Staff Profile

  • Nicola Preston began her career as an operational police officer with Thames Valley Police, where she was part of a team that successfully introduced restorative justice into police work and was involved in the work that led to the introduction of Youth Offending teams in England and Wales. She has also been a primary school teacher and qualified as a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator in 2011. She has had continuous involvement in restorative justice at a national and international level in the education and criminal justice sectors. Nicola is now a senior lecturer in Special Educational Needs (SEN) and inclusion, and programme lead for the National Award in SEN Co-ordination, at the University of Northampton. Nicola has published numerous book chapters, articles and research reports in the U.K. and Europe and is on the editorial committee of the European Forum for Restorative Justice Newsletter. She is a member of the British Psychological Society, a Trustee for the Thames Valley Partnership and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

    • BA Inclusive Studies Inclusive Studies in Special Educational Needs, Disability and Diversity
    • MA Special Educational Needs and Inclusion
    • PG Dip Education Mental Health Practitioner
    • National Award in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination (programme leader)
  • Key research interests:

    • Restorative justice; school exclusion; relational justice; youth justice; inclusion; social justice.
    • Nicola has a PhD from the University of Northampton, two Master’s Degrees from the University of Chester and the University of Northampton, two Postgraduate Certificates from the University of Northampton and Oxford Brookes University and a BA (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Reading.
    • Her thesis topics have related to the use of relational approaches such as restorative justice to increase educational engagement and reduce exclusion and poor life outcomes for ‘at risk’ young people.
  • 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. (2020). Stories of restorative justice and school exclusion: an autoethnography of relational understanding. (Unpublished PhD thesis). University of Northampton.

    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