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Manchester Institute of Education

Our people

People involved in Knowledge, Power and Identity

Zahra Alijah

Zahra’s interests lie in policy and practice in safeguarding children and young people in formal and informal education contexts, arising arises from her working and voluntary roles in initial teacher training, sex and relationship education interventions, the youth sector, community engagement and research.

Alongside her role as a tutor and lecturer in initial teacher training, and as coordinator of the Secondary PGCE Education subject leader for PGCE Secondary Science. She works with organisations engaged in work on tackling three key current safeguarding agenda areas: radicalisation, CSE and gangs. It is the intersection of these areas that form the current focus of her research, drawing on previous research experience around forced marriage safeguarding. 

Simon Bailey

Simon’s work centres on relations of power and knowledge as they are played out in public organisational settings, driven by an interest in the writings of Michel Foucault and with ethnographic research. His research work has taken him into a number of different settings within the fields of education and health, from infant classrooms to dementia wards, but with an enduring set of themes about the nature of expert knowledge and its role in distributing legitimate (and illegitimate) subject positions, and the problematic status of the subject within institutionalised settings. Simon is also interested in reflexive and participatory research methods, particularly the use of narrative and arts-based methods in conducting, writing and disseminating research. 

Susan Brown

Susan's interests lie in education for sustainability and in organisations  developing  understandings of sustainability in communities. Her work links to the Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN) and their intergenerational projects around sustainability in (school) communities.  She is working with MEEN to evolve understandings of children’s rights, relational learning and critical place-based education as they connect to MEEN's projects.  

Erica Burman

Erica’s research spans critical developmental psychology, childhood studies and feminist theory, which she applies to educational and mental health contexts to address societal inequalities and counter processes and practices of marginalisations – especially those organized around the intersections of age, class, gender and racialization. As well as being a social researcher, she teaches and researchers around critical theory and practice, making methodological contributions to discursive and qualitative analysis.

She co-led the University of Manchester funded study on the educational impacts of the ‘bedroom tax’ (2013-15) (see 'Our current and recent projects' section), and is supporting various other projects on poverty, inequality, sustainability and (more and less formal) educational provision, aiming to develop critical and alternative repertoires to current educational discourses of psychologisation and individualization. In April 2016 she was made Honorary Fellow of the British Psychological Society in recognition of her contributions to psychology. She is also a Group Analyst and Iyengar yoga teacher. 

Carl Emery

Carl’s research interests focus on unpicking and interrupting the neoliberal governance model currently dominating education policy and practice, and to give voice to alternative understandings of education engagement with particular emphasis on advancing community based, subjective and relational models of participation and governance.

He is particularly interested in revealing how particular versions of enacted power are shaping children’s emotions within the English education system. His recently completed PhD: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Social and Emotional Learning as a Whole School, Universal intervention, in England and Wales during the New Labour Period was a qualitative study, utilising the lens of critical discourse analysis (CDA) to demonstrate how the SEL discourse reflected notions of national identity, particularly issues of social justice (Fraser, 1997), the conceptualisation of children (Watson et al., 2012) and the understanding and impact of the neoliberalisation of educational policy and practice (Goodwin, 2011).

Alongside this, Carl has been building localised responses to understanding and responding to in college conflict and learners social and emotional development through the advancement of a Yorkshire Coast College 'Relationships and Learning' Community of Practice. Power and Identity are key foundations of this project with the emphasis being on the self-development of a localised expert identity, supported by teacher level 'power' through in college policy development, as a long term alternative to the consultant culture. 

Andy Howes

Andy is engaged in educational research with a critical interest in ‘STEM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) discourse, and in the way young people, teachers, parents, curriculum subjects and spheres of human activity are constructed in such discourse. Of particular interest are questions around what is lost where STEM is constructed as elite activity for specialists, and where science for example is seen as a specialist activity at some distance from everyday life. Appeals to forms of ‘science capital’ seem to further embed a deficit view of many communities.  

In this context, the insights of new entrants to science education (trainee teachers, young people) suggest alternative analytical approaches, and more open methodologies are proving useful, such as the use of people’s everyday images as a context for discursive development (‘what is science then?’). The meeting of scientific and everyday discourses operates to validate and exclude, and the school laboratory or classroom is a powerful site for such meetings.  

Narinder Mann

Lecturer in Humanities Education 

Lydia Meryll

As SEED Senior Fellow in Knowledge Exchange, and trustee of Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN), Lydia Meryll has made presentations to adult learning organisations including North West Union Learn Forum, UNISON Forums in Manchester and Stockport, the regional AGM of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union and to several NUT groups in Greater Manchester. In all of these she has been exchanging knowledge about the considerations of children in 10 Eco Teams in Manchester schools about how to convey to adults what they understand about Climate Change and what can be done practically to mitigate it. The children are engaged to different degrees in intergenerational action research.

Alongside other funded educational action projects, this work has also resulted in a joint video production with the Manchester Museum - Listen to Children, which has been submitted via Manchester MEP Julie Ward to the members of the European Environment Committee, many of whom are engaged in the UN Climate Change in Paris.

Susie Miles

Susie’s work has focused on the imbalance of power between the global North and global South in relation to the development of more equitable education opportunities for the most marginalised groups of children, and for disabled children in particular. She is the founding Coordinator of the Enabling Education Network (EENET), which promotes the inclusion of marginalised groups in education worldwide.

Through her work with EENET she developed an inclusive approach to networking as a way of challenging power relations and in order to support the co-production of community based knowledge in Southern countries. Susie has facilitated school-based research inquiries focused on inclusive education in sub-Saharan Africa and in the UK in which image-based methods have been used extensively, including photography.

More recently her research interests have focused on the role of supplementary education in the UK and the relationship between ‘mainstream’ schools and supplementary schools run by parents and community members of minority ethnic groups. 

Ian Parker

Ian Parker (Honorary Professor at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester) was co-founder in 1991, and is currently co-director (with Professor Erica Burman), of the Discourse Unit ( He is Professor of Management at the University of Leicester, and has visiting professorial posts in Belgium, Brazil, South Africa, Spain and the UK. His research and writing has been in the field of psychoanalysis, psychology and social theory, with a particular focus on discourse, critical psychology, mental health and political practice.

He is a practising psychoanalyst, and is currently President of the College of Psychoanalysts - UK. He is Secretary of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix and Managing Editor of the Annual Review of Critical Psychology. He is a Fellow of the BPS and the RSA.

Annette Rimmer

Annette’s interests lie in youth and community work and informal learning contexts as routes for empowerment and activation. She is currently undertaking research on community radio as a means of political mobilization and activism, with particular attention to gendered, racialized and disability impacts.

Kate Sapin

Kate’s background is in youth and community work training and she is committed to informal and participatory educational practices. Longstanding research themes for her are:

  • Engaging with children and young people in trouble
  • Raising  awareness of LGBT lives through youth work
  • Addressing the effects of austerity
  • Intercultural engagement