Skip to main content

School of Education

 Helen Knowler

Helen Knowler

Honorary Lecturer in Education



I am honorary Lecturer in Education collaborating with colleagues in GSE on a range of research projects. I teach and research in the field of Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education and my specific expertise is in Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs in mainstream education settings.  My current focus relates to the prevention of permanent exclusion of pupils from school and I collaborate with education professionals to develop ethical and sustainable approaches to preventing exclusion. I specialise in developing research that is collaborative and participatory and I have a particular interest in the development and use of visual research methods in Education Research. To date I have collaborated with teachers, senior leaders, Local Authorities and Alternative Provision providers, as well as with children and young people at risk of permanent school exclusion. 


BEd (Hons) with QTS English Studies

MA (Ed) Inclusive Education



I worked at Exeter until June 2021 having joined from the University of Bristol where I worked for eight years.  During my time at Bristol I was the Programme Coordinator for the MSc Education (Special and Inclusive Education) reflecting my teaching and research interests in Inclusive Education. I was the Director of the Inclusion and Special Education Network (ISEN), a supportive space for researchers, students and education professionals to meet and discuss issues that impacted on their work. In 2015 I was awarded the University of Bristol Award for Education in recognition for my commitment to the development of an inclusive learning environment and excellence in my focus on the student experience in my own teaching. I now work as a Senior Lecturer in Special Educational Needs, Disabilty and Inclusion Studies at the Institute of Education at the University of Wolverhampton. 

My previous experience as a classroom teacher and as a Local Authority Advisor brings a breadth and depth of professional teaching experience which is essential to my work with education professionals.

Research group links

Back to top


Research interests

I am interested in ethical and sustainable ways to prevent permanent school exclusion for pupils identified as having Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs in mainstream education contexts across primary and secondary phases. I am particularly keen to explore the ways that teachers work with curricula, pedagogies and relationships with this group of learners and enjoy developing participatory and collaborative approaches to designing and doing research.  I have an interest in teachers' experiences of working with learners in the SEMH needs category and the ways that teachers learn to successfully include pupils who find school a difficult place to be. I am currently working on a projects  exploring 'off rolling'  with my colleague Dr Elizabeth J Done. We want to learn more about how various education professionals including SENCOs, senior leaders and Educational Psychologists negotiate difficult decision making in relation to permanent exclusion. 

Research projects

2021 University of Bristol Faculty of Engineering Award (£5000) with Dr Irina Lazar: Inclusive Engineering Education 

2021 ESRC IAA award  (£2336) (with Dr Sarah Cole) Gender based violence prevention in schools: working with boys and young men

2020-2021  Exeter Engaged Research Award (£5000) Anti -racist intial teacher education - collaboration with No More Exclusions and UCL Institute of Education 

2020-21 Education Incubator Award (£5000) Cultural Community Mentoring Project

2019  Research Insipired Inquiry Led Learning Grant  (£3000) - Education Incubator Funding: Using student developed media-rich content to produce inclusive learning materials for teaching research methods on ELE

2015 - 2018 ERSC Impact Award (£18,700) Developing an Outdoor Curriculum for pupils at risk of school exclusion

2015 - 2017 University of Bristol Teaching Fellowship Award (£10,000) Lesson Study in International HE contexts

Back to top



(eds)(2023). International Perspectives on Exclusionary Pressures in Education., Springer International Publishing.

Journal articles

Baumfield V, Bethel A, Boyle C, Katene W, Knowler H, Koutsouris G, Norwich B (In Press). How lesson study is used in initial teacher education: an international review of literature. Teacher Development
Warnes E, Done E, Knowler H (In Press). Mainstream Teachers’ Concerns about Inclusive Education for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disability in England under Pre-Pandemic conditions. The Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs
Done EJ, Knowler H, Warnes E, Pickett Jones B (In Press). Think piece on parents, ‘off rolling’ and wavelength methodology: issues for SENCos. Support for Learning
Potter AE, Knowler H, Done EJ (2023). A content analysis of school leaders’ conversations about ‘off rolling’ on Twitter and its relevance to teacher education. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 27(3), 254-264.
Bei Z, Knowler H (2023). Disrupting unlawful exclusion from school of minoritised children and young people racialized as Black: using Critical Race Theory composite counter-storytelling. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 27(3), 231-242.
Done EJ, Knowler H (2023). Editorial. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 27(3), 181-184.
Done EJ, Knowler H, Richards H, Brewster S (2022). Advocacy leadership and the deprofessionalising of the special educational needs co‐ordinator role. British Journal of Special Education, 50(2), 197-218. Abstract.
Done EJ, Knowler H (2021). Exclusion and the strategic leadership role of SENCos in England: planning for Covid‐19 and future crises. British Journal of Special Education, 48(4), 438-454. Abstract.
Bei Z, Knowler H, Butt J (2021). How do we progress racial justice in education?. IPPR Progressive Review, 28(1), 76-84.
Done EJ, Knowler H, Armstrong D (2021). ‘Grey’ exclusions matter: mapping illegal exclusionary practices and the implications for children with disabilities in England and Australia. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 21(S1), 36-44. Abstract.
Done EJ, Knowler H (2021). ‘Off-rolling’ and Foucault’s art of visibility/invisibility: an exploratory study of senior leaders’ views of ‘strategic’ school exclusion in southwest England. British Educational Research Journal, 47(4), 1039-1055. Abstract.
Done EJ, Knowler H (2020). A tension between rationalities: “off-rolling” as gaming and the implications for head teachers and the inclusion agenda. Educational Review, 74(7), 1322-1341.
Nkoana W, Williams H, Steenkamp N, Clasby B, Knowler H, Schrieff L (2020). Understanding the educational needs of young offenders: a prevalence study of traumatic brain injury and learning disabilities. International Journal of Educational Development, 78 Abstract.
Done EJ, Knowler H (2019). Painful invisibilities: Roll management or ‘off-rolling’ and professional identity. British Educational Research Journal, 46(3), 516-531. Abstract.
Done EJ, Murphy M, Knowler H (2016). University-based professional learning for women teachers and the ‘to care’ or ‘to lead’ dilemma. Professional Development in Education, 42(4), 610-627. Abstract.
Done EJ, Murphy M, Knowler H (2015). Mandatory accreditation for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators: biopolitics, neoliberal managerialism and the Deleuzo–Guattarian ‘war machine’. Journal of Education Policy, 30(1), 86-100. Abstract.
Done EJ, Murphy M, Knowler H (2014). Post-Identitarian Postgraduate Pedagogy: Deleuzian Mediation and Resistance to ‘Measuring Up’. Power and Education, 6(3), 268-282. Abstract.
Done E, Knowler H (2013). Features of a post-identitarian pedagogy (with reference to postgraduate student writing and the continuing professional development of teachers). Studies in Higher Education, 38(9), 1319-1333. Abstract.
Done E, Knowler H, Murphy M, Rea T, Galec K (2011). (Re)writing CPD: Creative analytical practices and the 'continuing professional development' of teachers. Reflective Practice, 12(3), 389-399. Abstract.
Done EJ, Knowler H (2011). (Re)writing reflective practice with Deleuze, Guattari and feminist poststructuralism. Reflective Practice, 12(6), 841-852. Abstract.


Done EJ, Knowler H (2023). Introduction. In  (Ed) International Perspectives on Exclusionary Pressures in Education: How Inclusion becomes Exclusion, 1-19. Abstract.
Done EJ, Knowler H (2023). Introduction. In  (Ed) International Perspectives on Exclusionary Pressures in Education, Springer International Publishing, 1-19.
Rizvi S, Knowler H (2022). An introduction to inclusion, special educational needs and disability. In  (Ed) Learning to Teach in the Secondary School, Routledge, 278-290.
Rizvi S, Knowler H (2020). Special Education Needs and Disabilities. In Hudson B, Leask M, Younie S (Eds.) Education System Design Foundations, Policy Options and Consequences, Routledge. Abstract.
Rizvi S, Knowler H (2020). Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. In Hudson B, Leask M, Younie S (Eds.) Education System Design Foundations, Policy Options and Consequences, Routledge. Abstract.
Knowler H (2009). Where should pupils who experience Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties be educated?. In Gibson S, Haynes J (Eds.) Perspectives on Participation and Inclusion Engaging Education, A&C Black. Abstract.
Gibson S, Knowler H (2007). The joy of meeting pupil needs through developing community. In  (Ed) Joyful Teaching and Learning in the Primary School, 113-121.


Knowler HL (2019). "What sort of example is this. ?" Exploring the representation of children and young people at risk of educational exclusion in 'fly on the wall'/reality TV documentaries about schools. British Educational Research Association Annual Conference. 10th - 12th Sep 2019. Abstract.

Back to top

External Engagement and Impact

Back to top


I am a qualified teacher and experienced tutor at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. I teach on modules related to Inclusive Education, Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs, Special Educational Needs, Behaviour in Schools and Research Methods.

I have a successful track record of doctoral supervision and to date have supported PhD and EdD students in the following areas: feminist methodologies, poststructural theorising on Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs in schools, creative and participatory research and Inclusive research and Intersectional research.  I have worked with postgraduate researchers on topics such as the deployment of teaching assistants, parental involvement in Education, ADHD and 'challenging' behaviour, quality in special education provision and Outdoor Learning.

I am committed to the use of inclusive approaches to Teaching, Learning and Assessment in my own practice. I enjoy designing and implementing interactive and participatory activities to develop critical and reflective engagement in the students I support.



Information not currently available

Back to top

Office Hours:

Please email to get in contact.

Back to top

Edit Profile