Department of Education

Professor Sally Tomlinson

Honorary Research Fellow

Sally Tomlinson has been teaching, writing and researching in the areas of race ethnicity and education, special education and education policy for over thirty-five years.

She has held Professorial Chairs at the University of Lancaster. University of Wales (Swansea) and Goldsmiths, London University, where she also served as a Pro-Warden.

A selection of her work was published in “The politics of race, class and special education” (2014) in the Routledge World Education series. Her book from research funded by the Leverhulme Foundation “Ignorant Yob: low attainers in a global knowledge economy” was published in 2013 and in November 2015 she gave a paper on lower attainers and disability at a conference of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences in the Vatican. Recent research  on cross-national special education policy, with colleagues in five countries was published in January 2016 in a special edition of the journal “Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. Her book “A Sociology of Special and Inclusive Education: Exploring the manufacture of inability” was published by Routledge in January 2017, and she is currently writing “Education and Race from Empire to Brexit” for Policy Press.

She was  Trustee of the African Educational Trust for over twenty years, working in Somalia/Somaliland developing literacy and numeracy programmes, and has been on the Governing Councils of the University of Gloucestershire, and a College of Further Education, and is currently an Associate in the Sociology Department, University of Warwick.

Recent publications

  • (2016) Dorling D. and Tomlinson S. “The creation of inequality:myths of potential and ability” Journal of Critical Education Policy.14.3 :56-79
  • (2017) “A Sociology of special and inclusive education: exploring the manufacture of inability. (London and New York Routledge)
  • (2017) “Enoch Powell, Empires, immigrants and education”  Race Ethnicity and Education. (on-line 21st August  at
  • (2016) “Special education and minority ethnic young people in England: continuing issues”  Discourse:Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education.(Special Edition)  37/4: 513-528
  • (2016) “Low attainers in a global knowledge economy”  in (eds) Battro, A.M.. Lena, P, Sorondo. S, S, and Von Braun, J.  Children and Sustainable Development; a challenge for education. (Dortrech. Springer.)
  • (2014) The Politics of Race. Class and Special Education. London. Routledge
  • (2013) Ignorant Yobs: Low Attainers in a Global Knowledge Economy London & New York. Routledge. ISBN 9780415525770 (pb) 9780415525763 (hb)
  • (2012) The irresistible rise of the SEN industry Oxford Review of Education 38/3 :267-286
  • (2012) Higher Education and Social Inclusion. (Ed with Tehmina Basit.) Bristol: The Policy Press
  • (2012) A Sociology of Special Education. Abingdon: Routledge (Routledge Library Editions: Education vol 217)
  • (2012) Special Education and Social Interests (Ed with Len Barton) Abingdon: Routledge (Routledge Library Editions: Education. vol 210)
  • (2009) Multicultural Education in the United Kingdom in (Ed) James A. Banks, The Routledge Companion to Multicultural Education, New York and London: Routledge.
  • (2008) Race and Education: Policy and Politics in Britain, Berkshire: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill

A full list of her publications can be found at

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