Professor Gale Macleod



I studied Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University before working as a residential care worker in a therapeutic community in Warwickshire. On returning to Edinburgh I continued to pursue academic study whilst working first as a care worker and later as a teacher in units and schools for young people described as having social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). My PhD, completed in 2005, mapped the separate provision available in Scotland for these young people, and explored the experiences of a group of young people of being educated separately. In 2004 I took up a post as lecturer in primary education and SEBD at Edinburgh. My academic leadership roles have all been related to postgraduate provision, particularly PGT. Since 2019 I have been  chair of the UKCGE working group on postgraduate student experience.


  • BA(hons) Philosophy/Theology (Oxford University)
  • MEd (Edinburgh)
  • PGDE (Primary) (Moray House)
  • PGDSpLD (Edinburgh)
  • PhD (Edinburgh)

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am co-ordinator of the Higher Education Research Group

Postgraduate teaching

I continue to teach on PGT Research Methods courses

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome applications from students interested in working towards a PhD in any of my areas of research interest: young people who are identified as being disruptive in schools; parental engagement and family learning; and the PGT sector. I particularly welcome applications from people who have had a non-traditional academic journey to date. I work with a wide range of co-supervisors from within Moray House and beyond (e.g. Languages, Literature and Culture, and Social Work) and am very happy to supervise interdisciplinary projects where I have expertise to offer. Students considering PhD application but unsure where to start should check out the school's information pages or contact me directly.

Current PhD students supervised


  • Xiaomeng Tian - with Dr Neil Lent  - A qualitative study of pedagogical relationships at PGT level in the UK

  • Ian Normile - with Dr James MacAllister - Critical Thinking in Chinese PGT students (College Award and Edinburgh Global scholarship)
  • Jack Reed - with Professor Simon Beames - Social Media use on Residential Outward Bound’ ESRC Collaborative award
  • Qiyu Zhuang - with Dr Donna Murray and Dr Mark McLeister - Academic Freedom in China
  • Zoe Yan - with Dr Martin Toye - The social consequences of diagnosis of ADHD in China
  • Gangli Cao - with Dr James MacAllister - Higher Education policy in China

Past PhD students supervised

  • James MacAllister - The quantity, nature and effectiveness of programmes/courses relating to understanding, improving and positively influencing discipline and behaviour in schools in initial teacher education (ITE) / What should Discipline in Schools be for?
  • Scott Breslin (EdD) - An investigation of the professional development needs of expatriate leadersof humanitarian aid projects in Central Asia and the Middle East
  • Mary Taiwo - Teachers' Negotiation of Inclusive Practice in Nigerian Classrooms
  • George Abakah - Boys' Perspectives of Peer-Bullying in Ghanaian Secondary Schools
  • Ruth Glynne-Owen  (EdD)- How/ in what ways does the diagnostic process for Autism Spectrum Disorder impact on parental perceptions of their pre-school child
  • Jenestar Wanjiru - The experiences of head teachers in improving retention of vulnerable childrenin primary schools in Kenya
  • Katherine Friend - Widening participation initiatives and the experience of underrepresented students at three elite institutions: a comparative study
  • Raheleh Mireslami - Critical thinking as a method of education [co-supervision with Dr Stephen McKinney from University of Glasgow]
  • Tina Stones (EdD) - Action research for curriculum design and programme development: what does 'well-being' mean to young people? Does an eight-week course in mindfulness develop well-being?
  • Carolyn Hutchinson (EdD) - How do grandparents in Scotland who are sharing the care of babies and toddlers in families for the first time learn and experience their role, and what influence might their practice have on the children's early learning
  • Colin Brough - Identity in Looked After and Accommodated Children [co-supervised with Dr Mark Smith in School of Social and Political Sciences]
  • Graham Thomson - Secondary Head Teachers as leaders for learning: the challenges for leadership focused on learning and teaching
  • Douglas Briton (EdD) - Emergencies on Outdoor Expeditions
  • Victor Olivia Paz - Residential child care, social pedagogy, Education and social change
  • Robin Dallas-Child - Exploring the impact of British educational policy on learners in alternative provision 
  • Ghaleyah Alajmi - Executive function in children and adults with Down syndrome: a systematic review, pilot and intervention study    
  • Anton Elloway - Hannah Arendt, EAP and Higher Education
  • Susy Paulus - Exploring outdoor activities for people with refugee and migrant biographies / Relational processes in an intercultural and inclusive community garden

Research summary

I co-ordinate the Higher Education Research Group

I am aligned to two research clusters in the School of Education:

Equality, Social Justice and Inclusion, and Pedagogy, Learning and Curriculum

My areas of interest include:

  • Social relationships in education explored from a symbolic interactionist perspective
  • The experiences of young people identified as having Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties;
  • Parental engagement and family learning
  • The experiences of students in Higher Education (with a focus on PGT students).
  • Relationships between research, policy and practice with a focus on responsible research and innovation.

Current research interests

I am Co-I with Dr Martin Toye on the 'Beyond Behaviour' project which seeks to explore the social consequences of being diagnosed (or not) as having a behavioural or neurodevelopmental disorder. More information on the project can be found here: I am leading on a systematised scoping review of literature relating to PGT study with Marsall Dozier from MVM and colleagues from the University of Sussex and Edinburgh Napier University. I am currently working with Professor Lyn Tett on a study which aims to investigate how families who worked with family learning team (FLT) workers across Edinburgh when their children started school 7 - 10 years ago remember that experience and any influence it may have had on them.

Knowledge exchange

I co-ordinate the 'Moray House Read, Write, Count' group which looks at ways in which students from Moray House can support the work of the Scottish Book Trust and family learning workers in the local authority.

The group was set up in 2016 to bring together different groups with a shared interest in closing the poverty related attainment gap through promoting parental engagement with young people’s learning. The group name derived from materials provided to every child in Scotland in Primary 1, 2 and 3 through the Read, Write Count book gifting initiative. Each year the group identifies a new problem facing practitioners, or a gap in knowledge, which could be addressed through a collaborative project. Sometimes the project is a practical one, in other years we have carried out research on issues identified by the collaborative group. The project is part of a commitment to responsible research and innovation  in which the ‘users’ of research are involved in setting the research agenda and the research process.  Students from Moray House are involved in each project, either working alongside practitioners or conducting research. 

in 2020 we recieved funding from the Scottish Government for a project which addresses inequalities by engaging with families who may not otherwise find it easy to engage with the Scottish Book Trust’s universal gifting Read, Write, Count resource or with the school. It specifically targets families learning English; fathers, families with Looked After Children, and other families identified by school staff as likely to benefit from the focussed interaction. 


Affiliated research centres

Project activity

My current projects reflect all of my areas of research interest - PGT student experience, family learning as an approach to parental engagement, and the experiences of young people identified by schools as causing  concern because of their behaviour.

Current project grants

Disrupting Understandings of Disruptive Behaviour - What can we learn from COVID-19? Funded by The Spencer Foundation

Beyond Behaviour (with Martin Toye, Robin Dallas-Childs and Maggi Laurie) Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre funded

Building resilience in PGT communities project funded by QAA with Donna Murray (lead)  and Neil Lent

Past project grants

Promoting Parental Engagement with P3 Read, Write, Count Book-Gifting Bags, CAHSS Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant
The Scottish Government ‘Parental Engagement "Equalities and Equity" Small-scale projects fund 2019 – 20’
SUII Seminar Series (Co-Lead with Dr Joan Mowat from Strathclyde University) on Poverty, Attainment and  Wellbeing 
Too Close To Home (with Katie Cebula PI, Kelly Stone and Stella Chan) IIG funding
Authority Relationships across settings (with Pauline Sangster, Ian Fyfe and Robbie Nicol). Moray House Seedcorn Funding 2014
Behaviour Management Grant 2011 (with Gillean McCluskey)
Scottish Government. Research into Behaviour in Scottish Schools 2009, (Research Assistant).
Department of Children Schools and Families. Outcomes for Excluded Pupils 2006-2009, (Co-Investigator).
ESRC. Knowledge Exchange Across Settings 2008. Co-ordinator - of a project to facilitate communication between mainstream and special schools.
DTRF. Disabled Students in Higher Education 2007/8, with Dr Katie Cebula. A project exploring the experiences of students with disabilities on placement.
ESRC TRLP project, 'Epistemology of Educational Research' 2007.