Dr Nicola Rollock

School of Education
Senior Lecturer
Deputy Director, Centre for Research in Race & Education

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Nicola is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Education and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race & Education.

She is interested in practices that enable and challenge the continued manifestation of race inequity in contemporary societies. Understanding the role of privilege and power which are often overlooked in race debates is a key aspect of her work. She is especially interested in the ways in which racially minoritised groups survive, strategise and work to create legitimate, meaningful modes of existence, belonging and notions of self within mainly white spaces. Her work therefore engages with the concept of education in its very broadest sense to include both formal and informal sites of learning and social reproduction.

Critical Race Theory is central to her analyses and to facilitating an understanding of the ways in which intersecting forms of identity such as social class and gender work alongside race. Nicola has found the counternarrative (storytelling) aspect of CRT to be a particularly powerful tool for helping to highlight the damaging impact of more subtle forms of racism and has used storytelling in several publications. 


  • PhD Education, University of London 2006
    Awarded a Wingate Scholarship for work of 'exceptional excellence and creativity and which has the potential to make a significant contribution to society'
  • BA Hons Psychology, University of Liverpool 1994


Nicola previously led the Education Programme at the Runnymede Trust where she produced the teaching resource ‘Complementing Teachers: A practical guide to promoting race equality in schools’. She also designed and delivered the teacher training programme ‘Achieving race equality in schools’ to newly qualified and established teachers across England and was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to train British teachers working at their bases in Germany and Cyprus.

Her report reviewing the government’s progress in implementing the recommendations from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry was debated in Parliament and, more recently she was called to give evidence to the Liberal Democrats Race Equality Taskforce.

Nicola has written for both academic and lay audiences and her work has appeared across several print media including The Observer, The Guardian, The Evening Standard and The Voice newspaper.


Dr Rollock teaches on the BA Hons in Education covering themes around social justice and educational policy, educational attainment, the school experiences of Black students and their parents; the Black middle classes and education; academic success and teacher training.

She is module lead for Educational Policy & Social Justice and co-module lead for Debating Matters and also teaches on the Equality & Diversity module.

Postgraduate supervision

Nicola supervises a number of students including Karen Graham (EdD) who is researching How school prepares men for prison and April-Louise Pennant who is researching The educational journeys and experiences of Black females within the English education system


Current research

Parents’ Strategies into Education & Employment (SEE project)

This project was developed as a direct result of the Black middle classes project (see below) which found that Black parents were working in relative isolation as they sought to get their children through school. Designed as action research, the SEE project works with Black parents (from all social backgrounds) through a series of informal ‘Conversation Groups’ to capture their challenges and successes in engaging with the education system and to share tips on transitioning their children into FE, HE and work. The aim is to develop networks of support to which Black parents can turn for advice on a range of issues including racism, low teacher expectations, assessment and work experience opportunities.
This project is being run in collaboration with the Runnymede Trust.

Funders: John Lyon's Charity, British Foreign Schools' Society

Duration: 2012-2014

Race, Racism and Education

2013 marks 20 years since the racist murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence. This 2 year research project considers how much has changed in education as a result of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (threeof the recommendations focused specifically on education) and related debates. In particular it will consider, through both qualitative and quantitative methods, how race and racism have been understood by policymakers and how this has shaped educational policy.

Further information on Race, Racism and Education

Funder: Society for Educational Studies

Duration: 2013-2015

Previous research (selected)

The Educational Strategies of the Black middle classes

This project explores the perspectives and experiences of professional Black Caribbean heritage families in relation to education. In particular it examines whether these families use particular strategies to get their children through the education system successfully. This was a qualitative study involving over 70 semi-structured interviews with parents from across England.

Further information on The Educational Strategies of the Black Middle Classes

Funder: Economic & Social Research Council

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 Years On

This project examines the government’s progress in meeting the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry ten years after its publication in 1999. The report ‘The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: 10 Years On’ (see Publications) produced as a result of the project provides a detailed analysis of government, academic and voluntary sector research and data. It makes five recommendations which speak to advances made since 1999 and, areas (namely stop and search and the recruitment and retention of Black and minority ethnic officers) requiring further improvement.

Funder: StoneAshdown Trust

Further information on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 year on report

Other activities

Dr Rollock, is featured in the 2014 Powerlist of Britain’s most influential Black people. She has been recognised for her research about the Black community, notably, the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the Black middle classes both of which attracted considerable media and policy interest.

She recently gave the keynote Address for the highly prestigious National Union of Journalists’ 12th Annual Claudia Jones’ Lecture at Thomson Reuters in London in October 2013. Her speech considered the relevance of the term ‘post-racial’ in the UK context and whether genuine progress had been made in key areas of employment for Black and minority ethnic groups.

Listen to the lecture on Race And Racism in a Post-Racial Age

Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA)

Associate Editor (Europe) Race Ethnicity & Education Journal

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Racial Justice Committee Dr Rollock has been a member of the JRCT Racial Justice Committee since 2009. The role involves reviewing grant applications, supporting the Trust in making decisions about the allocation of funds and, providing support and advice during strategic reviews.

Liberal Democrats Race Equality Taskforce Dr Rollock was called to give evidence to the Taskforce during 2012 and provided details of her research into the experiences and attainment of Black students. Her contributions can be read in the report ‘Towards Race Equality – a Liberal Democrat Approach


Selected publications


Rollock, N., Gillborn, D., Vincent, C. & Ball, S. (2015) The Colour of Class: the educational strategies of the Black middle classes. Abingdon, Oxon & New York: Routledge www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415809825/ 

Refereed Journal Articles

Rollock, N. (2014) Race, Class and the ‘Harmony of Dispositions’, Sociology, 48(3) pp.445-451. http://soc.sagepub.com/content/48/3/445.abstract?rss=1 

Rollock, N. (2013) A political investment: revisiting race and racism in the research process. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34 (4), 492-509 DOI:10.1080/01596306.2013.822617

Rollock, N., Vincent, C., Gillborn, D. & Ball, S. (2013) ‘Middle class by profession’: Class status and identification amongst the Black middle classes, Ethnicities, 13 (3) pp. 253 - 275. DOI: 10.1177/1468796812467743

Rollock, N. (2012) The Invisibility of race: intersectional reflections on the liminal space of alterity. Special issue: Critical race theory in England, Race Ethnicity & Education,15 (1), pp 65-84 DOI:10.1080/13613324.2012.638864

Rollock, N., Gillborn, D., Ball, S. & Vincent, C. (2011) The Public Identities of the Black middle classes: managing race in public spaces. Sociology, 45 (6), pp1078-1093. DOI:10.1177/0038038511416167

Rollock, N. (2011) Unspoken rules of engagement: navigating racial microaggressions in the academic terrain. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25 (5), pp 517-532 DOI:10.1080/09518398.2010.543433 

Chapters, Reports

Rollock, N. (2016) Letter to my Unborn Daughter, My career in the academy – reasons for my mental breakdown, in G. Ladson-Billings & W. Tate (Eds) Covenant Keeper: Derrick Bell’s Enduring Education Legacy, New York: Peter Lang 

Gillborn, D. & Rollock, N (2010) 'Education' A. Bloch & J.Solomos (Eds.) Race and Ethnicity in the 21st Century. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

Rollock, N. (2009) 'Educational Policy and the impact of the Lawrence Inquiry: the view from another sector.' N. Hall, J. Grieve & S. P. Savage (Eds) Policing and the Legacy of Lawrence. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

Rollock, N. (2009) The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: 10 Years On. London; Runnymede Trust. Download the report for the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 year on 

The ‘Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: 10 Years On’ report was debated in Parliament during 2009. The Home     Office issued a formal Written Ministerial Statement, responding to each of the report’s recommendations. Read the Government’s response to the inquiry (PDF, 245KB)

Online Media

Rollock, N. (2015) Why is it so hard to talk about race in UK universities? The Conversation, 9 February https://theconversation.com/why-is-it-so-hard-to-talk-about-race-in-uk-universities-37299  

Rollock, N. (2014) The racism talk: how Black middle class parents are warning their children, The Conversation, 27 October, https://theconversation.com/the-racism-talk-how-black-middle-class-parents-are-warning-their-children-33221 

Education Resources

Rollock, N. (2013) Ethnicity, Gender & Education Association online resource. Available at: www.genderandeducation.com/resources/inclusion/ethnicity/

Rollock, N. & Gillborn, D. (2011) Critical Race Theory (CRT), British Educational Research Association online resource. Available at: www.bera.ac.uk/category/keywords/critical-race-theory

Full publication list for Dr Nicola Rollock