My research interests focus on the changing nature and development of occupational expertise and on work as a site for learning and the improvement of life chances. I have a particular interest in apprenticeship as a model of learning and also in the historical development of further and technical education in Britain. I draw on a range of disciplinary perspectives, including in particular, social theories of learning, sociology of work, and political economy.
My first career was in journalism and then I taught in further and adult education. From 2008 to 2012, I was Deputy Director of the ESRC-funded Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES) and managed the Centre's strand of research on learning environments, knowledge transfer and innovative pedagogy in the context of the regeneration of city-regions. I was Chair of the Commission of Inquiry into the Role of Group Training Associations from 2011-2012 and academic adviser to the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL) from July 2012 to March 2013.
Current and Recent Research:
The Coalition’s Record on Further and
Higher Education and Skills: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 2010-2015
Social Policy in a Cold Cimate (with Ruth Lupton and Stephanie Thomson (Manchester and CASE, LSE)
Does Apprenticeship Work for Adults? The experiences of adult apprentices in England, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, 2013-2015 (with Alison Fuller, UCL IOE and Pauline Leonard, University of Southampton)
History of Further, Technical and Vocational Education in England (with Bill Bailey, University of Greenwich)
Apprenticeship and the concept of occupation, funded by the Gatsby Foundation, 2013 (with Alison Fuller)