Professor Tom Billington C.Psychol MEd MSc PhD FBPsS

Professor of Educational and Child Psychology
Co-Director of the Cluster for Critical Psychology and Education
Director of Educational Psychology

Professor Tom Billington

Tel: (+44) (0)114 222 8113

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Tom has been guiding the expansion of Educational Psychology at Sheffield for several years and our programmes now attract well over 300 students and trainees - practitioners, researchers and policy-makers from many countries across the globe (e.g. psychologists, social workers, teachers, health professionals). He currently teaches on the following programmes -
DEdCPsy(British Psychological Society and UK Health & Care Professions Council accredited professional training programme)
MA in Psychology and Education
MSc in Psychology and Education (British Psychological Society accredited conversion programme)
MA in Educational Research and the BA in Education, Culture and Childhood
EdD (part-time cpd Doctorate)

Tom’s personal teaching interests focus on young people’s emotional well being and mental health, specifically critical approaches to child development including attachment, autism, child safeguarding and neuroscience in education. He has also taught and supervised research on post-graduate programmes in child development in southern Europe, south-east Asia and the Caribbean.

He has been external examiner for both professional training and research Doctoral programmes in Educational and Child Psychology both in the UK and internationally (e.g. the Tavistock Clinic, London, many Universities across the UK, Australia, Canada, Holland, New Zealand and USA) and has supervised to completion over 60 personal Doctoral students in Psychology and Education, UK and international, including most recently:

Alexandra Poll (2019) Building blocks of emotional attachment: Understanding the development of emotional intimacy between Israeli secular Jewish mothers and their children (EdD)

Muno Abdi (2017) Storying selves in turbulent times: Exploring four young Somali men's experiences of identity and belonging through self-representing narratives (without corrections) (PhD)

Yijia Zuo (2017) Narratives of complementarity and transformation: Chinese young people constructing selves in a transcultural context (UK) (PhD)

Rob Begon (2016) Reconstructing the dominant discourse of an empathy deficit in autism: Adopting a Foucauldian perspective towards ‘insider’ accounts (DEdCPsy)

Harriet Cameron (2015) Critical dyslexia: The discursive construction of dyslexia in higher education (PhD)

Paulann Grech (2014) The therapeutic alliance in mental health discourse: A politico-critical analysis of knowledge and power (PhD)




Tom’s research is located in the Cluster for Critical Psychology and Education in the School of Education and also the ihuman group in the Faculty of Social Sciences. In his research Tom looks to -

• conduct research which supports the emotional wellbeing and mental health needs of young people
• work and research with not on children and young people, their families and schools, utilizing narrative, discourse analytic and psychodynamic approaches
• engage with philosophical, political and social constructionist discourse
• invoke ‘three scientific distinctions’:

‘between the diagnosis and the child;
between a knowledge of children generally and our interpretations of the child before us;
between any descriptions of the child we construct and the descriptions that the child might potentially construct for themselves’ (Billington, 2006, p.158).

• utilize ‘five critical questions’:
How do we speak of children?
How do we speak with children?
How do we write about children?
How do we listen to children?
How do we listen to ourselves (when working with children)? (Billington, 2006, p.8).


Billington, T., Fogg, P., Emerson, L-M., Gibson, S. (2017) Evaluation of the Sheffield Healthy Minds Framework (HMF) for Schools. Sheffield City Council. £49875. URMS no. 152285
Billington,T. and Overton, P. (2016) Attention and behaviour: Transforming achievement and social inclusion following primary-secondary school transition. ESRC (1+3) PhD White Rose Collaborative Studentship (in partnership with Sheffield City Council). £73,229
Billington, T. Williams, A., Abdi, M. and Lahmar, J. (2015) Evaluation of the emotional well-being mental health service for schools. Sheffield City Council. £24334. URMS no.145254
North of England Education Conference (2013) Mind, brain, community: Developing resilience, inspiring resilience. Co-organizer. Sheffield City Council, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University c.£143,000
Billington, T. (2012) Exploring young Somali men’s experiences of identity and belonging. ESRC (1+3) PhD White Rose Collaborative Studentship. £73,658



British Psychological Society

• Chartered Psychologist (C.Psychol) and Fellow (FBPsS)
• Member: Division of Educational and Child Psychology; Qualitative Research Section; Experiential and Consciousness Section; Registered Psychological Test User
• Chair and lead author of BPS Position Statement on Childhood Autism (2006)
• Committee member and contributing author to BPS Position Statement on Child Safeguarding (2003; 2007; 2014) for the Professional Practice Board

Selected keynotes and conference papers (Psychology / Education)

• International

Billington, T. (Sheffield), Bird, L. (Waikato) and Corcoran, T. (VUM) (2015). Righting the ship: Psychology’s Passage Through Education. Invited Seminar Series funded by the Australian Association for Educational Research and New Zealand Psychological Society (Wellington, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth). Also:

Papers presented at conferences in Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, including

International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Prague;
International Congress of Psychology, Capetown;
International Society for Theoretical Psychology, Thessaloniki also Copenhagen;
International School Psychology Association, Dublin;
TAOS Institute, New Mexico

• UK

Billington, T. (2010) Psychological assessments of young people: At the boundaries of knowledge and experience. 29th. Annual Vernon Wall Lecture. Psychology of Education Section Annual Conference. British Psychological Society

Universities of Birmingham, Exeter, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, York, Tavistock Clinic

• Various lectures/presentations

British Psychological Society
Economic and Social Research Council
Association of Educational Psychologists
University of San Francisco Center for Child and Family Development
Merseyside Family Justice Council
Children’s Media Conference
Nurture Group Network
Yorkshire & Humberside Educational Psychology Conference
North-west Educational Psychology Conference
South-west Educational Psychology Conference

Editorial Boards and Reviewing

• ESRC Peer Review College; NIHR; Wellcome Trust; Portuguese Faculty for Science and Technology (FCT), Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
• Disability & Society; Educational and Child Psychology; International Journal of Inclusive Education; International Journal of Nurture in Education; Journal of Early Childhood Research; Annual Review of Critical Psychology;
• Departmental reviewer, Professorial appointments adviser (UK and international)


Visiting Professor, University of Malta
Registered practising educational psychologist with the Health Care Professions Council
Northern Circuit of the High Court: Register of Expert Witnesses: Psychological assessments in care proceedings (e.g. adoption, attachment, disabilities and a range of child protection issues)
Associate Fellow, Critical Institute
Associate Fellow, TAOS Institute (USA)


Prior to a teaching career, Tom had obtained a degree in Music (Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester), a Diploma in Piano (Royal Academy of Music, London). Subsequently he obtained a Masters degree in Creative Arts (University of Exeter) and following further qualification as an Educational Psychologist he worked as a Specialist Educational Psychologist (autism). He studied for his PhD with Professor Erica Burman in the Department of Psychology at the Manchester Metropolitan University (1997).



Click here for Journal Articles

Edited books
Billington, T. and Todd, L. (2012) (Eds.) Narrative: Approaches in research and professional practice. Educational and Child Psychology, 29(2), 1-100, Leicester; British Psychological Society ISSN:0267-1611; ISBN: 987-1-85433-711-5

Book Chapters
Goodley, D. and Billington, T. (2017) Critical educational psychology and disability studies: Theoretical, practical and empirical allies. In A. Williams, T. Billington, D. Goodley and T. Corcoran(eds.) Critical Educational Psychology. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell (pp. 63-78)

Corcoran, T. and Billington, T. (2016) Being well: Educated. In T. Dragona, K. Gergen and S. McNamee (eds.) Education as Social Construction. New Mexico: Taos Institute Publications

Billington, T. and Williams, A. (2015) Education. In I. Parker (Ed.) The Handbook of Critical Psychology. London: Routledge (pp. 231-239)

Miller, A., Billington, T., Lewis, V. (2008) Educational Psychology in C. Willig and W. Stainton-Rogers (eds.) The Handbook of qualitative research methods in psychology, London; Sage (pp. 472-488)

Billington, T. (2004) At the boundaries of care, education and the law: representing Callum, in T. Billington and M. Pomerantz (eds.) Children at the margins: Supporting children, supporting schools, Stoke; Trentham Books (pp. 31-46)

Billington, T. and Pomerantz, M. (2004) Resisting the practices of social exclusion, in T.

Billington and M. Pomerantz (eds. 2004) Children at the margins: Supporting children, supporting schools, Stoke; Trentham Books (pp. 1-14)

Billington, T. (2000) Words, Pathologies and Children in M. Moore (ed.) Insider perspectives: Children with special educational needs, Sheffield; Philip Armstrong Press (pp.81-93)

Billington, T. (1996) Pathologizing children: psychology in education and acts of government in E. Burman et al., Psychology discourse practice: From regulation to resistance. London; Taylor and Francis (pp.37-54)

Refereed Journals – edited special issues

Billington, T. and Todd, L. (eds. 2012) Narrative: Approaches in research and professional practice. Educational and child psychology, 29 (2). British Psychological Society (pp. 1-100).

Billington, T. and Warner, S. (eds. 2003) Child protection: Critical theory, research and practice. Educational and child psychology. 20 (1), British Psychological Society (pp.1-123)

Lloyd Bennett, P. and Billington, T. (eds. 2001) Multidisciplinary work for children with autism. Educational and child psychology. 18 (2), British Psychological Society (pp.1-106)

Refereed Journals – Reviews

Billington, T. (2006) Autism: speculation, knowledge or understanding. Review essay for Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 27 (2), 275-285

Billington, T. (2006) Regulatory discourses in education: a Lacanian perspective. Educational action research, 14 (4), 583-585