About Us

CooperGibson Research offers robust, high quality research services and value for money to our clients through working on a consultancy basis with our core team of associate members supported by a large bank of additional education, training and social science specialists.

This provides our clients with:

  • A guarantee that we have available capacity to complete projects within short timescales since we have a substantial profile of experienced independent researchers within our reach

  • A tailored project team of specialists with the required subject and methodological knowledge and skills for each specific project

  • A dynamic approach to projects, utilising skills from a broad profile of exceptional researchers and practitioners with significant experience in the sector

  • Reduced costs due to minimal overheads

CooperGibson Research was established by Sarah Gibson (née Cooper) after building a strong track record as a researcher, manager and consultant, an extensive portfolio of research experience and a significant client base in the UK. Sarah has worked on projects for the Home Office, Department for Education, Skills Funding Agency, the Teaching Agency (previously Training and Development Agency for Schools), the Learning and Skills Council, Lifelong Learning UK, the Qualification and Development Agency, City and Guilds, and a number of Local Authorities and Sectors Skills Councils.

Sarah Gibson BA PGCert

Project management
Evaluation and impact research
Participatory methods including for young people
Strategic planning and policy development
Workforce development, qualifications and curriculum, teaching and learning, skills analyses

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Sarah has extensive research management experience in the education, including around evaluation of local and national initiatives, programmes and qualifications, strategic planning and development projects, qualification development, workforce development, employer engagement, participation in learning and drop-out, review of under-performing provision, skills needs assessments and progression routes research. Sarah specialises in engaging through research, with leadership teams, the whole range of education staff and with learners of all ages.

She has considerable experience of quantitative and qualitative approaches, including designing complex national surveys, consultation activity, interviews, focus groups and interactive methods with children and young people. She has managed many research projects which have informed policy and strategic planning at national and local levels.

Previous to forming CooperGibson Research, Sarah led on teaching, learning, curriculum and qualifications research at the Learning and Skills Network for four years and before that, was a Senior Research Manager at Pye Tait Limited (now Pye Tait Consulting), specialising in research and evaluation around learning and skills.

Sarah’s earlier career included Research Fellow posts within Sheffield Hallam University, working in education and criminology disciplines and lecturing posts for several years in social science research methodology.

CooperGibson Research regularly partner with trusted and experienced research associates and agencies to provide high quality research and consultancy services. See details below of some of our core associate members.

Join Us!
If you would like to join our pool of Associate Members, please send your CV and covering letter outlining your experience and expertise, to

Our Projects page provides examples of the type of work our Associates typically get involved in.

Associate Members:

Mary Dennison

Mary Dennison

Survey design and distribution
Event planning, in-depth interviewing and focus groups
Vocational qualifications, workforce development
FE and school practices, employer and skills research

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Mary has worked in the education research sector for the past 10 years and has a wide experience of surveying in both large and small scale projects and of qualitative methods. Her expertise includes designing and launching surveys, monitoring response rates, meeting survey sample targets, analysing survey data, arranging focus groups and interviews, recruitment of attendees to events, management of interview schedules and conducting interviews and focus groups.  Mary is an accomplished interviewer both by telephone and face to face. She is also proficient at collating contacts, arranging fieldwork, survey data collection and initial analysis. She has extensive experience of liaising with a wide range of research participants and partners, including senior management teams, school, college and training provider staff, employers, professional bodies, parents, adult learners, children and young people. Over the last 10 years, Mary has supported many projects, including around workforce development, initial teacher training, skills analyses, funding models and policy and special educational needs.

Dr Geoff Foot BEng (Hons) PhD PG Cert Ed

Geoff Foot Technology for teaching and learning (m/elearning)
Curriculum development and design
Assessment adviser - on-line and self-assessment
Quality improvement adviser
Chartered Engineer
20 years teaching experience in FE & HE
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Geoff has 35 years extensive experience of teaching and learning in both FE and HE, 20 years teaching and 15 as a development adviser/programme manager for BTEC and LSN. At LSN he managed numerous technology projects in using technology for teaching and learning, e-learning and m-learning, in England and Wales. Geoff gained considerable curriculum expertise when he was at BTEC (Edexcel Foundation) which complemented his Engineering qualifications.

He was involved in the design of modules and worked with teaching staff to deliver new qualifications and senior managers with respect to the quality of their BTEC provision by analysing moderator and external verifier reports and feeding back concerns and developing an action plan for improvement. Geoff then used this expertise initially in Wales for FEDA Cymru on two projects for the Welsh funding council in developing teaching staff skills in technology by producing on-line teaching material available through the Internet and on CD ROM in both English and Welsh.

He then used these skills in England on the National Learning Network for Transformation projects and Q-projects. This then lead to the use of mobile technology for teaching and learning in the LSC MoLeNET project which ran for over 3 years. An integral part of the project work done by Geoff was associated in dissemination of good practice and to that extent he has produced numerous publications, both electronic and booklet, and led many training and development events so as to encourage teaching staff of the merits of using technology for teaching and learning.

Geoff’s teaching experience in FE and HE was in the field of Electrical/Electronic Engineering specialising in Instrumentation and Control. Whilst at the University of Glamorgan Geoff was involved with BTEC as an Engineering Moderator/External Verifier and obtained the TDLB D32,33,34,35 and 36 assessor/verifier awards. In addition Geoff was a unit writer for product development for new BTEC qualifications.

In his capacity as an Engineer Geoff was active at branch and national level with Engineering bodies, e.g. Institute of Electrical Engineers, Institute of Measurement and Control, Engineering Council and then latterly whilst at LSN with National Education and Teaching support agencies, e.g. NILTA, NIACE, IfL, JISC TechDis, JISC RSCs, Becta, Fforwm, Funding councils in England and Wales, LSC, ELWa, Estyn, plus sector skill councils i.e. LLUK etc. Further information about Geoff’s qualifications and experience are available on his LinkedIn account: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/dr-geoff-foot/29/530/24a/

Geoff brings to any project his positive approach and enthusiasm, he works well within a team, keen to contribute and has excellent analytical and communication skills.

Lizzie Oliver BA MA

Lizzie Oliver

Systematic and thematic literature reviews
Qualitative approaches, survey design and analysis, case studies
Qualification development, evaluating initiatives and programmes
Employer research, skills analysis and forecasting

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A specialist in qualitative research and analysis techniques, Lizzie has undertaken detailed research, analysis and in-depth reporting for a wide range of clients, including Sector Skills Councils, the Skills Funding Agency (and former Learning and Skills Council), government bodies and private training providers.

Lizzie is expert in compiling comprehensive literature reviews, the design and analysis of complex qualitative reports, scripts and survey responses, and in-depth interviewing.

Her experience includes co-ordinating surveys of employers, learners and providers taking part in training activities and qualifications development; face-to-face consultation with providers, employers and other key stakeholders; development of detailed case studies; analysis of electronic learner tracking systems; and evaluation of training activities, course materials and promotional/marketing resources.

Lizzie is currently studying for a PhD at the University of Leeds, in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum.

Carole Overton BSc Hons PGCE

Carol Overton Quality improvement, change management, post 14 organisational development
Curriculum development, qualifications, QCF
Teaching and learning, offender learning
Management information, marketing and retention
Strategic reviews, evaluation of programmes and initiatives
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Having worked in education and training for over 30 years, Carole has gained a wide range of experience across schools, colleges, private training providers, local education authorities, examining boards, representative bodies and sector support organisations, as well as central government. She has extensive practical experience of working/liaising with senior leaders, managers and practitioners and at a national strategic level. Her experience also includes project management, quality improvement and management of change, partnership and team working, curriculum development, materials development and robust research and development.

Over the years she has been involved in managing and working on a wide range of research projects including: teaching and learning, post 14 organisational development, offender learning - relating to curriculum development and job acquisition, e-learning, entrepreneurship, quality improvement for post-14 education, credit and QCF, equal opportunities and diversity, evaluation of programmes, management information, marketing and retention studies. As part of these studies she has gained valuable experience in effective gathering, analysis and presentation of research outcomes.

Carole has carried out many roles in or related to education and training including Assistant Principal at a large FE College with responsibility for a wide range of curriculum and support activities including multimedia learning, industry programmes, management information and funding, marketing and student services.

Carole also brings to any project her enthusiastic and focused energy, team working, communication and facilitation skills and her creative and divergent thinking coupled with excellent analytical skills.


Paul Smith

FE management, policy, strategy and practices
Adult and community learning, private training provision
Post-16 education, quality and standards
Management of change, leadership, success and continuous improvement

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Paul Smith worked for 25 years in FE, latterly as Vice-Principal in a large "mixed-economy" college.  He has been working for 14 years as a consultant, with particular experience of the FE/HE interface, including one year as Higher Education consultant for LSC's National Office, and as the interim Director of Quality and Standards for LSC County Durham. Recent activities have included: authorship of a ministerial report about the WEA, and work as part of a small team researching and considering provision of post-16 education in a large city, options and recommendations for the reorganisation of post-16 education in a Yorkshire coastal town, and evaluation of the national framework for on-line Information, Advice, and Guidance services for school-leavers.

Dr Carole Stroud CertEd Dip BPhil MPhil PhD

Carole Stroud

School policy, strategy and practices
Management, leadership and school improvement
Secondary education and supporting disaffected learners
Curriculum and qualification development

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Whilst working in developmental/ psychological support in one academic area of seven primary and one secondary school, research led to an M.Phil and PhD exploring ways in which students can be encouraged to effectively approach the stresses and the choices of adolescence.   

Carole’s experience in secondary education includes one acting Headship and two posts as Head Teacher of schools which were in challenging circumstances. These needed urgent re-structuring to meet budgetary, organisational and curriculum demands and to begin to earn the respect of students, parents, staff and the community. The intake became more balanced, doubling in number,  the attendance improved from under 70% to over 90% and the pass rate from 12% to 50% over four years.

Throughout, Carole has supported schools in improvement, addressed national and local groups on a creative approach to challenge and worked nationally to research and develop curriculum, especially for engaging disaffected young people, and towards developing vocational/academic qualifications.

Jane Whitfield

Jane Whitfiels Primary school HLTA, SENCO
Early years/pre-school and foundation stage curriculum learning
Primary curriculum planning and delivery
Special education needs
Literacy and numeracy, transition, P.E./sports provision
Assessment of learning needs
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Jane has worked within primary schools for over 15 years and has taught all year groups throughout the primary sector, teaching whole classes, small groups and providing 1:1 support – all on a regular basis, either PPA cover, staff illness or teaching a class full time when there was a shortage of teaching staff in school. She has Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) status and is a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in her current post.

She teaches literacy and numeracy to children from 4 years to 11 years old. She has worked in Foundation Stage, KS1 and KS2. Jane specialises and is solely responsible for delivering 1:1 interventions to children with Special Education Needs. She has delivered many different interventions covering literacy, numeracy and behaviour. Jane also teaches literacy and numeracy to full classes and small groups. She plans the lessons and assessments to ensure the children make sufficient progress and all objectives from the National Curriculum are covered. She is fully aware of the objectives from the National Curriculum and has been planning and teaching from them from when they were first instigated.

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CooperGibson Ltd trading as CooperGibson Research. Registered in England no. 6818154. Registered address: The Salisbury, 5th Floor (744-750), Salisbury House, Finsbury Circus, London, EC2M 5QQ