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Dr Ben Simmons

Dr Ben Simmons

Dr Ben Simmons
BA (Hons) (Oxford Brookes), MEd, PGCE, MSc, PhD (Exeter)

Senior Research Associate

Area of research

Special & Inclusive Education for Children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD)

Office Room 3.07
Helen Wodehouse Building,
35 Berkeley Square, Clifton BS8 1JA
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+44 (0) 117 331 4285


I'm a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Graduate School of Education. My research examines the situated and emerging sociability of children with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) across educational contexts. This involves exploring how different learning environments (special and mainstream, from nursery to post-16) afford alternative opportunities for children with PMLD to engage in social interaction. It also involves investigating how these interactions support emerging sociability, understood in terms of agency (intentional action), intersubjectivity (awareness of the subjectivity of others), and symbolic communication (deliberate exchange of information). The research builds upon work undertaken during my PhD (University of Exeter, 2010) and new book written with Dr Debbie Watson (see Simmons, B. & Watson, D. 2014. The PMLD Ambiguity: Articulating the Life-Worlds of Children With Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. London: Karnac.).

To keep up-to-date with my research you can follow me on Twitter (@BenSimmons_PhD), email or read my blog:





  • Profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD)
  • Phenomenology (Maurice Merleau-Ponty)
  • Embodied cognition
  • Educational Inclusion
  • Interpretivist methodologies
  • Concepts of personhood



Graduate School of Education

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Simmons currently teaches 1 courses:

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