Dr Ruby Oates

Position: Head of Childhood Studies, Deputy Head of Education and Childhood

College: College of Arts, Humanities and Education

Department: Education and Childhood

Subject area: Early Years

Research Centre: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

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I am Head of Childhood Studies with particular responsibility for the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies and the BA (Hons) Child & Youth Studies, and I am a Deputy Head within the Department of Education and Childhood in the College of Arts, Humanities and Education. I am also  Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and co-lead the Childhood Research Cluster here at the University of Derby.

Teaching responsibilities

Childhood Studies undergraduate programmes; sociological and psychological perspectives. Research methodologies and early childhood studies.  Doctoral supervision.

Professional interests

Professionalisation of early childhood workforce.

Research interests

Professionality and professionalism in early childhood; power and politics in the construction of the early childhood worker; reflective practice; relational pedagogy, the social construction of childhood; gender, power and education.


I am currently involved in a local community research project with Ashfield District Council whereby our Early Childhood Studies students are evaluating two play spaces in the village of Huthwaite in north Nottinghamshire and have also worked with young children from two local schools to ascertain their views on play spaces in local park. Academic colleague Ellen Yates and I also  are conducting research with parents and older children and the final report will be published with the council in the summer of 2016.

Membership of professional bodies

  • British Sociological Association.
  • European Early Childhood Education Research Association.
  • Early Childhood Studies Degree Network.
  • Gender & Education Society
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


  • BA (Hons) Humanities, Trent Polytechnic (now NTU)
  • Master of Education (Human Relations), University of Nottingham
  • PGCE with QTS, Loughborough University of Technology
  • Doctor of Education, University of Derby

Recent publications

  • Oates, R. & Sanders, A. (2009) Making a little difference for early childhood studies students in Papatheodoru, T. & Moyles, J. Learning Together in the Early Years: Exploring Relational Pedagogy. London: Routledge.
  • Sanders, A., Oates, R. & Kahn, T. (2010) Hard to Reach? Engaging fathers in early years settings. Derby: University of Derby with the Pre School Learning Alliance, London.
  • Oates, R. & Hey, C. (2014) (Eds) The Student Practitioner in Early Childhood Studies: An essential guide to working with childcare. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Oates, R. ( 2015) We are all critically reflective now: the politics of critical reflection in higher education and in the work place in Anne O'Grady & Vanessa Cottle (eds) Exploring Education at Postgraduate level: Policy, Theory and Practice. Abingdon: Routledge

Recent conferences

Most recent:

Autumn 2015: The Voices of European Teachers Conference, 24 - 26 September 2015 at the University of Palackeho, Olomouc, Tsjech Republic, where I was the opening keynote speaker, the title of my opening speech was 'The European Teacher Championing Children in Europe and Beyond: Moving Forward Together'.

Spring 2016: University College Copenhagen, Denmark, International Conference, 29 February - 2 March 2016. I had the privilege of teaching two groups of students as well as meeting conference participants from across the world.


Additional interests and activities

Scuba diving and marine conservation.

Experience in industry

School Teaching. Human Relations. Youth Work.

International experience

Led the development of the European collaborative in two regions of Greece for  the Department of Education and Childhood.

In the media

Two appearances on BBC Radio Derby's Breakfast Show discussing issues in relation to topics such as childhood, gender and toy choices, commericalisation of childhood, children and TVs in bedrooms. Previously, BBC TV East Midlands Today on an item on men working as practitioners in early childhood settings.

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