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About Dr Frances Atherton

I teach on the Education Doctorate (EdD) programme and am Programme Leader of the Thesis in Context module. I also teach on the research methodology module and the social policy module. My masters teaching is on the MA Early Childhood and my undergraduate work are the dissertation and the research skills modules. I supervise students undertaking research including undergraduate , masters, EdD and PhD students and have supervised doctoral students to completion.

Before arriving at the University of Chester in 2004 as a Senior Lecturer, I worked at Liverpool Hope University teaching on the Advanced Study of Early Years Programme. Prior to this, I taught for a number of years in primary and nursery schools and in special schools for children with physical disabilities and with severe learning difficulties. During this time, I was part of two study tours to China with the aim of sharing and developing early years practice. 

I am an External Examiner for early childhood programmes both in this country and in Malta at the University of Sheffield. In addition, I have examined early childhood programmes at Canterbury Christchurch University and London Metropolitan University.



  • ED6705 Dissertation
  • ED6105 Dissertation



  • PR8004 Thesis
  • PR8001 Thesis in Context
  • PR8005 Research Methodology for Professional Enquiry
  • PR8006 Social TheoryMA Early Childhood:
  • CD7032 Research Methods
  • ED7710 The Developing Child
  • ED7712 Dissertation



My current research explores marginalisation through ethnography with homeless people in Chester.  I have particular research interests in:

  • Being a woman on the streets
  • Feminist theory and homelessness
  • Qualitative and creative, beyond text research methodologies

Previously, my research has been largely located in the field of early childhood and focused on babies and young children; about thinking, learning and development, about intervention and accompaniment with young children in learning environments, about children’s position in research and ethical approaches to practice with the youngest children.


Published Work


  • Atherton, F. (2016). The disgusted notice the disgusting: being homeless and the sullied schooling of the street. Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives. ISSN 2049-2162. 5 (2) 2016 pp. 128-147.
  • Atherton, F. and McKay, J. (2016). On the margins: the last place to rebel? Understanding young people’s resistance to social conformity. In
  • Atherton, F. and Nutbrown, C. Schematic pedagogy: supporting one child’s learning at home and in a group: International Journal of Early Childhood. 24 (1) 2016 pp. 63-79.
  • Atherton, F. (2014). On Repeat. How young children are pursuing their schemas 3-5 years. London, United Kingdom: Nursery World
  • Atherton, F. and Nutbrown, C. (2013). Understanding Schemas and Young Children; from Birth to Three. London, United Kingdom: Sage.
  • Clough, P. and Nutbrown, C. with Atherton, F. (2013). (2nd edition). Inclusion in the Early Years. London, United Kingdom: Sage.
  • Atherton, F. (2013). Schemas: An Introduction. Teach Nursery. Colchester, United Kingdom: Aceville Publications.


  • Atherton, F. and Moran, P. (2018). A Philosophy of Homelessness. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.