John Parkin

Academic Employability Consultant

John works on embedding work-based skills into the curriculum across ARU. He works with academic colleagues and external partners to develop Live Briefs which present students with real-life challenges to solve.


John is also an experienced primary teacher and school leader with 17 years of primary education experience. His research interests include masculinities in education and employment and how a playful approach to higher education can support everything from student learning to employability.

John has taught across a range of different primary year groups, but most of his experience has been teaching Reception-age children. John has taught in range of schools both in the UK and in Egypt. In addition to a breadth of teaching expertise, John is an experienced school leader and was an Assistant Head Teacher of an outstanding infant school in Surrey. As a school leader, John has experience of developing an innovative curriculum, supporting the professional development of primary staff and being a Designated Safeguarding Lead.  He has also led computing, sports, science and global links in schools.

Since joining ARU in 2018, John has taught a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules. He established the Accelerated BA Primary Education Studies course at ARU in Cambridge and was the inaugural course leader for the three-year BA Primary Education Studies degree at ARU Peterborough. He is undertaking a professional doctorate exploring the lived experiences of men completing a Primary Education Studies degree. John has also supported lecturers new to higher education by teaching colleagues on the PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

Currently, John is working as an academic employability consultant directly with a number of Schools across ARU. He works on integrating employability into degree courses as well as more strategically across the University.

Research interests
  • Masculinities in education and employment
  • BSc (Hons) Genetics, Newcastle University
  • PGCE Primary Education, Urban Learning Foundation
  • MA New Literacies, University of Sheffield
  • MBA, The Open University
  • PG Cert Learning and Teaching (Higher Education), Anglia Ruskin University
  • Raspberry Pi Certified Educator
  • Mental Health First Aider 
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Member, British Educational Research Association
  • Member, Society for Research into Higher Education
  • Member, Computing at Schools
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • Community Governor, St Matthews Primary School, Cambridge
  • Member of steering committee of the National Centre for Computing Education Hub for Cambridgeshire, Bedford, Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, South Holland and Wellingborough
  • Facilitator for National Centre for Computing Education.
  • Reviewer, Chevening Reading Committee, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • Consultancy on using Educational Research to improve practice, Long Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge (£10,000)
  • Reviewer for Athena Swan applications (Advance HE)
  • External Examiner, University of the West of England
  • External Examiner, Bath Spa University
Selected recent publications

Parkin, J. (2023). Enhancing student understanding through playful learning using Playmobil pro. Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 16(2), pp. 63–72.

Driscoll, R., Trott, M., Pardhan, S. and Parkin, J. (2022). Risks of digital screen time and recommendations for mitigating adverse outcomes in children and adolescents. Journal of School Health.

Parkin, J. (2022). You did what at the weekend?!: A workshop to develop the digital awareness and understanding of digital footprints. Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 15(2), pp. 22–31 (PI). 

Cook-Sather, A., Slates, S., Acai, A., Aquilina, S., Ajani, K., Arm, K., Besson, M., Brennan, J., Brockbank, M., Carter, K., Cassum, S., Clampton, C., Crawford, R., Curtis, N., Dhanoa, J., Alderete Diez, P., Evans, G., Fleisig, R., Ferguson, A.K., Ghias, K., Gonsalves, C., Hassan, S., Hawes, M., Jabeen, K.,Jankowski, N., Khan, S., Kim, J., Klaf, S., Lesnick, A., Mahmud, O., Matiullah, J., Mazzeo, A., Medland, E, Merrony, I., Mohamed, I., Noel, N., Paliktzoglou, V., Parkin, J., Perkins, J., Pryor, M., Sabzwari, S., Shamsheri, T., Siddiqui, A., Signorini,A., Streule, M., Turi, S., Wilkinson, W., Wilson, M., Wilson-Scott, J. and Winstone, N. (2023). Voices from the field: How can students-as-partners work inform assessment? International Journal for Students as Partners, 7(1), pp. 218–234.

Parkin, J. and Spear, S. (2021). Staying Connected: the informal learning of primary teachers during the Covid-19 lockdown. Impact, 13.

Spear, S., Parkin, J., van Steen, T. and Goodall, J. (2021). Fostering ‘parental engagement with schooling: primary school teachers’ insights from the COVID-19 school closures. Educational Review.

Other publications:

Parkin, J. (2021). Digital Footprints: “I wouldn’t want someone from school to see all my posts. Hello World, 15, pp. 64–65.

Parkin, J. (2021). Running a Digital Detox with younger children. Hello World, 17, pp. 36–37.

Parkin, J. (2019). Realising the Potential for Programming in a Primary School. Hello World, July, pp.54–55.

Recent presentations and conferences

Parkin, J. (2024). EmPLAYability: embedding a playful approach to employability into a Primary Education Studies degree. Employability Symposium 2024, 25 April, Advance HE.

Parkin, J. (2023). When students choose not to play. 2023 International Active Learning Conference, 20 July, online.

Parkin, J. (2023). Playing with Playmobil: A practical approach to building belonging and learning. Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2023, 28 June, Anglia Ruskin University.

Parkin, J. (2023). Child’s Play: Using Playmobil to Build Connections and Togetherness. 31st Annual Meeting of American Men’s Studies Association, 14 June, Concordia University, Montreal.

Parkin, J. and Caws, D. (2022). It’s good to talk: developing professional learning through an interdisciplinary community of practice. Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conference: Mapping Interdisciplinarity: Finding our way, 7 March, University of Birmingham.

Parkin, J. (2022). Experiences of male students on a Primary Education Studies degree: tensions in researching with students I teach. Researching Gender & Sexuality in Educational Settings: An event for PGRs and ECRs, 11 March, British Educational Research Association, online.

Spear, S. and Parkin, J. (2021). Primary teaching during the first and second COVID-19 school closures: how schools learnt from lockdown. British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, 13–16 September, online.

Parkin, J. (2020). You did what over the weekend?! A project to develop the digital awareness of primary education studies undergraduates. UEL Learning and Teaching Symposium, 17 September, University of East London.