Dr Zoè Robertson

Head of Institute for Education, Teaching & Leadership (ETL)/Senior Lecturer Educational Leadership and Learning

  • Moray House School of Education and Sport, IETL
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Moray House School of Education and Sport, CH 2.09

University of Edinburgh (Holyrood Campus)
Post code


  • Monday - Thursday


I am the Head of Institute for Education, Teaching and Leadership at Moray House School of Education and Sport. I teach on various courses within the MEd LL with a  specific focus on Into Headship.

I am also the Chair for the Scottish Council of Deans of Education. 

I am passionate about learning: my own learning, the professional learning of teachers, the learning of the education system, and most importantly the impact on children’s learning. This has been the underpinning focus and driving purpose throughout my career. I am able to focus on this through my various roles  and enables me to consider what 'teacher education' looks like and who we are (as as School of education and collectively in the system) as teacher educators.

I began my career in education as a primary teacher, working in Fife before broadening my personal and professional horizons to experience life in America and its education system. I taught in an elementary school in North Carolina, where I was awarded the North Carolina Cultural Educator of Year award in 2003.

After studying for an MSc in Education, I took up a post as a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education. During this time I worked across Initial Teacher Education (where I focused on pedagogy and digital learning), Masters Programmes for teacher education (which included the Chartered Teacher programme and an online MSc in Educational Leadership) and the taught Doctorate in Education. I led professional learning programmes with schools and individual teachers, across primary and secondary, focusing on practitioner enquiry. After a decade in the university context, I enjoyed a secondment with Education Scotland as a Development Officer for Teacher Education, taking forward key aspects of Teaching Scotland’s Future. 

I then moved to the General Teaching Council for Scotland in 2013, initially as an Education Adviser, then Head of Educational Services and laterally as Senior Education Officer for Research & Professional Learning. My work here provided a great opportunity to bring together my passion for enquiry, research, policy and practice – in many ways it was my doctoral thesis in a job description! This was then followed by a 3 year secondment to the University of Edinburgh where I have now taken up a permanent post.

I have been fortunate to have fairly diverse professional experiences working across professional dimensions of practice, policy and theory. I had a lead role in creating and writing the GTCS Professional Standard for Career Long Professional Learning (2012). I was also responsible for the inception and development of the National Model of Professional Learning. This work which began in GTCS, working with colleagues from across Scotland, was then subsequently adopted as a national model by Education Scotland. 

In my current role at the University I work with teachers at all stages of their professional learning journey – from students just embarking on their career in education, to teachers committed to their ongoing learning and those seeking the next professional challenge.

My enquiring, curious and active daughter helps keep me very busy outside work and also acutely aware of the importance and joy of education. This also gives me an insight of the system as a parent as well as a professional.


  • Doctorate in Education, University of Edinburgh (2010)
  • MSc Education (Distinction), University of Edinburgh (2004)
  • BEd (Hons), Moray House Institute of Education, Heriot-Watt Universty (1997)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Head of Institute for Education, Teaching and Leadership



Postgraduate teaching

PG Certificate: Into Headship

PG Certificate: Core Processes (Developing as a Leader)

PG Certificate: Extended Work Based Project (masters supervision for practice based research projects)

PG Certificate: Growing Professional Learning


Areas of interest for supervision

I am interested in supervising students who wish to explore areas relating to the following:

  • Teacher professional learning
  • Teacher education (initial teacher education/continuing teacher education)
  • School leadership, teacher leadership and leadership learning
  • Practitioner enquiry

Current PhD students supervised

Alison Adams - focusing on teachers as curriculum makers in current Scottish context

Miao Liu - teacher leadership in China

Becky McGinney - autistic education

Kevin Brack - professional development of headteachers

Research summary

My research interest has focused predominantly on teacher professional learning and leadership. In particular, understanding the nature, purpose and impact of teachers engaging in enquiry as an approach to professional learning and adopting an enquiring stance as part of their professional identity and the critical importance of this in developing teacher agency and empowerment. 

I have a particular interst in qualitative research and more innovative and creative methods that are appropriate to practice-based research in schools, classrooms and learning communities. 

Current research interests

Professional learning as critical enquiry: I am currently working with colleagues to research the impact of 'Professional Learning as Critical Enquiry' - an innovative, whole school approach to professional learning for school improvement. Leadership learning and practice during a crisis: a collaborative small scale research between three university providers of Into Headship to explore the experience and impact of leadership learning and development during a crisis.

Knowledge exchange

I am Co-convenor of the SERA Leadership in Scottish Education Network. 

View all 6 publications on Research Explorer