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Associate Head of School: International Initial Teacher Training

I am the Associate Head of School for International Initial Teacher Training (IITT) in the Faculty of Education and Society. Having led the PGCE Education (DL), a world-leading distance learning PGCE course for several years, my role is to now lead IITT developments in the School. We have recently been selected to provide iQTS in a pilot framework for 2022/23. This is testament to the global success of our existing provision. 

My experience in education is wide and varied. Having studied Professional Education Studies and History as an undergraduate, I began my career with Northumbria Probation Service before moving into education to work with those who found mainstream schooling unsuitable.

In 2011, I moved to the University of Sunderland to take up a role on the PGCE PCET English pathway and delivered the Additional Diploma in Teaching English (Literacy) for those who were already qualified teachers but who wished to specialise in English or Literacy teaching. I then moved into international education, working as programme lead on PGCE Education.

Since 2019, I have led an innovative and forward-thinking team of education specialists who work tirelessly to train teachers across the globe with research-informed teaching.

Teaching and supervision

My teaching included Approaches to Meeting Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, English and Society, Advancing Pedagogy in English Teaching and Subject Studies.

The underpinning themes of all areas I work in are empowering learners to succeed and equipping teachers of the future with the skills in order to help students to succeed. This involves encouraging trainee teachers to be reflective and reflexive in establishing their own values and philosophical understandings of education.


My MA dissertation: Impact of professionalisation on “person-making”. Are the values of the practitioner changing? This continued my interest in empowering both teachers and students to progress.

Investigating the continuing growth of British teacher training in overseas territories through the lens of the Personal Academic Tutor ( PAT) is my current focus. I am researching the impact of Personal Academic Tutors on the professional practice development of trainee teachers working on an international distance learning programme. Personal Academic Tutoring is more than supporting academic work – it is about the benefit the relationship brings to the partnership between the trainee and PAT. Nurturing the relationship to support trainees working from a distance to not feel distant from PATs and the impact this has on professional practice is an area that potentially has great impact.

Personal Academic Tutoring has formed the basis of PGCE Education and PGCE Early Years Teaching for some years however over recent years the relationship building through new technologies has strengthened the impact further. Personal Academic Tutoring is widely used in distance education programmes, though the impact on practice is not always well structured or recorded. The low attrition rate on the programmes is testament to the success of the PAT system which I am exploring through my study.


Number of items: 7.

Conference or Workshop Item

Blacklock, Paul and Ross, Dionne (2023) Distance not Distant – Supporting and Caring for Independent Distance Learning Trainee Teachers​. In: Student Representation Conference, 07 Jun 2023, St Peter's Campus, University of Sunderland.

Bell, Deborah and Ross, Dionne (2023) Distance not Distant - Supporting and Caring for Independent Distance Learning Trainee Teachers. In: CRE Research Seminar, 22/3/23, University of Sunderland. (Unpublished)

Bell, Deborah and Ross, Dionne (2022) Distance not Distant: Experience of Support Mechanisms for Independent Distance Learning Students. In: Edulearn 2022, July 2022, Palma. (Unpublished)

Ross, Dionne, Elliott, Ian, Hidson, Elizabeth, Griffiths, Alison, Sheard, Simon, Bell, Jemma, Wynn, Vikki, Bell, Deborah and Hughes, Mark (2021) International and Independent Distance Learning Team Showcase. In: Faculty of Education and Society Team Showcase Series, 10 March 2021, Sunderland, UK. (Unpublished)

Duffy, Kate and Ross, Dionne (2016) Recognising Character Development In Our Learning Autobiographies. In: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, 4-6th Jul 2016, Barcelona, Spain. (Unpublished)

Duffy, Kate and Ross, Dionne (2016) RECOGNISING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IN OUR LEARNING AUTOBIOGRAPHIES. In: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, 4-6 Jul 2016, Barcelona.


Bell, Jemma, Elliott, Ian, Griffiths, Alison, Hidson, Elizabeth, Ross, Dionne, Sheard, Simon and Wynn, Vikki (2021) IIDL Team Newsletter February 2021. University of Sunderland, Sunderland.

This list was generated on Wed Jul 24 07:36:12 2024 BST.
  • Distance Learning
  • Teacher Education
  • Literacy Education

The PGCE Education (DL) is increasing and developing with the introduction of the offer to the UK market as well as international school-based teachers. The programme works with over 500 schools internationally ranging from the UK and Jersey to Hong Kong and Vietnam. We also offer the PGCE Early Years Teaching for those working with early years and kindergartens.

I was elected as a member of the Institute for Learning Advisory Council 2013 and was Vice Chair of Governors at St Mary’s Primary School, Sunderland, 2012-2016. I am currently a governor at Castle View Enterprise Academy.

Last updated 28 February 2024