From a wide-eyed, ambitious graduate to a professor changing thousands of lives – Professor Lynne McKenna MBE has announced she is retiring from the University of Sunderland next summer (2024).
In a career spanning three decades, Professor McKenna has become a leading figure in the education system.
Professor McKenna joined the University in 2015 as Head of the School of Education and in 2018 was appointed a Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society. Over the years, Professor McKenna has made an outstanding contribution to the University, playing a key role in shaping the future of teacher training.
By the time Professor McKenna retires next year, she will have completed nine years of service to the University.
Professor McKenna, who this year was awarded an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours list for her services to education, said:
“It has been a huge privilege to contribute to the development of the University and to lead on the strategic transformation of the Faculty of Education and Society since 2015.
“By the time I retire, I will have spent 33 years in education, 23 of those in higher education and I have enjoyed every minute, (apart from the odd Ofsted inspection of course). The icing on the cake for me was being awarded an MBE for services to education in the King’s Birthday Honours list – not bad for a former nursery nurse from Jarrow.”
Professor McKenna added: “To end my career as Dean in the University which launched my career has been wonderful. None of this would have been possible without the excellent start I had at Sunderland Polytechnic. It is not a cliché to say that my experiences in this great institution have been truly life-changing.”
The former teacher studied at the University of Sunderland and graduated with a BEd (Hons) in 1991, before starting her career in a primary school in South Shields. Professor McKenna went on to study for her M.Ed at Newcastle University and has an Ed.D from Durham University.
Professor McKenna has worked in higher education at three north-east universities since 1998 in a variety of leadership roles.
Prior to joining the University of Sunderland, Professor McKenna was Director of Initial Teacher Education in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Northumbria University.
As Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at Sunderland, she has been responsible for the strategic direction and development of two large academic Schools; the School of Education and the School of Social Sciences.
The Faculty – which has campus provision in Sunderland, Hong Kong and London, and partners throughout the world – focuses on key areas of teaching and research comprising of initial and post-qualifying teacher training and social sciences programmes, including social work, criminology, professional policing, investigations, sociology, community and youth work, childhood studies, health and social care and related disciplines at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Alongside developing strong regional, national and international partnerships with schools to support school-led provision in School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), School Direct and Teaching Apprenticeships; Professor McKenna has been a passionate advocate for raising the status of the teaching profession and the role universities play in teacher education provision both in the UK and internationally.
As a key member of the two recent DfE Expert Working Groups for the development of International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS) and the development of the Inspection process for iQTS, Professor McKenna has been at the forefront of the development of this innovative globally recognised qualification.
She is also a member of several organisations including The MillionPlus Deans of Education Network, The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Teaching Profession, The University Council for the Education of Teachers, The Chartered College of Teaching, Schools North East and #WomenEd. These organisations have been influential in increasing awareness of the need for quality initial teacher education and training and providing ongoing support for serving teachers.
Professor McKenna is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and in 2020 was named as a leader in the field of innovation on the list of #NorthInnovationWomen. The aim of the list is to highlight and recognise the excellence of female innovators working right across the North of England, as well as presenting a showcase of role models to women and girls thinking of working in or studying the many sectors where innovation is key.
Success followed Professor McKenna to Sunderland when the Guardian University League Tables 2020 ranked four education courses at the University as second in the UK.
Commenting on Professor McKenna’s announcement, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, Sir David Bell, said:
“The University’s standing in education and social sciences has never been higher and that is, in no small measure, due to Lynne’s leadership. In addition, Lynne has been a brilliant colleague who has always put the interests of the University first, and I know that will include her working tirelessly on our behalf right up until the day she retires”.
Professor Michael Young, the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), added:
“These have been transformative years for the Faculty under Lynne’s leadership, first as Head of the School of Education and then Academic Dean, with many innovations including degree apprenticeships and the international qualified teacher status (iQTS) programme. Lynne’s expertise has rightly been recognised and valued at regional and national level, not least by the Department for Education”.