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Vocational Education, Lifelong Learning and Employability

Unit(s) of assessment: Education

School: School of Education


Members of this group share research interests in a range of issues related to vocational education, continuing professional development, employability and lifelong learning.

These include:

  • behaviour and motivation of learners in the Lifelong Learning sector
  • formation of teacher and learner identities in the post-compulsory sector
  • CPD for education professionals
  • inclusion of minority communities in education and beyond
  • exploration of social justice within LLS
  • voices of marginalised groups
  • employability in HE
  • transition of students in education

The research group welcomes colleagues from across the University who share an interest in any of these areas of research.


Working with us

We can offer expertise in:

  • education consultancy
  • community development
  • inclusion
  • supervision of projects and study
  • project development

If you would like to work with us on any of our specialist areas of have a project of your own you would like to develop, please contact us for an informal discussion

Related staff

Belinda Ferguson teaches across a range of programmes, including initial teacher training for further and higher education practitioners, full and part time undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Her area of research has included the experiences of adult learners, the development or peer support strategies and the role of feedback to enhance learning.

Anne O'Grady's research focuses on adult learners who experience marginalisation from educational opportunities, within a framework of social justice, exploring social inclusion and exclusion dichotomies. She has worked on projects covering lifelong learning, adult literacy and numeracy, offender education, and marginalised groups and communities.

Sheine Peart was the 2012 BERA / SAGE Award Winner for Research in Post 18 Education. Her recent work involved a yearlong study on the impact of dedicated support for Black males in FE. Her other research interests include social justice and inclusion issues; the experience of minority groups in accessing education in the statutory and post-compulsory sectors; the experience of BAME managers and their progression within education; and developing managers and teacher educators to prepare staff and trainees to meet the needs of diverse student groups.

Jackie Scruton has particular experience within the field of Inclusion and Special Educational Needs, in particular encouraging and supporting students to develop an inclusive approach and ethos to their work. She has a strong interest in supporting adult learners to return to study especially for those who are looking at a ‘second chance’ of accessing education.

Krishan Sood Winner of Best paper for 2013 in Management in Education (MiE) Journal, teaches across a range of postgraduate programmes, including those for teachers and learning support practitioners on the middle leaders and foundation degree programmes, and has extensive experience of supervising and examining PhD/EdD students in areas of leadership and management linked to education, nursing and other fields. His current research interests are in the areas of leadership and management; leading research on diversity, English as Additional Language (EAL) and equity issues as well as professional development and teacher leadership.

Neil Stott has worked in both FE and the private sector. He lectures on both undergraduate and post graduate courses and has a special interest on leadership and management.

Sharon Vesty lectures on childhood studies courses and is a registered UKCP registered psychotherapist. She has extensive experience of health care practice and management and counselling and psychotherapy with young people and adults, having worked in the NHS and private practice. She has a special interest in well-being and self-esteem in children and young people.

Steve Wheelhouse is the Employability Coordinator for the School of Education and teaches on the Joint Honours in Education and the Post Compulsory in Education and Training Course. He has a particular interest in progression, eportfolios, self-esteem in relation to employability.


Belinda Ferguson (selected)

  • Teaching and Supporting Adult Learners. Scruton, J and Ferguson, B, 2014, Northwich, Critical Publishing
  • Into the Light: the role of peer feedback and interaction on academic skills for mature part time HE learners: Ferguson B and Scruton, J, 2012 Valencia : INTED
  • How effective are lesson observations in supporting the development of trainee teachers in the lifelong learning sector? Ferguson, B, 2011 Valencia: INTED

Anne O'Grady (selected)

  • Lifelong Learning in the UK: An Introductory Guide for Education Studies. O'Grady A, 2013, London: Routledge
  • Smoke alarms and smoke screens: the learning journey of an undergraduate. O'Grady A, Educational Futures, 2012, 5 (1), 29-42
  • Skills for life and issues of choice: a study in rural England. O'Grady A and Atkin C, RaPAL Research and Practice in Adult Literacy Journal, 2009, 68/69, 40-47

Sheine Peart (selected)

Jackie Scruton (selected)

  • Teaching and Supporting Adult Learners. Scruton, J and Ferguson, B, 2014, Northwich, Critical Publishing
  • Into the Light: the role of peer feedback and interaction on academic skills for mature part time HE learners: Ferguson B and Scruton, J, 2012 Valencia : INTED

Krishan Sood (selected)

  • It’s Complicated: Apprentice Leaders on the Edge of Chaos in Management in Education, 28 (2) 64–69, Carter, K and Sood, K (2014)
  • Developing innovative learning approaches through the links of diversity and equity within the new Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum in England: Challenges for leaders Sood, K and Mistry, M. (2014) in Mind the Gap: Creating Social Justice through Education Policy. P. Kanervio; S. Pulkkinen and L. Halttunen (eds.) Studies in Educational Leadership 1, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla
  • Permeating the social justice ideals of equality and equity within the context of Early Years: challenges for leadership in multi-cultural and mono-cultural primary schools. Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education. London: Taylor & Francis Mistry, M and Sood, K 2014
  • Exploring Children’s Well-Being and Motivations (with Lorna Wardle) in The Characteristics of Effective Learning: Creating and capturing the possibilities in the early years. A. Woods (Ed), London : Routledge (2014)

Related projects

Current projects being researched by the group include:

Belinda Ferguson

  • The experience of adult minority groups returning to study in HE, 2014

Sheine Peart

  • Young offenders' experience of being sentenced and the impact of education packages imposed as part of a sentence (jointly with the School of Social Sciences), 2014
  • The impact of a peer mentoring scheme for young users of social housing, 2014
  • Novice and Experienced Teachers' Understanding of the Equalities Act, 2014

Jackie Scruton

  • The experience of adult minority groups returning to study in HE, 2014

Krishan Sood

  • Undertook research project in a primary school in Nottingham on developing problem solving skills of year 2 children. Jan-April 2014. NTU grant awarded.
  • Has extensive project management experience and expertise in leadership and management and has successfully secured external funding grants for research

Neil Stott

  • Neil is currently engaged in a research project that monitors transitions of learners from Further Education to Higher Education.

Sharon Vesty and Steve Wheelhouse

  • Are conducting research relating to self-esteem and transition into employment. As part of their research, they will be conducting semi-structured interviews around 4 key markers identified as student enthusiasm; collaboration and independent working; relationships; and risk tasking, 2014.