Deborah has taken a feminist poststructuralist approach to research and enquiry. She is concerned with ways of exploring the production of professional teacher identities both at the initial stage of formation, and also in relation to primary headship. Key areas of research have involved the perceptions and experiences of male teachers in the early years of schooling and the perceptions of female teachers who have worked with men in this context.
Subsequent work has taken a phenomenological approach and explored the lived experiences of male and female head teachers. This research explores issues connected with men in a variety of care and educational roles with respect to young children. Her book ‘Men in the Lives of Young Children’ published by Routledge, contextualised this work, drawing upon her network of international contributors. Her current research focus is on the narratives of British Asian headteachers.
Additionally, Deborah has undertaken research and evaluation for both charities and industry which have investigated the interface between policy and practice. Among these have been 2 national British Telecom schools literacy projects. The first focussed on ‘Reading Volunteers’ and explored the quality and level of interaction of BT volunteers with teachers, headteachers, children and the wider school community. The second, ‘Partners in Communication’ was an innovative quality development scheme which aimed to enable both primary and secondary schools to improve their approach to communication in relation to pupils, staff, governors, parents and external bodies. These projects have provided innovative national models of support and practice.
Deborah is European Editor for the Journal Early Child Development and Care and is a regular reviewer for a variety of academic journals. She currently has 8 PhD students at various stages of their work and has examined doctoral work externally at a number of universities. She has a consistent track record of presenting her work at international conferences including the American Education research Association (AERA), the British Education Research Association (BERA), the the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) and INET.