Dr David Smith

Dr David Smith
SFHEA FRSA

Head of School
Senior Lecturer (Scholarship)

Overview
Dr David Smith
Dr David Smith

Contact Details


Biography

I am an Educator with an expertise in Religion. Since 2017, I have been Head of School of Education, leading a vibrant multi-departmental school with research and teaching activities across: Counselling; Early Years Education; Initial Teacher Education; and Masters-level Professional Learning (e.g., Inclusive Practice, Leadership and Mindfulness; through to Doctoral degrees). Externally, I am the current Chair of the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE).

Prior to being Head of School, I was Programme Director, and Depute Programme Director, of Aberdeen's Initial Teacher Education Professional Graduate Diploma in Education or PGDE (Primary, Secondary and Distance Learning Initial Teacher Education [DLITE]). I have pursued a passion for international work, also serving as the School's Director of Innovation and Internationalisation - forging and supporting strategic initiatives in China, the Middle East, as well as in the UK.

I joined the University of Aberdeen from Education Scotland (Scottish Government), where I worked as a National Development Officer in the Assessment Team, supporting assessment pedagogy, moderation, and profiling in the new (then) Scottish curriculum - with lead responsibility for Moray, Highland, Orkney, and Shetland Islands. In Aberdeen City, I worked across Primary and Secondary schools for local government as a Curriculum Development Officer for Assessment, Moderation, and Reporting (3-18); prior to which I was Aberdeen City’s Subject Network Leader for Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies (RMPS).

I have been a Public Appointee, serving as an Adjudicator on the General Teaching Council (Scotland)'s Fitness to Teach and Registration Panels (2012-2016).

I taught RMPS (Religion and Philosophy) in secondary schools in Aberdeen and Montrose. Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked in the Third Sector, where over several years I led a team to turnaround a struggling charitable company.


Qualifications

PGDE, Arts University of Edinburgh 2007
PhD, Arts Durham University 2006
ThM, Arts Princeton Theological Seminary 1999
BD (Hons), Arts University of Glasgow 1998

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal
  • Member | Online Education Development Committee (OEDC) | June 2020 - present
  • Member | Qatar Academic and Curriculum Development Group | February 2020 - present
  • Member | NSS Steering Group | November 2019 - present
  • Member | Space Management Group | October 2019 - present
  • Member | MacRobert (Capital) Programme Board SLWG | April 2019 - July 2019
  • Chair | Sustainable Worksteam Steering Group (2040 University Strategy): Academic Size and Shape and Finance SLWG| March 2019 - August 2019
  • Member | University Management Group (UMG) | September 2017 - present
  • Member | University of Aberdeen Senate (Elected and Subsequently Ex Officio) | August 2016 - present
  • Founding Member and Policy Representative | University of Aberdeen LGBT Staff Network | January 2015 - July 2017
External
  • Member | Scottish Government | Strategic Board for Teacher Education | August 2020 - present
  • Chair | Scottish Council of Deans of Education | August 2020 - present
  • External Examiner | Secondary Religious Education | University College London, Institute of Education | Jan. 2019 - present
  • External Examiner | Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) | University College London, Institute of Education and The Institute of Ismaili Studies | December 2017 - January 2020
  • Member | Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE) | January 2017 - July 2020
  • External Examiner | PGDE | University of Strathclyde | October 2016 - September 2018
  • Executive Member of Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA) | December 2014 - November 2015
  • Associate Assessor | Higher Education Aspect Reviewer | Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI) | Education Scotland | Aspect Review of Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Feb. 2015
  • Public Appointee | General Teaching Council for Scotland | Adjudicating Panel serving on Fitness to Teach and Registration Panels | April 2012 - March 2016
Research

Research Overview

Religion and Education

Diversity and identities are two threads which characterise my research interest: a searching for the heterogeneous amidst the seemingly homogenous. Specifically, my research focus is contextualised within the historical study of religion (in particular, Christianities and Judaisms) through which I have concentrated on heterogeneous early Judaeo-Christian religious phenomena and identities: circumcision as a sine qua non of Jewish identity; constructions of 'sexuality' and boundaries within early Christianities; and early Christian 'magic' and cursing to death, as community identity is in contention within certain early Christian understandings. My study of early Christianities, and in particular of ancient cursing and magic, is guided by a Religionsgeschichtliche Schule approach.  

Hermeneutical and pedagogical issues arise in the present when contemporary constructions of religion, such as Christianity, are considered in light of their historical origins: fundamental questions emerge concerning Religious Education curricula and pedagogy, and the education of Religious Education student teachers: How can (should?) religious phenomena be interpreted and understood in the past and the present? What might we select/curate to teach, and learn from (?), and how might children and young people be engaged in these experiences?  My research reflects these interests, through explorations of essentialist presentations of religion by teaching practitioners of Religious Education.

What we teach about, and learn from, religion was the focus of Tales of Iona a game-based learning experience through which as PI, with CIs Katrina Foy and Aloyise Mulligan, I sought to engage learners across upper-Primary and lower-Secondary school with the religious history of the island of Iona - creating a pedagogical resource for teachers, particularly teachers of Religious Education. This third sector funded innovation was a finalist at the 2016 International Educational Games Competition | European Conference on Games Based Learning

Current Research

1. Who is teaching RE in England and Scotland? An Empirical Study of English and Scottish Religious Education Teachers in collaboration with Dr Graeme Nixon (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Jo Pearce (UCL Institute of Education): submitted

2. Essentialist Understandings of Religion and Religious Education |  Lead Researcher | Bad Religion as False Religion in collaboration with Dr Graeme Nixon (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Jo Pearce (UCL Institute of Education). This paper, which was presented at the British Educational Research Association's annual conference (September 2017 | University of Brighton) and the Association of Lecturers of Religious Education annual conference (May 2018 | University of London), explores essentialist understandings of religion in relation to teachers of Religious Education across the UK.  The first of three papers arising from the dataset has now been published by Religions"Bad Religion as False Religion: An Empirical Study of UK Religious Education Teachers' Essentialist Religious Discourse"

Collaborations

International Consultancy, Grant Income and New Programme/Course Innovation Activity

I have generated £284,436 in external grant and consultancy income; £46,124 in internal project grant income for my school; and £898,810 of fee revenue generation (Total: £1,229,370 to 30 Sept. 2020).

Current | International

1. Project Leader, Curriculum Writer, and Visiting International Expert | International Professional Learning Initiative | University of Aberdeen School of Education and Beijing Institute of Education | Chaoyang District, Beijing, China | February 2015 - present

Current |  National | UK

1. Who is teaching RE in England and Scotland?  An Empirical Study of English and Scottish Religious Education Teachers | in collaboration with Dr Graeme Nixon (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Jo Pearce (UCL Institute of Education): submitted

Completed | International

1. Religious Education and Diversity (READY) | CI with Dr Graeme Nixon (University of Aberdeen) and others across Europe (Austria, England, Germany, Sweden) on this transnational Erasmus Plus European Religious Education and Diversity project | September 2015 - August 2018

2. Project Board Member | University of Aberdeen Middle East Internationalisation Initiative | May 2014 - October 2016

Completed | National | UK

1. Mathematics SCQF 7 Online Access innovation | Partnership development in collaboration with secondary-qualified teaching professionals | November 2018 - August 2019

2. University of Aberdeen and Northern Alliance Learning Hub | May 2018 - August 2019

3. Project Leader | Mathematics SCQF 5 Online Access innovation | Partnership development in collaboration with secondary-qualified teaching professionals | Scottish Government | October 2017 - July 2018

4. Project Leader | English SCQF 6 Online Access innovation | Partnership development in collaboration with secondary-qualified teaching professionals | University of Aberdeen | November 2016 - September 2017

5. Project Leader | Mathematics SCQF 6 Online Access innovation | Partnership development in collaboration with secondary-qualified teaching professionals | University of Aberdeen | November 2016 - September 2017

4. Principal Investigator | Iona Cathedral Trust Learning and Technology Innovation in collaboration with Katrina Foy (University of Aberdeen) | Aloyise Mulligan (University of Aberdeen) | and Hyper Luminal Games LTD.  www.talesofiona.com | Iona Cathedral Trust | October 2014 - September 2016

5. Joint Principal Investigator (with Dr Mhairi Beaton [Education: University of Aberdeen]) | Education Scotland (Scottish Government) national Profiling development in conjunction with Mackie Academy, Aberdeenshire | Profiling in the Senior Phase | Scottish Government | January 2014 - December 2014

Supervision

  1. PhD Supervision: Mindfulness and Education: Technology and Mindfulness: Aug. 2020 - present (Louise Haynes)
  2. PhD Supervision: Mindfulness and Education: Minfulness, Religion, and Wellbeing: Feb. 2020 - present (Sara Kadir)
  3. PhD Supervision: Mindfulness and Education: Technology, Work, and Flourishing: Nov. 2018 - present (Susan Brimmer)

Supervision (Completed)

  1. PhD Supervision: Mindfulness and Education: Self-Compassion for Adolescents: The Role of Education in Scotland, Sept. 2020 (Heather Grace Bond)
  2. PhD Supervision: Education: Citizenship Education in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dec. 2019 (Maryam Naser Ahmed Hamad).
  3. PhD Supervision: Education and Looked-After Children, Nov. 2017 (Jacinta Birchley)
  4. MSc Work-based Project Supervision: Education, Poverty, and Parental Involvement, Oct. 2018 (Katrina Cuthbertson)
  5. MSc Work-based Project: Mindfulness and Education: Oracle or Guide: What Qualities do Leaders belive support them to engage their employees during a time of significant organisational change? May 2017 (Susan Brimmer)
  6. MSc Work-based Project: Mindfulness and Education: Oct. 2016 (Gill Crossland-Thackray)
  7. Farmington Tutor, Farmington Institute, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, completed: Jul. 2016 (Kenneth Primrose).
  8. MSc Work-based Project Supervision: Education: Pupil responses to the Certification of core RMPS: Jun. 2016 (Stephen Reid)
  9. MSc Work-based Project: Mindfulness and Education: Jun. 2016 (Alison Fielding)

Research Funding and Grants

International

1. International Professional Learning Initiative | Curriculum Writer and Professional Learning Leader | University of Aberdeen School of Education and Beijing Institute of Education | Chaoyang District, Beijing, China | February 2015 - present

2. Religious Education and Diversity (READY) | CI with Dr Graeme Nixon (University of Aberdeen) and others across Europe (Austria, England, Germany, Sweden) on this transnational Erasmus Plus European Religious Education and Diversity project | September 2015 - August 2018

National | UK

1. University of Abrerdeen | Mathematics SCQF 7 Online Access innovation | University of Aberdeen | January 2019

2. Northern Alliance Teacher Centre | May 2018 - July 2019 

3. Scottish Government | SCQF 5 Mathematics Online Access innovation | April 2017

4. University of Aberdeen | SCQF 6 Mathematics Online Access innovation | November 2016

5. University of Aberdeen | SCQF 6 English Online Access innovation | November 2016

6. Iona Cathedral Trust | Third Sector Grant | October 2014 - September 2016

7. Farmington Tutor | Farmington Institute | Harris Manchester College, Oxford | Supervision | September 2016-July 2017

8. Education Scotland (Scottish Government) | Scottish Government | January 2014 - December 2014

Teaching

Teaching Responsibilities

Session 2020/21

  • MA1 | Global Perspectives on Education (Primary)
  • MA2 | Belief Matters (Primary)
  • MA3 | Professional Focus Elective | Belief in Scotland (Primary)
  • MA4/PGDE | LGBTIQ Lecture and workshop (Primary/Secondary)
  • Beijing Professional Learning for Teachers Initiative (Primary/Middle/Secondary) | Thinking Skills for Teachers

Session 2019/20

  • MA1 | Global Perspectives on Education (Primary)
  • MA2 | Belief Matters (Primary)
  • MA3 | Professional Focus Elective | Belief in Scotland (Primary)
  • MA4/PGDE | Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies Tutor (Primary)
  • MA4/PGDE | LGBTIQ Lecture and workshop (Primary/Secondary)
  • PGDE | Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies Tutor (Secondary)
  • Beijing Professional Learning for Teachers Initiative (Primary/Middle/Secondary) | Thinking Skills for Teachers

Session 2018/19

  • MA3 | Professional Focus Elective | Belief in Scotland (Primary)
  • MA4/PGDE | Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies Tutor (Primary)
  • Beijing Professional Learning for Teachers Initiative (Primary/Middle/Secondary) | Thinking Skills for Teachers

Session 2017/18

  • MA3 | Professional Focus Elective | Belief in Scotland (Primary)
  • PGDE | Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies Tutor (Secondary)
  • Beijing Professional Learning for Teachers Initiative (Primary/Middle/Secondary) | Thinking Skills for Teachers

Session 2016/17

  • MA3 | Professional Focus Elective: Belief in Scotland (Primary)
  • MA4/PGDE | Religious, Moral, and Philosohpical Studies (Primary)
  • MA4/PGDE | LGBTIQ Lecture and workshop (Primary/Secondary)
  • PGDE | Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies Tutor (Secondary)
  • PGDE | Cross-Cutting Collaboration | Thinking Skills (Secondary)
  • MA4 | School Experience Tutor (Primary)
  • MA4 | School Experience Tutor (Secondary RMPS)
  • Beijing Professional Learning for Teachers Initiative (Primary/Middle/Secondary) | Thinking Skills for Teachers
Publications

Publications 

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  • The Demographics of RE teachers in England and Scotland in 2017: An Empirical Study

    Smith, D. R., Pearce, J., Nixon, G.

    Contributions to Conferences: Papers

  • Who is teaching RE in England and Scotland? An Empirical Study of English and Scottish Religious Education Teachers

    Nixon, G., Smith, D. R., Pearce, J.

    Contributions to Conferences: Papers

  • Are you READY?: Diversity and Religious Education across Europe

    Schreiner, P., von Bromson, K., Fischer, M., Ivkovits, H., Kliemann, P., Leganger-Krogstad, H., Miedema, S., Niemi, K., Nixon, G., Olschewski, J., Panjwani, F., Pearce, J., Savill, J., Schreiner, P., Schilling, C., Smith, D. R., Stones, A.

    Vol. 1, Waxmann, Munster/New York. 144 pages

    Books and Reports: Books

  • Good and Bad Religion: Resisting Essentialist Discourse

    Smith, D. R., Pearce, J.

    Contributions to Conferences: Papers

  • Good and bad religion: resisting essentialist discourse

    Nixon, G., Smith, D. R., Pearce, J.

    Contributions to Conferences: Papers

  • How RE teachers see religion - and why it can be bad for pupils

    Smith, D. R., Nixon, G., Pearce, J.

    The Conversation

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Religious Education (RE) in Scotland: A New Empirical Perspective (2017)

    Smith, D. R.

    Contributions to Conferences: Papers

  • Schools and the Sanitising of Religion: Bad Religion as False Religion

    Smith, D. R., Nixon, G., Pearce, J.

    Contributions to Conferences: Papers

  • Hand This Man over to Satan: Curse, Exclusion and Salvation in 1 Corinthians 5

    Smith, D. R.

    T and T Clark, London. 224 pages

    Books and Reports: Books

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