Staff Profiles

Dr David Colley

Senior Lecturer in Child Development and SEN/Inclusion

School of Education

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr David Colley

Phone number: +44 (0)1865 488520



Dr David Colley is a Senior Lecturer in Child Development and Special Educational Needs/Inclusion at Oxford Brookes University and leads the Masters level training for teachers wishing to secure the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASENCo) in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. In addition to this role, David is strand lead for the MA Education (SEND) and teaches on Undergraduate SEND modules while supervising Doctoral and Masters level dissertations. He has also acted as the external examiner for doctoral examinations at various UK Universities

David holds a B.Sc (Hons) in Psychology, a B.Ed (Hons) with QTS, a Ph.D. in SEND and is also a member of the Higher Education Academy.

David’s career in education has included teaching children and young people with autism and complex learning needs in both primary and secondary schools and leading specialist facilities for learners with social, emotional and attachment needs. David spent five years working as the head of primary Pupil Referral Unit before managing a successful nurture group initiative on the Isle of Man for a further five years. During that time, David completed his PhD into the development of nurture groups in secondary schools, including the publication of the Boxall Profile for Young People (Bennathan, Boxall and Colley 2010). 

Current collaborative research interests include the Active Moving Education Intervention (AiM High) project, tracking social and emotional wellbeing through the Boxall Profile assessment and updating research around best practice models for nurture groups in secondary schools. Interim research findings were presented at the 2019 ENSEC International Conference in Budapest, Hungary and in 2020 Dr Colley is due to make keynote presentations at the University of the Algarve, Portugal, and the University of Bilbao, Spain.

David's SEND specialism has a focus on the social, emotional and mental health needs of children and young people and in 2017 the book 'Attachment and Emotional Development in the classroom' was published by Jessica Kingsley. This book has been co-edited by David and aims to support beginning teachers on Initial Teacher Training courses in understanding the emotional needs of children who have experienced a difficult start in life.

In 2018 David was invited to work with the Department for Education in Westminster as part of the Steering Group that revised the guidance for schools around the Mental Health and Behaviour of children and young people. This revised guidance now makes reference to the impotance of staff training around attachment and the need to value the wellbeing of staff.

David completed his three year tenure as Chair of the Social Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association ( from 2016-2019 and currently sits on the editorial advisory boards for both the Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties journal and the International Journal of Nurture in Education. As part of his role with SEBDA, David created two PG Certs around mental health and well being (6 modules in total) that are now delivered as Distance Learning courses by the SEBDA-Brookes partnership.