Dr Suanne Gibson

Year of NTFS award: 2012

Institution at time of NTFS award: University of Plymouth

Suanne is Interim Director of Plymouth Institute of Education and an Associate Professor of Education. Her specialist areas of teaching and research are ‘disability’, ‘special educational needs’ (SEN), ‘inclusion’ and critical pedagogy. She tutors and lectures undergraduate, masters and PhD students, gives conference keynotes and has published widely in the area of Special Educational Needs, critical disability studies and teaching and learning in higher education. She conducts research and teaching with colleagues and students in the UK, USA, Cyprus, New Zealand and Australia addressing questions of ‘inclusion’, social justice and ‘diversity’. She was awarded her NTF in 2012, an International Fellowship with the HEA in 2013 and was invited to become a FRSA in 2014.

My adage in life and learning is to embrace and enjoy the challenges it throws at us and do our best to find in them opportunities for growth and fulfilment. Growing up in Northern Ireland during the ‘troubles’, I had a rich experience and understanding of conflict and needless violence. Life can be short, unfair and disturbing; for many people, born into poverty and/or disability in the midst of social turmoil, the world is an unpleasant place; one which prevents them from shining and having an education which promotes human flourishing and success.

These life experiences led me to a path of political education. I encourage students to find their own political education path, be empowered by and through each other, and in the liberation of their voices, make positive impact upon their communities.

I promote togetherness in lectures and seminars by challenging power barriers that exist between student and tutor, sharing parts of my story and encouraging students to do the same. I stimulate students’ curiosity by drawing on relevant and contemporary research including my own, engaging with related publications and looking at ways in which research has moved knowledge forward and impacted on practitioners, learners and wider social plus education practice/experience.


  • 2014-2016, HEA International Scholarship: Developing a critically inclusive pedagogy of relationship for the retention and success of ‘non-traditional’ students or ‘students at risk of exclusion’ (HEIs in- UK, New Zeeland, USA and Cyprus).
  • 2015-2017, PedRIO Teaching Fellowship: ‘Becoming Student’: partnerships and voices. Developing ‘relationships for academic success and transformation’ model
  • 2018-ongoing, HEIF funding: Danimation summer camps: UK-USA https://danimationentertainment.uk/.
  • 2018- ongoing, Mentor on Newcastle University Australia, Writing Program for Equity & Widening Participation Practitioners- Australian Program.
  • 2019- ongoing Newcastle University, Australia. Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education Newcastle University (CEEHE) Re-considering ‘Disability’ and student experience- questions of equality and social justice in Higher Education.
  • 2021-ongoing, Student micro-internship 2020 spin off: APP project linked to WP to develop a mentoring programme with students to further develop PIoE undergraduate programme outreach work.

My pedagogic expertise:

  • transformation
  • inclusion
  • social justice
  • widening participation.