Robin has a PhD in Education from the University of Exeter. On completing his doctorate he spent 10 years at Aberdeen College of Education where he lectured in the Sociology of Education. He then moved to King Alfred’s College (now the University of Winchester) where he was tasked with the establishment of the first Master’s Degree in Special Education in the UK.
After 10 years in Winchester he returned to Scotland taking up the post of Principal of a residential special school and farm training centre administered by Voluntary Service Aberdeen. Five years later he went on to set up an advocacy service in South Aberdeenshire funded by Aberdeenshire Social Work Department and Grampian Health Board, where most of his clients were adults with an intellectual disability. Drawing from this experience, he co-edited the book Advocacy and Learning Disability which was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2002.
He then obtained the post of Development and Training Co-ordinator for Camphill Scotland – a body representing the ten Camphill communities in Scotland. A feature of Camphill practice that particularly impressed him was the fact that it was based on a model where aspects of care, education, therapeutic and medical activities, the use of crafts and creative arts were all brought together to form a holistic approach to the support and development of children and adults with special needs. Robin is an unrepentant advocate of intentional supportive communities – including Camphill villages – and a critic of the way that the policy of community care is currently being implemented.
He has written extensively in the professional literature. He has edited two books on Camphill: Holistic Special Education: Camphill principles and practice (Floris Books: 2006) and Discovering Camphill: New perspectives, research and developments (Floris Books: 2011). He has a particular interest in the history of Camphill and its founder Dr Karl Koenig and has written on these themes for a number of peer-reviewed journals (Communal Societies, 2017; Scottish Medical Journal, 2013/2014; Journal of Austrian Studies, 2013; Educational Review, 2011; Journal of Moravian History, 2008).
More recently he co-edited with Maria Lyons Community Care and Inclusion for People with an Intellectual Disability (Floris Books: 2016). In 2011 he guest reviewed a Special Issue of the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research on the theme of ‘Residential and community support’ and in 2015 guest edited a Special Issue of the International Journal of Developmental Disabilities on the theme of Community inclusion and intellectual disability: meanings, means and myths.
Robin lives with his wife and son in rural Aberdeenshire where weather permitting he spends some of his ‘spare’ time in the garden or fly-fishing. His other interests include local history which led him to write the first history of the local parish of Drumoak which was published to celebrate the second millennium. He also has a strong interest in the Scots language and bird watching which led to the publication of A Guide to Scots Bird Names which, to his astonishment, was nominated by The Guardian as one of the best nature books of 2014! And with Scots language poet Liz Niven, Robin wrote a pamphlet entitled Language, Law and Liberty in which the case for legal recognition of the Scots leid (language) was presented.
Robin is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.