Personal profile

Research interests

I recently submitted my ESRC-funded PhD in geography at King's College London, and am now a researcher on the ESRC-funded project, Geographies of Higher Education: Spatial and social mobilities.

My interests lie at the intersection of sociology, geography and history and the central theme running through my work is how structures and experiences of power and inequality in education are reproduced over time and through different local and regional geographies.

My PhD examined how long-term regional inequalities continue to shape the geography of young peoples' post-16 to higher education trajectories. Specifically, it focussed on disentangling London-specific middle-class and elite ‘circuits of education’ from broader national socio-spatial patterns of social reproduction through the school system.
There were three central findings, firstly that London’s ‘super-state’ schools form part of a ‘new urban elitism’ in education which is largely distinctive to London and some of the more affluent towns and cities of the South-East.

Second, drawing on an analysis of regional trends in private schooling since the 2008-09 crisis, as well as data on catchment-area housing costs and the role of ethnic minority suburbanisation at an elite suburban grammar school, I revealed new lines of regional division in middle-class identities and orientations to subtly different institutional hierarchies of education.

Finally, I showed how stable middle-class enclaves around particular primary and secondary schools, traditionally in suburban areas but increasingly in central areas in London too, form a national pattern with an associated set of local, middle-class ‘continuity’ circuits. I took a mixed-methods approach including the analysis of large scale datasets, interviews with young people and a historical analysis of government commissions on education.

Research interests

  • Elite education
  • Geography of education
  • Politics of higher education
  • Race and ethnicity in higher education
  • Historical geographies and sociologies of education
  • Regional inequality in the UK
  • GIS and social network analysis

Education/Academic qualification

Geography, Doctor of Philosophy, King's College London

Sep 2012Dec 2016

Sociology of Education, Master of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Oct 2011Aug 2012

European Social and Political Studies, Bachelor of Arts, University College London

Sep 2007Aug 2011

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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elite Social Sciences
regional structure Social Sciences
middle class Social Sciences
move Social Sciences
school Social Sciences
suburb Social Sciences
diversification Social Sciences
grammar Social Sciences

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Research Output 2015 2018

  • 4 Article
  • 1 Commissioned report
  • 1 Other report

'Home and away': Social, Ethnic and Spatial Inequalities in Student Mobility

Donnelly, M. & Gamsu, S. 2018 (Accepted/In press) The Sutton Trust.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

regional structure
Social Mobility
Open Access
large city
1 Citations

Moving up and moving out: the re-location of elite and middle-class schools from central London to the suburbs

Gamsu, S. 1 Nov 2016 In : Urban Studies. 53, 14, p. 2921-2938

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

middle class