David is Professor of Critical Race Studies, editor-in-chief of the journal ‘Race Ethnicity and Education’, and Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education.
David’s research focuses on race inequalities in education, especially the role of racism as a changing and complex characteristic of the system. He has written 5 books and more than 130 refereed articles, chapters and reports that range from original studies in classrooms and with teachers, through national reviews of research evidence in the field, to analyses of the changing policy landscape internationally. He is closely associated with ‘critical race theory’ and, in 2012, received the Derrick Bell Legacy Award from the US-based Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA).
Ph. D. Sociology of Education, University of Nottingham (1987)
BA (Hons) Sociology of Education, University of Nottingham (1983)
Professor Gillborn’s first ‘proper’ job in higher education was as a Lecturer in Education at the University of Sheffield. After a spell as a research fellow, working closely with Jean Rudduck and John Gray, he moved to the Institute of Education, University of London, in the Department of Policy Studies led by Geoff Whitty. Geoff went on to become Director of the Institute while David became a Reader in Sociology of Education (1996) and then a Professor (in 2000). After almost 20 years at the Institute, David moved to Birmingham in 2012. Despite having worked in the North and South, David remains a committed Midlander with an unshakeable belief that Nottingham Forest FC will once again reign supreme.
David Gillborn’s teaching is closely allied to his research interests in Critical Race Theory and countering inequities in education. In particular, he focuses on education policy and the construction of race inequality; the complex and changing nature of racism(s) in educational practice; research methods and controversies in race scholarship.
David supervises doctoral students working on a wide range of issues, usually with a focus on the construction of educational inequalities through policy and practice. Past projects include the transmission of educational values in the parenting of Black British families; a study of medical education; the schooling experiences of academically successful African Caribbean students; assessment practices in Early Years education; and ethnographic studies of class, race, gender and disability in the everyday life of schools.
The Educational Strategies of the Black Middle Class
Funded by the Economic & Social Research Council this project explored how Black Middle Class parents view the education of their children. The research extends understandings of class/race intersectionality in the lives of parents, children and schools. Carol Vincent is Principal Investigator.
Further information on the project and its findings.
New Deal for Communities (NDC)
The NDC targeted the most economically disadvantaged areas of England. A range of education projects were undertaken, each with a stated commitment to raising achievement and enhancing inclusion. David Gillborn led the team that evaluated the education projects in the NDC.
Download the education reports
Find out more about the NDC
REACH: raising the aspirations and attainments of Black boys and young men
Co-ordinated by the Department for Communities & Local Government, this project explored ways of making school inspections better suited to supporting race equality in schools. The project arose from the REACH initiative – an independent report produced by a group of practitioners and activists committed to reducing race inequality.
Further information on the REACH project
Aiming High: African Caribbean Achievement Project
David was part of the team (led by Professor Leon Tikly at Bristol University) that evaluated the pilot programme of 'Aiming High', an initiative dedicated to raising Black students' achievement through dedicated work with a sample of schools. Their report highlighted both successes and problems.
Download the final report.
Editor-in-Chief, Race Ethnicity and Education
Editorial Board Member, British Journal of Sociology of Education
Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Inclusive Education
Editorial Board Member, International Journal on School Disaffection
Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS)
Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA)
Expert Panel Member 2012, Routledge Education Arena
Gillborn, D. (2008) Racism and Education: Coincidence or Conspiracy? London, Routledge. (255 pages). Winner, Book of the Year, Society for Educational Studies.
Gillborn, D. & Youdell, D. (2000) Rationing Education: Policy, Practice, Reform and Equity. Buckingham, Open University Press. (253 pages) Winner, Book of the Year, Society for Educational Studies.
Gillborn, D. (1995) Racism and Antiracism in Real Schools: theory . policy . practice. Buckingham, Open University Press. (234 pages).
Taylor, Edward, Gillborn, David & Ladson-Billings, Gloria (eds)(2009) Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education. New York: Routledge. (364 pages).
Ladson-Billings, Gloria & Gillborn, David (eds)(2004) The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Multicultural Education. New York & London, RoutledgeFalmer. (265 pages).
Articles in refereed journals
Gillborn, D., Rollock, N. Vincent, C. & Ball, S.J. (2012): ‘You got a pass, so what more do you want?’: race, class and gender intersections in the educational experiences of the Black middle class, Race Ethnicity and Education, 15(1): 121-139. Special issue on CRT in England.
Rollock, N., Gillborn, D., Vincent, C. & Ball, S. (2011) The Public Identities of the Black Middle Classes: Managing Race in Public Spaces, Sociology, 45 (6): 1078–1093.
Gillborn, D. (2010) The colour of numbers: surveys, statistics and deficit-thinking about race and class, Journal of Education Policy, 25(2): 253-276.
Gillborn, D. (2010) The White working class, racism and respectability: victims, degenerates and interest-convergence, British Journal of Educational Studies, 58(1): 2-25. Included in ‘Routledge Class of 2011’ promotion for Sociology of Education as the most downloaded sociology article published in BJES.
Gillborn, D. (2009) Risk-Free Racism: Whiteness and So-Called “Free Speech”, Wake Forest Law Review, 44(2): 535-555.
Gillborn, D. (2008) Tony Blair and the politics of race in education: whiteness, doublethink and New Labour, Oxford Review of Education, 34(6): 713–725.
Gillborn, D. (2005) Education policy as an act of white supremacy: whiteness, critical race theory and education reform, Journal of Education Policy, 20(4): 485-505.