Dr. Anthony J. Maher is Director of Research and Professor of Special Educational Needs, Disability and Inclusion in the Carnegie School of Education. He leads the school’s research leadership team and is therefore strategically responsible for research impact, research outputs, external research and enterprise income, research partnerships, staff research development, research ethics and postgraduate research students.
Anthony’s research, consultancy, and teaching expertise relate to centring the experiences and amplifying the voices of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This is part of his commitment to trying to empower pupils with SEND, placing them at the center of decisions that impact their lives, and recognising that they have expert knowledge because of their lived, embodied experiences.
Anthony is also committed to supporting key stakeholders in schools such as teachers, special educational needs coordinators, learning support assistants, educational psychologists, speech and language therapists and senior leaders to provide valuable and meaningful experiences of education for pupils with SEND.
Anthony’s research is sociological, psychological, and philosophical, using participatory, life history, (auto)ethnographical and narrative approaches. He is the author of numerous international peer-reviewed research papers, public, private and third-sector reports, invited book chapters, and books, including Teaching Physical Education to Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities by Routledge.
Industry Expertise (2)
Areas of Expertise (10)
Equality and Inclusion
University of Central Lancashire: PhD, Sociology of Education 2014
University of Central Lancashire: Post Graduate Certificate, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education 2013
University of Central Lancashire: Post Graduate Certificate, Business and Management Research Methods 2010
University of Chester: MSc, Sociology of Sport and Exercise 2008
Liverpool John Moores University: BA, Sport Development with Physical Education 2007
Media Appearances (2)
Katie Price & Harvey: Advice on helping your disabled child reach independence
Parent's Toolkit spoke to Professor Anthony J. Maher - an expert in Special Educational Needs, Disability and Inclusion at Leeds Beckett University. He says: "Positive social relationships with friends, which are based on shared interests, beliefs, and experiences, are crucial to fostering feelings of belonging to groups and places. Feeling that we belong is a basic human need and therefore important to all children, including disabled children."
How physical activity can support children with special educational needs and disabilities at home
Typically, children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) would participate in physical activity outdoors and in school. Recently, school closures and restricted access to outdoor spaces such as parks has meant that parents and guardians will have to take a more active role in encouraging and supporting their children to be more active at home, especially if they are ‘shielding’.
Event Appearances (2)
A qualitative investigation of life skills development in physical education
British Psychological Association Annual Event Virtual
The Culture of Special School Physical Education
British Educational Research Association Annual Conference Brighton
Exclusion, inclusion and belonging in mainstream and disability sport: Jack’s storyQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
2023 Concepts of exclusion and inclusion in sport, physical activity and physical education settings are mostly anchored to discussions about access to and opportunities in physical and social spaces from the perspective of non-disabled adult stakeholders. In this article, we use individual interviews and two creative non-fiction accounts to explore the views of an adult with cerebral palsy (CP), named Jack, who reflects on his embodied experiences of mainstream and CP youth football.
Critical pedagogies for community building: challenging ableism in higher education physical education in the United StatesTeaching in Higher Education: Critical Perspectives
2023 Enacting critical pedagogies within physical education (PE) contexts have been found to increase critical consciousness and disrupt hegemonic taken-for-granted assumptions about ability and the body. As an under-researched area, the aim of our research was to explore the extent to which a critical pedagogical approach in PE can disrupt normative ableist notions of disability through a disability-specific, critically orientated, tennis class.
Stop fearing blindness! Visually impaired people reflect on the ethics of sighted prospective teachers simulating visual impairmentDisability and Society
2022 Disability simulations have developed as a popular professional development tool to help increase knowledge and awareness of disability and facilitate pedagogical learning among prospective and pre-service teachers. The aim of this research is to explore the ethics of sighted people simulating visual impairment from the perspective of visually impaired people.
Assessing the learning of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in mainstream school physical educationBritish Educational Research Journal
2022 In the UK, one consequence of neoliberalism has been the development of test cultures in schools and standardised assessment strategies used to judge all pupils against within and across curriculum subjects. Few studies to date have explored the influence of this on assessing the learning of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and none have centred physical education (PE).
A creative non-fiction account of autistic youth integrated physical education experiencesDisability and Society
2022 In the United States (US), the drive to integrate, or mainstream, disabled students into the same educational settings as their non-disabled peers has resulted in disparate opportunities and experiences. With that, more autistic youth than ever before are expected to assimilate into systems that are often not considerate of their needs and capabilities.
Learning about ‘inclusive’ pedagogies through a special school placementPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
2022 It is well-established that traditional approaches to initial teacher education do not adequately prepare physical education (PE) teachers for teaching pupils with disabilities. Consequently, pupils with disabilities participate less frequently and in fewer PE activities than their age peers. School-based placements, which form a cornerstone of the professional socialisation phase of teacher education, can help to prepare prospective and pre-service teachers for the demands of working in educational settings.
Perceived competence to teach students with special educational needs in PhysicRetos
2021 La atención a personas con necesidades especiales tiene una particular relevancia en el campo educativo. El presente estudio recoge las opiniones y las percepciones de estudiantes universitarios del Grado de Ciencias de Actividad Física y del Deporte de centros públicos de España y Reino Unido sobre la formación recibida en el Grado sobre atención a alumnos con necesidades educativas especiales (NEE).
Critical pedagogies for community building: challenging ableism in higher education physical education in the United StatesTeaching in Higher Education
2020 Enacting critical pedagogies within physical education (PE) contexts have been found to increase critical consciousness and disrupt hegemonic taken-for-granted assumptions about ability and the body. As an under-researched area, the aim of our research was to explore the extent to which a critical pedagogical approach in PE can disrupt normative ableist notions of disability through a disability-specific, critically orientated, tennis class.
Factors influencing the culture of special school physical education: A Gramscian critiqueEuropean Physical Education Review
2020 Physical education (PE) research has largely been preoccupied with mainstream (regular) schools. This article reports on part of a larger research project that centralises special school PE. In particular, Gramsci’s conceptualisations of hegemony, power and ideology are utilised to help shed light on the key factors that shape the culture of special school PE.
‘Disable them all’: SENCO and LSA conceptualisations of inclusion in physical educationSport, Education and Society
2018 There is a propensity for academics and policy makers in Britain to use the terms integration and inclusion synonymously, possibly resulting in diverse interpretations of the inclusion principles laid out in the new National Curriculum. Much of the research available relating to conceptualisations of inclusion in physical education (PE) is from the perspective of teachers.