Professor Karl Kitching

Professor Karl Kitching

School of Education
Professor of Public Education
Director of Research in the School of Education

Contact details

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

Karl joined the School of Education, University of Birmingham in June 2020. He started working in education as a primary school teacher in Dublin. Just before coming to Birmingham, he was a Senior Lecturer in Education, and Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at University College Cork, Ireland. 

Karl's research and teaching focuses on challenging multiple inequalities in education, in childhood, and in young people’s lives. Karl has published a range of internationally peer-reviewed articles on young people’s experiences of racism in school, race theory in education, the sexualisation of childhood, children’s religious identities at school, teacher motivation, and critical theory and pedagogy. He has also published two key books on the politics of racism and on religion in education, childhood and youth. The first, The Politics of Compulsive Education: Racism and Learner-Citizenship (Routledge 2014) explores how racism, education and resistance have been entangled in Ireland from the colonial to the global age, and offers new ways of thinking about anti-racism in education as a form of learner-citizenship. The second book, Childhood, Religion and School Injustice (Cork University Press, 2020) examines how children and parents negotiate secular-religious relations and inequalities across school contexts. You can also listen to a New Books Network podcast discussing this book.

Karl is currently PI on the Leverhulme Trust (2022-25) study 'Free' Expression at School? The Making of Youth Engagements with Race and Faith, in collaboration with Dr Reza Gholami. Using national surveys and in-depth case studies, this project will map the political, geographic, social and cultural conditions that 'make' youth expression on race and faith issues across school and public contexts in England, and particularly in Birmingham and London. Karl's work can also be found at ORCID IDWeb of Science,  Scopus and Google Scholar


  • PhD (Institute of Education, University of London)
  • MEd (St Patrick’s College of Education, Dublin City University)
  • BEd. (St Patrick’s College of Education, Dublin City University)



Recent publications


Kitching, K 2020, Childhood, Religion and School Injustice. Cork University Press.


Kitching, K & Gholami, R 2023, 'Towards Critical Secular Studies in Education: Addressing secular education formations and their intersecting inequalities', Discourse.

Kitching, K 2022, 'Contemporary, racialised conflicts over LGBT-inclusive education: more strategic secularisms than secular/religious oppositions?', Educational Review.

Horgan, D, Fernandez, E & Kitching, K 2022, 'Walking and talking with girls in their urban environments: a methodological meandering', Irish Journal of Sociology.

Kiely, E, Ging, D, Kitching, K & Leane, M 2021, 'Parents displaying family consumption in Ireland', Families, Relationships and Societies.

Kitching, K, Fernandez, E & Horgan, D 2021, 'Sweets are my 'best friend': belonging, bargains and body-shaming in working class girls' food and health relationships', Children's Geographies.

Fernández, E, Kitching, K & Horgan, D 2021, 'Young girls’ experiences of ‘good’ food imperatives in a working class school community: rethinking food desire?', Cambridge Journal of Education, vol. 2021, no. 5, pp. 1-19.

Kiely, E, Ging, D, Kitching, K & Leane, M 2021, '“A source of anxiety like never before”: unpacking the Irish print media sexualisation of children discourse', Teanga: The Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, vol. 12, no. 12, pp. 89-113. <>

Kitching, K, Kiely, E, Ging, D & Leane, M 2020, 'Parents' encounters with 'the sexualisation of childhood': Paying attention differently?', Gender and Education.

Ging, D, Kiely, E, Kitching, K & Leane, M 2019, '#Slane Girl, beauty pageants and padded bras: flashpoints in the sexualisation of children debate in Irish media and political discourse', Feminist Media Studies, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 4122-427.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Fernandez, E, Kitching, K & Horgan, D 2022, Experiencing school food policy and practice: learning from eleven-year-old girls in a working-class community in Ireland. in D Ruge, I Torres & D Powell (eds), School Food, Equity and Social Justice: Critical Reflections and Perspectives. 1st edn, Critical Studies in Health and Education, Routledge, pp. 78-94.


Hall, T, Byrne, D, Bryan, A, Kitching, K, Ní Chróinín, D, O’Toole, C & Addley, J 2021, 'COVID-19 and education: positioning the pandemic; facing the future', Irish Educational Studies, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 147-149.

Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Kitching, K 2020, Communion, Holy. in The Sage Handbook of Children and Childhood Studies. SAGE Publications, pp. 545-546.

Review article

Kitching, K 2020, 'Book Review: White privilege: the myth of a post-racial society by Kalwant Bhopal', Journal of Education Policy.

Working paper

Gillborn, D, Bhopal, K, Crawford, CE, Demack, S, Gholami, R, Kitching, K, Kiwan, D & Warmington, P 2021 'Evidence for the commission on race and ethnic disparities' University of Birmingham.

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