Dr Elizabeth Cookingham Bailey

Third Sector Research Centre
Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Liz is a Research Fellow in the Third Sector Research Centre. With a background in the development of educational policy, her research is currently focused on continuity and change in the voluntary sector.

Her research interests include social policy history and the mixed provision of welfare, and she is a strong advocate for understanding the historical context of policy issues


  • PhD in Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2016
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2016
  • MSc Social Policy and Planning, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2009
  • BA (Hons) Government and History, Cornell University, 2005     


Prior to joining the University of Birmingham, Liz was an LSE Fellow in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics. During her tenure at LSE, she taught Foundations of Social Policy; Organisation and Innovation; and Social Security Policy courses, as well as working on a number of research projects, including early years education and childcare in England; evaluation of intervention in Hampshire schools; and a cross-European study of women’s labour force participation.

Before embarking on a research career, Liz was a project consultant for the third sector organisation, the Family Online Safety Institute, where her primary work focused on the global state of online safety.

A background in history drives Liz’s focus on the development of social and educational policy in its historical context. Her current project is focused on community-level perspectives on continuity and change in the English voluntary sector.

Doctoral research

PhD title
The development of the City Technology College Programme: 1980s conservative ideas about English secondary education.


Liz’s broad research interests are education policy, social policy history and the mixed provision of welfare. 

Voluntary Sector Research

She is currently working on community-level perspectives on continuity and change in the third sector, investigating the extent of change and stability in the voluntary sector and its response to socio-economic change and changes in funding; the interdependence between statutory bodies and the third sector; and what constitutes success for voluntary organisations. Research into how the voluntary sector has reinvented itself has implications for providing a firmer basis for evaluating whether the high contemporary expectations invested in voluntary organisations can be fulfilled. The project will provide a long-term perspective on themes of stability, change and innovation in the voluntary sector; community-level change in the distribution and character of organisations; and the relationships between voluntary organisations and major funders.

Education Work

Her PhD work looked at the development of English education policy in the 1980s and from which she is currently completing an article on the usage of narratives of crisis in policymaking which she presented as a public seminar as part of the History of Education series for the Institute of Historical Research in December 2017.


West, A. and Bailey, E. (2013) The Development of the Academies Programme: ‘Privatising’ School-Based Education in England 1986–2013, British Journal of Educational Studies, 61, 2. pp 137-159 https://doi.org/10.1080/00071005.2013.789480

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