Olwen Mcnamara

Olwen Mcnamara


Personal profile


Olwen McNamara is a Professor of Education has held a number of management responsibilities at the University of Manchester including Head of the School of Education, Head of Initial Teacher Education and Director of Post Graduate Research Programmes. Her national roles have included Chair of the Research and International Committee of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, and she has served on the Executive Council of the British Educational Research Association. She is also on the Governing Body of a primary and a secondary school in Manchester.

Research interests

My research interests are in the area of teacher professional learning, and I have special interests in practitioner enquiry, mathematics education and social justice. Research studies undertaken with a particular emphasis on mathematics education have included four ESRC funded projects: two focused upon the implementation and embedding of the primary national numeracy strategy; and two exploring student teachers’ understanding of primary mathematics teaching. In the area of initial teacher education I have undertaken research into engagement, capacity and quality issues in school based partnerships and the training of black and ethnic minority teachers. In the area of professional learning and practice-based inquiry I have led two three-year long research and development projects with groups of schools in Manchester. I have also been involved in a large-scale baseline survey of teachers’ perceptions of CPD. Other research into teachers’ professional learning has focused on the experiences of overseas trained teachers in the UK, the career and leadership aspirations of black and ethnic minority teachers, the characteristics of women teachers’ careers and gendered patterns in school leadership. More recently I have been co-investigator of the ESRC-funded Teacher Education Research Network, a Northwest regional research capacity building project in teacher education, and organized an ESRC-funded seminar series on workplace learning in teacher education.

Further information

Main teaching interests:

Research methods in education

I am no longer taking on the supervision of beginning PhD students


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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