Professor of Education and Head of Southampton Education School, University of Southampton

Professor Kelly is a Theoretician specialising in Educational Effectiveness and Improvement; in particular, as it relates to educational leadership, governance and policy analysis, in adapting Capability and Game Theoretic concepts to schooling, and in developing innovative quantitative approaches and mathematical modelling techniques for use in educational research.

His most recent books are on the use of game theory in decision-making (Cambridge University Press), conceptualising a theory of intellectual capital for schools (Kluwer Academic Press), adapting Sen's theory of capability to school choice (Palgrave Macmillan) and using effectiveness data for school improvement (Routledge, with colleague Chris Downey).

He has published approximately one hundred peer-reviewed papers and monographs, and has given presentations in some thirty countries. Many of his former students have gone on to successful academic careers in universities or to school headships. Tony’s interests also extend to promoting the teaching of Physics, and with Dr Charles Jenkins, was the co-inventor of the ‘Lab in a Lorry’ initiative: a travelling Physics laboratory (generously) supported by Schlumberger plc and the Institute of Physics. He is a Fellow / Academician of several learned societies in the UK and overseas, including the Institute of Physics and the Academy of Social Sciences, and is Visiting Professor at Trinity College Dublin.

Tony Elliott-Kelly came to Southampton in 2001 from the University of Cambridge and before that from a school headship in Ireland. His background is in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and he holds degrees from Ireland and Cambridge (where he studied Physics under George Batchelor and Education under Mel West). Tony’s headship in Ireland coincided with some of the worst periods of political upheaval there. He was one of the leading figures in the movement to integrate and rationalise education in the border region and he developed new governance structures there which have since become models for a number of schools. Additionally, he initiated the first school in Ireland to be built and managed by a public-private finance partnership. He was the educational representative on the Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, which was set up by the European Union to oversee the distribution of funds to projects that encouraged cross-community reconciliation, and he retains an interest in Anglo-Irish affairs.

Tony is currently Head of Southampton Education School and supervises PhD students from around the world researching in his areas of interest. He serves on the editorial boards of several leading peer-reviewed journals, and on national and international steering groups and approval panels in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He has recently appeared as an ‘expert witness’ before the House of Commons Select Committee on Education and his work has been cited in parliamentary debates.


  • –present
    Head of Southampton Education School, University of Southampton