Robin Alexander

Professor Robin Alexander


Robin Alexander has held chairs in education at three UK universities and visiting chairs overseas. While at the Faculty of Education, he directed the UK’s biggest enquiry into primary education, the Cambridge Primary Review.

Robin Alexander

An alumnus of Downing College, Robin Alexander holds masters, doctoral and higher doctoral degrees from Cambridge and further qualifications from the universities of Durham, London and Manchester. He has worked in schools as well as universities, the latter in both Britain and overseas. 

Alongside donors, governments, NGOs and schools in India, he has supported the drive to universalise basic education in line with UN goals. From 2006-17 he initiated and directed the Cambridge Primary Review and then chaired its successor the Cambridge Primary Review Trust. For this he received the 2015 BERA/Sage Public Impact Award.

He is an elected Fellow of the British Academy (where he currently chairs the Education Section) and the Academy of Social Sciences, has won the American Educational Research Association Outstanding Book Award and (twice) the Society for Educational Studies Book Award, and has been awarded honorary doctorates by three universities. He is past President of the British Association for International and Comparative Education and a Trustee of Children and the Arts.

Research interests

Robin Alexander’s research covers the period since 1977 when he moved from teaching in schools and colleges to working in universities. During this time he has pursued lines of enquiry in (i) curriculum conceptualisation, development, reform, expertise and management; (ii) international, comparative and development education; (iii) pedagogy, teachers and teacher education; (iv) policy and policy-making in education; (v) talk in teaching and learning. The primary phase of education has been a constant throughout, providing both a specific focus and a context for other research and culminating to date in the wide-ranging Cambridge Primary Review supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. 

His most recent research has been on what he calls ‘dialogic teaching’, a pedagogy that builds on evidence on the power of high quality classroom talk to enhance student engagement, learning and understanding. From 2014-2017, supported by the Education Endowment Foundation, his dialogic teaching framework was subjected to independent randomised control trial with 5000 students in areas of high social disadvantage in three English cities. After only 20 weeks, students in the intervention group were two months ahead of their control group peers in English, mathematics and science tests.  Alexander is now working on ways to take this to scale, focusing not only on the mainstream curriculum but also on argumentation, civic education and democratic engagement.