Dr Laura Day Ashley

Dr Laura Day Ashley

School of Education

Contact details

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

Laura became Lecturer at the School of Education in 2011 after completing a Birmingham Research Fellowship. Prior to that she worked as a member of a team on a large-scale research programme, the National Evaluation of the Children's Fund (DfES) at the University of Birmingham. She joined the University of Birmingham from the University of Oxford where she held an ESRC research studentship and ESRC postdoctoral fellowship.


  • DPhil Educational Studies (University of Oxford). 
  • MSc Educational Research Methods (University of Oxford).
  • MA Social Anthropology (University of St. Andrews).


Laura leads the Masters module: Practitioner Inquiry in Education (campus-based full-time students) and the undergraduate module: Schooling: A Social and Cultural History.

Postgraduate supervision

She supervises both Masters and PhD students. Her areas of interest and expertise are:

  • State and non-state delivery of education (including the private sector, public-private partnerships, NGOs, faith-based organisations) 
  • Alternative education (including non-formal education, small schools, human scale education, home schooling, indigenous forms of education, peer education, theatre-in-education, radical critiques of formal schooling,) 
  • History of progressive and child-centred education 
  • Research perspectives on education: comparative and international, anthropological, sociological, historical 
  • Methodological expertise: case study research, evaluation, qualitative research 
  • Regional expertise: UK and South Asia (especially India)
  • Education and marketisation / privatisation / the private sector; NGOs and education (especially developing countries)


A key area of expertise is the study of the private sector and non-state actors in education, particularly in developing countries, and Laura has published, edited a collection and reviewed articles and books in this field.

Current research (British Academy) historically investigates Indian influences on progressive education in Britain in the early 20th century. This historical interest grew from doctoral and postdoctoral research (ESRC) into 'private school outreach ' in contemporary India - private schools that run outreach programmes for children who are out-of-school.

Other work has focused on alternative and informal / non-formal practices in education; a particular interest has been how such practices might enable marginal and mainstream communities to come together in educational settings. Examples of this type of work include a study of peer education for street children in Kolkata, and the use of Forum theatre to explore issues around homelessness and refuge in London secondary schools.

Other activities

Laura is International Advisory Committee Member for the online journal, Research in Comparative and International Education. She has reviewed articles and books for Comparative Education, Compare and the Journal of Moral Education and convened and chaired sections of international conferences and research workshops.


Selected publications

Day Ashley, L. (In press) The shifting politics of the private in education: debates and developments in researching private school outreach in India, Comparative Education.

Day Ashley, L. (2012) Case study research. In J. Arthur, M. Waring, R. Coe and L.V. Hedges (Eds), Research Methods and Methodologies in Education (London: Sage Publications). ISBN: 978-0-85702-039-0.

Day Ashley, L. (2012) Planning your research. In J. Arthur, M. Waring, R. Coe and L.V. Hedges (Eds), Research Methods and Methodologies in Education (London: Sage Publications). ISBN: 978-0-8502-039-0.

Day Ashley, L. (2010). The use of structuration theory to conceptualize alternative practice in education: the case of private school outreach in India, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 31, 3, 337-351. DOI: 10.1080/01425691003700599

Day Ashley, L. (2008) Becoming inclusive? A study of private schools in India offering education to children out-of-school. Commonwealth Education Partnerships 2008/09: Education in the Commonwealth: Towards the MDGs. London: Commonwealth Secretariat. Cambridge: Nexus Strategic Partnerships.  

Day Ashley, L. (2006) Can private schools in India offer inclusive education? Id21 Education Highlights No. 2. [Online]. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies. Available from www.id21.org/publications/edn_for_all.pdf  [Accessed 18 December 2008].

Day-Ashley L. (2006) Inter-school working involving private school outreach initiatives and government schools in India, Compare (36) 4, 481-496.

Day Ashley L. and Caddell, M. (2006) (Guest Editors) Compare Special Issue: The private education sector: towards a reconceptualisation. (36) 4.

pdficonsmall Full publication list for Dr Laura Day Ashley (PDF 343KB)