Research in Education

The School of Education at the University of Glasgow is committed to social justice in and through education, and to education research and practice of the highest quality. We aspire to be a world leader in addressing the contemporary educational issues of our times and to making a difference for society’s most vulnerable and educationally disadvantaged. The School is currently ranked 1st in the UK on three league tables: the Times Good University Guide, the Complete University Guide and by the National Student Survey.

The School is recognised as a leader in the fields of teacher education and educational research, including within post-compulsory education, which also encompasses higher education. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 74% of its research was rated as internationally excellent or world leading.  As measured by the REF the School is ranked 5th for research power in the UK. Currently the School has some 60 research active staff, including 15 professors, and attracts significant external funding for research from the Research Councils of the UK, the British Academy, the British Council, overseas national research councils including in Canada and Australia, the EC Horizon 2020 programme and various DGs of the EC, the UK and Scottish Government and its agencies, and charities.

This large and vibrant group of education academics committed to interdisciplinarity, staff in the School are organised across four research and teaching groups, three research centres and two research networks. Our commitment to social justice permeates all of our work, including our research and research-led teaching.

The school brings together researchers with expertise across all sectors of education: formal and non-formal, and from primary school through to higher, adult and community education. The School prides itself on the effective integration of research, theory, policy and practice.

Highlights of our research include: urban and place-based learning; adult learning and youth transitions; migration and refugee education; collaborative schooling for change; and ethics, religion and values in education. The School also offers courses in teacher education, psychological studies, children’s literature, TESOL, community development, museum education, education policy and leadership, adult education, assessment in education, and inclusive education. We also have a large group of postgraduate research students undertaking PhDs and EdDs.

A key feature of our research is our commitment to placing educational research as part of an interdisciplinary agenda to support the development of more equitable societies in the spirit of social justice and its contribution to producing better places locally, nationally and globally. This is evidenced in a number of ways, including through our contributions to major programmes of work such as What Works Scotland, the Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) and the GCRF Centre for Sustainable Healthy Learning Cities, each funded by the ESRC.

A second important dimension of our work is the critical interaction with government and policymakers at national and international level. For Scotland in particular, we seek to be a major source of research-informed evidence that contributes to positive economic and societal impact, benefitting all citizens of the country. Key members of the School play significant roles within government through a range of secondments and knowledge exchange activity with, for example, the Department for International Development (DfiD), Scottish Government, Education Scotland, the Scottish College of Educational Leadership, the Scottish Qualifications’ Authority and the General Teaching Council Scotland. One professor is the Scottish Government Senior Academic Advisor to the Attainment Challenge; another acts as a critical friend to the Scottish Governmental review of provision post 15, The Learner Journey 15-24, and is a member of the Cabinet Secretary’s review committee for Assessment and National Qualifications and of the National Improvement Framework group.

We have a particular commitment to the city of Glasgow where we are based, and make significant contributions to local educational challenges through What Works Scotland, the Urban Big Data Centre and our contributions to the Applied Social Science Hub in the East End of Glasgow at the Olympia Building, led by one of our professors, Bob Davis. This work includes:

  • through the Education arm of the UBDC, and deriving from its Integrated Multi-media Data project which has assessed literacies within the city, the production of 3-D literacy models for use in communities.
  • related work that is being incorporated in collaborations at the Olympia Centre with the recently funded ESRC-funded Housing Evidence Centre.
  • work of our Robert Owen Centre and What Works Scotland in collaboration with the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH)and Education Services at Glasgow Council in establishing the first Children’s Neighbourhood in Bridgeton and Dalmarnock in the East End of Glasgow.

We also provide leadership of Policy Scotland, based at the University of Glasgow, which in an interdisciplinary fashion builds on the University’s research excellence not only in education but in cognate policy fields including crime, housing, disability, transport, public health, economic and employment policy and welfare reform. Through its research, public events, and brokering collaboration between researchers and policymakers, Policy Scotland seeks to stimulate new thinking and good practice in Scotland and further afield.

We are also strongly international in our outlook, working extensively in all continents with a particular emphasis on research strengthening activity in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our activities with an international dimension include:

  • hosting the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts
  • undertaking a range of projects funded by the UK Research Councils concerned with addressing global challenges such as climate change and migration through education and community development.
  • establishing and leading the International Education Assessment Network (IEAN) of Small Nations and States.
  • advising national governments, through, for example

membership of International Evaluation Team evaluating Educational Research in Norway, advising the Norwegian Government and Educational Directorate (Utdanningsdirektoratet), the Norwegian Government’s Ludvigson Committee (the body charged with the revision of national curriculum and assessment in Norway),

membership of the National Quality Assurance Higher Education Agency in Portugal

membership of the Independent Advisory Group (reporting directly to the Cabinet Secretary for Education in Wales) on the design and enactment of the emerging new national curriculum and assessment in Wales, and subsequently being contracted by the Welsh government to research this development.

  • supporting headteacher development in Vietnam funded by the British Council and Head Foundation
  • establishing a Learning Cities Network around the world through the PASCAL Observatory, working closely with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning

Our international advisory roles also involve working with the European Commission Education and Culture Directorate, for example acting as critical friend during the development and publication of the European Commission Policy Guide, ‘Shaping career-long perspectives on teaching: a guide on policies to improve Initial Teacher Education’; expert on one of the six strategic European Commission Education Working Groups on Schools and member of the Working Group Steering Group leading peer-learning activities with Ministries of Education officials from EU Member States.

We also work with national and international agencies, for example, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in Ireland; and the UK National Commission of UNESCO, providing policy advice on teacher education and monitoring and realising the 2030 Education goals.  At the UK level, Professor Michele Schweisfurth is seconded to the Department for International Development as a senior research fellow in Education.