University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings

Dr Rob Webster

  • Director, PG Cert SENCo Programme (maternity cover) 

Areas of interest

  • Role and impact of teaching assistants and paraeducators
  • How schools structure and organise provision for learners with SEND
  • Experiences of learners with SEND and their families
  • SEND and inclusive education policy and practice
  • Application, mobilisation and implementation of research evidence in educational settings


  • PG Cert SENCo Programme

Research projects

  • Covid-19 Mitigation Measures: Education Provision and Access to Special Schools (2020– ) funded by Nuffield Foundation
  • Researching Allied Health in Schools (2018– ) funded by British Academy for Childhood Disability
  • Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants trial (2016– ) funded by Education Endowment Foundation
  • The Warnock Inquiry on Special Education at 40 (2018)
  • Educational Experiences of Pupils with SEN: the Making a Statement and SEN in Secondary Education studies (2011–2017) funded by Nuffield Foundation
  • Effective Deployment of Teaching Assistants project (2010-2011) funded Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
  • Deployment and Impact of Support Staff project (2005-2010) funded by Dept. for Children, Schools and Families


  • Editor: European Journal of Special Needs Education special issue on teaching assistants (pub. 2021)
  • Advisor: Active Lives survey, led by Ipsos Mori and funded by Sport England
  • Advisor: Children’s Life Histories in Primary Schools, funded by Leverhulme Trust
  • Advisor: Road Safety for Children with SEN, funded by Dept. for Transport
  • Host of the Research for the Real World podcast
  • Judge for the Tes Schools Awards (2019 & 2020)

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Education (University of Reading, UK)
  • MA in Social Policy (Oxford Brookes University, UK)

Awards and honours

  • Winner: British Educational Research Association Public Engagement and Impact Team Award 2019
  • Shortlisted: British Educational Research Journal Editors’ Choice Award 2016

Professional bodies/affiliations

  • Member of the Lead Group, SEN Policy Research Forum

Selected publications


  • Webster, R. Bosanquet, P., Franklin, S. & Parker, M. (in preparation) Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants in Primary Schools: Guidance for school leaders. Oxon: Routledge
  • Webster, R. (Ed) (2019) Including Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Learning and Life: How far have we come since the Warnock Enquiry – and where do we go next? Oxon: Routledge
  • Webster, R., Russell, A. & Blatchford, P. (2016) Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants: Guidance for school leaders and teachers. Second edition. Oxon: Routledge
  • Bosanquet, P., Radford, J. & Webster, R. (2016) The Teaching Assistant’s Guide to Effective Interaction: How to maximise your practice. Oxon: Routledge
  • Blatchford, P., Russell, A. & Webster, R. (2012) Reassessing the Impact of Teaching Assistants: How research challenges practice and policy. Oxon: Routledge

Journal papers

  • Webster, R. (2019) A blueprint for evidence-based practice? Assessing the Warnock Inquiry’s proposals for research and development in special education 40 years on. Frontiers in Education, 4(7)
  • Webster, R. & Blatchford, P. (2019) Making sense of ‘teaching’, ‘support’ and ‘differentiation’: The educational experiences of pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans and Statements in mainstream secondary schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 34(1), pp. 98-113
  • Blatchford, P. & Webster, R. (2018) Classroom contexts for learning at primary and secondary school: Class size, groupings, interactions and special educational needs. British Educational Research Journal, 44(4), pp. 681-703
  • Webster, R. (2015) The classroom experiences of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools – 1976 to 2012. What do data from systematic observation studies reveal about pupils’ educational experiences over time? British Educational Research Journal, 41(6), pp. 992-1009
  • Webster, R. & Blatchford, P. (2015) Worlds apart? The nature and quality of the educational experiences of pupils with a Statement for special educational needs in mainstream primary schools. British Educational Research Journal, 41(2), pp. 324-342
  • Webster, R. & Blatchford, P. (2013) The educational experiences of pupils with a Statement for special educational needs in mainstream primary schools. Results from a systematic observation study. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 28(4), pp. 463-479
  • Webster, R., Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., Brown, P., Martin, C. & Russell, A. (2011) The wider pedagogical role of teaching assistants. School Leadership and Management, 31(1) pp. 3-20
  • Webster, R., Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., Brown, P., Martin, C. & Russell, A. (2010) Double standards and first principles: Framing teaching assistant support for pupils with special educational needs, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 25(4) pp. 319-336
  • Webster, R., Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., Brown, P., Martin, C. & Russell, A. (2010) Engaging with the question ‘should teaching assistant have a pedagogical role?’ European Journal of Special Needs Education, 25(4) pp. 347-348

Book Chapters:

  • Webster, R. (2020) ‘Building effective relationships with teaching assistants, the SENCO, SEND specialists and parents/carers’, in The Chartered College of Teaching (Ed) The Early Career Framework Handbook. London: SAGE
  • Webster, R. & Blatchford, P. (2020) ‘Rethinking use of teacher aides’, in L. J. Graham (Ed) Inclusive Education for the 21st Century: Theory, policy and practice. Sydney: Allen and Unwin
  • Blatchford, P. & Webster, R. (2017) ‘ORACLE to MAST: 40 years of observation studies in UK junior school classrooms’, in R. Maclean (Ed) Life in Schools in Classrooms: Past, present and future. Singapore: Springer
  • Webster, R. & Blatchford, P. (2012) ‘The impact of teaching assistants on pupils’, in J. Hattie and E. Anderman (Eds) International Guide to Student Achievement. Oxon: Routledge

Research Report:

  • Sharples, J., Webster, R. & Blatchford, P. (2018) Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants. Guidance report. Second edition. London: Education Endowment Foundation

Articles and Media:



Loading your publications ...