School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law
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Dr Donald Simpson

About Donald Simpson

Dr Donald Simpson is a Senior Lecturer in Education at Teesside. Initially he trained (University of Leicester) and worked as a primary school teacher. He has an MA (University College London Institute of Education) and was awarded a full time scholarship to complete his PhD (Open University).  Donald worked as a contract researcher before taking up his current post.

Research interests and activities

Donald's research interests lie in the areas of early childhood services and practitioners work with poverty, education policy and its implementation and the role of skills and learning via transitions across the life course.

Research projects & external funding

Donald recently led research considering pre-school practitioners’ perspectives on child poverty and how they work with poverty.  He collaborated with colleagues across England and the USA on this project. This research was supported by external funding awarded to Donald by The British Academy and The Society for Educational Studies. See: 

Donald, supported by Teesside University's Research Fund, is completing an additional strand of research across Teesside connected to the High Achieving White Working Class Boys Project via collaboration with colleagues at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) in Birmingham.
Donald is beginning a project with colleagues at Teesside University and at Northumbria University which is exploring the role of learning in shaping care leavers' (dis)engagement with undergraduate study. 

External funding - in recent years Donald has been awarded funding to support his research activity by The British Academy and The Society for Educational Studies.

PhD and research opportunities

Donald is currently supervising postgraduate research students, and welcomes expressions of interest from those who are considering completing postgraduate research - particularly within his areas of interest mentioned in this profile. Please feel free to get in touch.

External roles and professional activities

External Examiner for Education Doctorate (University of Huddersfield)

External research collaborations

Donald has collaborated with a number of external organisations including other higher education institutions, charities, local authorities and schools to complete research-activity including project fieldwork, production of scholarly articles for publication and funding applications. Recent collaborations have been with staff at: 

  • University of Northampton
  • University of Worcester
  • Northumbria University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Dowling College (New York)
  • Children North East
  • Centre for Research in Early Childhood

Learning and teaching interests

Donald's teaching interests lie in the areas of early childhood, education and youth studies.  Donald leads several undergraduate modules within the Education Department at Teesside. He has also led modules at Masters level and is a supervisor on the Education Doctorate.

Enterprise interest and activities

Donald is interested in sharing and applying knowledge and insights from his research activity to help support external organisations. To this end he recently:

Took up an invite to deliver a keynote speech at Cambridgeshire County Council Early Years' Service's Equalities Conference at Girton College, University of Cambridge (June 2017). This was delivered to an audience of Local Authority Advisers and Equalities Coordinators working within early years settings. Donald also provided a workshop with other collaborators in his research at the conference.

Took up an invite to write an article for Nursery Management a supplement of Nursery World (Autumn 2015)  - the leading national professional title for the early years education and childcare sector.  

Took up an invite to sit on a panel of experts and present at an event organized by Public Policy Exchange in April 2016 titled Child and Adolescent Health and Well-being: The Next Steps Towards Tackling Child Poverty In Our Communities-

Other collaborators with Donald in his research have also applied knowledge from it when working with external organisations - e.g. in the role of academic advisor with local authorities.


Recent Journal Articles and Books:
Simpson, D., Lumsden, E. & McDowall Clark, R. (2015) ‘Pre-school practitioners, child poverty and social justice’, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 35, 5/6, pp.325 – 339. 
Simpson, D., Lumsden, E. & McDowall Clark, R. (2015) ‘Neoliberalism, global poverty policy and early childhood education and care – a critique of local uptake in England’, Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, 35(1), pp. 96-109.
Cieslik, M. & Simpson, D. (2015) ‘Basic Skills, Literacy Practices and the ‘Hidden Injuries’ of Class’, Sociological Research Online, 20(1), 7.

Simpson, D. & Envy, R. (2015) ‘Subsidizing early childhood education and care for parents on low income: moving beyond the individualized economic rationale of Neoliberalism’. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 16(2),pp 166-178.

Cieslik, M. & Simpson, D. (2016)‘The Influence of Basic Skills and Literacy Practices on Youth Transitions and Identities’. In: Furlong, A. (ed.) Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood [2nd ed.]. Abingdon: Routledge

Simpson, D., Loughran, S., Lumsden,E., Mazzocco, P., McDowall Clark, R. & Winterbottom, C. (2017) ''Seen but not heard”. Practitioners work with poverty and the organising out of disadvantaged children's voices and participation in the early years'. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 25(2), pp 177-188.

Simpson, D., Loughran, S., Lumsden, E., Mazzocco, P., McDowall Clark, R. & Winterbottom, C. (2017) 'Talking heresy about 'quality' early childhood education and care for children in poverty', Journal of Poverty and Social Justice,• First published online 26 October 2017


Recent Academic Conference Presentations:

May 2016 Organization Mundiale Pour l 'Education Prescolaire (World Organization for Early Childhood Education) European Conference at Canterbury Christchurch University, Kent, UK. ‘Seen but not heard’? Working with poverty and the organising out of disadvantaged children’s voices and participation in the early years.
Sept 2016 EECERA (European Early Childhood Education Research Association) Annual Conference, Dublin City University, Ireland ‘Quality ECEC’ for children in poverty: routine supportive human technology or detrimental site for constraint?

Sept 2016 Leeds Centre for Interdisciplinary Childhood and Youth Research Conference Child and Youth Poverty: Concepts, Contexts and Consequences, Devonshire Hall, Leeds. “‘Quality ECEC ’for children in poverty: routine supportive human technology or detrimental site for division?”

View Donald Simpson's Publications on TeesRep

In the news

  • Nursery management: poverty - destined for failure?
    Nursery World, online, 21/09/2015
    Dr Donald Simpson, from Teesside University, has led a two-year study into practitioners' perceptions of poverty.

  • Donald Simpson, senior lecturer in education, Teesside University
    NurseryWorld [online] 30/06/14; NurseryWorld, 30/06/14, P.7
    Dr Simpson has led a two-year study, supported by a British Academy research grant, exploring early years practitioners' beliefs about child poverty to determine how they relate to their work with chi