and commitment to, social justice. I continue to work closely with colleagues in the further education sector. 

International experience

I worked at Federation University, Australia during 2014 and 2015 and retain links with the VET community in Australia through membership of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Association and co-authoring relationships. Whilst in Australia I co-edited (with Ros Brennan-Kemmis) what remains the only text book for VET teachers located in an Australian context. See:

 

 

In the media

Recent publications