New Head of School appointed at Moray House

Dr Rowena Arshad, currently Head of Edinburgh University’s Institute for Education, Community and Society has been appointed by the University as Head of Moray House School of Education and took over that prestigious post on 1st April.

Hers was not the traditional route from school to university to teaching, ending in teacher education.  She started her professional life in the private sector in business and banking but made a major career change and pursued a youth and community work course in Reading.  She then worked with the Scottish Education and Action for Development as an Education and Campaigns Organiser in Edinburgh, looking at issues linking Scotland and the developing world.

From there she moved to become Director of the Multicultural Education Centre in Edinburgh and into teacher education.  Her doctoral study centred on the role of teachers in promoting equity and anti-discrimination in Scotland.  She currently teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the School of Education but also contributes to other disciplines, including social work.

Her appointment has been widely welcomed in Moray House itself as well as in the wider educational community where her commitment to the continuing professionalisation of the teaching profession and to networking and partnership are recognized and admired.  Terry Wrigley, Visiting Professor at Leeds Metropolitan University, and a former colleague at Moray House summed up that support: “Moray House is extremely fortunate to have Dr Rowena Arshad as its new Head. She combines many years of activity supporting the development of education in Scotland with a strong commitment to teaching and research commitment to social justice is second to none. She will listen to her colleagues, engage creatively with policy makers and the rest of the university, and continue to take initiatives which benefit schools and communities across Scotland.”

Moray House’s move over the years to a multi-discipline institution greatly enhanced its former primary focus from schools and teaching.  The fact that she has worked in many different contexts public, private and Third Sector and with a range of issues, gives her an essentially broad perspective.

For Dr Arshad however, the immediate priority is in the area of teacher education, to ensure that Edinburgh University’s newly validated MA Primary Education and BSc PE programmes are ready for a flying start in August 2014.  She is also committed to work with local authority partners to consolidate partnership arrangements so that Moray House students have a single, coherent experience from university into work and to continue to provide robust and relevant research data which would inform policy development and practice in school education.

Although the popular perception is that education in England and Scotland seem to be moving in distinctly different directions, Dr Arshad is happy to leave the politics of education in England to her English counterparts.  “What I do believe is holding on to what is good in Scotland. Education is still viewed as a democratic enterprise. There is still a strong belief in the importance of public education for all and a confidence in the professionalism of the teaching workforce.”

High on the priority list is continuing to raise the standards of Moray House graduates can then deliver a challenging and stimulating curriculum for diverse learners.  The aim is to ensure that Moray Housegraduates become reflective  and critical practitioners who are able to create spaces for children to learn and be creative.

Rowena Arshad has a long history in bringing together educational concerns and issues of social justice.  It is her firm belief that teachers who engage with social justice issues are better able to offer pupils an academically rigorous education that prepares them for the four capacities in the Curriculum for Excellence. It is about being able to read, write and attain but it is also about how each learner can maximize potential.


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Alex Wood

Alex Wood has had a varied career in education. He started as an English teacher at Edinburgh’s Craigroyston High School in 1973 and completed his school-based work as Head Teacher at Wester Hailes Education Centre in 2011. In between he worked in community education, was a Learning Support teacher, headed a behaviour support unit, was Head of a special school and worked in Edinburgh’s Education headquarters. He is a member of the Education Committee of St George’s School. Alex is now an Associate at the Scottish Centre for Studies in School Administration (SCSSA) at Moray House and is Secretary of the Scottish Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (SELMAS) as well as being a free-lance writer. His experience however ranges well beyond the worlds of schools and education. For seven years in the 1980s he was an elected member of Edinburgh District Council and he retains a keen interest in the political world. He has a long involvement in genealogy and family history, as a researcher, teacher and writer. He is a member of Edinburgh Common Purpose’s Advisory Group and of the committee of Linlithgow Book Festival. Although he has lived in Linlithgow for over 20 years, and in Edinburgh for the previous 18 years, he remains a loyal fan of his home town football club, Brechin City.

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