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Research Profile

  • Nicola Preston has just completed her PhD at the University of Northampton, UK investigating relational approaches to school exclusion and has presented extensively on the subject both nationally and internationally. Before taking up her current academic role, Nicola has been involved in research and practice in this field of restorative justice since 1996 as an operational police officer, primary school (4-11) teacher, special educational needs co-ordinator and safeguarding lead in schools in areas of high deprivation. Nicola has a BA (Hons) in psychology and two Masters degrees. She is Adjunct Faculty for the International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School based in Pennsylvania and is on the Editorial Committee of the European Forum for Restorative Justice. She is a member of the British Psychological Society and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Thames valley Partnership.

  • Nicola is a senior lecturer in inclusive studies and special educational needs at the University of Northampton and programme lead for the National Award in SEN Co-ordination. She has 25 years of experience as a practitioner and researcher in restorative justice and restorative practices in both the education and criminal justice contexts.

    She teaches on modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level including the postgraduate certificate for the new role of Education Mental Health Practitioner which is led by Psychology.

  • Nicola’s research interests focus on inclusion, restorative justice and relationships. Her research has focused on the engagement in learning of primary aged children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and the use of restorative justice and restorative approaches to increase inclusive practice and improve outcomes for high risk and high needs young people.

    Her doctoral research has explored the relevance and contribution of an autoethnographic approach to research and the role of the ‘insider researcher’ to develop a greater understanding of the complexities of human relationships and the knowledge that can be gained from the reflexive contribution of the researcher.

  • For publications, projects, datasets, research interests and activities, view Nicola Preston’s research profile on Pure, the University of Northampton’s Research Explorer.

  • Preston, N. (2019) Restorative practices in higher education. Resolution, 65, Autumn 2019. Retrieved from

    Preston, N. (2019). Restorative justice use in school. Children & Young People Now, August 27. p.14. Retrieved from

    Preston, N. (2018, October 2). Restorative storytelling [Blog post]. Retrieved from

    Preston, N. (2018). Marian Partington, If you sit very still: A sister’s fierce engagement with traumatic loss [Book review]. International Journal of Restorative Justice, 1(1), 161-164.

    Preston, N. (2017, October). Special report – policy: Restorative practice. Children & Young People Now, 27-30. Retrieved from

    Preston, N. (2015). Restorative practices, affect script psychology and the social and emotional aspects of learning. In T. Gavrielides (Ed.), The psychology of restorative justice: Managing the power within (pp. 29-48). London, England: Routledge.

    Preston, N. (2015, September 10). Restorative practices – it’s good to talk. Headteacher Update. Retrieved from