Centre for Critical Psychology and Education

Contact: Professor Tom Billington, Dr Chris Winter

Education Matters

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Our research

Why study psychology and education together?

Education and psychology have had a historically strong reliance upon one another yet our understandings of both areas are changing. These changes reflect new thinking in bioscience, biomedicine and biotechnology across all areas of policy, from family and welfare to formal and informal education, the legal system and overseas aid. Psychological and neuro-scientific knowledge are used increasingly to govern the behaviour, psychology and emotions of individuals and populations, and in new ways. Psychological knowledge is also expanding across cultures and communities into everyday life.

Transdisciplinary approaches

Located in the School of Education, members of our research cluster approach ‘education’ very broadly, from informal and community based settings and grass-roots programmes to traditional institutions and formal curricula. Our interests offer distinctive possibilities for understanding these developments by bringing together researchers in educational psychology, critical disability studies, curriculum and policy studies, philosophy, sociology, childhood studies, mental health, social and family work.

Controversies and critiques

The Cluster is distinctive in its critical approach to studying education, psychology, educational psychology, disability and mental health. We are especially committed to problematizing ‘education’, ‘disability’ and ‘psychology’ which are all too often taken as objective givens. We are interested in the ways in which understandings of what it means to be a human, subject of policy, practice, research and culture more widely, have been constructed in the past and present, how education and psychology open and restrict ideas about who are suitable, desirable and successful human subjects, what happens to those whose humanity is denied and what alternative visions of personhood are possible.

Working collectively

Through collaborative thinking, writing and action, we engage with these questions in our research, teaching, practice and activism. We are committed to airing and debating different, sometimes competing perspectives.

Research priorities

Key themes that are explored in our work include:

  • KeyTo develop new models, concepts and theories of human attributes and behaviour that draw on the social sciences/ humanities
  • To challenge and rethink philosophical, political and psychological assumptions about personhood and the types of formal and formal psycho-emotional interventions that emerge from them
  • To examine policy and everyday images of the human subject as a target for educational intervention from early years to higher education and from formal to informal community-based settings
  • To challenge who has the power to define what counts as a valued person, and social, economic and political inequalities through which claims to personhood are made

We seek to meet these aspirations by:

  • Building and expanding our PhD networks/ community, with new and creative ways of cross-disciplinary training and supervision
  • Enabling meaningful and innovative cross-disciplinary work between the humanities, social sciences and sciences
  • Engaging in debate, research and teaching activities with public, media and stakeholder audiences, nationally, locally and internationally
  • Developing a series of activities that can be defined broadly in terms of ‘impact’
  • Developing high profile cross-university, national and international seminars and conferences

Current Projects



From robotics to smart phones, technology is blurring the boundaries between human and machine. All of this begs the question, are we human anymore and is being ‘human’ enough?

More information on iHuman

Perceptions and experiences of children and young people with a parent with dementia

The aim of this study is to focus on the perceptions and experiences of these children and young people with particular attention to any impact on their education and schooling.

More information on Perceptions and Experiences of Children and Young People

Photograph of classroom

The Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People: Evaluation of the Healthy Minds Framework (HMF)

Sheffield City Council and Sheffield NHS Children’s Foundation Trust commissioned our team to evaluate the Healthy Minds Framework (HMF). HMF was designed by mental health clinicians to provide training for teachers with the stated aim of improving ‘the capacity of school staff to support emotional wellbeing and mental health in schools’.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People

Heavenly Acts

Heavenly Acts

Heavenly Acts is an international and interdisciplinary network of scholars, practitioners and performers exploring meaning through the multidimensional world of religious performance.

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Recent Research Achievements

Big Society?

Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilites and Civil Society

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Evaluation Project photograph

Evaluation of the Emotional Health Wellbeing Service for Schools

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