Experience and Profile

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/dr-deborah-robinson-14a0599b

ORCID ID:  orcid.org/0000-0002-2209-5712

Consultancy: Agent4InclusionLtd

Current Employment in Higher Education

University of Derby

Professor of SEND and Inclusion

University of Derby, Institute of Education, College of Arts, Humanities and Education, Kedleston Drive, Derby, England, DE22 1GB.

University of Nottingham       

Assistant Professor then Associate Lecturer Teacher Development

April 2019 to present               

School of Education, University of Nottingham, NG8 1BB

Research and Teaching

                                                ITE committee lead for Inclusion (SEND)

                                                Education MA, Education BA, PGCEi

Liverpool JM University        

External Examiner: BA SEND and Inclusion, PGDip Visual Impairment

Oct 19 – present                      

School of Education, IM Marsh, Barkhill Road, Aigburth Liverpool, L17

St Mary’s University

External Examiner: MA Pedagogy

May 2017 – present                

St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, England TW1 4SX

Open University

Sept 2009 – present                  Associate Lecturer

Open University, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, Kents Hill, Milton Keynes, England, MK7 6AA.

Responsible for tutoring a regional student group through undergraduate modules ‘E214 Equality, participation and inclusion: learning from each other’ and ‘Teaching and Learning in the Primary Years’ including correspondence, online and face to face tuition. Module forum moderator. Exam marker.

Doctoral Supervisor

June 2015 – present                 

Open University, Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET), Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, Kents Hill, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

Doctorate in Education: Special and inclusive education

The Brilliant Club

PhD Tutor for ‘The Brilliant Club’

August 2014 – present             

The Brilliant Club, 66 Hammersmith Road, London, England, W14 8UD.

Teaching year 13 students a scholarship programme in Critical Disability Studies. The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. It mobilises the PhD community to share its academic expertise with state schools.

Recent Roles

Independent Advisor              Expert reviewer

Standards and Testing Agency, DfE, Statutory Assessment for SEND (engagement profile)

School Governor

July 2016 – July 2019               SEN Governor

Kingsmead Special School and PRU, Bridge Street, Derby, DE1 3LB

Local Authority                     

December 2016 to May 2019    Member of SEND commissioning Board

Derby City Council, Council House, Corporation Street, Derby DE1 2FS.          

Member of task groups for SEND – Workforce, engagement and communities and SEND – Pathways

Previous Employment in Higher Education

University of Derby

2016-2019                               Head of Research and Innovation, Associate Professor Special Educational Needs (SEND) and Inclusive Education

University of Derby, Institute of Education, College of Arts, Humanities and Education, Kedleston Drive, Derby, England, DE22 1GB.

Responsible for strategic and operational leadership of research and enterprise in the Institute of Education.  Line manager of professors and associate professor, responsible for REF strategy and submission, REF UoA 23 leader, member of REF steering group, academic lead for research informed teaching across the Institute of Education, lead for research mentoring and staff development, principal researcher and project manager for a range of research and consultancy projects.

Project Director for Derby Opportunity Area (OA) funded SEND strategy which included the SEND Peer Challenge Programme, Derby SENCo Net and Annual conferences, research and evaluation. Strategic management of project.

Vice Chair of Derby City Council Achieving Inclusion for All Strategy Group

Chaired by the Director of Learning to improve the quality of mainstream education for children with SENDs across the city.

Programme Developer and Leader

National SENCO award (PGCert), Designated Teacher award (L7 certificate of CPD), Specialist Leaders in School Improvement (L7 certificate of CPD), Inclusive practice in the early years: early years SENCO qualification (L3 and 4 certificate of CPD), Effective Area SEND Leadership (L6 and L7 certificate of credit).

Doctoral Supervisor

In the area of inclusive education

Winner of Vice Chancellor’s Excellence Award (2016) Outstanding Individual Impact

For contribution to excellence in teaching, research, and external collaboration

For contribution to excellence in CPD for educational professionals in the UK and internationally

Awarded Senior HEA Fellowship (2014)

For institutional impact in professional education for inclusion

Performance Review Rating, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 ‘Outstanding’

September 2013- present           Provider of Continuing Professional Development and consultancy


Qatar: working in collaboration with SENAD to deliver professional development to Additional Educational and Support Needs (AESN) advisors from the Supreme Educational Council, Doha (2015)

India: Working in collaboration with Derby Diocese to provide CPD for government school teachers in Durgapur and Cathedral Relief School Teachers in Kolkata (2016 and continuing)

The Netherlands: Presenting a masterclass on professional development for special and inclusive education at KPZ in Zwolle (2017 and continuing)

United Kingdom

St Giles Special School, Derby: Teaching Assistants’ Development Programme (2014-15)

Brackensdale Junior School, Derby: Increasing the impact of Teaching Assistants on Academic progress (2015)

Leesbrook Community School: Improving behaviour (2015)

Derby Moor Community Sports College: Humanist behaviour management (inset, web resources, coaching programme, 2013-2016)

Derby Pride Academy: Heading of a crisis: constructive behaviour management (2015)

Derby City Opportunities Area SEND programme: Training for Peer Challengers (2018 and continuing)

Newcastle Academy: Specialist Leaders in School Improvement: Adopting a research orientation to school improvement (2016 and continuing)

University of Greenwich, Faculty of Education and Health: Team development programme: preparing for Ofsted (2015)

January 2016 – Feb 2018          Chair of College of Education Research Ethics Committee

Monitoring, quality assuring and developing ethical research processes within the Institute of Education.

Reason for leaving: An institutional restructure meant that the College of Education was reformed as ‘The Institute of Education’ a department within the College of Arts, Humanities and Education. A new college ethics committee was formed to be chaired by the Deputy Dean of College.

Jan 2013 – July 2016                SEND curriculum and research lead and Senior Lecturer, Department of Education and Childhood – FT, Permanent

                                                Responsible for design, leadership, and teaching of modules in the areas of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion, Disability Studies, Curriculum, Psychology, and Independent Study.

0.2 secondment as ‘SEND Champion’ for research within the Institute of Education

Curriculum development and validation of FdA SEND and BA Hons SEND

Reason for leaving: Promotion to Head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Sept 2009 – Jan 2013                Partnership Development Manager in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Senior Lecturer, Department of Professional Studies – FT, Permanent

Responsible for the strategic and operational management of the Ofsted ‘outstanding’ primary partnership including mentor training, university tutor training, quality assurance, equal opportunities, documentation, improvement planning, innovation and Ofsted inspection, management of TDA funded Leading Partners in EAL and SEN Extended Placements. Leader of SEN partnership steering group. Leader of EAL partnership steering group.

Senior Lecturer

Responsible for design, leadership and teaching of modules in the areas of Professional Studies, SEN and Inclusive Practice, curriculum, psychology, behaviour, wellbeing, and research methods at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Reason for leaving: Opportunity to take more research responsibility in programmes in the Department of Education and Childhood.

Sept 1999 to Aug 2009:             Nottingham Trent University

                                                Senior Lecturer, Stage tutor and Co-ordinator of School Based Training – FT, permanent.

Nottingham Trent University, 50 Shakespeare Street, Nottingham, England, NG1 4FQ

Co-coordinator of School Based Training in ITE (2007-2009)

Responsible for leading the primary partnership to include mentor training, university tutor training, quality assurance, equal opportunities, documentation, improvement planning and successful journey toward Ofsted compliance and ‘satisfactory’ grading following ‘unsatisfactory’ outcome in 2007 inspection.

Senior Lecturer and Curriculum leader for SEN and inclusion

Responsible for teaching of modules that included:

BA Hons Childhood: Counselling and Mentoring; BA Joint Hons: Education and Inclusion

BA Hons Primary Education (QTS): Professional Studies, Learning to Learn; Inclusion and Diversity, Special Educational Needs, English

PGCE Primary Education (QTS) and PGCE Secondary Education (QTS): Special Educational Needs and disability issues

MA Education: Special Educational Needs, Challenging Behaviour, Differentiation and Diversity, Disability Studies, Independent Study Supervision

Year Leader: Responsible for co-ordination, management, and pastoral support of entry cohorts for BA Hons Primary Education (QTS)

Teach First Regional Lead for Professional Studies (2007-2010)

Responsible for design of Professional Studies Programme, leadership of the teaching team, teaching, and evaluation. Professional Studies School Link Tutor (secondary)

Reason for leaving: Opportunity at University of Derby to lead Partnership and SEND and to broaden experience.

External Examining

Sept 2013 – July 2016               External Examiner: Learning Works Professional Diploma in Special Educational Needs. PT, Fixed contract (extended)

University of Worcester, Institute of Education, St John’s Campus, Henwick Grove, Worcester, England, WR2 6AJ

March 2011 – July 2015            External Examiner: BA Primary Education (QTS), BA Early Years (QTS), PGCE Primary Education (QTS). PT, fixed contract (extended)

University of Middlesex, School of Arts and Education, Hendon Campus, The Burroughs, London, England, NW4 4BT

October 2010 – July 2015         External Examiner: BA Primary Education (QTS). PT, fixed contract (extended)

University of Greenwich, Faculty of Education and Health, Mansion House, Avery Hill, Eltham SE9 2UG

Previous Employment in Schools

Jan 2006 to Aug 2006               Class Teacher (Year 5) – FT, Temporary Secondment for two terms from Nottingham Trent University

Huntingdon Academy, Alfred Street Central St Ann’s Nottingham, England, NG3 4AY

To gain recent, relevant experience in a city school in an area of very significant deprivation through secondment from post as a Teacher Educator

Jan 1997 to Aug 1999               Deputy Head Teacher, Class Teacher (Years 4 and 6) – FT, Permanent

Sir John Sherbrooke Junior School, Calverton, Nottinghamshire, England, NG16, 6LA

Responsible for: School leadership, SENCo, inclusive practice, assessment co-ordination. Class Teacher

Sept 1993 to Dec 1996:             Class Teacher (Years 2, 3, 5, 6) and Senior Manager – FT, Permanent.

Willow Farm Primary School, Willow Lane, Gedling, Nottingham, England, NG4 4BN

Senior Teacher responsible for: Literacy, Religious Education, Staff Development and Special Educational Needs

Sept 1990 to Aug 1993             Class Teacher (Years 3 and 6) and Senior Manager – FT, Permanent.

Manvers Junior School, Candleby Lane, Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire, England, NG12 6NS

Senior Teacher responsible for literacy and special educational needs, SENCo. Class Teacher

Sept 1988 – Aug 1990               Class Teacher (Year 2, Year 3) – FT and permanent

Holy Cross Primary School, Basuto Road, Fulham, London, England, SW6 4BL. Responsible for Literacy

Research and Scholarship

Conferences and Symposia

Robinson, D. The engagement profile and statutory assessment for SEND. Invited keynote, Optimus Education: Assessment and SEND. London, February 2020

Robinson D. The importance of books to children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. BookTrust Early Years conference, Bridgend, Wales, November 2019

Robinson, D. Designing and implementing effective curricula for SEND pupils: The Engagement approach to assessment. Invited keynote, Inside Government: The new context for SEND Assessment. Education, London, October 2019

Robinson, D. Whole school SEND and inclusion: What have we learned from our evaluation for the programme’s first year and what are the implications for SEND Leaders across the City of Derby? Invited Keynote, Derby City Opportunity Area Conference for SEND: University of Derby, July 2019

Robinson, D. The character of inclusive schools: evidence from the research. Invited Keynote. National SENCO provider partnership meeting. University of Reading, May 2019

Dimitrellou, E. and Robinson, D. Empowering young people with learning disabilities to speak up: Experiences of Mainstream Education and Adulthood. American Educational Research Association annual meeting 2019, Toronto, April 2019

Robinson, D. Inclusive schools and inclusive teachers: calls from the research. Invited Keynote. ResearchSEND midlands conference, Walsall, March 2019

Robinson, D. Designing practicum tasks to resist the discourses of disparity. International seminar on teacher education for inclusion. Bolzano, September 2018 (EERA funded in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh)

Robinson, D. The experience of Education Health Care Plans: Developing a future focus. Invited keynote. Moving forward, LDD Centre of Excellence, London, September 2017

Robinson, D. Teacher preparation programmes for inclusive classrooms. European Conference of Educational Research, Copenhagen, August 2017

Robinson, D. Developing effective professional development for special educational needs, disability and inclusive practice: Innovation is not enough: An argument for transformation. Innovations in teacher development research symposium, Kings College, London, June 2017

Robinson, D. The transformational requirements of effective teacher education for Special Educational Needs and Inclusion in a global context. Global Conference for Education and Research (GLOCER), Sarasota, Fl., USA, May 2017

Robinson, D. Teachers’ relationship with their work: why it matters for inclusive practice. Designated teacher conference, University of Derby, Derby, May 2017

Robinson, D. Inclusion as resistance to othering. Invited keynote. Essex Inclusion Conference, Essex, March 2017.

Robinson, D. Being and becoming an inclusive teacher: a masterclass. Invited keynote. Masterclass programme, Katholieke Pabo Zwolle, Zwolle, NL, March 2017 and 2018

Robinson, D with Booktrust. The Bookstart Packs: How to share books with children with additional needs. National Portage Association Annual Conference, 2017, Birmingham, September 2016.

Robinson, D. Developing effective inclusive teacher education.  5th Annual Conference of the Teacher Education Advancement Network (TEAN), Birmingham, May 2014

Robinson, D. and Trussler, S. Developing Initial Teacher Education in the areas of SEN and Inclusion. University Council for the Education of Teachers:  2011 Annual Conference, Hinckley, November 2011

Robinson D. and Trussler, S. In relation to preparedness for SEN and Inclusion, how are the perceptions and practices of student teachers undertaking a four-year undergraduate ITE programme developed during the course of their training? International Council on Education for Teaching 2011 World Assembly, Glasgow, July 2011

Flint, K. and Robinson, D. (2008). The reflective curriculum and triple loop thinking. TEAN 4th Annual Conference 2008: Innovation in teacher education. Lancaster, May, 2008

Research Monographs

Robinson, D. (2020) Forthcoming. Effective Teacher Education for Inclusion: Critical perspectives and the role of Higher Education. London: Routledge

Trussler, S. and Robinson, D. (2015) Inclusive practice in the primary school. London: Sage.


Robinson, D. (2017). Thinking differently about difference: the problem with categories. In Marshall, J, (ed) Controversial issues in education studies. London: Routledge, pp55-72.

Robinson, D. (2017). Inclusion and special educational needs: key messages for early years. In Nahmad-Williams, C. and Oates, R. (eds) Early childhood education. London: Routledge, pp191-205.

Academic Journals

Robinson, D., Moore, N. and Harris, C. (2019). The impact of books on social, emotional and cognitive development: recognising the unrecognised cohort. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, (1), pp. 1-14. DOI:10.1111/bld.12262. Externally assessed as REF 4*

Robinson, D., Moore, N. and Hooley, T. (2018). Ensuring an independent future for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The impact of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). British Journal of guidance and counselling. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03069885.2017.1413706?journalCode=cbjg20

Robinson, D. and Goodey, C. (2017). Agency in the darkness: ‘fear of the unknown’, learning disability and teacher education for inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education. DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1370738. Externally assessed as REF 3*+

Robinson, D. (2015). The difficulty with inclusive pedagogy in teacher education: some more thoughts on the way forward. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, pp 164-178. Externally assessed as REF 3*+

Garner, P. and Robinson, D. (2000). Which SEN books to primary school teachers find Influential? British Journal of Special Education, 27(2) pp.87-98

Commercial & Policy Research Projects and Publications

IFF Research and Robinson, D.  (2019) Piloting the 7 aspects of engagement for summative assessment: qualitative evaluation: Research report: London: DfE £88k (UoD Principal Researcher)

Adams, L. Tindle, A. Basran, S. Dobie, S., Thomson, D., (IFF), Robinson, D. and Shepherd, C. (University of Derby). (2017). Education Health and Care Plans: A survey of user experiences: Research report. London: Department for Education. £48k (UoD Principal Researcher)

Adams, L. Tindle, A. Basran, S. Dobie, S., Thomson, D., (IFF), Robinson, D. and Shepherd, C. (University of Derby). (2017). Education Health and Care Plans: A survey of user experiences: Technical report. London: Department for Education. (UoD Principal Researcher)

Robinson, D. Hanson, J. and Esmond, B. (2017). Improving teaching on apprenticeships: evaluation for the Education and Training Foundation. University of Derby: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. (£132k) with project extended to 2017-18 (158k) (Project Director)

Adams, L. Tindle, A. Basran, S. Dobie, S., Thomson, D. (IFF) and Robinson D. and Codina, G. (University of Derby) (2017) Experiences of Education, Health and Care Plans: A qualitative review. Research report: London: Department for Education. 5k (UoD Principal Researcher)

Robinson, D, Moore, N. and Parker, G. (2016) Evaluation of BookTrust’s additional needs support and resources. University of Derby: Institute of Education. £24k (Project Manager)

Moore, N., Sahar, A., Robinson, D. and Hoare, M. (2016). Evaluation the impact of the Team Programme. University of Derby: ICeGS. £18k (Lead Academic Advisor for SEND)

Robinson, D. and Wond, T. (2016). Review of UCET staffing structures: Alignment to 2016-20 strategic priorities. University of Derby: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. £2k (Project Manager)

Derby Opportunities Area, Whole School SEND and Inclusion, SENCo forum, annual conferences and rolling programme of school reviews (SEND), Leadership programme for secondary middle leaders (100k)(Project Director)

Leicestershire County Council, Commission to design, validate and deliver two SEND and Inclusion programmes for the early years workforce as follows. 68k (Project Manager)

L3 and L4 University Certificate of CPD: Developing effective inclusive practice for SEND in the early years: Early Years SENCo qualification (40k)

L6 and L7 University Certificate of Credit: Effective Area SEND Co-ordination for the Early Years (62k)

Reviewer roles and editorships

Sept 2016 – present                  Journal for Education and Training – Reviewer

March 2017 – present                British Journal of Learning Disabilities – Member of Editorial Board and Editorial Lead for Education and Employment

May 2018 – December 2019     British Journal of Learning Disabilities – Editor of Special Edition on the national and international policy context for ‘enriched lives’ (education focus)

January 2017 – present             Educational Research (NFER) – Reviewer

March 2018 – present               European Conference for Educational Research (ECER) – Reviewer for network 04 – inclusive education

March 2019 to May 2020          International Special Education Conference (ISEC) 2020 – Reviewer

October 2017 – present             BookTrust – Panel member – Annual book selection for additional needs resources and library packs.


Robinson, D. (2019). Engaging assessments for PMLD and SLD. Special Educational Needs Magazine, Jan-Feb 2019, 98, pp34-38

Robinson, D. (2019) Don’t neglect curriculum content for pupils with severe learning difficulties. SchoolsWeek, 24th April, 2019. Available at https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dont-neglect-curriculum-content-for-pupils-with-severe-learning-difficulties/. Accessed April 2019

BBC East Midlands Today and Newsround, The Social Mobility Fund for Derby is announced, live interview. 4th October 2016

Robinson, D. (2016) The evidence is against selection. SecED, 21st September 2016. Available at http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/blog/the-evidence-is-against-selective-education/. Accessed October 2017


2014: Doctorate in Education. Open University: ‘Developing initial teacher education for SEND and inclusive practices’. Open University, part time

2003: MA Module ‘Educational Research in Action’ required as a bridge to EdD. Open University, part time

2001: Foundation Certificate ‘Person Centred Counselling, theory and practice’ Nottingham Trent University, part time

1993: E243 Education for all, Open University (funded L3 module for Nottinghamshire SENCos)

1992: MA in Education: Language and Literacy, Psychology, Special Educational Needs. Open University, part time

1988: Bachelor of Education (Hons.) Primary Education (QTS). English Specialism. University of Surrey, St Mary’s College, full time