Neil studied Psychology at the University of Liverpool from 1995-1998. He then went on to study for a PG Cert in Learning and Teaching and a PhD in Education at Liverpool John Moores University from 1998-2001. He worked for a year at the University of Bolton from 2001-2002, before taking up a lectureship in psychology of education at the University of Manchester in 2002. Neil became a senior lecturer in 2007, and was promoted to Professor of Psychology of Education in 2010. He was Research Director for Education from 2013-2016. Neil was Head of the Manchester Institute of Education from 2016-2020. He became Associate Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Humanities in 2021.
Main areas of interest
- Social and emotional learning
- Mental health
- Special educational needs (particularly autism spectrum conditions)
Current and recent research projects
- Education for Wellbeing - AWARE and INSPIRE trials (led by Anna Freud Centre) (2017-2020)
- HeadStart national evaluation project (led by Anna Freud Centre) (2016-2023)
- Mercer Schools wellbeing project (led by Anna Freud Centre) (2016-2019)
- Good Behaviour Game - effects on mental health, economic evaluation, and maintenance of effects (2017-2020)
- Achievement for All effectiveness trial (2016-2020)
- SPECTRUM review (led by Dr. Michael Wigelsworth) (2016-2017)
- PACT-G autism trial (led by Prof. Jonathan Green) (2016-2018)
- Implementation and process evaluation for school-based interventions (2015-2016)
- Good Behaviour Game randomised controlled trial (2014-2017)
- Inter-cultural knowledge exchange: social-emotional learning in England and Japan (2014)
- Cluster RCT of the Inclusive programme (led by Drs. Michael Wigelsworth and Ann Lendrum) (2014-2018)
- Cluster RCT of the PATHS curriculum (2012-2017)
Current research students (with indicative topics)
- Rosie Mansfield - Adolescent mental health literacy
- Kim Petersen - Latent classes of mental health and wellbeing in children
- Louise Black - Complete mental health in childhood and adolescence
- Ola Demkowicz - Cumulative risk, perceived stress and girls' emotional symptoms in early adolescence
- Emma Ashworth - Cumulative contextual risk and school functioning in academic and behavioural domains
- Kirsty Frearson - Poverty as a moderator of the implementation and impact of the Good Behaviour Game
Past research students (with indicative topics)
- Kirsty Pert - Enhancing resilience among disadvantaged children with the PATHS curriculum
- Elena Anastasiou (2nd supervisor) - Teachers' use of ICT to support pupils with dyslexia in England and Cyprus
- Carl Emery - Critical discourse analysis of wellbeing agenda in education
- Wendy Symes - Social inclusion of students with ASD
- Alex Turner (2nd supervisor) - Health economics and emotional wellbeing in childhood
- Craig Joyce - Teacher characteristics and implementation variability in the PATHS curriculum
- Linda Callaghan - Living with autism: Siblings' experiences
- Jill Richford (2nd supervisor) - Risk, resilience, and multi-agency collaboration
- Jeremy Oldfield - Risk and protective factors for conduct problems in students with SEND
- Will Bulman - Positive relationships and academic achievement among students with autism and BESD
- Judith Hebron - Bullying in students with autism
- Sarah Davis - Emotional intelligence and mental health
- Ann Lendrum - Implementation of secondary SEAL
- Michael Wigelsworth - Impact of secondary SEAL
- Irene Kapetanaki - Text anxiety in secondary school students
Academic Year 2017/18
MEd Psychology of Education
- Applied Prevention in Education
- Psychology of Human Development
Contributions to other programmes of study
BA English Language for Education, PGCE Primary
Neil has secured more than £5 million in external research grants (as principal investigator or UoM lead), from funders including the Big Lottery Fund, Education Endowment Foundation, National Institute for Health Research, Department for Education and Economic and Social Research Council. He has also worked as a co-investigator on projects totalling £2,421,500 funded by Leverhulme Foundation, National Council for Special Education and others.
Professional advisory, consultancy and other work
- Honorary Professor at University College London (2016-)
- Visiting Professor at University of Western Australia (2015), University of Massachusetts (2015), Florida Atlantic University (2015), University of Illinois at Chicago (2013), Flinders University (2013, 2015), Edith Cowan University (2013)
- Member of the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (2014-2015)
- Invited to give evidence at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism (2012)
- Consultant to NICE in their reviews of social and emotional wellbeing in education (2008, 2011).
- Interviewed by Therapy Today (2012), The Guardian (2012), Granada Tonight (2009), Radio 5 (2010), Radio 4 (2011), Telegraph (2010), BBC Online (2008), The Guardian (2008), The Times (2008).
- Keynote presentations for International School Psychology Association (2017), Research in Special Education (2015), Helping Families Change (2015), Autism Early Intervention and Prevention Conference (2014), GAUTENA (Spanish Autism Parents Society, 2013), National Autistic Society Professional Conference (2013), Research Autism (2012), Spanish Society of Autism Professionals (2012), BPS Division of Educational and Child Psychology (2012), National Autistic Society Research Conference (North-West) (2009, 2011, 2012), BPS Education Section (2011), Educational Psychology Association (North-West) (2009), New Directions in Behaviour Support (2009), ESRC Mental Health in Education (2008), and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Conference (2008).
- External examiner for programmes at the University of Birmingham (2010-2012), University of Cambridge (2012-2014), and Edge Hill University (2012-2015)
- Guest editor of Cambridge Journal of Education (2016), Psychology of Education Review (2013), Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs (2010).
- Editorial board member for the International Journal of Emotional Education, School Mental Health, Mental Health and Promotion, International Journal of School and Educational Psychology.
- Lead organiser for third biennial conference of the European Network for Social and Emotional Competence in Children (ENSEC) (2011)
- Peer reviewer for journals including School Mental Health, Autism, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Educational Psychology, Dyslexia, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.