Peter now lives in Macau, China, where he is an education consultant and freelance writer. His long career in education began in England in 1959, when he graduated from Trent Park Teachers College (now part of Middlesex University). He taught in primary and secondary schools before entering the field of teacher education in Manchester, where he also obtained his MEd degree.
In 1974 he moved to Australia, where he worked as a lecturer in a number of colleges and universities, and also for a time as the Principal Education Officer (Special Education) in the state of South Australia. From 1998 to 2005 he lectured in special education methodology at the University of Hong Kong, where he introduced the first postgraduate diploma offering a major in special education. Peter has awards for excellence in teaching from the University of Hong Kong and from Flinders University in Adelaide. He also received the Mona Tobias Award for services to special education in Australia.
His writing career began in 1974, when his Remedial teachers’ handbook was published by Oliver and Boyd. At the same time these publishers also produced his series of six books for secondary school students with learning difficulties, under the title Read, Write and Enjoy. He currently has fourteen books in print, all covering aspects of special education, learning difficulties, and teaching methods. His most successful recent material is a set of six books published by the Australian Council for Educational Research under the series title What teachers need to know. Currently he is working on a new book covering the use of effective, research-based methods for teaching children to spell.
Peter Westwood regularly contributes papers to academic journals, including the International Journal of Special Education, The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, International Journal of Development, Disability and Education, Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, and Special Education Perspectives. He also regularly reviews manuscripts that are submitted to some of these journals, and provides academic book reviews.
Peter says that he has oftentimes had to swim against the tide when new trends and excesses have come along in education. His reservations have frequently proved later to be very valid. For example, in the 1980s and 1990s he was a staunch advocate for using phonics and direct teaching in early reading instruction, much against the prevailing philosophy of the then popular ‘whole language’ method. Since 2000 he has taken a much more cautious approach than many of his contemporaries to policies of inclusive education. Suggestions in his new book, Inclusive and adaptive education, reflect this caution, and he describes only classroom practices that are truly effective and feasible.