Professor David Gillborn

Professor David Gillborn

School of Education
Emeritus Professor of Critical Race Studies
Editor-in-chief of the journal 'Race Ethnicity and Education'

Contact details

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

David is Emeritus Professor of Critical Race Studies and editor-in-chief of the journal Race Ethnicity and Education.

David’s research focuses on race inequalities in education, especially the role of racism as a changing and complex characteristic of the system. He has written 6 books and more than 180 refereed articles, chapters and reports that range from original studies in classrooms and with teachers, through national reviews of research evidence in the field, to analyses of the changing policy landscape internationally. He is closely associated with the approach known as ‘Critical Race Theory’ and, in 2012, received the Derrick Bell Legacy Award; the highest honor possible from the US-based Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA).  

David is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), and a Laureate of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the US-based International Honor Society in Education. Membership is of the Laureate Chapter is limited to 60 living scholars judged to have made ‘a significant and lasting impact on the profession of education’.


  • PhD Sociology of Education, University of Nottingham (1987)
  • BA (Hons) Sociology of Education, University of Nottingham (1983)


David’s first full-time job in higher education was as a Lecturer in Education at the University of Sheffield. After a spell as a research fellow, working closely with Jean Rudduck and John Gray, he moved to the Institute of Education, University of London, in the Department of Policy Studies led by Geoff Whitty. Geoff went on to become Director of the Institute while David became a Reader in Sociology of Education (1996) and then a Professor (in 2000). During his spell at the Institute, David led two departments (Policy Studies and the School of Educational Foundations & Policy Studies) and led the Health & Education Research Unit (HERU).

After almost 20 years at the Institute, David moved to Birmingham in 2012. He founded the Centre for Research in Race & Education (CRRE) with Nicola Rollock and Paul Warmington in 2013, and became the Director of Research for the School of Education in 2015. David took early retirement, in 2021, in order to concentrate on writing.


David’s teaching and lecturing is closely allied to his research interests in Critical Race Theory and countering inequities in education. In particular, he focuses on education policy and the construction of race inequality; the complex and changing nature of racism(s) in educational practice; research methods and controversies in race scholarship. 


Race, Racism and Education: inequality, resilience and reform in policy and practice 

David was principal investigator for this major project, funded by the Society for Educational Studies. The project combined two key elements; first, a quantitative analysis of statistical data to provide the first-ever authoritative picture of the changing landscape of educational achievement and experience in relation to ethnic diversity over the 20 year span since the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Second, drawing on links with policy-makers, advisors and race equality advocacy groups, the research team used ethnographic interviews to explore the processes by which policy was formed, contested, and re-modelled during this unique period. 

Several research papers have appeared in international journals (see ‘publications’ section) and the team’s final report to funders.

The Educational Strategies of the Black Middle Class 

Funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) this project explored how Black Middle Class parents view the education of their children. The research extends understandings of class/race intersections in the lives of parents, children and schools. Carol Vincent (UCL, Institute of Education) was the Principal Investigator. 

A book (The Colour of Class, written with Nicola Rollock, Carol Vincent and Stephen J. Ball) arising from this project was published in 2014

REACH: raising the aspirations and attainments of Black boys and young men 

Co-ordinated by the Department for Communities & Local Government, the REACH initiative brought together a range of activists, experts and community-members to explore ways of reducing race inequality in education. The group produced an independent report and went on to examine ways in which school inspections could be improved to better support race equality. 

Further information on the REACH project

Aiming High: African Caribbean Achievement Project 

David was part of the team (led by Professor Leon Tikly at Bristol University) that evaluated the pilot programme of 'Aiming High', an initiative dedicated to raising Black students' achievement through dedicated work with a sample of schools. Their report highlighted both successes and problems. 

Download the final report for the Aiming High: Africa Caribbean Achievement project



Other activities


Selected publications


Rollock, N., Gillborn, D., Vincent, C. & Ball, S.J. (2015) The Colour of Class: the educational strategies of the Black middle classes. London: Routledge. (224 pages).

Gillborn, D. (2008) Racism and Education: Coincidence or Conspiracy? London: Routledge. (255 pages). Winner, Book of the Year, Society for Educational Studies.

Gillborn, D. & Youdell, D. (2000) Rationing Education: Policy, Practice, Reform and Equity. Buckingham: Open University Press. (253 pages) Winner, Book of the Year, Society for Educational Studies.

Edited collections

Taylor, E., Gillborn, D. & Ladson-Billings, G. (eds)(2023) Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education. Third Edition. New York: Routledge. (394 pages). 

Parker, L. & Gillborn, D. (eds) (2020) Critical Race Theory in Education. London: Routledge. (pp. 226).

Dixson, A.D., Gillborn, D., Ladson-Billings, G., Parker, L., Rollock, N. & Warmington, P. (eds)(2018) Critical Race Theory in Education: Major Themes in EducationLondon: Routledge. 4 Volumes. (pp. 1,723).

Gillborn, D. (Ed.)(2015) Multicultural Education: Major Themes in Education. 4 Volumes. London: Routledge. (1,724 pages).


Gillborn, D., McGimpsey, I. & Warmington, P. (2022) The fringe is the centre: racism, pseudoscience and authoritarianism in the dominant English education policy network, International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 115. 

Gillborn, D. (2021) How white working-class underachievement has been used to demonise antiracism, The Guardian, June 23. 

Gillborn, D. (2020) The White bones of policy: structure, agency and a vulture’s-eye view with Critical Race Theory, in A. Brown & E. Wisby (eds)(2020) Knowledge, Policy and Practice in Education and the Struggle for Social Justice: essays inspired by the work of Geoff Whitty. London: UCL Press, pp. 115-133.

Gillborn, D. (2019) Hiding in plain sight: understanding and addressing Whiteness and colorblind ideology in education, Kappa Delta Pi Record, 55: 112–117.  DOI: 10.1080/00228958.2019.1622376

Gillborn, D. (2018) Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Anti-Black Racism as Fluid, Relentless, Individual and Systemic, Peabody Journal of EducationDOI: 10.1080/0161956X.2017.1403178

Gillborn, D., Warmington, P. & Demack, S. (2018) QuantCrit: education, policy, ‘Big Data’ and principles for a critical race theory of statistics, Race Ethnicity and Education, 21(2): 158-179, DOI:10.1080/13613324.2017.1377417

Gillborn, D. (2017) Dis/ability as White Property: race, class and ‘special education’ as a racist technology, in Julie Allan & Alfredo J. Artiles (Eds) World Yearbook of Education 2017: Assessment Inequalities. London: Routledge, pp. 104-119.

Gillborn, D., Demack, S., Rollock, N. & Warmington, P. (2017) Moving the goalposts: education policy and 25 years of the Black/White achievement gap, British Educational Research Journal, 43(5): 848-874.

Gillborn, David (2016) Softly, Softly: Genetics, Intelligence and the Hidden Racism of the New Geneism, Journal of Education PolicyDOI:10.1080/02680939.2016.1139189 

Gillborn, David  (2015) Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, and the Primacy of Racism: Race, Class, Gender, and Disability in Education, Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 21(3):  277–287. DOI:10.1177/1077800414557827 

Gillborn, David  (2014) Racism as Policy: A Critical Race Analysis of Education Reforms in the United States and England, The Educational Forum, 78(1): 26-41

Gillborn, David (2013) Interest-divergence and the colour of cutbacks: race, recession and the undeclared war on Black children, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education,  34(4): 477-491.

Gillborn, D., Rollock, N. Vincent, C. & Ball, S.J. (2012): ‘You got a pass, so what more do you want?’: race, class and gender intersections in the educational experiences of the Black middle class, Race Ethnicity and Education, 15(1): 121-139. Special issue on CRT in England.

Gillborn, D. (2010) The colour of numbers: surveys, statistics and deficit-thinking about race and class, Journal of Education Policy, 25(2): 253-276.

Gillborn, D. (2010) The White working class, racism and respectability: victims, degenerates and interest-convergence, British Journal of Educational Studies, 58(1): 2-25.



Race equality in education, especially differences in achievement, school exclusion and the differential impact of policy changes on minority ethnic and white working class communities.