My research

kidsMy primary area of expertise is in the area of education futures. My research focuses on the sociology of technology and its impact on children and young people, including the role of big data and artificial intelligence. I am also interested in more general issues such as schooling and curriculum within the knowledge economy.

My first significant work was Teachers Under Siege (Trentham Books, 2005), based on an ESRC-funded empirical study which identified the dangers of allowing childhood to have an ambiguous role within a technologically-driven society, contributing to an erosion of the status of teachers. This was further confirmed by my work on the general disruption and fragmentation of the teaching profession, as well as my Esmée Fairbairn-funded study into teachers’ Continuing Professional Development. In this study, which has been widely cited, I discovered that subject-based teacher education was being unhelpfully replaced by cheaper generic skills training in many schools, undermining professional practice. My findings contributed to changes in national policy in which a Master’s route was developed out of the PGCE Initial Teacher Training Programme, and I also worked with the General Teaching Council, and more recently the Chartered College of Teaching, on developing alternative frameworks for teacher progression.

With Professor Andy Phippen, I am co-author of the book Invisibly blighted: the digital erosion of childhood (IOE Press, March 2017), based on research with schools, which found serious shortcomings of current education policy in relation to digital privacy. This led to providing evidence to Parliament for two enquiries, as well as collaboration with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner on the impact of big data and artificial intelligence on children’s digital privacy rights. I am also a member of the Privacy Expert Group of the Biometrics Institute and contribute to the biennial authoring of their international best practice guidelines for the industry, with special reference to children and educational institutions. I’ve written a chapter on biometrics in schools in Invisibly Blighted, as well as a more advanced version for an edited collection, the Palgrave Handbook of School Security, Surveillance and Punishment (2018):

I am currently leading a study carried out with the University of Passau that is investigating the relationship between poor regional technology infrastructure, financial deprivation, and reduced educational outcomes. I have developed a related theory of digital time poverty, and I am collaborating with local and national Government to improve provision in some of the country’s poorest electoral wards in advance of rapid developments in artificial intelligence. I am Chair of the British Educational Research Association’s Artificial and Human Intelligence Special Interest Group.

In addition to digital privacy research, I am Principal Investigator of a team of departmental colleagues carrying out commissioned research on international schooling issues and the scope for the integration of curriculum, assessment, and accountability within the knowledge economy. With Professor David Scott and Peeter Mehisto, I am co-author of Curriculum Reform in the European Schools: Towards a 21st Century Vision (Palgrave, March 2018), based on a research study funded by the Secretary General of the European Schools. In this study, we identified areas for reform within an international school system involving 26,000 pupils across six countries. These reforms are being implemented by the European Schools and being considered as a UCL REF impact study. This last book is OPEN ACCESS and can be downloaded for free here:

Nearly all my publications have been uploaded to my profile on ResearchGate here: