Michelle Cottle
  • LA013, Lower Lawrence Building, Froebel College


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Personal profile


Michelle is currently a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies within the School of Education at the University of Roehampton.  She originally trained as a primary teacher and taught in international schools for ten years before completing a Master’s Degree. She then joined Roehampton, initially as a research officer working on ESRC-funded projects, before taking up her current post and completing her doctorate. 

Research interests

Michelle’s research interests are located within the sociology of education.  She is interested in the ways that values and practices are shaped by individual and personal experiences, as well as the system of interactive social, political and institutional contexts in which individuals and social groups are situated.

Her research has focused on policy and practice within primary schools and early years settings, specifically conceptions of quality and accountability in the context of the neoliberalisation of education and early years policy and practice.   Her projects and publications have explored practitioners' and children's perspectives and experiences.  She is particularly interested in creativity in learning and teaching and the wellbeing of children and practitioners connected to that.  This was the focus of her doctoral research which combined a longitudinal, ethnographic case study approach with a Bourdieusian analytic framework.

Michelle is interested in the ways that theory can be used to challenge and counter performativity and inequality within educational institutions and to develop reflexivity and inclusive pedagogies.  She is committed to social justice and participatory research and is open to developing research collaborations related to any of her interests with other researchers, practitioners and students.


Michelle currently teaches on the BA and MA Early Childhood Studies programmes and has taught on the BA Primary Education.  She has taught and developed modules focusing on research methods, professionalism and advocacy, curriculum and assessment, early years and education policy, leadership and teamwork, placement and professional practice.  She also supervises dissertations.

Professional affiliations

  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • British Education Research Association
  • British Sociological Association
  • Bourdieu Study Group

Research projects

  • Co-investigator on a Froebel Trust funded project 'Reception teachers' and heads of school perspectives and experiences of an observation-led baseline assessment that focuses on child-initiated activity'.  Project Director:  Mathias Urban.  Co-investigators:  Sigrid Brogaard Clausen, Dr. Sofia Guimaraes and Dr. Sally Howe 
  • Research Officer on an ESRC-funded project 'Understanding Quality and Success in Early Years Settings: Practitioners' Perspectives' (ESRC RES-061-23-0012). Project director: Dr. Elise Alexander.  
  • Research Officer on an ESRC-funded project 'British Chinese Pupils' Identities, Achievement and Complementary Schooling' (ESRC RES 000 23 1513) Project Director: Professor Becky Francis.
  • Research Officer on a Froebel Trust funded project 'The Nature of Young Children's Talk in Music Making' Project Director: Dr. Angela Major

Education/Academic qualification

Education, PhD

Award Date: 11 Dec 2020

Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, MA, University College London, Institute of Education

Award Date: 1 Jul 2006

English and History of Ideas, BA (Hons), Cardiff University

Award Date: 1 Jul 1994