Southampton Education School

Research Group: Social Justice and Inclusive Education (SJIE) Research Centre

The Social Justice and Inclusive Education research centre seeks to explore issues of equity, entitlement, access and participation in education.

For the latest news and updates on our activities please visit the SJIE Blog:

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Centre members in discussion

Centre members in discussion

The centre for Social Justice and Inclusive Education at Southampton Education School comprises researchers and educators representing a breadth of enabling research and practice focusing on participatory, innovative and inclusive methods; voice; and evidence-based practice. We have a wide range of interests around aspects of diversity including:

  • special educational needs
  • learning disability and autism
  • race and ethnicity
  • gender and sexual identities
  • disadvantage and poverty
  • cognitive processes in literacy
  • digital inclusion

Our research and teaching are driven by the central guiding principles of educational and social inclusion and equity, drawing upon the reciprocal influences of sociological and psychological theories. Our work spans the fields of pedagogy, methodology, technology, disability, and curriculum and professional development.

In our research we are dedicated to exploring factors – nationally and internationally - that support or impede educational and social opportunities, empowerment and accessibility for learners with a particular emphasis on the participation and voice of different communities, including children and their families. 

Doing Research Inclusively, Doing Research Well? Final Report and Next Steps

Thanks to all the wonderful contributors the ESRC study Quality and capacity in inclusive research with people with learning disabilities project is complete. This research project gradually became known by its more accessible title: Doing Research Inclusively, Doing Research Well? You can download a full copy of the report from

Or from the new project website where you can also learn more about it:

More than 60 people took part in focus group discussions working towards better understanding of how to work inclusively and make the research good quality. We welcome feedback on the report.
The conversation is carrying with a new seminar series starting in January 2013: Towards equal and active citizenship: pushing the boundaries of participatory research with people with learning disabilities’. Email Melanie Nind ( for more information. We are also doing some training on doing research inclusively. This uses some of what we learned from the ESRC study and also the methods of Paulo Freire. This will take place in Southampton in February 2013. To find out more see

Communication and Social Participation: Collaborative Technologies for Interaction and Learning (COSPATIAL).

Sarah Parsons is a partner on this EU funded 3 year project (Feb 09-12) which involves the Universities of Southampton and Nottingham in the UK; as well as partners in Italy and Israel. The project explores the use of collaborative virtual reality (VR) technologies to help children with autism develop their social communication as well as abilities in working together with other children. Collaborative VR can support children in working together on specific tasks and so potentially promote social interaction skills such as turn-taking, sharing and negotiation; skills that we know children with autism find very difficult. The project has been informed throughout by participatory design methods that have closely involved teachers as well as children with and without autism. More information about the project can be found here:

Our Academic and Research Links

The centre includes 10 experienced members of teaching and / or research staff and over 25 doctoral research students, whose topics align with the range of interests and research foci of the centre. All are invited to contribute to regular research centre meetings where research ideas, challenges and findings are shared and discussed in a supportive and collegial environment.
Members of the centre also contribute to national and international debates regarding research methods, for example through Melanie Nind’s work with the National Centre for Research Methods and as Editor of the International Journal of Research & Method in Education. Members are also on the editorial boards of the following journals:

• British Journal of Educational Studies
• British Educational Research Journal
• British Journal of Learning Disabilities
• British Journal of Sociology of Education
• Disability & Society
• Ethnography and Education
• European Journal of Special Needs Education
• Gender and Education
• Intercultural Education
• International Journal of Research and Method in Education
• International Studies in the Sociology of Education
• Journal of Assistive Technologies
• Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs

Our members also maintain strong links (as Visiting Professors/Fellows) with the international academic community. We have links with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California Los Angeles (Berkeley) and Melbourne University as well as national links with colleagues at Queens University Belfast and the Institute of Education, University of London (Thomas Coram Research Unit). We also have research links with Foundazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) Italy, University of Haifa Israel and Bar-Ilan University Israel.

Teaching and Supervision

We teach on a range of courses in the School including the Research Training Programme; the BSc in Educational Studies; PGCE Primary and Secondary; Masters modules on Researching Social Justice and Inclusion and Understanding Educational Research. Between us, we offer supervision of projects at undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral levels. We are always keen to discuss research ideas with students wishing to pursue doctoral studies in any of our areas of interest and expertise, so please do get in touch if you are considering applying. More information about our courses can be found from the ‘Undergraduate study’ and ‘Postgraduate study’ links from the main Southampton Education School webpage.

“Our research values, recognises and respects individual differences and experiences. We seek to promote inclusion and social justice through enabling individuals to be heard, challenging barriers to inclusion, and by developing methods and approaches for research and teaching to support the development of full potential”

Dr Sarah Parsons, Head of Research CentreNewsflash

A recent review by Dr Sarah Parsons of best educational practice for children on the autism spectrum has entered Routledge's Class of 2012, its most downloaded articles: European Journal of Special Needs Education, 26, 1.

Recent research carried out by Dr Kalwant Bhopal suggests that racism in UK academia remains as prevalent as it was 20 years ago. Of 65 academics interviewed for the study, the overwhelming majority said they had experienced some kind of racism, either direct or indirect. Only two said gender had had more of an impact on their careers than race. See the article published in the Times Higher Education.

Useful downloads


Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group:

Working towards inclusive education: aspects of good practice for gypsy traveller pupils (Bhopal)

Pedagogical approaches for including pupils with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms (Nind)

Developing an educational model for girls with complex special educational needs (Nind)

Evaluating Extended Services Provision in a large, urban Local Authority (Parsons)

Gypsy traveller pupils in schools in the London Borough of Greenwich: a report on good practice (Bhopal)

Home-education of children with disabilities or special educational needs: parental views (Parsons)

Investigating reasons for elective home education for gypsy and traveller parents in Hampshire (Bhopal)

Quality and capacity in inclusive research with people with learning disabilities

Evidence-based programmes for promotion and prevention in mental health (Nind)

Parents' choice of special and inclusive early years settings (Nind)

International review of the literature of evidence of best practice provision in the education of persons with autistic spectrum disorders (parsons)

Duty to promote disability equality (Parsons)

How should education be provided to children and young people with autism to prepare them for good adult outcomes?

Concepts of access for people with learning disabilities: towards a shared understanding (Nind)

Inclusive design and development of virtual environments for social understanding of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (Parsons)

Views and experiences of disabled children and their families about educational provision (Parsons)

Understanding of epilepsy by children and young people with, or without, epilepsy (Parsons)

Investigating barriers to educational inclusion for gypsy and traveller children in West Sussex (Bhopal)

What are the educational aims of modern foreign language teaching in primary schools in England? (Woodgate-Jones)

Experiences of young children with learning disabilities attending both special and inclusive preschools (Nind)

Methodological Innovation in the Social Sciences (Nind)

'Race', diversity and educational inclusion (Bhopal)

Towards equal and active citizenship: pushing the boundaries of participatory research with people with learning disabilities

PRICE (Participation and Responsible Innovation in Co-Design for Exchange)