I am currently Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, where I have worked since 2004. My teaching and research interests include education policy, the political economy of education; and education and social justice in particular; and I have acted as principal investigator and co-investigator on a range of significant research projects, including work funded by the Higher Education Academy, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Raymond Williams Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust. Methodologically, I am interested in using critical policy analysis and ethnography to examine the lived experience of teachers, learners, guidance workers and other practitioners, particularly those working with young people on the margins of education and the labour market.
I am perhaps best known for my research into youth unemployment and the lives marginalized young people, especially those classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) or at risk of becoming so. I am the author of two books - NEET Young People and Training for Work: Learning on the Margins, published by Trentham in 2011, and Education, Work and Social Change: young people and marginalization in post-industrial Britain published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014, and I have published a range of research papers in leading academic journals including the Journal of Education and Work, and the Journal of Youth Studies on this subject. In 2013, I co-edited a Special Issue of the international journal, Research in Post-Compulsory Education, entitled “Reclaiming the Disengaged: critical perspectives on young people not in education, employment or training”, which drew together empirical and conceptual research from leading academics whose work focuses on youth people’s experiences of participation and non-participation in education and the labour market. Contributors included researchers working in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Eastern Europe, as well as different parts of the UK.
I was, in 2013, called as an expert witness to House of Lords EU sub-committee on youth unemployment, and an invited speaker at the ESF’s European Youth Unemployment Conference in Belfast. In 2014, I was lead author of the UCU policy document Engaging Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training: The Case for a Youth Resolution. I have also been a key note speaker at a range of events for policymakers and practitioners, including seminars run by organisations such as the IPPR, NIACRO, and Policy Network. I am an experienced media commentator on youth employment, education and the economy and have taken part in a number of television and radio debates on such matters, including programmes broadcast on BBC1 and Radio 4.
I am a member of the Editorial board of Research in Post-Compulsory Education and of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Further and Higher Education; and have refereed a range of research funding applications, including submissions to the Society for Research into Higher Education and the European Co-operation in the Field of Science and Technology. I have also acted as an external referee for research projects carried out in Australia, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. I am an experienced supervisor and examiner of doctoral theses, and former course leader of the University of Huddersfield Doctor of Education (EdD) programme.