School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

Alumni

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Supporting Your School

Philanthropic Funding

Many of the school’s past achievements have been made possible by funding thanks to gifts from generous alumni and friends. Philanthropic funding, from lifetime and legacy gifts, enables Queen’s to provide life-changing opportunities for students in world-class facilities, and support innovative research, that impacts society.

Find out more about lifetime and legacy gifts

Mark McCullough

photograph of Mark McCullough, principal of the Rainey Endowed School
"Take every opportunity you can get and don’t be afraid to go ‘across the water’ for work. The experience, rapid promotion and difference in the schooling systems make for a great experience and can actually work in your favour."
Mark McCullough PGCE French 1998
Principal at the Rainey Endowed School

Why did you choose to study for the Postgraduate Certificate inEducation (PGCE)?

I studied French and History at Queen’s and had an excellent all-round experience and was happy to do my PGCE at the School of Education. It is highly respected across the UK as a centre of excellence in teacher education.

What was most interesting about the course?

I think that getting out and about into the schools builds on the excellent preparation, methodology and research in the School of Education. I also availed of the ERASMUS scheme, in Paderborn,Germany, even though I didn’t speak any German! I worked in a Hauptschule; made some great friends and had a brilliant time; learned German and worked with challenging, immigrant pupils.

Would you recommend the PGCE?

Absolutely, but don’t go into teaching only if you think there is nothing else that appeals to you. The PGCE course is hard work and the placements give you lots of experience but you have to want to be a teacher or it will just not work out for you.

Have you any advice for future students?

Take every opportunity you can get and don’t be afraid to go ‘across the water’ for work. The experience, rapid promotion and difference in the schooling systems make for a great experience and can actually work in your favour. It would be a shame to waste all of the hard work, effort, studying and training by not gaining employment as a teacher. Furthermore, be organised and complete all your assignments on time as teaching practice will be full on. Work hard, try different things in the classroom and enjoy!

Whitney Wall-Bortz

studio photograph of Whitney Wall-Bortz
"Looking back on my time at Queen’s, one of the most interesting aspects was the intersection of cultures. I learned from and alongside others from around the world. This significantly enhanced the comparative aspect of my research by encouraging me to theorise outside of my own worldview."
Whitney Wall-Bortz
PhD in Education

Why did you decide to study a PhD at Queen’s?

My career in education started as a teacher in Los Angeles, California. I knew from the start, however, that I eventually would want a PhD. I had the opportunity to do some research part-time while teaching, and this confirmed my desire to go into higher education. As an undergraduate, I had spent time studying abroad, which had first sparked my interest in global education, so when it came time to apply for doctoral programs, I looked both locally and also abroad.  When I received a letter notifying me that Queen’s was offering me a full studentship to study for my PhD, I was thrilled. I had been planning at the time to accept an offer from UCLA, but the offer from Queen’s was both more generous financially and also opened a door to study abroad again. I was particularly interested in the opportunity to engage in comparative research, looking at school contexts in both Northern Ireland and Also the US.

Did the PhD programme enhance your existing knowledge?

I went into the course with experience as a teacher and also working as a part-time research assistant at an educational research center in Los Angeles. Still, I learned so much in this course about learning theory, research design, research methodology, data collection and analysis, and academic writing…pretty much all aspects of the research project. I appreciated the ability to undertake research fairly independently with the guidance and support of my experienced supervisor. I also took advantage of many modules in the EdD available for audit as well as training offered by the postgraduate office.

Where are you in your career?

I am now almost five years out from finishing the PhD. I started out working as a Director of Assessment in a College of Education here in the US. I gained fantastic experience in higher education administration, teacher education, assessment and evaluation. However, I really missed doing research in schools. I recently received the opportunity to do research full time as a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University. I am working on a cross-institutional and cross-disciplinary team on a two-year grant to study the incorporation of computer science into middle level science classrooms in Austin, Texas.

Gavin Duffy

Informal studio photograph of Gavin Duffy, Research Fellow
"After completing a BA and an MSSc at Queen’s, I worked for NIACRO for five years before returning to Queen’s to undertake a PGCE. This hugely rewarding experience inspired me to undertake a PhD as the perfect opportunity to combine a passion for education with my background in criminal justice."
Gavin Duffy PhD in Education
Research Fellow, Centre for Shared Education

Gavin's research interests are shared education, collaborative effectiveness in school partnerships and education in custodial settings.

After completing a BA in Sociology and Scholastic Philosophy and an MSSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Queen’s University, I worked for NIACRO for five years before returning to Queen’s to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the School of Education. This hugely rewarding experience inspired me to undertake a PhD as the perfect opportunity to combine a passion for education with my background in criminal justice. I undertook an ethnographic study of an education department in a Juvenile Justice Centre. This was one of the most challenging but rewarding life experiences I have had to date.

On receiving my doctorate I took up a research fellowship at the School of Education, working with the University of Bristol on educational reforms in the English post-primary system. Since 2011 I have been a researcher on the Sharing Education Programme at the School. The programme encourages schools from different sectors to work together and is characterised by pupils learning together and by teachers and leaders working in collaborative networks. I work with school partnerships all over Northern Ireland.

Current research involves an ethnographic case study in schools involved in the Interface/Contested Spaces Programme, developed by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and Atlantic Philanthropies, where primary and post-primary schools collaborate to address social issues. This research involves over 1000 pupils and is helping to contextualise shared education, identify characteristics of effective collaboration and demonstrate educational and social benefits. This work with schools has been shortlisted for the 2014 Vice Chancellor’s Impact Prize, a Queen’s University prize which highlights research impact from the earliest stages of a project through involving the end-users of that research from the outset.

Colleagues and I are exploring the potential of collaboration in other international contexts and have established a partnership with the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Upcoming research with our USA partners will involve examining how traditional

and charter schools collaborate and examining the context of different schools which co-locate on the same site.

This relationship has led to a joint submission to the American Educational Research Association annual conference in 2015 in which colleagues will present research outlining how collaboration between schools can act as an antidote in contested space settings.

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