Dr. Frances Atherton

Faculty Postgraduate Research Tutor and Senior Lecturer

Dr. Frances Atherton is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services at the University of Chester.





Before arriving at the University of Chester in 2004 as a Senior Lecturer, Frances worked at Liverpool Hope University teaching on the Advanced Study of Early Years Degree Programme. Prior to this, she taught in primary and nursery schools and in special schools for children with physical disabilities and with severe learning difficulties. Frances has also been part of two study tours to China with the aim of sharing and developing early years practice.  The collaboration focussed on the development of young children’s thinking and learning with the research attentive to the debate around inclusive and equitable practice.  


Frances teaches on the EdD programme, specifically the Thesis in Context module and Social Policy. She supervises PhD and EdD students and also students undertaking their masters’ degree dissertation. Frances is Programme Leader for the BA Supporting Learning with Children and Young People course and teaches on the MA Early Childhood and the BA Early Childhood Studies programmes within the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services. She leads the undergraduate dissertation work for Early Childhood Studies and the postgraduate Researching Early Childhood and Dissertation modules. In addition, Frances is an External Examiner for Early Childhood programmes at Canterbury Christchurch University and London Metropolitan University.


Frances’ research interests focus around babies and young children. How thinking, learning and development evolves, intervention and accompaniment with young children in learning environments, children’s position in research, ethical approaches to practice and consent from babies and young children.

Frances is also involved in ethnographic research with homeless people in Chester. In addition, she has an interest in qualitative research methodologies and their philosophical foundations.

Published work

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. (2014). On Repeat. How young children are pursuing their schemas 3-5 years. London, United Kingdom: Nursery World

Articles in Preparation

Atherton, F. and Moran, P. (2015). Life born through trauma: (mis)understanding homelessness through an ethnographic and Nietzschean approach.

Atherton, F (2015). Being a homeless couple: intimacy and the dispossessed

Atherton, F. and McKay, J. (2014). On the margins: the last place to rebel? Understanding young people’s resistance to social conformity.