Dr Sian Roberts

Dr Sian Roberts

School of Education
Lecturer in Education and Social Justice

Contact details

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

Siân joined the School of Education in 2016. Siân initially trained as an archivist, and worked as a senior archives practitioner in the heritage sector for several years. During this period she was involved in a number of archives and heritage learning projects, most notably the Heritage Lottery Funded Connecting Histories project and the Children’s Lives project. Before joining the University of Birmingham in 2016 Siân worked as a as a Post-doctoral Research Associate, on the Leverhulme Fund Faith on the Air project at the University of Worcester.


  • PhD (Birmingham)
  • PG Diploma Archives Administration (University of Wales)
  • B.A. Hons (University of Wales)


Siân teaches on the BA Education undergraduate degree course. She is module leader for the Equality and Diversity and Researching Childhood and Education modules, and is also Year 2 Tutor.

Doctoral research

PhD title
Place, Life Histories and the Politics of Relief: Episodes in the Life of Francesca Wilson, Humanitarian Educator Activist (University of Birmingham, 2010)


Siân is a historian of education and childhood with a particular interest in the histories of gender and education, educational humanitarianism, and refugees and education. She is also a member of the research network of the Voices of War and Peace engagement centre based at the School of Education. Siân’s current research focuses on the following themes: 

  • twentieth century educational interventions with children and refugees in contexts of war or displacement;
  • pedagogic contributions by refugee educationalists who arrived in the UK , 1914-1950;
  • transnational interventions by British Quaker women in education, social justice and humanitarian aid, 1914-1950;
  • visual representations of children by humanitarian and political activists;
  • the history of educational broadcasting 

Other activities

  • Member, Executive Committee, History of Education Society UK http://historyofeducation.org.uk/
  • Board member, The Play House theatre in education company http://theplayhouse.org.uk/
  • Member, Birmingham Civic Society Heritage Committee
  • Chair, Women’s History Birmingham collective


Parker, Stephen, Crutchley, Jody and Roberts, Siân (forthcoming 2018) Religious Education in British Broadcasting: A History, Oxford: Oxford University Press 

Roberts, Siân (2017) “Education, art and exile: cultural activists and exhibitions of refugee children's art in the UK during the Second World War”, Paedagogica Historica 53 (3): 300-17 DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2017.1308385 

Herman, Frederik and  Roberts, Siân (2017) “Adventures in Cultural Learning”, Paedagogica Historica 53 (3): 189-198, DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2017.1312144 

Roberts, Siân (2017) “‘A new sense of God’: British Quakers, citizenship and the adolescent girl in the interwar period”, in Strhan A., Parker, S. and Ridgley, S. (eds.) The Bloomsbury Reader in Religion and Childhood, London: Bloomsbury Press 

Roberts, Siân (2016) “A ‘position of peculiar responsibility’: Quaker women in transnational humanitarian relief, 1914-24”, Quaker Studies 21 (2): 235-55 

Roberts, Siân (2014) “‘It is Better to Learn than to be Taught’: Pupil Culture and Socialisation in the Hazelwood Magazine in the 1820s”, in Larsson, A. and Norlin, B. (eds.) Beyond the Classroom: Studies on Pupils and Informal Schooling Processes in Modern Europe, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang GmbH 

Roberts, Siân (2014) Great War Birmingham: Remembering 1914-1918, Stroud: The History Press 

Roberts, Siân (2013) “Activism, agency and archive: British activists and the representation of educational colonies in Spain during and after the Spanish Civil War”, Paedagogica Historica 49 (6): 796-812 DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2013.848911 

Roberts, Siân (2013) “Encounter, exchange and inscription: the personal, the local and the transnational in the educational humanitarianism of two Quaker women”, History of Education 42 (6): 783-802 DOI: 10.1080/0046760X.2013.812752 

Grosvenor, Ian and Roberts, Siân (2013) “Systems and subjects: ordering, differentiating and institutionalizing the modern urban child”, in Lawn, M. (ed.) The Rise of Data in Education Systems – collection, visualization and uses, Oxford: Symposium Books 

Roberts, Siân (2013) “’I promised them that I would tell England about them’: a woman teacher activist’s life in popular humanitarian education”, in Braster, S., Grosvenor, I. and Simon, F. (eds.) A History of Popular Education: Educating the People of the World, London: Routledge 

Roberts, Siân (2011) “’I promised them that I would tell England about them’: a woman teacher activist’s life in popular humanitarian education”, Paedagogica Historica 47(1 & 2): 171-90 DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2010.530275 

Roberts, Siân (2009) “Exhibiting Children at Risk: child art, international exhibitions and Save the Children Fund in Vienna, 1919-1923”, Paedagogica Historica 45 (1 & 2): 171-90 DOI: 10.1080/00309230902746537 

Roberts, Siân (2006) “‘In the Margins of Chaos’: Francesca Wilson and education for all in the ‘Teacher’s Republic’”, History of Education, 35 (6): 653-68 DOI: 10.1080/00467600600967551 

Grosvenor Ian, McLean, Rita, and Roberts Siân, eds. (2002) Making Connections: Birmingham Black International History, Birmingham: Black Pasts, Birmingham Futures

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