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Professorial Research Fellow, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University

Following a 'career' which included being a nanny, pub work, selling, travelling, and more, I became a senior social work practitioner and worked for a social services department and later a major charity in a number of child protection, mental health, and inter-agency contexts. Life as a researcher happened more or less serendipitously when I was invited to work on a project focussing on inter-agency child protection practice, my 'specialism' at that time (1994/5). This initial project was quickly followed by others in South Cheshire and the North West region; many of which were multi agency funded. I soon caught the research bug and have latterly been found working on a number of more substantial projects. My research interests are varied, but remaining faithful to my early professional training tend to lie in the borderlands between the educational and social. My 'voice' in research practice and academic writing has an ethical imperative and is perhaps best typified by a contrarian approach, a broad based and eclectic territory in sociology, philosophy, social policy, and independent study; along with a sensitivity to inter-professional concerns, sometimes at odds with the academy. This usually involves critiquing problematic aspects of theory, policy, and practice in contested areas of education and social policy, especially contradictions and confusions that are apparent in rhetoric at policy level, and which are often evident in common parlance. I take issue with the use of negative and blaming labels (and hence unhelpful categorisation) in order to challenge key taken for granted assumptions held by those claiming to be concerned with inclusionary practice; I challenge myths and taboos which serve to perpetuate dominant stories which silence the interests of the least powerful members of society. In order to achieve these aims, my work is characterised by an indifference to disciplinary boundaries. From my critical position somewhere on the borders it has been possible to produce quite controversial work (eg challenging governmental approaches to disaffection, mentoring and volunteering; questioning the alleged distinctive nature of male and female violence; identifying issues for education for citizenship stemming from the monarchy; and asking uncomfortable questions about current policy and practice in relation to professionals touching children in a risk society, and teachers and other professionals who have been falsely accused.

A couple of research projects:

2010-2011 Hands-off sports' coaching: the politics of touch (with Dean Garratt and Bill Taylor) Economic and Social Research Council, RES-000-22-4156

2005-2006 Touchlines: The Problematics of Touching between Children and Professionals (with Maggie MacLure and Ian Stronach) Economic and Social Research Council, RES-000-22-0815


  • –present
    Professorial Research Fellow, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University