About


Robin

Robin Alexander is Fellow of Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge, Professor of Education Emeritus at the University of Warwick and Honorary Professor of Education at the University of York. He is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) and Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), past President of the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE), and former Director of the Cambridge Primary Review and Chair of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust.

Educated at the universities of Cambridge, Durham, London and Manchester, Robin Alexander has taught in schools, colleges and universities, holding senior posts at the universities of Leeds, Warwick and Cambridge, and has served on government advisory bodies and official enquiries. He has undertaken research in many countries, notably Britain, France, India, Russia and the United States, and has worked in development education in Bangladesh and India on behalf of BRAC, DfiD and the EC. He has held two Leverhulme Research Fellowships and visiting academic positions in Australia, Chile, Hong Kong and Singapore, and has been awarded honorary doctorates by three UK universities.

Robin Alexander has written or edited over 300 publications. His early books included three edited collections on teacher education (1979-81),The Self-Evaluating Institution (1982), Primary Teaching (1984) and Change in Teacher Education (1984). From large-scale studies of systemic educational reform and its classroom impact came Changing Primary Practice (1989), Versions of Primary Education (1995) and Policy and Practice in Primary Education: local initiative, national agenda (1997).

This corpus included work on policy, pedagogy, classroom studies, teacher education, curriculum and evaluation, usually but not exclusively in the primary phase of education. From the mid-1990s his research gained international, comparative and cross-cultural dimensions which prompted – notably through the two volumes of Learning from Comparing: new directions in comparative education research (1999 and 2000) – a re-assessment of the field of comparative enquiry itself. The five-nation Culture and Pedagogy: international comparisons in primary education (Blackwell 2001) greatly extended Robin Alexander’s take on pedagogy and classroom discourse and won top education book prizes on both sides of the Atlantic. This study was built upon in Essays on Pedagogy (2008) and, in the context of the UN Millennium Development Goals, Education for All, the Quality Imperative and the Problem of Pedagogy (2008).

Local, national and international came together in his extensive and still continuing work on classroom talk reform and the advancement of dialogic teaching (Towards Dialogic Teaching: rethinking classroom talk (1st edition 2004, 5th edition 2017), Education as Dialogue (2006), and numerous articles). His most ambitious initiative in this field to date is the 2014-17 project supported by Education Endowment Foundation which devised and successfully subjected to randomised control trial a large-scale programme for using dialogic teaching to improve the engagement, learning and attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

Meanwhile, Alexander’s lifelong commitment to the cause of primary education led to the Cambridge Primary Review (CPR), which he initiated in 2004. Supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, this independent enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England ran from 2006-10 and remains the largest and most comprehensive such investigation since the 1960s. CPR published 31 interim reports between 2007 and 2009 before its 600-page final report Children, their World, their Education (2010) and the 850-page companion volume The Cambridge Primary Review Research Surveys (2010), both of which Alexander edited and lead-authored. With continuing support from its sponsor, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Review then entered a phase of dissemination, policy engagement and network-building and from 2013-17 was succeeded by Cambridge Primary Review Trust (CPRT), a not-for-profit company supported by Pearson and dedicated to building on the Review’s work by building nation-wide professional networks and commissioning new research.  For this work Alexander received the National Union of Teachers Jarvis Award and the BERA/Sage Public Impact Award.

Current positions: Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge; Professor of Education Emeritus, University of Warwick.

Qualifications: LittD (Cambridge), PhD (Cambridge), MA (Cambridge), MEd (Manchester), Ac. Dip. Ed (London), PGCE (Durham), ATCL (Trinity College of Music).

Previous positions: teaching in schools and colleges in various parts of England (1964-77); Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Education, University of Leeds (1977-90); Professor of Education, University of Leeds (1990-95); Professor of Education, Director of Research and Director of the Centre for Research in Elementary and Primary Education, University of Warwick (1995-2001); Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: Visiting Scholar (2001-6), Professorial Director of Research (2006-12); Director, Cambridge Primary Review (2006-12); Chair, Cambridge Primary Review Trust (2013-17); Honorary Professor of Education, University of York (2013-17).

Public appointments: Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) (1975-84); Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CATE) (1989-94); Department of Education and Science Enquiry into Curriculum and Classroom Practice in Primary Schools (1991-92); Board of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) (1997-2002); Court, Bishop Grosseteste University (2011); Board of Governors, Bath Spa University (2012-17); Board of Trustees, Children and the Arts (2015-).

Honours, awards, fellowships: Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) (2011); Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) (2011); American Educational Research Association (AERA) Outstanding Book Award (2002); First Prize, Society for Educational Studies (SES) Book Awards (2002 and 2011); Cambridge Journal of Education Best Paper Prize (2012); BERA/Sage Public Impact Award (2015); President, British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) (2008-9); honorary doctorates, Manchester Metropolitan University (2010), Bishop Grosseteste University (2010), the Open University (2018); Leverhulme Research Fellow (1994-6), Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow (2002-4); Honorary Fellow, the College of Teachers (FCollT) (2009); National Union of Teachers (NUT) Anne and Fred Jarvis Award – Campaigning for Education (2011); Association of Managers in Education (AMiE) Award for Services to Education (2010); Sir Edward Youde Visiting Professor, Hong Kong Institute of Education (2005-6); Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellow, University of Melbourne (2010); C.J.Koh Professor, National Institute of Education, Singapore (2010); Visiting Professor, Gabriela Mistral University, Chile (2012).

Professional affiliations (current): American Educational Research Association (AERA); British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE); British Educational Research Association (BERA); European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI); New Visions for Education Group.

Professional affiliations (past): All Souls Group; Study Group on Education in Russia, the Independent States and Eastern Europe; Universities Council for the Education of Teachers; Association for the Study of Primary Education (founding chair); Primary Education Study Group; Association for the Study of the Curriculum; Society for Research into Higher Education Teacher Education Study Group; International Society for Cultural Activity and Research.

Grants for research, evaluation and development: Economic and Social Research Council (2); Social Science Research Council (1); Department for Education and Skills (1); Department for International Development (1); European Commission (1); School Examinations and Assessment Council (1); Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (1), British Council (1), Leverhulme Trust (2); Nuffield Foundation (1); Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (4); Education Endowment Foundation (1); Heinemann Educational (1); Pearson Education (1); University of Leeds (1); University of Warwick (1); Local Education Authorities of Barking and Dagenham (1), Birmingham (1), Buckinghamshire (1), Calderdale (1), Leeds (1), Oxfordshire (1), North Yorkshire (1), and Warwickshire (1).

Publications: books and monographs (29); journal articles and book chapters (124); research reports (47); electronic media (2); newspaper articles (30); other (55+).