Professor Alison Kington


Professor in Psychology of Education


Contact Details

tel: 01905 542025

PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, FRSA


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Professor Alison Kington has worked in a number of research and teaching roles and has gained extensive experience of, and expertise in, designing and conducting mixed methods research in education and social psychology. Her research focuses on the nature, quality and dynamics of educational relationships and she has particular interest in the influence of teacher identity and career phase on classroom relationships (adult-child & peer) and interactions. 

Alison has led a range of international and national research projects funded by Research Councils and Government agencies, including studies of the work and lives of teachers (DfES), effective classroom practice (ESRC), school leadership and pupil outcomes (DfES), and inspirational and effective teachers (CfBT). She is currently engaged in a number of studies including the International Comparative Analysis of Teaching and Learning (ICALT), professional identity of mid-career primary teachers, the role of primary school staffrooms, and the influence of teacher-pupil relationships on early career teacher identity.

As well as her involvement in research, Alison has a number of additional responsibilities at the University. She is Chair of the Arts, Humanities and Education Research Ethics Committee, convenor of the Social Psychology of Education Research Group (SPERG), course leader for the MRes Education and deputy course leader for the MPhil/PhD programme. Alison is currently supervising 8 research students who come from a range of international and national contexts, and has supervised a further 14 students to successful completion of their studies.

Alison is lead editor of the forthcoming volume, Developing Social and Learning Relationships in Primary Schools (2020, Bloomsbury), lead author of Effective Classroom Practice (2014, McGraw-Hill), co-author of Teachers Matter (2007, OUP), and co-editor of The Role of Theory and Research in Educational Practice (2008). She has also published papers and chapters relating to her substantive and methodological interests.


Academic qualifications:

  • PhD Education and Social Psychology (University of Bristol, 2001)
  • BEd (Hons) Primary Education and English (University of the West of England, 1994)

 Professional qualifications:

  • Postgraduate Certificate: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2014)
  • Certificate: Associate Teachers Programme (2010)
  • Certificate: Teaching and Learning (2008)
  • Certificate: Research Management (2005)




Research Projects 

  • 2018-20    Early Career Teacher Development Programme: An evaluation
  • 2016-18    The Role and Significance of School Staffrooms
  • 2014-18    International Comparison of Learning and Teaching (ICALT-3) (with 20 international partners)
  • 2014-18    Tales from the Watershed: Developing Identities of Mid-career Primary School Teachers
  • 2016-17    Developing Effective Leadership in Schools (Stoke Local Authority: £100,000)
  • 2013-17    The Role of Children’s Friendships in the Transition from Pre-school to Primary School
  • 2014-15    The Impact of Multi-agency Working on Families with Severe and Multiple Disadvantage                                        (Lankelly Chase: £10,000)
  • 2014         Developing a Research-led Culture in Post-92 Education Departments (HEA: £750)
  • 2013          Identifying and elaborating the competencies required for effective classroom practice                                           (HEA with University of Hertfordshire: £750)
  • 2012-14    Inspirational and Effective Teachers (CfBT with the University of Oxford: £40,000)
  • 2011-12    Evaluation of the Making Headway Pilot Project (SkillForce Development: £14,500)
  • 2010-11    Pedagogic Quality and Inequality in University First Degrees (ESRC: £399,000)
  • 2009-11    Includ-ED (European Commission: £250,000)
  • 2009-10    Impact of the Two-Year Old's Pilot (Nottingham City Council: £30,000)
  • 2009-10    Evaluation of Mathematics Pathways (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority)
  • 2009          Analysis of PRES, PTES and CROS surveys (University of Nottingham, Graduate School: £8,000)
  • 2007-08    Defining Classroom Relationships: developing the repertory grid technique
  • 2006-08    Effective Classroom Practice (Economic and Social Research Council: £300,000)
  • 2005-08    Impact of School Leadership on Pupil Outcomes (Department for Education and Skills: £775,000)
  • 2005-06    Variations in Teachers' Work, Lives and Effectiveness: an extension (DfES: £60,000)
  • 2003-05    Variations in Teachers' Work, Lives and Effectiveness (VITAE) (DfES: £1,247,321).
  • 2002          Evaluation of the Laptops for Teachers Initiative (DfES: £60,000)
  • 2002          Evaluation of the Excellence in Cities EMAG Programme (DfES: £40,000)
  • 2002          Evaluation of the Leading Small Schools Pilot Programme (NCSL: £50,000)
  • 2001-02    Evaluation of the Computers for Teachers Scheme (Department for Education and Skills: £146,000)
  • 2000-02    The Use of Computers in Learning Environments an international project (OECD: £185,000)
  • 2000-02    Classroom Practices using ICT in England: the 2nd information technology in education studies                             (SITES) (IEA: £200,000)
  • 1998          Children's Friendships and Learning in School: cognitive enhancement through social interaction                         (Froebel Educational Trust: £1,000)  



Alison is currently supervising the following doctoral researchers:

  • Sarah Junor-Fitzpatrick (PhD): Transforming systems, transforming lives: exploring relationships within a Government Troubled Families Programme and their impact on service delivery 
  • Hazel Richards (PhD): SENDCo Perceptions of Practice and Potential: An investigation of Education and Health Care Plan implementation in early years and primary contexts
  • Kathryn Spicksley (PhD): New Faces and Changing Places: The impact of academisation on the professional identity of early career primary teachers
  • Maxine Watkins (PhD): Retaining Primary Teachers: Sustaining a positive professional identity and a commitment to teaching in early, mid and late career phases
  • Amy Bywater (EdD): Teachers Constructs of Quality within Secondary School Physical Education
  • Dawn Goodall (EdD): Learning Spaces and Student-led Teaching in Higher Education
  • Ben Looker (EdD): A Grounded Theory Case Study exploring the links between Pupil-teacher Relationships and Pupil Alienation from the Secondary Classroom
  • Colin Woods (EdD): The relationship between residential outdoor learning and societal values

Alison would welcome enquiries regarding further study in the following areas:

  • professional identity
  • teacher careers/professional life phases
  • teacher effectiveness
  • classroom behaviours and interaction
  • teacher-pupil relationships
  • peer relationships in the classroom/friendships
  • children's socio-cognitive development

PhD project ideas

Primary Identities in Science and Mathematics (PrISM) project

The Role of Staffrooms in Early Career Teacher Interactions, Relationships and Wellbeing

University responsibilities

MRes Education

Alison is the course leader for the Masters by Research (MRes) programme in the School of Education which provides an opportunity for students to gain a qualification centred on an intensive piece of research. The ethos of the programme is based on developing the essential research knowledge and skills related to the broad field of education. All modules included on this degree are research focused and informed, and centred on the development of the student as an independent researcher.

MPhil/PhD Programme

Alison is the deputy course leader for this programme which provides the opportunity to be supervised by leading researchers in the field of education.

 Arts, Humanities and Education Research Ethics Committee

Alison is Chair of this University-level committee that deals with all ethical issues from staff and postgraduate research students working within the relevant disciplines.

Social Psychology of Education Research Group

Alison convenes this group which, as part of an ongoing programme of activity, provides an opportunity for staff and postgraduate research students to gain support and development in relation to their research, publication and impact in this field. Members of this research group are involved in a wide variety of projects covering issues such as professional identity, career phase, classroom interactions, teacher-pupil relationships, effective classroom practice, social and learning transitions, peer/friendship interactions, and school leadership.

External responsibilities

Editorial boards and reviewing

  • Editorial Board: Review of Education
  • Bid reviewer: Economic and Social Research Council Peer Review College
  • Abstract reviewer: American Educational Research Association conference
  • Abstract reviewer: British Educational Research Association conference
  • Article reviewer: Cambridge Journal of Education, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Journal of Mixed Method Research, School Improvement, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Teaching and Teacher Education, BERJ, amongst others  

External Examining

  • Mixing It Up! (Masters module), Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford (2018-
  • Doctorate in Education (EdD), UCL Institute of Education (2014-2018)
  • PhD and EdD examinations at a number of universities in the UK and overseas  

Membership of societies / associations

  • Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) of the British Psychological Society
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA)
  • Fellow of the College of Teachers (FCollT)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Member: ESRC Peer Review College; British Educational Research Association (BERA); American Educational Research Association (AERA); Mixed Methods International Research Association; International Association of Professional Doctorates; UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE)