Professional learning, leadership and governance

Now more than ever, young people, parents, educators and policy-makers are asking, what is learning and what makes it happen?

Our interdisciplinary group uses theories and methods to explore these questions in exciting ways. We are academics with real-world teaching, leadership and governance experience who are committed to professional learning research that empowers critique and change.

As a group we share expertise in practice-based learning theories and cutting edge sociomaterial analyses; and in digital and art-based research methods. We often work closely with colleagues in other thematic groups and, together with our impressive doctoral students we continue to advance the field of professional education and leadership in exciting and powerful ways.

Our research aims to promote social improvement and reduce inequalities. We’ve achieved significant impacts on policy and practice in professional learning in Scotland and Wales. Our research on governance in further education colleges contributes to understanding governance and how this enables colleges to meet the needs of learners, employers and labour markets.

Our researchers

Current research and innovation projects

Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant: A Visual Study of Professional Learning in Closing the Poverty-Related Attainment Gap, PI Maureen K. Michael. 2021 – 2022

Clackmannanshire Council Education Services: School based Curriculum Development through Critical Collaborative Professional Enquiry Programme, Co-PIs Valerie Drew and Professor Mark Priestley, 2018 - 2021

ESRC: Processes and Practices of Governing in FE Colleges in the UK PI Cate Watson; Co-I Gary Husband; and Research Fellow Aileen Ireland. Fe-governing@stir.ac.uk. 2018 – 202

Forth Valley and West Lothian Regional Improvement Collaborative: School based Curriculum Development through Critical Collaborative Professional Enquiry, Co-PIs Valerie Drew and Professor Mark Priestley, 2019 - ongoing

Forth Valley and West Lothian Regional Improvement Collaborative: Promoting System Level Change Through Enhancing Pedagogical

Practices Programme, Co-PIs Valerie Drew and Professor Mark Priestley, 2019 – ongoing

West Partnership Regional Improvement Collaborative: School based Curriculum Development through Critical Collaborative Professional Enquiry Programme, Co-PIs Valerie Drew and Mark Priestley, 2020 - 2021

Recently completed research and innovation projects

Lipman Miliband Trust: 100 Years of Radical Adult Education in Scotland: Building Hope for the Future, PI Sarah Galloway with Co-I Cate Watson, 2019 - 2020

Argyll and Bute Council Education Services: School based Curriculum Development through Critical Collaborative Professional Enquiry, Co-PIs Valerie Drew and Professor Mark Priestley, 2017 - 2018

Education Action Service South East Wales: School based Curriculum Development through Critical Collaborative Professional Enquiry, Co-PIs Valerie Drew and Professor Mark Priestley, 2016-2017 & 2018 – 2019

Collaboration

Collaboration is key to our success – our collective networks connect an impressive array of international and interdisciplinary expertise.

These networks include:

  • Association for Research in Post Compulsory Education
  • British Educational Research Association
  • General Teaching Council Scotland
  • International Sociological Association (Visual Sociology)
  • ProPEL: Professional Practice, Education and Learning
  • Scottish Government Academic Reference Group for Education Research

Doctoral supervision

Some of our doctoral students and working titles (including our interdisciplinary co-supervisions)

Anastasia Fjodorova, ‘The Effects of Marketisation on UK Fine Art Photography BA Design Courses’, Supervisor Maureen K. Michael

Julia Fotheringham, Associate Students in Transition from College to University: A Sociocultural Study, Supervisor Gary Husband

Jordan MacLean, ‘Coaching with Latour: An Ontological Manifesto for the Sociomateriality of Sport’, Supervisor Cate Watson

Constance McClucky, ‘Powers, Passages and Passengers’: The Construction and Performance of Student Midwives’ Professional Identities’, Supervisor Cate Watson

Carol McCulloch, ‘Exploring Art-Nature Encounters as a Pedagogical Framework in supporting Female Offenders upon Release’, Supervisor Maureen K. Michael

Rosie Priest, ‘Collaborative Art and Transformation: An Exploration of National Galleries of Scotland Outreach Programme for Disadvantaged Young People’ (SGSSS Collaborative Studentship with National Galleries of Scotland), Supervisor Maureen K. Michael

Barbara Schuler, ‘Notions of Creativity: Exploring its place in High Stakes Subject-Based Assessment’, Supervisor Maureen K. Michael

Matthew Sowerby, ‘Beyond Illustration: Harnessing young people’s vernacular photo-literacies in curriculum making and pedagogy within secondary schools and Further Education colleges’, Supervisor Maureen K. Michael