School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Simon Gibbs

Reader in Educational Psychology



My initial professional experience of education was as a Maths teacher in secondary schools. I worked in comprehensive schools and, briefly, a secondary modern school. It was there I saw at first hand the effects of the arbitrary labelling of children who had 'failed' the 11+. My subsequent training and career as an Educational Psychologist stimulated interests in children's development, how children acquire the skills that are required for reading, and how the beliefs and attributions of teachers are involved in the way children's learning is structured and managed. Along the way I have been fortunate to have worked with some brilliant people and gained experience of how to facilitate learning as well as the responsibilities of management.
These issues continue to underpin my professional and academic interests. My primary aim is to improve children's experiences of education. My research activity seeks to provide greater understanding of the relationships between educational structures, policies, beliefs and practices that enable / disable teachers from developing inclusive approaches to education and learning. In line with this, with my colleagues in the Doctorate in Applied Educational Psychology team in Newcastle we seek to train applied psychologists for work as agents of positive change for organisations and with teachers, parents, children, and other professionals. We seek to recruit students to our programme who want to join us in this work.


With a first degree in Pure Maths and Chemistry I taught mathematics in secondary schools in Hertfordshire and Derbyshire for 13 years. I studied Counselling and Human Relations before training as an Educational Psychologist at Nottingham University. 
On completion of my training I was fortunate to gain a post as an Educational Psychologist for Cleveland County Council in Hartlepool. While there I studied for a PhD under the supervision of Professor David Wood at Nottingham University.  I have also worked as an EP Middlesbrough and latterly for ten years as a Senior Educational Psychologist in North Yorkshire.

I started working at Newcastle University in 2000 and took up the post of Director of Initial Training in Educational Psychology (the Doctorate in Applied Educational Psychology) in 2007. 

Current Roles and Responsibilities

Reader in Educational Psychology, Programme Director for the Doctorate in Applied Educational Psychology (DAppEdPsy) and Head of the Education Section.

I am General Editor of Educational and Child Psychology (published by the British Psychological Society Division of Educational and Child Psychology) and an Associate Member of the Psychology in Education Research Centre (PERC) at the University of York.

I am currently an external examiner for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology (University of Dundee),  the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology (University of Manchester) and the Doctorate in Child Community and Educational Psychology at the Tavistock Centre (University of Essex).


MEd (Human Relations),
MA (Child Psychology, Educational),
PhD (Phonological Awareness: Influences and Associates in the Context of the Development of Word Reading in Young Children).

Previous Positions  

From 1997 to 2007 I was a Senior Educational Psychologist in North Yorkshire with management responsibility for a team of 10 psychologists.


Registered Educational Psychologist with the HCPC;

BPS (Chartered Educational Psychologist, Associate Fellow);
Member of the Association of Educational Psychologists;
Chartered Scientist.

Informal Interests

Mountains and horses (mostly separately), reading and music.


Research Interests

The development of phonological awareness and word reading.
Teachers' perceptions of their efficacy.
Teachers' attributions.

Other Expertise

Systemic Consultation; Management; Supervision.

Current Work

Beliefs and definitions in practice about reading difficulty (aka Dyslexia);
The role of teachers' attributions and beliefs in influencing inclusion and responses to children's behaviour.

Postgraduate Supervision

I am keen to attract PhD students interested in exploring the nexus of relationships between teachers' beliefs, attributions and practices, and what influences these. There is considerable scope here to develop understanding of how school leadership and school cultures enable / disable teachers, and how these may interact with beliefs in efficacy and resilience.

I am also interested in how teachers approach the task of helping certain notional groups of children (for instance those 'diagnosed' as having 'dyslexia'), the underlying psychological processes implicit in such categorisation and the impact on practice and children's well-being. 

Esteem Indicators

General Editor of Educational and Child Psychology
Associate Member: The Psychology in Education Research Centre, University of York.


Postgraduate Teaching

DAppEdPsy; DEdPsy