Dr Shereen Benjamin

Senior Lecturer in Primary Education


I taught in schools in London for 14 years. I began as a primary class teacher, then taught in a special school for children with complex needs.

I undertook my PhD, on the experiences of students with global learning difficulties in a mainstream secondary school, whilst working as a learning support teacher at the school. My PhD considered the intersection of perceived academic ability with gender, sexuality, social class, ethnicity and physical appearance in the 'identity work' of girls and young women considered to have special educational needs.

In 2002 I completed my PhD and took up a post at the University of Birmingham where I was responsible for the MEd course in Learning Difficulties (Moderate and Severe). At this time I also worked on the National Evaluation of the Children's Fund, a very large government-funded project investigating the effectiveness of partnership working in children's services across England.

In 2005 I moved to the University of Edinburgh. Most of my teaching is in the Education courses, where I am particularly interested in embedding an academic literacies approach. I also teach at MSc and doctoral level.


  • 1987: BEd (Hons) Music and Primary Education (Council for National Academic Awards)
  • 1989: Diploma in Music Therapy (Roehampton Institute of Higher Education)
  • 1995: MA Education and Women's Studies (University of London Institute of Education)
  • 2002: PhD (University of London Institute of Education)

Areas of interest for supervision

I am happy to supervise research under the headings listed in the research tab. I currently supervise doctoral students in the following areas:

  • Teachers' perceptions of 'inclusion'
  • Inclusion as discourse and practice
  • Feminism in schooling, in adult education and in informal education

Current PhD students supervised

  • Sharisse Tindell- Being a girl, being a Guide: how girls and women negotiate gendered identities through membership of Girlguiding UK
  • Jennifer Roberts- What enables girls to resist emphasised femininities in the school environment?

Past PhD students supervised

  • Chia-Wen Chang- Head teachers’ views on the inclusion of students with special educational needs in Taiwan
  • Ozlem Yazlik- Identity work of women adult literacy students in Turkey

Research summary

I am interested in the sociology of schooling, and the use of feminist and critical theories to help understand how schools continue to produce unequal outcomes for children. Specific areas of interest include:

  • boys, girls and schooling
  • addressing heterosexism and homophobia in schools
  • sociological perspectives on additional support for learning/special educational needs
  • feminist poststructuralist theories
  • ethnography in schools
  • teacher education

Project activity

  • The Scottish Independent Schools Project. With Bob Lingard, Adela Baird, Joan Forbes, John Horne, Kevin Stelfox and Gaby Weiner.
  • Educating Children from Armed Forces Families in Scottish Schools: the implications of interrupted learning for children, schools and communities. With Kate Day, Jane Mulderrig and Sheila Riddell.
  • Developing Academic Literacies in Teacher Education. With Brian Cosford, Moira Leslie, Gillean McCluskey and Lindsay Paterson.

View all 15 publications on Research Explorer