Kathryn Spicksley BA (Oxon), MSt (Oxon), PGCE (Cantab), MA, PhD

Kathryn Spicksley

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Kathryn is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow working on the project Playing Teacher: Designing a mentoring intervention to support Early Career Teachers. This project uses co-productive research methods to develop a card deck, for experienced teachers to utilise as a playful learning intervention when supporting new teachers. The aim of the project is use methods rooted in the humanities and social sciences to address challenges in teacher motivation, commitment and retention.


PhD in Education, University of Worcester, 2021

HEA Associate Fellowship, 2019

MA in Early Years Education, UCL Institute of Education, 2015

PGCE Early Years, University of Cambridge, 2012

MSt Jewish Studies, University of Oxford, 2008

BA Theology, University of Oxford, 2007


Research interests

Kathryn is interested in how the professional identities of individuals are formed and resisted in conversation with cultural and political discourse. She mainly focus on mapping the professional identities of teachers but has, in past projects, explored other public service professions. Takes a poststructuralist approach to discourse analysis and my work is informed by Michel Foucault’s sociological work and Normal Fairclough’s frameworks for Critical Discourse Analysis. 

Her current research explores how critical engagement with discursive positionings of teachers, teaching and education can be facilitated through playful mentoring approaches. 

Current projects 

Playing Teacher: Designing a mentoring intervention for Early Career Teachers. British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2022-25

Other activities

Editor - BERA Blog


Spicksley, K. & Kington, A. (Forthcoming, 2023) ‘Uniting teachers through Critical Language Awareness: a role for the Early Career Framework.’ British Journal of Educational Studies. 

Spicksley, K. & Kington, A. (2023) Written evidence submitted to the Education Select Committee on Teacher Recruitment and Retention (TTR0088

Spicksley, K. (2023) Instructional coaching in the Early Career Framework: 'Judgementoring' by another name? Forum for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, 65(2) 46-58. 

Spicksley, K. & Franklin, E. (2023) Who works on the 'frontline'? Comparing constructions of 'frontline' work before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applied Corpus Linguistics, 3(3).

Spicksley, K. (2022) Hard work / workload: Discursive constructions of teacher work in policy and practice. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice. 28(5), 517-532.  

Spicksley, K. (2022) Early career primary teachers’ discursive negotiations of academisation. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 43(2), 216-236. Published online 8 December 2021] 

Spicksley, K. (2022) ‘“A less unpalatable alternative”: Executive leaders strategically redefining their work in primary MATs.’ Management in Education, 36(2), 64-71. https://doi.org/10.1177/0892020620959730 [Published online September 18 2020] 

Spicksley, K. & Kington, A. (2022) ‘Silver linings? Teachers’ reappraisals of children’s education in England during the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.’ In R. Turok-Squire (Ed.) COVID-19 and Education in the Global North: Storytelling as Alternative Pedagogies. London: Palgrave. 

Spicksley, K. (2022) ‘It’s not over, not over, not over, not over yet: resisting academisation from the inside.’ FORUM for promoting comprehensive education, 64(2), 44-55. 

Spicksley, K. (2021) ‘Education policy and speech as action.’ Scottish Educational Review Bulletin.

Spicksley, K., Kington, A. & Watkins, M. (2021) ‘“We will appreciate each other more after this”: Teachers’ construction of collective and personal identities during lockdown. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.703404 

Spicksley, K. (2020) ‘The Centre Cannot Hold: Exploring primary teachers’ constructions of the future in education.’ FORUM for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, 62 (3), 379-392. 

Spicksley, K. (2021) ‘“The very best generation of teachers ever”: teachers in post-2010 ministerial speeches.’ Journal of Education Policy. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2020.1866216 

Spicksley, K. (2021) ‘The promise of leadership: Policy, new teachers and leadership ambition in primary multi-academy trusts.’ Impact: The Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, 11.  

Spicksley, K. & Watkins, M. (2020) ‘Early career teacher relationships with peers and mentors: Exploring policy and practice.’ In A. Kington & K. Blackmore (Eds.) Developing Social and Learning Relationships in Primary Schools. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 93-116. 

Spicksley, K. (2019) ‘Teach First – What is it doing?’ PRACTICE: Contemporary Issues in Practitioner Learning, 1(1), 9-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/25783858.2019.1589990 

Spicksley, K. (2018) ‘The Value of Inexperience: Early Career Teachers in recent education Reform.’ FORUM for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, 60 (3), 375-386.