Professor Matthew Clarke

Professor Matthew Clarke
Professor Matthew Clarke
Professor Matthew Clarke

Chair in Education

Accepting PhDs



Over my career in education I have taught in schools at all levels, from early years to secondary, and have taught and researched at universities in Scotland, England, Australia, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. My research draws on a range of interdisciplinary fields, including social, political and psychoanalytic theories, and focuses on developing critical analyses of educational policy and politics with a particular emphasis on how policy shapes the professional work and identities of teachers. Recent books include Education and the fantasies of neoliberalism: Policy, politics and psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2022), Lacan and education policy: The other side of education (Bloomsbury, 2019) and Teacher education and the political: The power of negative thinking (Routledge, 2017). 


Research Overview

My work involves two interrelated programs of research: 1) psychoanalytically-informed critical policy studies and 2) critical engagements with policy and politics in teaching and teacher education.

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Education.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me


Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Education Policy
  • Education Studies

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

My work in critical educational policy research, has been published in authored books and leading international journals and is internationally recognised as contributing to a new interdisciplinary field that brings together political and psychoanalytic theory to provide novel and significant critical insights into global policy issues in education. Commenting on my 2019 Bloomsbury book, Lacan and education policy: The other side of education, Prof Stephen Ball (UCL) noted, “Matthew Clarke’s book brings a new and devastating critical perspective to bear on education policy. His use of Lacan to address fundamental questions about what education has become in the context of neoliberalism enables us to begin to think creatively and with integrity about ‘the other side of education’. This is a telling and timely book that skilfully deploys psychoanalytic insights to unpack the fantasies that haunt and inhibit education policy – it is exciting, challenging and important!”. 

My ongoing work on the politics of teaching and teacher education has likewise won an international reputation. Key outputs from this program of research include my 2017 book Teacher education and the political: The power of negative thinking in the Routledge Futures and Foundations of Education series, co-authored with Professor Anne Phelan (University of British Columbia). The book has garnered praise from leading international scholars such as Prof Bill Pinar, who described it as a as ‘an impressive, compelling book’ and Prof Geoff Whitty, who remarked, “this clever new book suggests that some forms of 'negative thinking', drawn from contemporary social theory, may actually help protect the progressive spaces that recent reforms are seeking to close down.” 


I am currently collaborating with colleagues from a range of international contexts, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden, as part of the International Teacher Education Research Collective @_ITERC


My current supervision areas are: Education.

I am interested in supervising doctoral projects that engage with educational policy and politics and that embrace a critical perspective on educational research in order to: a) understand the complex entanglements linking education and society; b) critique past and present education systems and practices; and c) identify alternatives for education policy, practice and research. I am interested in supervising work which inquires into (1) who benefits (and who does not) from current and historical arrangements in education? and; (2) from the standpoint of the least advantaged, what can be done about inequitable arrangements?

Past doctoral theses I have supervised include:

Parker, K. (2023). Diminishing inequalities? A critical feminist genealogy of education policy and practice in post-World War II England. York St John University, UK

Garratt-Ward, T. N. (2023). ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’: Lifting the veil on primary academization. York St John University, UK.

Whitfield, L. (2023). A rollercoaster of challenges and rewards: Early career primary teachers’ navigating and managing their professional identity against the current educational policy context. York St John University, UK.

Day, R. (2023). Reconsidering the presuppositions of the student-teacher selection process: A philosophical investigation. York St John University, UK.

Pennington, A. (2022). Colonising communities? Community engagement, democracy and the articulation of power in the governance of Multi-Academy Trusts in England, York St John University, UK.

Walker, E. (2020). Restorying ‘our school’: Mapping a school improvement counternarrative through space, place and the light of local knowledge. York St John University, UK.

Haines Lyon, C. (2019). Unpicking the neoliberal noose: Working towards democratic parent engagement in a primary school. York St John University, UK.

Elbra-Ramsay, C. (2019). Navigating the pedagogical, relational and moral economies of assessment: An analysis of the development of student teachers’ understanding of feedback. York St John University, UK.

Raymond, P. (2019). Creativity and/or performativity? A critical case study of tensions experienced by pre-service and early career teachers. York St John University, UK.

Wei, C. L. (2018). Towards a non-representational, abductive-driven research approach: Informed guessing for qualitative research. UNSW, Australia.

Tursini, U. (2014). Exploring changes in teachers’ pedagogic habitus: Case studies of English language teacher self-evaluation as a meditational activity. UNSW, Australia.

Lo, M.M. (2014). Negotiating and appropriating new literacies in English language classrooms in Hong Kong primary schools: Economies of knowledge, attention and enjoyment. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.

Yang, B. (2013). Language, identity and power in bilingual education: Policy enactment in three bilingual Tibetan school communities in Sichuan, China. UNSW, Australia.

Yawiloeng, R. (2013). Self-regulation in EFL writing composition: From private speech to the triadic system. UNSW, Australia.

Chan, C. (2011). Discourses of collaboration in English language teaching. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.

Danjun, Y. (2010). In search of self: Understanding teacher learning in a cross-institutional teacher community. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.

Hennig, B. (2010). Language learning and the self: Exploring Hong Kong students' motivation for learning German as a third language from a Foucauldian ethical perspective. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.

Gu, M. (2007). The discursive construction of English language learners' motivation in China: A multilevel perspective. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.


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