Dr Neil M Speirs

Widening Participation Manager

Background

My role involves working as a manger, practitioner and researcher in a number of areas concerning widening participation and related policy.  I have the strategic oversight and management of a number of self-generated projects.  My areas of interest and activity include; working with primary level pupils and early secondary, the underachievement of young males from low socio-economic status backgrounds, the sociology of sport & sport for development, widening participation student transitions, the equity of student experience, engaging with adult learners through effective andragogy, peer related pedagogies, widening participation student employability and the emancipatory nature of education through critical pedagogy.

Responsibilities & affiliations

I sit on a number of groups including;

  • College of Science and Engineering Equality & Diversity Committee
  • Vice Chair Scottish Wider Access Programme Executive Group
  • Student Recruitment & Admission General Data Protection Regulation Group
  • Educated Pass Project Steering Group
  • UoE Refugee Advisory Group
  • Equality Challenge Unit – National Equality Impact Assessment Group
  • Scottish Funding Council Male Engagement Strategy Working Group
  • Core member of the Academy of Sport, Moray House School of Education.
  • External examiner of the AHEAD Programme at Abertay University from 2012-2016.
  • University Secretary's Group Equality & Diversity Committee

Undergraduate teaching

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) - Football; More than a game. Tutor.

SCQF Level 7 adult learners course - Football; More than a game. Tutor.

SSC2b, Year 2 Module in MBChB medicine. Supervisor.

Geoscience Outreach Course, Year 4 in School of GeoSciences. Supervisor.

Postgraduate teaching

Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary)

MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching

The Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice

Conference details

I have presented papers at a number of conferences including;

  • 'Interdisciplinary Learning & National Improvement: Engaging Disengaged Learners, Widening Access and Outdoor Learning' at Interdisciplinary Learning: Creative Thinking for a Complex World, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2019. (with M. Pendry).
  • 'Footballers Have Feelings Too' at The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas - Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, 2018.
  •  'Solidarity and subsidiarity – how to widen access to higher education?' at World Symposium on Social Responsibility and Sustainability, University of Edinburgh, 2018. WINNER OF THE BEST PAPER AWARD
  • 'Reflecting On The Multiple Barriers to Accessing Higher Education' at QAA International Enhamcement Conference, Glasgow,  2017.
  • 'SLICCs: enabling widening participation student agency during summer experiences, or An Uncomfortable Train Journey' at Gearing Up Conference, University of Edinburgh, 2017. (with S C Riley & G McCabe)
  • 'Early years engagement: Supporting primary to secondary transitions through personalised pedagogies' at The 24th FACE Annual Conference, Glasgow, 2017.
  • 'SLICCs: enabling widening participation student agency during summer experiences' at QAA International Enhamcement Conference, Glasgow, 2017. (with S C Riley & G McCabe)
  • 'Philosophy, Practice & policy' at Scottish Consortium for Rural Research Meeting, Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, 2017.
  • 'Reflections on HE Retention' at AQMeN - Beyond access to HE: widening access initiatives and student retention in Scotland, Edinburgh, 2016.
  • 'Reflecting on the multiple transitions of a widening participation student' at QAA - Enhancment Themes Conference, Univeristy of Edinburgh, 2016.
  • 'Reflecting on the massification of higher education, neoliberalism & widening access' at AQMeN - Rediscovering Inequalities, University of Edinburgh,  2016.
  • 'Male participation in the classroom and implications for progression' at UCAS - Education and Progression Scotland, The Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh, 2015.
  • 'Increased male participation in the classroom through Olympism' at SFC - Gender, actions to achieve positive change, University of Stirling, 2015.
  • 'The Silent and Unseen Helper Have Carers been Forgotten?' at Social Mobility and Widening Access to Higher Education in Scotland: Policy, Practice and Research, University of Strathclyde, 2015.
  • 'The inequality of transition' at QAA - Enhancement and innovation in higher education, Glasgow, 2015
  • 'Re-addressing transitions to inequality' at Gearing up for Transitions, University of Edinburgh, 2015.
  • 'Increased male participation in the classroom through Olympism' at Voyage of Discovery - Celebrating, Inspiring and Exploring Community University Engagement in Edinburgh, 2015.
  • 'Computer anxiety, digital literacy, and widening participation' at The 23rd EAN Annual Conference - Hidden Potential or Hollow Promise?  Can Technologies Deliver Wider Access and Success in Higher Education?, University of Edinburgh, 2014.
  • 'The inequity of the student experience' at HEA STEM Annual Learning and Teaching Conference - Enhancing the STEM Student Journey, University of Edinburgh, 2014.
  • 'Peer Mentoring' at Gearing up for Induction, University of Edinburgh, 2014.
  • 'The Role of The Peer' at HEA STEM: Annual Learning and Teaching Conference - Where practice and pedagogy meet, University of Birmingham, 2013.
  • 'Approaches to enhancing the student experience' at IAD - Approaches to enhancing the Student Experience at Edinburgh, University of Edinburgh, 2013.
  • 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' at Holyrood Magazine The Learner Journey, Edinburgh, 2012.
  • 'Apposite Routes for College based Learners to Degree Level' at SFC - Articulation for All, 2011.
  • 'Males and Higher Education; Can the Olympic Charter help?' at The 18th EAN Annual Conference - Changing the Culture of the Campus: Towards an Inclusive Higher Education, York St John University, 2009.
  • 'Undergraduate Mentoring' at Learning & Teaching Network, London, 2003
  • 'Student Mentoring' at Scottish HE Retention Forum, University of Paisley, 2003.

Speirs, N.M. (2019) Solidarity and subsidiarity – how to widen access to higher education? In Leal Filho, W. (Ed) Social Responsibility and Sustainability: how businesses and organizations can operate in a sustainable and socially responsible way. Springer, Berlin.

Speirs, N.M. (2018). Educated Pass: Engaging young males from low socio-economic status backgrounds with learning.  In Robertson, J., Williams, S., Jones, D., Isbel, L.and Loads, D. (eds.), EqualBITE: Gender equality in higher education, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.

Speirs, N. M, Riley, S.C. and McCabe, G. (2017) Student-Led, Individually-Created Courses: Using Structured Reflection within Experiential Learning to Enable Widening Participation Students’ Transitions Through and Beyond Higher Education, Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 5, 2, 51–57.

Speirs, N.M. (2017). Reflections of an Edinburgh Award tutor, Teaching Matters Blog, UoE.

Speirs, N.M. & McCabe, G. (2016).  Using graduate attributes to engage WP students, AGCAS - Phoenix, 148,  pp14-15.

Speirs, N.M. (2010).  Males and Higher Education: Can the Olympic Charter help? in Cooper, M. (ed), Changing the Culture of the Campus: Towards an Inclusive Higher Education – Ten Years on. pp17-34.  European Access Network, London, U.K.

Speirs, N.M. (2008). Case Study 3, in Black, F.M. & McKenzie, J. (eds), Quality Enhancement Themes: The First Years Experience - Peer support in the first year. pp26-27, QAA Scotland.

Speirs, N.M., Unsworth, L. & Pass, J. (2006).  Scottish Funding Council - National Bridging Project - Science.

Speirs, N.M. (2004).  Raising Aspirations, Edit Alumni Magazine, 4(2), 18-19.

Speirs, N. M., Ebenezer, W. J., & Jones, A. C. (2002). Observation of a fluorescent dimer of a sulfonated phthalocyanine. Photochemistry and photobiology, 76(3), 247-251.

Camp, P. J., Jones, A. C., Neely, R. K., & Speirs, N. M. (2002). Aggregation of copper (II) tetrasulfonated phthalocyanine in aqueous salt solutions. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 106(44), 10725-10732.

A short film about my project with local primary schools (Early Years Project);

https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/+Pupils+inspired+to+consider+their+future/1_ks7iidab

A short film about my project with local S1 pupils (Early Years Project);

https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/08032019_WP_Spring/1_izu99ad7

A short film about my project Educated Pass;

https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/Educated+Pass/1_jfcan48m