My first degree was in History and Political Studies and I gained a PhD at the University of Leicester, financed by the Economic and Social Research Council, which explored the relationships between ideologies, industrialization, urban growth and schooling for the poor in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. I began working at the University of Birmingham in 2004.
Before then I taught in comprehensive schools, sixth-form colleges and further and adult education. In the late 1990s, I was Director of Lifelong Learning and Head of Humanities and Social Sciences in a local college. Between 2000 and 2004, I managed two history projects for Birmingham City Council, and worked as an examiner for the Open College Network. I also worked as a National Expert Advisor for the Heritage Lottery Fund. My initial work at the University was within the Centre for Lifelong Learning and the School of Education, where I was Lecturer in History and Heritage and successfully secured finance from the Heritage Lottery Fund and European Social Fund for two projects.
Since 2007 I have been a member of staff in the School of History and Cultures. Currently, I am Director of the Centre for West Midlands History, one of the research centres in the School, and Convenor of the MA in West Midlands History, as well as a teacher of undergraduate modules and supervisor of research students who specialize mainly but not exclusively in the history of the Midlands.
Outside of the School I have also worked on MA programmes at the Ironbridge Institute and developing approaches to Impact and Knowledge Exchange within the College of Arts and Law. I am also on the board of the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University and on the committee of the journal Midland History. I work extensively with local heritage organizations to develop research projects, teaching programmes and public engagement activities.