Professor Ann Lewis

Professor Ann Lewis

School of Education
Emeritus Professor (Special Education and Educational Psychology)

Contact details

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

Ann Lewis is Emeritus Professor at the University of Birmingham (UK) where she was research leader for a unique, 35-strong, academic group focusing on children with special needs or disabilities. She is also Honorary Professor at the University of Warwick (UK).

She has a longstanding interest in the ‘voice’ of disabled children, in particular, conceptual and methodological aspects of realising such ‘voice’ authentically in diverse contexts. This is reflected in her research (e.g. ‘The experiences of disabled pupils and their families’ (2004-7) funded by the Disability Rights Commission), publications, consultancies and her role on national research steering groups (e.g. BBC Children in Need; Big Lottery Fund; and the Arts Council).

She is engaged at national and international levels with research and critiques of policy concerning provision for children with special needs or disabilities. She was a member of the Advisory Group for the Lamb Inquiry (2008-10), set up by the UK Government to examine ways of increasing parental confidence in the SEN assessment process. Related to this, she was specialist advisor to the preceding House of Commons Select Committees on SEN (2006, 2007). A key aspect of her work concerns the extent to which children with special needs or disabilities require demonstrably different teaching strategies from those used with other children.


  • Ph.D. (Psychology): University of Warwick
  • M.Ed. (Developmental and Educational Psychology): University of Birmingham
  • B.Phil. (Ed) (Child Psychology): University of Birmingham
  • B.Ed (Hons) University of Warwick.

    Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society.


Research interests

  • Disability voice’, that is, hearing directly from children and young people with special educational needs  or disabilities (SEND) about their views
  • Methods and methodologies around disability ‘voice’
  • Critiques of ‘SEN pedagogies’
  • SEN policy debates  (see above) in national and international contexts

Knowledge Exchange and impact

Ann’s work in the field of ‘disability voice’ is reflected in the Birmingham  University ‘Heroes’ campaign, in which she (with Professors Stephen Gorard and James Arthur) represented the School of Education with the strapline: “We are ensuring that schools focus on the ‘i’ in pupil”.

She was a member of the Core Advisors’ Group- Member (2008-10) for the Lamb Inquiry into parental confidence in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) assessment system.

Other activities

Honorary Professor, University of Warwick (UK).


Selected publications

Lewis, A. (2011) Disabled children’s ‘voice’ and experiences, in S. Haines and D. Ruebain (eds) Education, Disability and Social Policy Bristol: Policy Press. Book details 

Lewis, A. (2010) Silence in the context of child ‘voice’ Children and Society 24 14-23

Lewis, A. (2009) Methodological issues in exploring the ideas of children with autism concerning self and spirituality Religion, Disability and Health 13 64-76

Parsons, S., Lewis, A., Davison, I., Ellins, J. & Robertson, C. (2009). Satisfaction with educational provision for children with SEN or disabilities:  A national postal survey of the views of parents in Great Britain. Educational Review,  61 1 19-47.

Lewis, A. and Norwich, B.(eds) (2005) Special Teaching for Special Children? Pedagogies for inclusion. Buckingham: Open University Press pp 1-238

Lewis, A. and Lindsay, G. (eds) (2000) Researching Children’s Perspectives. Buckingham: Open University Press pp 1-24