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SCEL Fellows

SCEL Fellowship is recognition at the highest level for leaders in education whose expertise is recognised within and beyond the teaching profession.

About Fiona Anderson

Born in Canada, Fiona is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde. Fiona started her career in education in North Lanarkshire Council in 1996 and  since then, her roles have included ASN co-ordinator, depute and headteacher in Stirling Council. In June 2012, Fiona moved to Falkirk Council as Headteacher of Head of Muir Primary School and Early Years Class.

Fiona is passionate about lifelong learning, both encouraging others and embracing it herself. She has gained a Postgraduate Diploma in SEN, the Scottish Qualification for Headship and an Msc in Educational Leadership. In June 2017, Fiona achieved the SCEL Fellowship with a focus on Coaching and Mentoring. Fiona’s areas of enquiry highlighted the need for further embedding the culture of coaching and mentoring within Scottish Education through extended discussion, collaboration, awareness raising and skills development. Fiona is currently extending this work within her local authority, the Central Scotland Partnership and supporting developments at the GTCS.

As an avid traveller with her family, Fiona also embraces a strong sense of global citizenship and celebrates this through her support of community partnerships and projects in Malawi. She is keen that learners across the world have opportunities to access fair, equitable and meaningful education in order that they too can fulfill their lifelong goals and aspirations.

Area of Enquiry

A systems level approach to enhancing leadership through coaching and mentoring

About Annette Beaton

Annette participated in the first Fellowship Programme during her second headship. Her area of enquiry throughout the SCEL Fellowship programme, alongside its particular focus on developing outstanding Headteachers as system leaders, contributing to school improvement within, and beyond schools in the wider context of Scottish education, was on developing high quality leadership in Inclusive Practice.

Since being awarded Fellowship, Annette has had a wide variety of opportunities to continue with her own learning, representing SCEL nationally and internationally and working within her own local authority to contribute towards school and system and improvement.

Area of Enquiry

Recognising and Justifying the need to provide leadership training for inclusive school practice

About David Clark

David has spent most of his professional life in England where he was head of two schools before taking up his third headship in Aberdeenshire. In June 2017, David achieved the SCEL Fellowship with a focus on peer led critical self-evaluation. The emphasis in this work was a need for equipping schools to have robust school-to-school conversations about practice to create a momentum for continual improvement. This work has been widely shared within his local authority with developments taken forward towards a cluster model. In September David became an associate assessor with Education Scotland and is leading on aspects of raising attainment within the Northern Alliance.

Area of Enquiry

Maturing the system: A model for school to school, peer to peer evaluation


About Sandra Clarke

Sandra is the Head Teacher at Sandbank Primary and Gaelic Unit in Dunoon. Her enquiry work in SCEL involved the provision of a Middle Leadership Network across Argyll and Bute. She has also been working on developing inter-authority sessions to support middle leaders in their professional development.

Sandra has held a number of leadership roles in her career and led in a variety of settings in England for 15 years, both rural and inner city. She  studied Leadership and Management at Staffordshire University and National College for Teaching and Learning.

Sandra is interested in current educational leadership theory, supporting leadership at all levels, developing skills across the educational curriculum, assessment, Literacy and Drama.

Area of Enquiry

Growing our own leaders in Argyll and Bute – Systems Leadership Enquiry into the Development of a Middle Leader Network  

About George Cooper

George is Headteacher of Bearsden Academy, a post he took up in January 2008 having previously served for 6 years as Senior Depute Head of Ayr Academy. He began teaching English in 1985 and spent much of his earlier career in Ayrshire.

George’s SCEL Fellowship Programme area of enquiry focused on developing middle leadership. This involved him establishing a leadership programme in partnership with East Dunbartonshire Council and the University of Strathclyde. The programme delivers Masters level accreditation, in school developmental experiences, mentoring and local authority network support.

Having achieved SCEL Fellowship, George is committed to system-wide improvement, the development of teacher leadership at all levels. He supports SCEL in its key principles.

Area of Enquiry

Developing Middle Leadership Capacity in a Scottish Local Authority

About Alison Forbes

Alison Forbes was appointed as Headteacher of Woodside Nursery school Glasgow in August 2006. Alison trained as a primary teacher and worked in a range of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings before being appointed headteacher.

Over the past ten years Alison has represented colleagues in a range of improvement groups. She has been involved in developing training programmes for aspiring leaders within the ELC sector in Glasgow. Alison has worked with Education Scotland as an Associate Assessor and is currently involved in two West Area Partnership groups exploring quality and leadership pathways in preparation for the expansion of ELC entitlement by 2020. Alison has been a participant in the SCEL framework advisory group and continues to be involved in the development of the framework for leaders within ELC.

Alison was delighted to receive her SCEL fellowship in June 2017 and looks forward to working collaboratively with the other cohorts of fellows across the system to effect change and ultimately improve outcomes for children in Scotland, working towards achieving excellence and equity in education.

Area of enquiry

A report on the current understanding of leaders within ELC around their role, skills and attributes and how system leadership models can be used to support improvement within ELC at a time of expansion and change

About George Gilchrist

George was Head Teacher of two primary schools in the Scottish Borders, where he has lived for the last 25 years. In 2015 he became a Fellow of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership. He has spoken regularly on leadership and learning at events within Scotland, and further afield. He has represented SCEL at a number of different national and international  events. He has written pieces for Teaching Scotland and BERA and is regularly asked for contributions from other publications and blogs. He has his own blog entitled ‘School Leadership – A Scottish Perspective‘ and uses this for thought pieces and collaboration with educators across different systems.

George has also recently joined the board of SPTC and is committed to building strong partnerships between schools and parents. He continues to work with colleagues within his own authority and outwith, especially around the use of practitioner enquiry as a tool for school and teacher development. He has also been involved with development of this work with GTCS and Edinburgh University.

Area of Enquiry

SCEL Fellowship Assignment, 2014-15

About Sharon Hayward

Sharon has held a variety of school-based posts within Glasgow City Council. She has been head teacher in three schools of differing size and context within the city and has always worked with pupils living in areas of deprivation seeking to meet their needs creatively and holistically. Following a SCIPD trip to Winniepeg, she was invited to chair Glasgow’s Assessment Strategy Group, providing policy and guidance for colleagues in assessing progress within the Broad General Education. Sharon is committed to establishing a dialogue-rich and bureaucracy-light approach to assessment and explored this during her work with Scottish College for Educational Leadership with whom she is a Fellow. Her latest role as Attainment Advisor for The Scottish Attainment Challenge, working with colleagues in Glasgow, allows her to extend her skills beyond the school into the system.

Area of Enquiry

Sharon Hayward – Area of Enquiry

About Jay Helbert

Jay has been a primary school teacher in his native Liverpool and in Argyll and Bute where he developed professional interests in the power of professional enquiry, behavior management and emotional intelligence.

Jay was a headteacher in three schools in Argyll and Bute over a ten year period and completed the inaugural Fellowship Programme with SCEL in 2015.  During the Fellowship Programme he undertook professional learning in the area of developing high quality teacher leadership and gestalt leadership.

Jay has often said that the Fellowship Programme afforded an opportunity for deep and rich professional learning which brought together networking with high performing school leaders, engagement with educational research and learning from other sectors.

Along with colleagues, Jay presented his learning on Gestalt Leadership to the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement in January 2016.

Between January 2015 and May 2016, Jay was an education officer with Argyll and Bute with the strategic remit for teacher professional development and leadership development.

Jay has always had a passionate interest in educational developments in Scotland, England and worldwide and helped re-establish the podcast series before hanging up his microphone after over 100 episodes.

Jay joined the SCEL team as a lead specialist in May 2016.

Area of enquiry

Developing High Quality Teacher Leadership in a Primary School

About David Hughes

David Hughes was raised in Viewpark, Lanarkshire. His parents, who both left school at 15, instilled in him a lifelong love of learning and a belief in the importance of education. In 2004 he became the headteacher of Thornlie Primary in Wishaw.

David has participated in and organised a number of leadership forums within North Lanarkshire, is one of the authority’s new HT Mentors, and is a member of its Leadership Strategy Group. He has presented for Education Scotland, Grounds For Learning, the European Heads Conference, Findhorn’s Northern Lights Conference, and the Royale Conservatoire of Tbilisi, on subjects including reducing exclusion, outdoor learning, and health and wellbeing. David gained the International School System Leadership Certificate (Modules 1 and 2) in June 2017, and will be training as a facilitator for SCEL’s Excellence in Headship programme.

He believes that educational frameworks should be ambitious as well as rigorous, and should connect with big themes of social justice, community wellbeing, global connection, and personal freedom, but can only be made meaningful through the hundreds of tiny interactions that happen in schools each day; and movement within these frameworks should be adventurous, playful and joyful.

David finds his colleagues and children to be a constant source of inspiration, and still claims that – though not for the faint-hearted – turning up for work at Thornlie is a daily privilege and joy.

Area of Enquiry

In what ways does participation in a local authority middle management network impact on primary school Principal Teachers?

About Gillian Knox

Gillian began her teaching career just over 20 years ago after five years in the pharmaceutical industry.

After ten years in the classroom at all stages, she moved into the role of assessment development officer. This involved developing and delivering a range of staff development opportunities. In addition to working with staff from all educational sectors Gillian also worked to develop policy and practice on assessment for the local authority, in collaboration with a wide range of colleagues.

Gillian returned to school life as a depute then as headteacher and she is now leading her second school, working in a second local authority.

During her career Gillian has led authority-wide initiatives as Chair of the Curriculum for Excellence Strategy Group, and as Cluster Chair leading the development of Restorative Approaches from Nursery to Secondary.  She initiated a local headteacher professional learning community and is working with colleagues to create a strategic approach to curriculum rational development.

After 9 years’ experience as a headteacher Gillian attained the SCEL fellowship award and also promotes leadership within and between local authorities as a regional network leader.

Area of Enquiry

Professional Learning Communities

About Sheila Laing

Sheila Laing has been teaching since 1978. She became a headteacher in West Pilton, Edinburgh in 2001 and has led 4 schools since that time, mainly in areas of high poverty. In January 2017, Sheila left her substantive post as Headteacher of Prestonpans Infant School to begin a 23 month secondment to Edinburgh University as Senior Teaching Fellow in leadership and learning. This principally entails teaching on the Into Headship programme, a Masters level qualification which will be mandatory for all headteachers from 2020.

Sheila’s SCEL Fellowship area of enquiry was on the system leadership of a multi-sectoral partnership to employ a family worker across a community planning area, with the aim of raising attainment by increasing parental engagement. The multi-sectoral partnership continues to increase parental engagement across the system, particularly of parents and carers who are facing challenging social circumstances, with good impact for the children within those families.

Sheila is particularly interested in system and school leadership in relation to social justice and equity – challenging the structural, cultural and personal discrimination in society that is based on race, poverty, disability, sexual orientation and gender.

Sheila highly values the unique opportunity the SCEL Fellowship programme gives experienced headteachers to stretch their professional learning and practice in collaboration with others and under the tuition of key leaders in education and in other fields. She commends the programme to headteachers with 5 years or more experience.

About Jim McCrory

Jim McCrory is currently the Headteacher of St Anthony’s Primary School in Armadale, West Lothian.

Jim left Notre Dame College with his ITQ in 1979, and apart from a brief few years with British Steel Ravenscraig as a junior manager, has worked exclusively in education in various teaching posts. From 1982 until 1992, Jim was a class teacher in St Aloysius College Preparatory, until leaving to further his career in St Monica’s Primary in Pollok, Glasgow as a senior teacher.

After holding various acting positions in St Monica’s, Jim completed both his B. Ed Inservice degree award in 1990 and later completed a Masters degree in 2000, before moving on to headship in St Anthony’s Primary. Jim has kept up his interest in postgraduate study in various universities over a number of years and has taken on dual headship roles within his local authority twice over the past few years. Jim holds key leadership positions in the education community as both the chairperson of the Local Authority Primary Headteacher Association in West Lothian and as the current President of the National Catholic Headteacher Association of Primary Schools. (CHAPs)

Jim was delighted to be a successful participant on the SCEL Fellowship Programme and looks forward to his further involvement with the Scottish College of Educational Leadership with great anticipation.  Jim is also a Regional Network Leader.

Area of Enquiry

Developing Collaborative Networks in a Local Authority

About Iain McDermott

Born and raised in Renfrewshire, Iain graduated from Saint Andrew’s College of Education in 1994. He has spent most of his educational career in West Lothian Council progressing through successive roles as principal teacher, depute head, successfully becoming a headteacher in 2011. Since then, Iain has had the great privilege to lead four schools across West Lothian Council as well as working closely with the local authority in a number of leading roles including a satellite link officer leading professional learning and the Into Headship Learning Coordinator.

Throughout his various roles over the years, Iain has developed a passion and interest in leadership development, both of self and others. Successfully undertaking a postgraduate certificate in primary drama in 2000, he also completed the Scottish Qualification for Headship in 2010, leading onto the successful achievement of SCEL Fellowship in May 2018. In between time, Iain worked closely with SCEL as a member of the Framework Advisory Group, including presenting a workshop at the 2017 Scottish Learning Festival and also represented West Lothian Council as part of cohort 5 of the national Strategic Leadership Development Programme focusing on the development of Cluster Collaboration.

Iain strives to lead by example and promote leadership at all levels that values relationships and recognises the immense strength of expertise that is positively impacting in the lives of children and young people throughout Scotland’s schools. Family, friends and being a proud dad of two daughters helps him in never losing sight of the moral purpose and privilege we have in playing a hand in educating our future generations.

Area of enquiry

Leadership and equity in Scottish Schools


About Louise Moir

Born and educated in Scotland, Louise spent the first sixteen years of her teaching career in England where she held a variety of teaching and leadership posts in several different educational settings. Her final post south of the border was part of a 2,200 pupil flagship Academy school in Peterborough where she garnered a wide range of leadership experiences and gained her National Professional Qualification for Headship.

A return to Scotland was always on the cards (who wouldn’t want to return??!!) and in August 2013 Louise took up the post of headteacher at Mackie Academy, Stonehaven, in Aberdeenshire. A school of around 1100 pupils, it has been a great setting for Louise to get to grips with the developments in the Scottish education system during her “time out” and share her experiences from other education systems for the benefit of the pupils. Having participated in professional learning opportunities from the outset, both locally and regionally, and building up her experiences within the Scottish Education system, the SCEL Fellowship provided the ideal opportunity for Louise to further her educational leadership portfolio.

Louise has found the concepts of system leadership, which underpins the programme, to ally themselves very closely to what she believes which is that education is for all and what we do as leaders within that system is absolutely critical for it to succeed in being accessible to all.

Area of enquiry

A report on how a collaborative approach to leadership may help to develop an effective model of learning across a cluster of schools: considerations and implications for school leaders

About Anne Munro

Anne Munro was appointed to the post of Head Teacher of Bellshill Academy, in January 2010.  Anne trained as a Modern Studies teacher and held senior leadership posts in three schools prior to becoming Head Teacher.

In recent years Anne has had the opportunity to work with her Local Authority on developing strategies to support school leaders in using data to improve attainment and achievement for young people experiencing social and economic disadvantage. This work influenced Anne’s area of enquiry which considers the way in which a greater understanding and management of the use of the data can support school leaders in introducing effective interventions to address the challenge of closing the poverty related attainment gap.

Anne was delighted to become a SCEL Fellow in 2017 and welcomes the opportunity to continue to contribute to the development of school and system leadership through her work with her Local Authority and the Scottish College of Educational Leadership.

Area of Enquiry

A Report on how data-driven interventions may help raise attainment of low achievers in Scotland: Implications for school leaders

About Frances Murray

Frances Murray was appointed Rector of The Nicolson Institute, Stornoway, in January 2011. Having trained as an English teacher, Frances had held senior leadership roles in the school since 2007 and served as Learning Community Principal at authority level for a further year prior to taking up the role of Rector.

In 2012, Frances was awarded an Ed.D by the University of Glasgow, her thesis interrogating the evolving policy landscape of CPD. Consequently, the opportunity afforded by the Fellowship Programme to engage in a systems approach to building leadership capacity was one she welcomed. As a school leader in a small island authority, particularly at a time of continued financial constraint, Frances was keen to develop sustainable approaches to collaborative learning.

Frances was delighted to become a SCEL Fellow in 2017 and welcomes the opportunity to continue to contribute to the development of school and system leadership through working collaboratively in her local authority, in partnerships with other schools and with the Scottish College of Educational Leadership.

About Jackie Purdie

Jackie Purdie has been headteacher of a large comprehensive in the east of Glasgow for almost twelve years, having worked in other schools across the west of Scotland.  She recently completed doctoral studies in education, looking at early experiences in headship. Jackie’s further pursued this research through her fellowship enquiry which considered international approaches to headteacher preparation and induction. She is a member of the SCEL Into Headship Design Group and Headteacher in Residence at the University of Glasgow helping to deliver the Postgraduate Certificate Into Headship.

Jackie is currently on secondment as Headteacher in Residence at the University of Glasgow.

Area of Enquiry

Reflections on the SCEL Fellowship Programme and Strategic Thoughts on Headship Preparation Post-Appointment

About Louise Sanders

Louise trained as a teacher in Bristol and her first post was in a large inner-city school. She spent several years teaching in small rural schools in Northumberland before moving to the Scottish Borders to work in a specialist provision first as teacher then as manager.  Louise was a headteacher in the Scottish Borders for nearly eight years and held her school leader post at Ayton and Reston from 2011 until 2017.

As a participant of the SCEL Fellowship programme and a headteacher of small rural schools Louise has a keen interest in system level leadership.  Since embarking on the Fellowship she has researched school networks and joined her schools with two others to develop a network with a shared school improvement plan and joint working between the staff. She now plans to include two more schools in the network, becoming a six-school network by the end of this academic year.

At a local authority level Louise contributes to the development of professional learning and coaches on various leadership programmes.

Area of Enquiry

Developing the Capacity for Improvement in Small Rural Schools through creating a Small Schools’ Network

About Dennise Sommerville

As a Headteacher, Dennise has always been keen to be involved in leadership outwith the school setting.  9 years ago, she began assisting with her Local Authority’s Introducing School Leadership (ISL) programme, supporting local teachers in their understanding and potential aspirations around school leadership.

In ensuring her efforts remained focused upon learning and teaching, 5 years ago, she became involved in her Local Authority’s Curricular Structures Group. She helped create a model from which schools have been able to create their own Curricular Framework. Alongside another Headteacher colleague, Dennise now leads the Authority Literacy Group where they have nurtured class teacher group members to create Annotated Exemplification to support literacy moderation process.

In March 2015 Dennise became one of the first SCEL Fellows and has continued with her development in relation to system-level leadership within her Local Authority. This has been enhanced greatly by the rich professional learning opportunities associated with the aspiring Fellowship programme and also the ongoing SCEL Fellowship Network events where Fellows meet to discuss and challenge both their own thinking and indeed that of others.

Area of Enquiry

In a time of significant change, how can we support schools in successful and effective curriculum development whilst considering the pressures facing education?

About Andrew Travis

Andrew completed the SCEL Fellowship programme in February 2016. He was appointed Headteacher of Meldrum Academy, a 940 student secondary school, in May 2008. Prior to this he held a number of leadership positions in north-east schools after starting his career as a teacher of chemistry and science. He holds a Master in Education (Educational Technology) and was seconded by his local authority to review provision of information technology.

Andrew has been a Flexible Route to Headship coach and field assessor and is currently the headteacher supporter of an Into Headship participant. He has been a participant and coach on the Strategic Leadership Development Programme. He has a strong interest in coaching and has supported the development of this within his authority.

Andrew used the opportunity presented by the SCEL Fellowship programme to analyse the challenges faced by semi-rural local authorities in leadership succession. He is currently involved in the development of strategies to overcome these challenges. Andrew’s engagement in SCEL will continue and deepen as has joined the team of SCEL Regional Network Leaders.

Area of Enquiry

Leadership Succession in a semi-rural Local Authority

About Carol Turnbull

Carol Turnbull is an Education Team Manager in Falkirk Council.

Previously, Carol was the Head Teacher of a primary school which included a Language and Communication Support Centre and a nursery class.

Carol was one of the first people to complete the Standard for Headship qualification and she became a SCEL Fellow in 2017.

The area of enquiry which Carol researched considered the model of a Professional Learning Community as a vehicle for systematic teacher professional development.

In her current post, Carol is involved in supporting and developing leadership at all levels. She welcomes the opportunity to contribute to system leadership within the local authority and more widely through her work with SCEL.

Area of Enquiry

Developing Professional Learning Communities in a Network of Urban Scottish Schools

About Tim Wallace

Tim Wallace was appointed to the post of Headteacher of Paradykes Primary & Family Learning Centre in August 2011. Prior to this, Tim was Acting Headteacher of Clovenstone Primary School in Edinburgh. As well as teaching in both the independent and state sectors, Tim was also seconded to Scottish Government for 2 years as a Nursery/Primary Professional Advisor.

Tim is particularly interested in the area of nurture and attachment and the impact that a secure, nurturing approach can have on children’s learning and development. He loves his job thanks to his caring, supportive and hard working colleagues and the amazing children who arrive every day in the school playground.

In recent years, Tim has chaired the Authority Nursery/Primary Head Teacher Executive and Quality Improvement Strategy Group. It was Tim’s role on the Strategy Group which influenced his area of enquiry which considers how best to support schools as part of a successful self-improving school system.

Tim is also an active member of his professional association, the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, and takes on the post of President in November 2017.

Tim was delighted to become a SCEL Fellow in 2017 and welcomes the opportunity to continue to contribute to the development of school and system leadership through his continued work with his local authority and professional association.

About Iain White

A secondary school headteacher for 20 years, Iain has now been Principal of Newlands Junior College (NJC) since 2014. Iain’s leadership style has been moulded by observation of leaders in action and extensive study within and beyond the world of education. He has travelled and researched widely in search of inspiration and ideas, having visited schools in Australia, the USA, South Africa, the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland, England and throughout Scotland. Iain is passionate in his belief that everything that our schools do must be in the interests of ‘the weans’. Never afraid to tell it how he sees it, Iain is often asked to speak at national educational gatherings.

NJC is the brainchild of Scotland’s leading engineering entrepreneur, Jim McColl, and opened for its first group of students in November 2014. It delivers a new form of education involving alternative educational programmes aimed at children aged 14 to 16 years old who may find that their current secondary school education does not suit their learning styles or goals, but who nonetheless have potential. The principal focus is on developing positive relationships. All NJC students experience a curriculum designed around four main strands: an academic curriculum focused on learning key skills; vocational education; experiences designed to enhance motivation and personal development; work experience to foster an understanding of the workplace and its demands. It is the emphasis on preparation for work and personal development that is the distinguishing feature of the NJC curriculum.

The NJC goal is that when the students complete the 2-year NJC experience successfully, they enter employment or a place at FE College.

Iain is a Greenockian who now lives in Gourock. In his spare time, his hobbies are his wife and family, golf, ski-ing, playing the bagpipes, Robert Burns, after dinner speaking, watching football, travel, reading, eating out and generally having fun.

Iain’s favourite book is Herman Wouk’s ‘Caine Mutiny’ with all the leadership lessons it contains and songs that are touchstones for him are ‘My Way’, ‘Keeping the Dream alive’ and ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think’…

Area of enquiry

Hope for the Disengaged: An alternative education experience at Newlands Junior College, Glasgow