Simon is a proud Mackem. Born in Sunderland, he has been a regular at the Stadium of Light, home to Sunderland AFC, since the late 1990s (before that he was a regular at Roker Park). That being said, in all other ways he considers himself an honorary Geordie.
Simon first entered the Geography Department at Newcastle University as an undergraduate student in 1994 and feels incredibly lucky to work in the same department today - as a human geographer, Professor of Pedagogy in Higher Education, and the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology's Director of Excellence in Learning and Teaching (DELT). In 2018 he won Newcastle University’s Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Award in recognition of his impact on the experience of students at Newcastle University and beyond.
Simon specialises in two (completely unrelated) things. Firstly, as a former schoolteacher, he is very interested in the social and academic transition from school to university – particularly how these are experienced by widening participation students. Simon has written multiple transitions-related research articles, textbooks, and a report on transitions for the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE). He was a corresponding member of Geography's A-level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB), a body established by the government to lead the reform of A-levels, and is currently an advisor to several A-level exam boards on this issue. In addition, Simon is a member of the Royal Geographical Society’s Accreditation Panel for Undergraduate Degrees. His new book “Studying Geography at University: How to Succeed in the First Year of Your New Degree” will be published by Routledge in October 2020.
Simon’s second area of interest lies in political geography and geopolitics – particularly British foreign policy and the so-called “Special Relationship” between the UK and the USA. He has spent a lot of time in darkened rooms in the Public Records Office in Kew, looking at old government documents and thinking about how Britain's past geopolitical strategy influences current British foreign policy. In 2012, his single authored monograph “A Special Relationship? British Foreign Policy in the Era of American Hegemony” was published by Manchester University Press.