Skip to content

John Nisbet Award Winner

Geoff Whitty, Professor

Director of the Institute of Education

Geoff Whitty was Director of the Institute of Education from 2000 to 2010, and is widely credited with leading the Institute to new heights in terms of its local, national and international standing. Previously, he taught in primary and secondary schools before pursuing a career in higher education at Bath University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, King’s College London, Bristol Polytechnic and Goldsmiths College. Prior to becoming Director, Geoff held the Institute’s prestigious Karl Mannheim Chair in Sociology of Education, as well as serving as Chair of the  Department of Policy Studies and Dean of Research. He now holds the title of Director Emeritus of the UCL Institute of Education. He also has a part-time Research Professorship at Bath Spa University and a Global Innovation Chair at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where he co-directs the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education.

Geoff’s sociological work has been concerned with the dynamic between middle class advantage and working class disadvantage in education and he has led a number of ESRC research projects on that theme. He currently researches teacher education and access to higher education. His many publications include Society, State and Schooling (with Michael Young), Sociology and School Knowledge (recently reissued by Routledge), The State and Private Education (with Tony Edwards and John Fitz), Devolution and Choice in Education (with Sally Power and David Halpin), Making Sense of Education Policy and Education and the Middle Class (with Sally Power, Tony Edwards and Valerie Wigfall), which won the Society of Educational Studies book prize in 2004.  His most recent books are Research and Policy in Education and Knowledge and the Study of Education (with John Furlong), published earlier this year.

Geoff has extensive experience of working with the policy community, which has informed his somewhat sceptical stance towards the current enthusiasm in our field for ‘evidence-informed’ policy. He was a specialist advisor to successive House of Commons Education Select Committees between 2005 and 2012. He was also a member of the General Teaching Council for England until its abolition by the Coalition Government in 2012 and a member of the Board of Ofsted until he was removed by Michael Gove in 2014. He is a former Chair of the British Council’s Education and Training Advisory Committee and a past President of the College of Teachers.

Geoff was President of BERA from 2005 to 2007 and has subsequently served on its Risk Assessment and Audit Committee and on two inquiries into research and teacher education. He holds Fellowships of the Academy of Social Sciences, the Society for Educational Studies and the American Educational Research Association. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Bath, Birmingham and Bedfordshire, an Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University and an Honorary Research Fellow at Oxford University. In 2009 Geoff was awarded the Lady Plowden Memorial Medal for outstanding services to education and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2011 he received a CBE for services to teacher education.

Geoff Whitty's contributions

BERA John Nisbet Fellowship

Since 2014 BERA has awarded the John Nisbet Fellowship to one or more people who are deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to educational research over their career. Named in honour of...