Introduction and Themes

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 70 research active staff, including 20 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.

The main Foci for our current research work are: 

Urban and Place-based Learning

Our work in this area includes our concern to better understand the relationship between place and educational disadvantage in the Glasgow City Region, and also in other regions in the world, in particular in the global south. We seek to identify the drivers of disadvantage, as well as lifelong success, and to inform policy options for narrowing the gap in educational attainment experienced by young people and adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our distinctiveness is based a) on the use of novel and sophisticated quantitative methods, for example through our work within the ESRC funded Urban Big Data Centre led by Catherine Lido and a team that includes Mike Osborne, Phil Mason and Muir Houston b) taking an interdisciplinary approach working with other leading academics within the College of Science and Engineering, the School of Social and Political Sciences and the Institute of Health and Well-being, specialising in engineering, environmental sciences, health, housing and transport, and c) addressing global challenges. We recognise in this work that combating inequality within and among countries, preserving the planet, creating inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and fostering social inclusion are mutually interdependent, and are underpinned by learning. 

In the Greater Glasgow area, the major initiative, Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland (CNS), led by Chris Chapman, with funding of £2.2m from the Scottish Government, and additional support from Baillie Gifford, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, South Lanarkshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council offers a distinctive and innovative place-based approach to tackling child poverty. It brings together people, organisations and other resources in a local area so that they can all work more collaboratively to promote better lives for the children and young people living there.

Our work, through a number of projects supported within Global Challenges Research Fund and funded by AHRC, the British Academy, ESRC, EPSRC and MRC, led by staff including, Evelyn Arizpe, Sinead GormallyMike Osborne, Mia Perry, Alison Phipps, Barbara Read, Oscar Valiente, Oscar Odena, Michele Schweisfurth, and Bonnie Slade builds on these themes. This includes, the UKRI-funded, Centre for Sustainable, Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods, and a British Academy-funded project on the contribution of HEI systems to urban development (SUEUAA), both within Global Challenges Research FundAlso, within GCRF, a British Academy-funded project funded within its Education and Crises programme, Educational Peacebuilding in Medellin and Acapulco, is focused on the city as the unit of analysis. Led by Evelyn Arizpe and Sinead Gormally, this project from a lifelong learning perspective, seeks to understand the infrastructure, engagement, resources and policies required to educationally transform a community in order to contribute to reducing the negative impacts of drug-related violence and crime.

Many of our research projects in this area involve extensive collaboration beyond the social sciences. This includes working with engineers, environmental scientists, health scientists and the NGO sector in implementing technological, environmental and health initiatives through community engagement using arts-based and public pedagogies. Led by Mia Perry, this work covers diverse fields including palliative care in Bangladesh, geo-thermal engineering in Ethiopia, and environmental initiatives in Uganda, Botswana and Nigeria. Arts based approaches are also used in a GCRF project funded by the AHRC, led by Oscar Odena, which investigates the role of Performing Arts for Peace Education in conflict zones in Latin America. 


Project title 


Funding and Source 


Global Centre for Sustainable, Healthy, Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods 

Systematic and comparative studies of formation and differentiation of neighbourhoods in cities, addressing challenges associated with urbanisation and large-scale rural-to-urban migration 


 £7m from ESRC GCRF 



Led by researchers in Urban Studies, Education and the Institute of Health and Well-being with 8 international partner universities and NGOs in the Global South 

Urban Big Data Centre 

Established as part of UK’s national data infrastructure, focusing on developing big data resources and urban analytics methods for wide range of potential applications and users, includinplace-based approaches in Education. 


10% of £12m from ESRC 


  • 5% of £600 from ESRC


22% of £12m from ESRC 


Led exclusively by researchers from the University of Glasgow 

Strengthening Urban Engagement of Universities in Asia and Africa 

Assessing extent to which universities in 6 countries can respond to demands of society and how, through dialogue with city stakeholders, this can be enhanced and impact on policy 


£299k from British Academy, within its GCRF Cities and Infrastructure programme 



Adult Learning and Youth Transitions

This area of work focuses on the impact of learning opportunity in formal, non-formal and informal settings on the life courses of both young and older adults, including those who are most vulnerable in labour markets and at risk of social exclusion. Projects such as the H2020 funded, YOUNG_ADULLLT Policies Supporting Young Adults in their Lifecourse and the ESRC/Newton Fund supported, Governing the educational and labour market trajectories of secondary TVET graduates in Chile, both led by Oscar Valiente and also involving, Chris Chapman, Lesley Doyle, Kristinn Hermannsson, Kevin Lowden and Michele Schweisfurth, contribute to a) developing new knowledge about the impact of LLL policies, b) better understanding of structural relationships and the functional match between education/training and the labour market, and c/ identification of successful sustainable institutional solutions to mismatches. Major GCRF projects in this theme include: 

Some of our work in this area focuses on professional and career development. A project led by Muir Houston and Mike Osborne, Labour Market Efficiency of Tertiary Adult Education (LETAE), assessed the role of lifelong learning for mid-career professional development in seven European countriesThe VisNet project funded by EPSRC led from the School of Engineering with Nicki Hedge and Catherine Lido as Education Co-Is focuses on key barriers to international collaboration for female engineering academics, and designs and demonstrates interventions and new best practices in networking and collaborations. 

Project title 


Funding and Source 


Can dual apprenticeships create better and more equitable social and economic outcomes for young people? 

Comparative study of India and Mexico, considers how and under what contextual and institutional circumstances dual apprenticeships create better and more equitable social and economic outcomes for young people 


£800k from ESRC GCRF Education and Skills  


VisNET: Virtual in situ networking to reinvent the rules of international collaborations and reduce gender differences in academic careers 


Focuses on key barriers to international collaboration for female engineering academics, and designs and demonstrates interventions and new best practices in networking and collaborations 

£395k from EPSRC 


Young ADULLT - Policies Supporting Young People in the Life Course 

Led by University of Münster, critically analysed developments of LLL policies in select European countries and their implications for young people’s life trajectories 


School’s share: £400m from H2020 (Young-3-2015) 


One of only three selected for funding from 70 applications; the School’s first success in H2020 


Migration and Refugee Education

The School of Education has a longstanding and sustained strand of work deriving from language education, and the use of the arts in awareness raising for refugee integration and migration that has grown out of work undertaken over 20 years in collaboration with the School of Modern Languages, importantly through the vehicle of GRAMNet co-ordinated by Alison Phipps. It relates to work funded on four occasions by the AHRC (and its precursors), the British Academy and Leverhulme Foundation that investigated the place of and performance of multilingualism in varieties of migrant integration. 

A major AHRC project, Researching Multilingually, has provided the basis for the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts held by Professor Phipps. In early 2019 the South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub, (Migration for Development and Equality (MIDEQ)), was established with funding for a major five-year project under the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), involving Alison Phipps, Giovanna FassettaTawona Sitholé and Gameli Tordzro  from the School. In 2020, led also by Alison Phipps, the Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace Network Plus (CUSP N+) was funded by AHRC with GCRF. The network draws together non-academic partners in the UK and in low and middle-income countries (Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Palestine and Zimbabwe) who work with people in different artistic and cultural settings to strengthen arts and cultural institutions/organisations in LMICs so they can become a reference point for the identification and transformation of social conflict.

Related work led by Evelyn Arizpe, Julie McAdam and Lavinia Hirsu concerns the development of visual, multilingual, emotional, critical and digital literacies using multimodal texts that are crucial for understanding and developing migrant children’s and young adult’s meaning-making and intercultural competences in the global 21st century. This includes the AHRC-GCRF project, Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement, working with collaborators in Egypt, Mexico and Central America. 

Giovanna Fassetta runs an Impact Acceleration GRCF project to maximise the impact of the Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP) language course. The OAfP is the main output of an earlier AHRC-GCRF project called “The impact of language”. The OAfP course was designed and developed in collaboration with the Arabic Center at the Islamic University of Gaza (Palestine).

Work within an AHRC/ESRC funded GCRF Forced Displacement project, Building Futures: Aspirations of Syrian Youth Refugees and Host Population Responses in Lebanon, Greece and the UK, involving Lesley Doyle and Kristinn Hermannsson as Co-investigators has linked to our concern with skills development and focused on displaced Syrians in the Lebanon, Greece and the UK. Bonnie Slade has led a British Academy funded project concerned migrating medical professional knowledge. Marta Moskal has been the Co-I on an ESRC funded project concerned with identity, citizenship and belonging among settled Eastern European migrant children in the UK

Project title 


Funding and Source 


Researching Multilingually at Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State 

International comparative research on translation and interpretation at different borders types, developing theory, ethical research practices and research methodologies in relation to multilingual research 

£1m from AHRC (Translating Cultures theme); one of only three large grants awarded with 6 academic institutions (international and UK) and third sector organisations 



Migration for Development and Equality (MIDEQ) - South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub 

Led with the University of Coventry: interdisciplinary, evidence-based understanding of multidimensional relationships between South-South migration, inequality and development, including closing gaps in education, health and other outcomes for migrants and their families 

£900k as partner to project of £19.8m from UKRI 


Partners include 20 universities and numerous NGOs in 12 Global South countries and IGOs including the International Organisation for Migration, the International Labour Organisation, the OECD and UN agencies 


Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) Network+ 

Interdisciplinary project focused on intercultural language- and practice-led arts pedagogies. Aims to strengthen arts and cultural organisations in Low to Medium Income Countries to become reference points for identification and transformation of social conflict. 


£2m from UKRI through AHRC as part of GCRF 


Educational Peace Building in Acapulco and Medellin 

Aims to create detailed understanding of the infrastructure, engagement, resources and policies required to educationally transform a community in order to contribute to reducing negative impacts of drug-related violence/crime 


£358k from British Academy’s GCRF Education and Learning in Crises programme 



Collaborative Schooling for Change

Core to the work of the School of Education in this field is our belief that tackling educational inequity is one of the most significant challenges of our time. This can only be achieved by researchers working across disciplines and in partnership with policy-makers and practitioners to develop new theoretical insights and practical approaches that levels the playing field so that all children can achieve their full potential irrespective of their background. This is illustrated by Chris Chapman’s research, which focuses on the interplay between educational and public service research, policy and practice, specifically in relation to the improvement of educational outcomes in disadvantaged settings. Chris works collaboratively with schools and communities to develop deeper understandings and support the practical interventions to improve educational outcomes. The recurring themes in Chris’s research are accountability, collaboration, equity, leadership, professional learning and organisational/system reform. He is a member of the First Minister’s International Council of Education Advisers, the highest-level advisory group in Scotland. Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney, credited the report of the Council with influencing the government not to introduce legislation in June 2018. Chris is also Senior Academic Adviser to the Scottish Attainment ChallengeHe leads Policy Scotland and two major strands of work with the Robert Owen Centre, Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland and the Network for Social & Educational Equity (NSEE). a series of projects that have sought close the poverty related attainment gap by improving student outcomes in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.  

We also offer research in the field that influences systems development in the schools' sector in other nations. An ESRC-DFID funded project on School Development and Management Committees in Karnataka, India, involving Michele Schweisfurth, investigates how these committees can use accountability structures to improve school outcomes and school-community relationsA prestigious British Academy fellowship awarded to Adrian Zancajo investigates the decommodification of education in Chile. A team led by Louise Hayward and also involving Peter Donaldson, Kay Livingston, Kara Makara-Fuller and David Morison-Love is funded by the Welsh Government in a major project concerned with Progression and Assessment in the Curriculum for Wales and draws on the work of the International Education Assessment Network (IEAN) of Small Nations and States that she leads. The Welsh Government has also recently announced a new National Academy for Education Leadership, strongly influenced by the Scottish College of Educational Leadership, which is chaired by Tony Finn. Further, Trevor Gale is also a founding member of the new Wales Education Commission, a group of international education experts providing research-informed advice to the Welsh Government on its new education agendaClive Dimmock is leading work to build leadership capacity of headteachers in Vietnam supported by funding from the British Council and the Head Foundation. Kay Livingston has provided extensive advice to the European Commission on Initial Teacher Education. 

Further, our work in leadership extends into higher education and leadership for development through a range of projects. For example, through funding from the British Council and other agencies, work led by Margery McMahon has developed senior leaders in a number of countries including Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia and the Ukraine. Michele Schweisfurth and Oscar Valiente in work funded by AusAID have explored the relationship between education and developmental leadership in the Philippines.

Other work connected with fostering change in schools includes the project, Don’t Waste our Future, led by Ines Alves and Ria Dunkley, and funded by EuropeAid concerning the fostering of responsible consumption and combating food waste.

Project title 


Funding and Source 


Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland 

Place-based approach to improving outcomes for children, young people and communities in Scottish cities 


£2.8m (with £2.3m from the Scottish Government 


CAMAU project: Progression and Assessment in the Curriculum for Wales 


Seeks to provide evidence from research, policy and practice to address issues of progression in secondary education 

£400k from Welsh Government 


SCDE Attainment -Developing pedagogies that work for Pre-Service and Early Career Teachers 

Seeks to determine how to better prepare pre-service and early-career teachers to more effectively improve literacy and numeracy attainment and health and wellbeing outcomes in schools serving pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds 


£653k from the Scottish Government 


Collaborative project co-ordinated by the School with other Schools of Education in Scotland as partners 


Ethics, religion and values in education

The School of Education has sustained demonstrable research strengths in the fields of philosophy of education, religion and education, and religious education, and includes the work of Jim Conroy, Bob Davis, Catherine Doherty, Penny Enslin, Leonard Franchi, Nicki Hedge and Stephen McKinney. These contributions illuminate issues of ethics, values, character and morality across school curriculum, classroom pedagogy, childhood, and teacher education. These bodies of scholarship are distinguished by rigorous attention to the history of ideas, metatheory, principled scholarly reasoning, and theory building applied to contemporary issues. This scholarship underpins the broader school strength in social justice and equity studiesAs the key institution preparing teachers of religious education for Scotland’s Catholic schools, the school hosts a critical mass of scholars in theology, religion, and pedagogy, whose interactions with culture, politics and education are highly significant. It hosts the St Andrew’s Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education.

The expertise of our scholars in this area is recognised in an international handbook chapter on Religious Education. The large project ‘Does Religious Education work?’ (2007-2010), led by Jim Conroy and Bob Davis, and jointly funded by the ESRC and AHRC), has continued to generate new publications, and a follow-up study for Character Scotland led by Jim Conroy. Attention to religious formation implicates questions around liberalism and post-liberalism, secularism and post-secularism, religious literacy and illiteracy and the expression of these different orientations in the school curriculum and its possible futures.

The school’s research in the philosophy of education takes controversies about understanding education itself as central, especially in the face of contemporary neoliberal influences on policy and practice. The focus on ethics and justice addresses a range of problems to do with social and global justice in education, in interpreting what education is particularly in a global context, who gets what education, delivered by what means, and where on the globe. This incorporates themes of inclusion and exclusion; the ethics of internationalisation; postcolonial relationships in the distribution of educational goods; feminist ethics; citizenship; sex education; capabilities; caring; and autonomy.