Miss Leigh Bjorkvoll

Miss Leigh Bjorkvoll

Lecturer (Scholarship)

Miss Leigh Bjorkvoll
Miss Leigh Bjorkvoll

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 274838
The University of Aberdeen MacRobert Building, King's College, Aberdeen. AB24 5UA


Areas of interest & expertise

Leigh has been heavily involved in the leadership of Initial Teacher Education programmes since joining the University.  Leigh has been in the role of Programme Director of the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary, Secondary and DLITE Primary) for several years; latterly being responsible for the newly designed, accredited and implemented PGDE Secondary programme (2019). In this role, Leigh has been responsible for:

  • QA of the programme.
  • Leading teams of tutors who deliver Professional Studies (PS), Curricular Studies (CS) and the teaching for School Experience (SE).
  • Mentoring coordinators with responsibility for Recruitment, Assessment, SE and PS (all component parts of the programme)
  • Liaising with key stakeholders e.g. Local Authorities (LA), the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS), Scottish Government (SG) and colleagues in schools.
  • Liaising with colleagues within the wider University to enhance the student experience from the point that they consider applying until they complete the programme, focusing on improving recruitment and retention.

Leigh has successfully led two consecutive GTCS accreditation events- 2013 for the combined PGDE Primary and Secondary programmes, and more recently, the new PGDE S programme was accredited in April 2019.  This received a commendation for the conceptual design and theoretical underpinning of the programme.

Emerging from these experiences, Leigh has developed a keen interest and expertise in:

-      Improving student experience during placement in Local Authority schools

-      Coaching and mentoring within a professional placement.

-      Programme conceptual design.

As a biologist and science educator, Leigh also has a keen interest in, and knowledge of, how children and young people learn science- prior to them entering formal education, in formal education and in the informal setting.


2007- present: Lecturer (School Of Education), University of Aberdeen

2002- 2007: Biology teacher, Aberdeenshire Council


2008, Chartered Teacher APEL (60 credits), University of Aberdeen

2008, Chartered Teacher: Professional Perspectives in Education (30 credits), University of Aberdeen

2007, PG Certificate Guidance & Pastoral Care, University of Aberdeen

2002, PGCE Biology with Science with Distinction, University of Aberdeen

2001, MSc Marine & Fisheries Science, University of Aberdeen

1999, BSc Zoology (Marine Biology), University of Aberdeen



Memberships and Affiliations


Member of School of Education Executive| August 2020-present.

School of Education representative on the University Blended Learning Implementation Task & Finish Group (BLITFG)| May 2020-present.

Subject selector for PGDE Biology.

Member of SoE UG TL committee.


Leadership Responsibilities

Director of Teaching and Learning (UG)| August 2020- present.

School Experience Coordinator| Professional Graduate Diploma Education (Secondary) Distance Learning Initial Teacher Education (DLITE)| January 2019- present

Programme Director|Professional Graduate Diploma Education (Secondary) August 2018-July 2020.

Programme Director|Professional Graduate Diploma Education (Primary and Secondary and DLITE Primary)| June 2016-June 2017 

Programme Director|Professional Graduate Diploma Education (Primary and Secondary)| January 2011-March 2014

Depute Programme Director| Professional Graduate Diploma Education (Primary and Secondary)| School Experience| October 2009- January 2011

Co-ordinator School Experience| Professional Graduate Diploma Education (Primary and Secondary)| August 2008- October 2009. 




- External Examiner for Strathclyde University, PGDE STEM.

- External Examiner for Strathclyde University, BSc Hons Education and Curricular Studies with Teaching Qualification

- SQA National 5 Marker

- Member of Scottish Universities Science School tutor team.


Research Overview

Scholarly - collaborative

In 2015-16, Leigh was part of a team who designed and implemented a Scottish Government funded 30 credit, Level 11 course for teachers across three Local Authorities.  The pedagogic research focus was on Master’s level coaching and mentoring, to improve the student teacher experience when on school placement. Over the last five years, data has been gathered from each cohort which informed the 2019 GTCS accreditation of the PGDE Secondary programme, and provided evidence for evaluative reports for Scottish Government, for continued funding.  In terms of wider impact, this ongoing scholarly engagement, which Leigh now leads, has supported the development of mentoring networks within Local Authorities to improve the quality and consistency of student experience during placements

The PGDE S tutor team now embed coaching and mentoring practices when supporting and assessing students on placement.

Scholarly - individual

Recently, Leigh implemented and led a CLPL opportunity with mentors of current PGDE S students (based in LA schools).  The data will be analysed, informed by a theoretical framework shared by The International Forum for Teacher Educators (InFo-Ted), with a specific focus on the context for University based and school-based teacher educators, and the relationship between them. The findings from this activity will inform dicussions at an InFo-Ted Summer Academy in June 2021. 

Knowledge exchange and partnership

Sharing knowledge of both our PGDE S programme and evidence-based practice with our LA partners, whilst working in partnership, is an ongoing activity.  Leigh created and led new opportunities for:

  • the programme team to share current thinking with partners and to build this further through planned CPD opportunities,
  • focus groups,
  • co-development of programme content in the context of the academic and professional demands of the programme,
  • working with colleagues in LAs to work on pilot projects with colleagues int eh School of Education e.g. TSF (Teaching Scotland’s Future) working group (2015-17).

Pedagogic research/enquiry

Leigh chaired a roundtable discussion at the Teacher Education Advancement Network University of Cumbria, Glasgow 2010. The aim was to engage academics in discussion surrounding the introduction of Master’s level credits to PGDE programmes, enabling the PGDE S team to make informed decisions for the reaccreditation of PGDE within the SoE at the UoA (June 2013), when introducing this pathway for students.  Since then, Leigh has continued to monitor the provision of Masters credits within PGDE programmes in Scotland. As part of the 2019 GTCS accreditation of the PGDE S programme, based on evidence and to attempt to strategically improve the uptake and continuation of study at Master’s level, the team modified and improved the provision.


Programme collaborations

  • Moving Image Education- NesCOL, annual collaboration with PGDE S since 2016

New initiatives with external partners- recruitment

  • University of Aberdeen working with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire- Transition into Education Secondary (TiES).

This initiative was funded by Scottish Government; supported by Skills Development Scotland; developed by the SoE and the LAs and, aimed to attract oil and gas workers who were at risk or had been made redundant.  Working with colleagues in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire LAs, Leigh organised and delivered the launch event. Following this, the PGDE S team undertook the recruitment process which was specific to this group of applicants and inducted them into the 2016-17 PGDE programme, along with the full cohort. During the programme, Leigh liaised closely with Scottish Government regarding the progress of the students and with Skills Development Scotland regarding the financial support for students. Once the initiative had been delivered, in dicussion with Scottish Government, a review and evaluative report was completed.

  • University of Aberdeen working with the Northern Alliance (Regional Improvement Collaborative)- into STEM Teaching Energy PGDE (iSTEP) https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/11673/

Again, this initiative was funded by Scottish Government and supported by Skills Development Scotland.  The SoE worked with eight LAs in the Northern Alliance (Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles) to support oil and gas workers to make a transition into teaching, and to address issues of recruitment to PGDE and retention of staff in LAs.  Two launch events were held- one in Aberdeen and one in Inverness.  Learning form the TiES initiative informed the development of the pedagogical model for iSTEP and Leigh planned and designed the University part of the initiative whilst advising and supporting the key contacts in the Northern Alliance.   


Teaching Responsibilities

Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary) (ED 402R &  ED 402Q)

- Curriuclar Studies tutor, Biology

- Professional Studies tutor

- School Experience visiting tutor

Professional Gradutate Diploma in Education (Primary) Exploring the Curriculum (ED 402K) and Connecting the Curriculum (ED 452N)

- Primary science tutor

MA Education (Honours) ED 4071 and ED 4515: Learning & Teaching in School: Developing Professional Practice 1 & 2

- Primary science tutor

ED 50JN (Coaching and Mentoring)- 30 credit course for qualified teachers.