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The Centre for Education and Research (CER)

Children in schoolWhat is the Centre for Education and Research?

The Centre for Education and Research (CER) provides a hub for research, development, consultancy and teaching in Education and its related disciplines.

CER promotes excellence in education research. It fosters social justice, equity and inclusion within a culture of research that is accessible to all. CER hosts a community of research collaboration at local, national and international levels which enhances lives and demonstrates positive social change through innovative, entrepreneurial research in Education and associated fields.

CER staff provide research evidence and evidence-based education, professional development, consultancy and advice to a wide range of providers and users of education and related services in formal, informal and non-formal contexts. We teach, research and publish on topics including special education and inclusion, dyslexia, autism, early childhood, play, pedagogy, ICT in education and Higher Education.

Areas of interest

The Centre for Education and Research’s main interests are usually within six areas:

  • Initial Teacher Education
  • Early Years
  • Education, Children and Young People
  • Special Educational Needs and Inclusion
  • Continuing Professional Development
  • Educational Linguistics

Current Projects

Autism Spectrum Disorder – Empowering and Supporting Teachers (ASD-EAST)

Children and young people with autism share common education needs with all other children, and are entitled to high quality education. However, they have specific, special needs resulting from the characteristic difficulties in autism regarding communication, social understanding, inflexibility and sensory processing. Teachers need a range of skills and strategies to meet the needs of these learners, and providing effective education has been identified as challenging throughout Europe, and in Central & Eastern Europe and the Balkans in particular.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Empowering and Supporting Teahcers logo

This 2-year project (September 2018-August 2020) focuses on developing appropriate training to support specialist teachers to provide effective teaching, ensuring the inclusion in education of learners with autism in Croatia, the FYR of Macedonia and Poland. The project partnership combines academics, schools, SMEs and NGOs from Belgium, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia and Poland. The project’s principal investigator is Dr David Preece, supported by Dr Ivana Lessner Listiakova and Paul Bramble. The project is funded by the European Commission, Erasmus+ grant 2018-1-UK01-KA201-047872.

Living with Autism in Rural Coastal Areas of England (LARCAE)

Autism has been identified as causing significant stress to all family members. Research in the UK since the introduction of austerity measures has identified that vulnerable individuals – such as families living with autism – are facing increased difficulties, due to funding and benefit cuts. However, austerity is not impacting equally across the UK and coastal disadvantage is an emerging research area. An initial literature review identified a paucity of research in particular regarding rural coastal communities and disability issues. This study addresses this shortfall by using a qualitative methodology to explore whole families’ experiences of living with autism in a rural coastal area, the challenges experienced and barriers identified (if any) relating to autism, availability and access of formal and informal support, and the perceived impact (if any) of living with autism in a period of austerity. This 2-year project (April 2018-March 2020) focuses on two rural, coastal areas of England: West Norfolk and Cornwall.  The project’s principal investigator is Dr David Preece; Dr Ivana Lessner Listiakova is co-researcher. The project is funded by British Academy/Leverhulme grant SRG\170268.

Recent Completed Projects

Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice Survey on Children with Disabilities in Bhutan

Robed man in Bhutan

One of the challenges for Bhutan is to ensure that all children with special educational needs and disabilities receive appropriate education and social services. The Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice Survey on Children with Disabilities in Bhutan was commissioned by UNICEF (Bhutan) and the Ministry of Education of Bhutan to provide a data-set and accompanying commentary to stimulate discussion and act as a catalyst to further policy and practice developments for children with disabilities in Bhutan.

During the project, CER researchers generated data about knowledge, attitudes and practices among the Bhutanese population concerning children with disabilities in Bhutan, primarily from the perspectives of families.

The study provided UNICEF (Bhutan) and the Ministry of Education of Bhutan with trustworthy evidence regarding the extent, characteristics and provision for children with disabilities in Bhutan, together with a set of recommendations for future actions to inform the work of policymakers and children’s services workers in supporting children with disabilities.

ESIPP: Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting

Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting logo

The presence of autism has been identified as a cause of greater family and parental stress than any other disability. The condition can challenge traditional parenting styles and cause parents to feel deskilled and disempowered. The presence of autism within the family can negatively affect the educational achievement, employment opportunities and social inclusion of mothers, fathers, siblings and the individuals with autism themselves.

We are lead partner in the project Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting (ESIPP), funded by the European Commission. By developing an evidence-based parent education programme and training materials to help parents to understand their children with autism and manage their behaviour effectively, ESIPP will have significant benefits regarding social inclusion, quality of life, educational achievement, employment and equality of opportunity across Europe.

This work was led by Dr David Preece in the Centre for Education and Research and includes nine European partners.

External partners

CER works with a range of external partners locally, nationally and internationally.


Trinity College Dublin, The University of DublinInstitute of Child Education and Psychology Europe



Working with Trinity College Dublin and the Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe to conduct a longitudinal study for the National Council for Special Education on experiences of and outcomes for pupils with special educational needs in Irish schools.


Progettomondo Mlal logo

Working with Italian NGO Progettomondo Mlal and other partners to capture and apply evidence to find new ways to address early school leaving to secure the human capital needed for the knowledge economy.


Autism Education Trust, supporting effective education practice

Working with the Autism Education Trust to evaluate training for social workers in autism.


Department for Education

Providing evidence-based expertise to the Department for Education to inform the development of T-levels and career pathways for early childhood sector.


Faculty of Child and Adult Education at the University of Debrecen, Hungary National Pedagogic University

Working with the Faculty of Child and Adult Education at the University of Debrecen, Hungary and the National Pedagogic University after Abai, Kazakhstan to capture cross-cultural characteristics of parent-practitioner partnership in early childhood settings


Preston Hedge's Primary School logo

Co-generating evidence-based design of online safety materials with children, teachers and parents at Preston Hedge’s Primary School, as part of the Cybersafe Generation project.


Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Inspiring Leadership

A limited company and registered charity committed to developing and improving the management, governance and leadership skills of existing and future leaders of higher education. Wherever the opportunity arises we shall work in partnership with a range of organisations within and outside of higher education.


University of Zagreb logo

Partnering the University of Zagreb as part of the ESIPP project – Equity in Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting – and working together on a new bid.

Working with CER

If you are interested in working with CER or would like to study for a PhD with us, please contact one of our Co-Directors:

Dr Cristina Devecchi

Dr Jane Murray

Dr David Preece


Select a recent output below or view all research outputs on NECTAR.