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 Cambridge Primary Review, the UK’s biggest enquiry into the condition and future of primary education.

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 held appointments both in Britain and overseas, and in schools as well as universities. As an international consultant, he has provided technical support to governments, NGOs and schools in furtherance of the UN’s drive to universalise children’s basic education.

He is an elected Fellow of the British Academy, where he was the founding chair of the Education Section, and of the Academy of Social Sciences. He 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 former Trustee of Children and the Arts.

Research interests

Robin Alexander has undertaken research in international, comparative and development education; pedagogy, teachers and teacher education; educational policy and policy-making; curriculum reform and management; and talk in teaching and learning. The primary phase of education has been a constant throughout, providing both a frequent context for his research and a focus in itself, and culminating in the wide-ranging Cambridge Primary Review supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and its Pearson-funded successor, the Cambridge Primary Review Trust. For this work he received the 2011 Jarvis Award from the National Education Union and the 2015 BERA/Sage Public Impact Award. The primary phase was also the setting for his landmark comparative ethnographic/historical study of culture and pedagogy in England, France, India, Russia and the United States.

Latterly he has concentrated on what he terms ‘dialogic teaching’: a distinctive pedagogy that exploits the potential of cognitively-challenging classroom talk to enhance student engagement, learning and understanding. From 2014-2017 the Education Endowment Foundation subjected his dialogic teaching framework to a large-scale independent randomised control trial with students in areas of high social disadvantage in three English cities, with striking results. Since then, Alexander has further refined his approach, focusing not only on the mainstream curriculum but also on the place of dialogic teaching in argumentation and democratic engagement. This work has been taken up by educators in many countries.