Dr Gillian Forrester

Professor Of Education Policy

Institute of Education

I have extensive experience of conducting research and publishing within the field of education and teaching in Higher Education over a period of 20 years. My PhD, completed in 2003 at Keele University, built upon a tradition of critical analysis of education policy and was an historical and sociological investigation of the introduction of performance-related pay and performance management in English primary schools.

Between 2003 and 2007 I worked as a Research Associate at the University of Manchester on several research projects across a range of areas in education including: students’ induction to online/distance learning; student support in HE; the curricula and pedagogic design and development of e-learning materials for in-service secondary school teachers in China; and educational leadership in schools in England.

At Liverpool John Moores University (2008-2015), I was Subject Head of Education and Early Childhood Studies. I was involved in various research projects: parents of children with SEN who home educate; the effectiveness of audio feedback; the development of an undergraduate journal for student writing; undergraduates as co-producers of knowledge; evaluation of regional hubs of early years practice.

Professional memberships and activities

  • Higher Education Academy Fellowship (FHEA)
  • British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society (BELMAS)
  • EdD Leaders’ National Network

Academic qualifications

  • PhD ‘Professionalism and performance: an exploration of primary school teachers’ perspectives on the new managerialism’ awarded in 2003, Keele University
  • Associate Teacher in Higher Education, Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA), 1999
  • Higher Education Associate Teacher (PG Certificate – LTHEP) awarded in 1999, Keele University
  • BA (Hons) Applied Social Studies and Educational Studies awarded in 1998, Keele University


I have a wealth of experience in HE as a researcher, lecturer, module leader, course leader, personal tutor, online instructor for distance MA programmes, dissertation/thesis supervisor (undergraduate, masters, EdD and PhD) and as an academic leader. My main teaching areas are in the history of education, sociology of education, philosophy of education, education policy, research methods and supervising research projects.

At the various universities where I have worked, I have taught on (BA (Hons) Education Studies, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies, BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS, BA (Hons) Education, MA Education, Master of Research (MRes) and Doctor of Education (EdD) programmes. My teaching is now primarily on the Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD).  I currently supervise several PhD and EdD students. Since 2015, I have supervised, as principal supervisor, six doctoral completions.

Research interests

My research interests, spanning a period of over 20 years in HE, focus on the critical analysis of education policy processes and the lived experiences of pupils, parents, teachers and school leaders. My early research examined the complex relationship between externally determined change and the professional practice of teachers and headteachers. Over time, my work has drawn on sociological concepts and historical methods to design and analyse professional practice in education and where I have utilised critical theories of organisation and gender. Through my research trajectory to the present, this has developed into a major area of interest which has been extended to include pupils and parents, as well as HE students. I am essentially interested in the interplay between neoliberalism, national policy endeavours and the lived experience of those policies in practice. I currently supervise PhD and EdD students who are researching various topics. My doctoral completions are listed below.

PhD Completions

Awad, S. (2015) An ethnographic study of the ways in which faith is manifested in two primary schools. Unpublished PhD thesis. Liverpool John Moores University. (Principal Supervisor)

Chrostowska, M. (2017) The illusion of autonomy: an ethnography of teachers’ professional lives in a primary academy in England. Unpublished PhD thesis. Liverpool John Moores University. (Principal Supervisor)

Moumou, B.G. (2021) The development of Seychellois primary school teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and self-efficacy beliefs through reflective practice: A quasi-experimental study. Unpublished PhD thesis . Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor)

Beckett, M.J. (2022) Fishes in water? A longitudinal investigation of the transition experiences of students from one further education college to higher education. Unpublished PhD thesis. Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor)

EdD Completions

Bush, M. (2016) Women’s experiences of leadership in the secondary independent sector. Unpublished EdD thesis. Liverpool John Moores University. (Principal Supervisor)

Inglis, S. (2020) Educational practitioners' transitions to a part-time taught Master's in education: the expectations and experiences of students and the staff who teach them. Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor)

Hall, F.J. (2020) An investigation into the practice of Teaching Assistants in English primary schools: Investigating policy and practice. Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor)

Hudson, R.A. (2020) An Investigation of how children aged 0-7 years respond to the death of a parent. Perceptions of parents and educators. Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor)

Capper, J. (2021) An investigation into the creation and early development of a university-sponsored multi-academy trust (MAT) in England: A case study. Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor)

Owen, D. (2022) Collaboration, competition and conflict. An ethno-case study of a family of schools in England. Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor)

Akbar, A. (2021) An exploration of teachers’ and students’ perspectives on the effective teaching of the critical interpretation of the Quran in multilingual classrooms. Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (3rd Supervisor)

Hetherington, J.E. (2021) Governance, democracy, and parental engagement: The Co-operative Academy Trust model – an alternative in neoliberal contexts of education? Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (Principal Supervisor).

Choudhry, F.T. (2022) An Investigation of the Barriers Experienced by Female Muslim ESOL Learners whilst being in Education. Unpublished EdD thesis Staffordshire University. (Second Supervisor).


British Council China, November 2021 (15 months), £29,681

  • Theoretical and methodological support for the integration of International Understanding into Primary English Language Teaching in the 2021 China English Materials Development Award (EMaDA) area

Erasmus+ European Union, August 2019 (3 years), €39,930

  • The DIGItal innovative Strategies for PArental and Civic Engagement - DIGI-S.PA.C.E.

Community Renewal Fund, November 2021 (6 months), £10,000.

  • SHARP - Sector Hub Action Research Project

QR GCRF 2019-20 Application, March 2020 (6 months), £5,000

  • Home-schooling in the Covid-19 shutdown; changes to parental commitment. A comparative study in the UK and Vietnam.

Staffordshire County Council, August 2019, (4 months), £21,500

  • An investigation into the aspirations and perceptions of future selves of children and young learners in Staffordshire


I am the Course Leader for the Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) and module leader for:

  • Policy and Professional Practice
  • Theory in Educational Research
  • Designing Educational Research
  • Thesis Research Proposal


FORRESTER, G. (2022) Educating tomorrow. Learning for the post-pandemic world. Educational Review, (book review, ahead-of-print), pp. 1–2.

DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2021.2003989 http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/7172/

Hetherington, J.E. & FORRESTER, G. (2022) Values-led governance and parental and community engagement in the Co-operative Academies Trust: an alternative in the neoliberal context of education? Management in Education, 36(1), 34–41.

DOI: 10.1177/08920206211051465 http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/7025/

FORRESTER, G., Basford, J., Hudson, R & Pugh, J. (2021) Living and learning through lockdown: a fictionalisation of the challenges and opportunities of home schooling during a global pandemic, Education 3-13. International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education. DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2021.1988674 http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/7032/

FORRESTER, G., Pugh, J., Hudson, R. & Rowley, J. (2021) Understanding the World in the Early Years Foundation Stage: practitioners’ perspectives of best practice and effective provision, Education 3-13. International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education.

DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2021.1930095 http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/6817/

FORRESTER, G., Kurth, J., Vincent, P. and Oliver, M. (2020) Schools as community assets: an exploration of the merits of an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach, Educational Review, 72(4), 443-458. DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2018.1529655 http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/4757/

Hennessy, C. & FORRESTER G. (2014) Developing a framework for effective audio feedback: a case study. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 39 (7) 777-789. http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/2613/



FORRESTER, G. & Garratt, D. (2016) Education Policy Unravelled, 2nd edn. London: Bloomsbury.

Garratt, D. & FORRESTER, G. (2012) Education Policy Unravelled. London: Continuum.


Book chapters

FORRESTER, G., Hudson-Gill, R. & Pugh, J. (2019) Understanding the World: A pilot study of effective practice and provision in early years settings. In V. Chiou, O. Holz, N. Oruç Ertürk and F. Shelton (Eds.) International Insights: Equality in Education. Münster. Germany: Waxmann Publishing Co., pp. 85-98.

Bush, M. & FORRESTER, G. (2019) ‘Women’s Leadership Development: Preparation for Leadership in the Girls’ Secondary Independent Sector in England’, in Storey. V.A. (Ed.) Leading in Change: Implications of School Diversification for School Leadership Preparation in England and the United States. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing (IAP), pp.137-156.

FORRESTER, G. & Gunter, H.M. (2010) New headteachers in schools in England and their approaches to leadership. In: Shoho, A., Barnett, B.G. & Tooms, A.K. (Eds.) The Challenges for New Principals in the 21st Century: Developing Leadership Capabilities Through Professional Support. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing. (Book Series, International Research on School Leadership). pp. 29-49.

Gunter, H.M. & FORRESTER, G. (2010) Reform of the School Workforce. In: Baker, E., McGaw, B. and Peterson, P. (Eds) International Encyclopaedia of Education (3rd Edition). Amsterdam: Elsevier. pp. 242–248.

Gunter, H.M. & FORRESTER, G. (2010) Education Reform and School Leadership. In: S. Brookes and K. Grint (Eds.) The New Public Leadership Challenge. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 54-69.

FORRESTER, G. & Gunter, H.M. (2009) School leaders: meeting the challenge of change. In: C. Chapman & H.M. Gunter (Eds.) Radical Reforms: Public Policy and a Decade of Educational Reform. London: Routledge. pp. 67-79.

Motteram, G., FORRESTER, G., Goldrick, S. & McLachlan, A. (2007) Collaborating Across Boundaries: Managing the Complexities of eLearning Courseware Production in a Joint International Project. In: H. Spencer-Oatey (Ed.) eLearning in China: eChina Perspectives on Policy, Pedagogy and Innovation. Hong Kong University Press. pp.189-201.

UK University

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

for Job Prospects

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

for Student Satisfaction

Complete University Guide 2022

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

for Course Content

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021