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Professor Lynne McKenna

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Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society

I am Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, Professor of Education and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am a proud alumni of the University of Sunderland, graduating with a B.Ed (Hons) from the University in 1991, whereupon I commenced my career as a primary teacher.

I studied for my Masters in Education at Newcastle University, graduating in 1998 and successfully achieved my Doctorate of Education in 2009 from Durham University.

I have worked in Higher Education in three North East Universities since 1998 in a variety of leadership roles. As Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, I am responsible for the strategic direction and development of two large academic Schools; the School of Education and the School of Social Sciences. The Faculty is a professional, vocational and practice- based faculty with campus provision in Sunderland, Hong Kong and London and partners throughout the world. Our key areas of teaching and research comprise initial and post qualifying teacher training and social sciences programmes including social work, criminology, professional policing, sociology, community and youth work, childhood studies, health and social care and related disciplines at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

My professional background is teaching and I have been involved in teacher development in HEI’s since 1998. Alongside developing strong regional, national and International partnerships with schools to support school led provision in SCITTS, School Direct and Teaching Apprenticeships; I am a key proponent of the role universities play in teacher education provision, acknowledging that around 62% of initial teacher training students study at a modern university. I am a member of several organisations including The MillionPlus Deans of Education Network, The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Teaching Profession, The University Council for the Education of Teachers, The Chartered College of Teaching, Schools North East and #WomenEd. The organisations I am involved with, have been influential in increasing the need for quality initial teacher education and training and providing on- going support for serving teachers. I am a strong advocate for raising the status of the teaching profession.

I am a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and in 2020 I was named as a leader in the field of innovation on the list of #NorthInnovationWomen. The aim of the list is to highlight and recognise the excellence of female innovators working right across the North of England, as well as presenting a showcase of role models to women and girls thinking of working in or studying the many sectors where innovation is key.

Teaching and supervision

My teaching focuses on early years education, qualitative research methods, family learning, parental engagement, engaging with men, social impact assessment, early intervention.


I have published nationally and internationally in the fields of parental involvement, parental engagement, engaging with fathers and family learning.

My postgraduate dissertation (Newcastle University, 1998) Parental Partnership in Mathematics for Early Years Children: influencing parents’ understanding of how to support children’s mathematical learning and my doctoral thesis (Durham University, 2008) entitled Parental Engagement: A study of the involvement of the parents of early years children in their children’s learning, continued my interest and motivation in supporting parental engagement in their children’s learning and development.

Sorry No Publications
  • Teacher education
  • Early Years education
  • Government education
  • Policy changing role of fathers
  • How schools are coping with the Covid teacher recruitment boom, Schools Week
  • Watch: University support to parents with isolating children, BBC Radio Newcastle
  • A rush of new teachers will help England’s short-handed schools, The Economist
  • Watch: The clearing process for students, Tyne and Wear TV
  • Listen: The clearing process, BBC Radio Newcastle
  • Watch: Easing the return to the classroom, Tyne and Wear TV
  • Listen: The hard work of teachers and schools during Covid-19, BBC Radio Newcastle
  • Member of the Research Reference Group for the National Inquiry into Family Learning (Sept 2012 - June 2013)
  • Member of the Early Intervention Foundation (June 2013 - ongoing)
  • Metro Radio’s Parenting Expert (April 2013 - ongoing)
  • Watch:'Parental Engagement: Relationships, Research, Rhetoric and Reality' lecture.

    As Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, I lead and manage the strategic direction of two academic schools. The School of Education has four main areas of provision, three of which are predominantly concerned with training teachers at local, regional, national and international levels; Initial Teacher Training, Independent Distance Learning, and Post Compulsory Education and Training. Our undergraduate Initial Teacher Education courses are rated 2nd in the UK in the Guardian League Tables 2020. Our International Independent Distance Learning provision provides teacher training in over 50 countries worldwide. Our Post Compulsory Education and Training provision provides training for teachers in sixth form colleges, further education colleges, vocational training and adult education. The fourth area of our provision is our post graduate provision Professional Development which provides post qualifying Masters in Education provision, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and English for Academic Purposes (EAP).

    The School of Social Sciences has four main areas of provision united by a life changing ethos. Three of the areas focus on professionally accredited and professionally orientated programmes; Applied Studies – including Social Work and Community and Youth Work Studies, Social Studies – including Sociology, Criminology, Health and Social Care and Policing and Childhood Studies – including Childhood Studies and Childhood and Society. In this academic provision, We work closely with our partners in the statutory, care or voluntary sectors. Our fourth area of provision is the Integrated Foundation Year which enables access to degree programmes across the University for those who may not have the qualifications for direct entry into those programmes. Our postgraduate provision across the School focuses on Social Work, Childhood and Youth Work and Inequality and Society.

    Our research is world-leading and we have two REF Units of Assessment; UoA 20 Education and UoA 23 Social Work and Social Policy. The Faculty research Institute includes two centres; the Centre for Applied Social Studies (CASS) and The Centre for Research in Education (CRE). The Faculty has a strong focus on inclusion, equality and diversity both academically and in the support and opportunities that we offer to our students and staff.

Lynne McKenna in the news

Last updated 05 July 2021

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