Frances Norton is Course Coordinator and Senior Lecturer on the MA in Creative Practice. She studied Interdisciplinary Design BA hons at Staffordshire University and MA in Ceramics from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her professional qualifications include PGCE from University of Leeds, ETF funded MA in Education and is studying for a PhD in Education with University of Sunderland. She has taught in FE on an Access course, undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses.

She is currently undertaking research into strategies to develop student critical thinking, using narrative inquiry as both a methodology and a critical lens. The ideas of educational philosophers Ken Brown and Matthew Lipman are re-contextualised within her analysis of art and design education. This is a development of her previous interests in widening participation and lifelong learning within the art school institution and forms the basis of her doctoral study at the University of Sunderland.

She has also been involved with projects funded by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) that aimed to develop the curriculum to improve progression and Access to HE by the use of joint practice development. Practitioner Research as a means of developing practices within education has also been an area of interest. As a member of the Society for Training and Education (SET) democratic educational context for students, having published and presented both nationally and internationally in this area.

Current Work and Exhibitions

Frances is also a practicing artist and a designer craftswoman. As a designer-maker she develops practices in the decorative arts and poetry. Her current work examines the intersectionality of craft, transplanting materials and processes into new contexts. Her current paintings are an absorption of the jewellery making materials she was surrounded by as a child (her mother is the Modernist Jeweller and alumni Ann O’Donnell RCA). She has exhibited her ceramics, textiles and paintings in Yorkshire, London, America, Holland and Korea. She recently co curated a retrospective jewellery show ‘Ann O’Donnell modernist jeweller’ with Dr Sam Broadhead. In her Poetry practice she has won a Bursary for the Kendal International Poetry Festival, performed at the Ilkley Literature Festival and had poems published and exhibited in a visual arts show.

Book Chapters

Norton, F. (2019) ‘What is the role of critical thinking in vocational Further Education? A practitioner’s point of view’. Transformative Higher Education: Access, Inclusion and Life Long Learning. Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE). pp. 149 - . ISBN Number: 978-0-9954922-3-3.

Conference Presentations

Frances has a growing research profile and had the opportunity to disseminate her research on Critical Thinking in Education by presenting papers, presenting round table discussions and research posters.

Norton, F. (2019) ‘Haptic Criticality: Can Risk be Deflected Through Development of Critical Thinking with Adult Learners?’ European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA). Charles University Prague. April 2019.

Norton, F. (2019) ‘Can poetry develop critical thinking skills? Narrative enquiry in an art college poetry writing group.’ 39th International Conference on Critical Thinking, University of Leuven, Belgium. May 2019.

Norton, F. (2019) ‘Deflecting risk, increasing citizenship: JPD Debate Club at two FE colleges, exploring the potential impact of critical thinking strategies.’ Education and Training Foundation (ETF) Annual Research Conference, Mary Ward House, London. July 2019.

Norton, F. (2019) ‘What can critical thinking do for Access? Can transferability speak to specificity in a Further Education arts institution?’ Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) conference. University of Sheffield Hallam. July 2019.

Norton, F. (2018) ‘Talking About Art; critical thinking through practice focused research, narratology and oracy in post 19 education‘. University of Sunderland Postgraduate conference. June 2018.

Norton, F. (2018) ‘Keep Talking About Critical Thinking: Can Critical Thinking be Taught or can we only Create Conditions to Support its Development?’ Education and Training Foundation (ETF) Annual Research Conference, Mary Ward House, London. July 2018.

Norton, F. (2018) ‘Keep Talking About Critical Thinking: Can Critical Thinking be Taught or can we only Create Conditions to Support its Development?’ Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) conference. University of Worcester. July 2018.

Norton, F. (2018) ‘Talking About Art: What can Practice Focused Research Reveal About Critical Thinking in an FE Art and Design Institution, That can’t be Discovered by Other Modes of Enquiry?’ Association for Research in Post Compulsory Education (ARPCE) conference Manchester-Harris College, University of Oxford. July 2018.

Norton, F. (2013) ‘Access All Areas, Progression in an Art Institution’. Education and Training Foundation (ETF) Annual Research Conference, Mary Ward House, London. July 2013.

Published Art Work

Her paintings have been published in journals including British Association of Iconographers, Issue 47, Spring 2017. P. 11and Issue 45, Autumn 2016, p. 10. Her illustrations appear in Improve Your Chinese, Leeds University Press. Ceramics have been published in 500 Ceramic Tiles, The Ceramic Surface, 500 Animals in Clay and The Best of 500 Ceramics, by Lark Books and featured in She magazine.


April 2019, Curator’s Choice at Leeds Arts University, co-curated with Dr Sam Broadhead; Ann O’Donnell Modernist Jeweller.

December 2018, ‘When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?’, Nunn’s Yard, Norwich - poetry installation. – ‘Paternoster’.

October 2018, Icons for Unity, Pimlico, BAI exhibition.

June 2017, Approaching Nocturne; group show – art work responding to the Chapel Allerton choir ‘Cantabile’ and songs about night.

May 2017, Ann O’Donnell Modernist Jeweller – co curated with Sam Broadhead.

April 2016, The Process Continues at the Hip Store Leeds city centre.

March 2015, The Process Continues, Leeds Arts University.

July 2014, Festival of Quilts Birmingham NEC.

July 2012, Odonata, Otley, solo show.

January 2010, Norton’s Theatre for One – Carriageworks, Leeds, solo show.

November 2009, икона – Shine gallery, Leeds, solo show.

June 2009, Art in the Woods,– Holmfirth sculpture trail, site specific, earth works project, ecological/ recycling project, sculpture with an installation of portraits of soup kitchen goers.

February 2009, 195 Miles, PSL – Project Space Leeds/ Whitechapel Gallery London.

November 2008, Multitude/ Collecting, Patrick studio, Leeds.

June 2008, Lancaster University.

Oct-Nov 2007, Northern Fire, Oxo Tower, London.

May 2007, Clay2Day, Keukenhof Castle, Amsterdam.

December 2006 - Feb 07, Bolton Museum.

September 2005, Hide and Reveal, Cheongju International Craft Biennale, Korea. Honourable Mention - Cheongju Craft Biennale 2005.

December 1996, Three in Evolution, Stewart's Village Gallery, Waxhaw, NC.

June 1993, IDI, International Design Interiors, Earls Court, London.

Forthcoming Publications

An edited book by Proff Maggie Gregson called Out of Practice; an article for the Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning and an article for the Journal of Educational Sciences, as well as conference proceeding for the ESREA conference. Frances is also a keen blogger and user of social media to promote her research and art practice.