School of Education Community Response to COVID-19 Bulletin 2

Issued: Tue, 02 Jun 2020 12:10:00 BST

This is an update of some of the work that is being undertaken in the School of Education, following a previous summary. For the most part, readers will find links to more detail of the work, and for convenience it is divided into the broad categories of Knowledge Exchange and External Engagement, and Public Discourse.

Knowledge Exchange and External Engagement

We know well in the field of adult education about the relationship between learning and health, and this work has particular resonance currently as one potential means of reaching out to older adults, some of whom who will be feeling particularly a sense of isolation and loneliness at this time. The key issues that pertain within this field have recently been analysed in a PASCAL Observatory Briefing Paper, Promoting mental health and well-being in EcCoWell 2 communities, co-written by Catherine Lido.

Researchers within our Urban Big Data Centre have developed a new programme of work in response to COVID-19, which has been driven both by their knowledge of data availability and by discussions with civic partners about knowledge gaps or analytical requirements. Latest updates on this work is found at this link, and includes an adult learning and community development component. Here a number of research-informed thought pieces related to the current pandemic on a wide range of urban services have been posted.

Margery McMahon is one of two representatives from the Scottish Council of Deans of Education on the Scottish Government/Education Scotland  Covid-19 Education Recovery Group within Workforce Support Workstream. Chris Chapman is a also a member of the Recovery Group, focusing on disadvantaged learners, as well as the Welsh Government’s Academic Expert Group and have just been invited onto a Chilean Advisory Committee.

Kate Reid is part of a wider cross institutional research consortium connected to this recently awarded Scottish Government, Rapid Covid research call. This specific project is entitled, Protecting population physical & mental health during the coronavirus pandemic: A representative national weekly survey to understand changes, and is led by Professor Diane Dixon from the University of Aberdeen

Our Head of the School of Education, Margery McMahon has initiated, Leading Teacher Education in Times of Crisis and Challenge, an international, online network for those involved in leading teacher education to discuss current challenges arising from Covid-19; to share national/ local responses to issues such the student practicum/placement and to consider the longer term implications and impact of Covid-19 for teacher education.

International networking related to COVID -19 is also being promoted by the International Educational Assessment Network (IEAN) that is co-ordinated by Louise Hayward. A recent meeting attended by 12 nations/states explored how each was dealing with COVID -19 and how member nations/states of the network could support one another (British Columbia, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Queensland, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland, Wales).  Two groups have been set up: one to concentrate on issues surrounding this year's examination process; and a second to focus on possible implications for the future of high -stakes assessment internationally.


The PASCAL Observatory, whose European base is at the University of Glasgow, is engaged in a range of activities around the world. These includes a major collaborations with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, a forthcoming webinar series, Learning Cities COVID-19 recovery: from research to practice, led by Mike Osborne

Public Discourse

Many of our staff have been communicating and engaging in public discourse through the chosen media of the day, the webinar, and other traditional media. A few notable examples are:


  • An International Webinar with over 700 participants on "Rethinking Sustainability and Development in times of COVID-19" on 17 May, organized by the Department of Chemistry, Morning Star Home Science College in India in collaboration with the university’s Sustainable Futures in Africa network with a presentation by Dr Mia Perry from the School of Education who co-directs the network.
  • Professor Ellen Boeren has produced a thought piece on adults missing out ineducation during pandemic for Elm Magazine as well as offering a joint editorial on COVID-19 for Adult Education Quarterly
  • Professor Alison Phipps, our UNESCO chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, and ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council, has continued to campaign on behalf of refugees whose plight is accentuated during the current crisis. This has included a recent article in The National and engagement widely around the world.
  • Dr Yulia Nesterova from our Centre for Sustainable, Healthy, Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods has produced another thought piece, Supporting resilient learning in the face of COVID-19
  • One of our doctoral students, Barry Black, has also been prominent in public discourse, and was interviewed on Radio Scotland on 21 April to discuss what lockdown may mean for educational inequality in Scotland. His thoughts are also now published in the Times Education Supplement for Scotland.
  • Lavinia Hirsu, Sally Zacharias and Dobrochna Futro (School of Modern Languages) have led a webinar with the British Council on Creative activities for Language Learners at home. Further advice to parents has been provided by Professor Cathie Doherty in her piece for the Conversation addressed to parents doing home-schooling.



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