Mr Neil McLennan

Mr Neil McLennan

Senior Lecturer (Scholarship)

Mr Neil McLennan
Mr Neil McLennan

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 274512
The University of Aberdeen Neil DR McLennan FRSA FSA Scot MYAS OSS
Senior Lecturer &
Director of Leadership Programmes
Associate,  Centre for Global Security & Governance Studies
University of Aberdeen
Room 520, MacRobert Building
King's College
AB24 5UA
+44 (0)1224 274512


Neil McLennan has held a number of key roles in supporting change and improvement in public services.  After a teaching career in the central belt he was seconded to Learning & Teaching Scotland (now Education Scotland) as a National Development Officer.  After two successful secondments implementing national policy he moved to the North East as Quality Improvement Officer (Education, Culture and Sport) for Aberdeen City Council where he also undertook a period as Acting Service Manager (Schools & Curriculum). He continues to be a Reading Champion for Aberdeen City Council and is also a Burgess of Guild of the City and Royal Burgh of Aberdeen.

In 2011 The Herald described Neil as, "a charismatic visionary in Scottish education."  In 2018 Dame Sue Bruce DBE described Neil as "a pioneering figure in Scottish education."

Neil has led a number of national education organisations and professional membership bodies.  He is a former President of both the Scottish Association of Teachers of History (SATH) and the Enterprise Practitioners’ Association (EPA).   Neil was a co-chair and the General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland and former Trustee of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Foundation (the National Academy of Scotland).  Neil was the chair of the RSE YAS Curriculum for Excellence Working Group and the Excellence in Education Working Group.  These groups engaged in issues as diverse as inter-disciplinary learning, numeracy, skill development, aspirations and the recruitment and retention of teachers.

Neil regularly leads school leader and teacher in‐service training course and residential courses on a broad range of themes such as pedagogy, education change and improvement.  He also delivers internationally on active learning, citizenship, history and social studies education.  He is an established author with textbooks being used in Scottish Schools across the country and his other articles and publications used by leaders in education and beyond.  He is a regular contributor to TESS and other national media outlets.  He has had a skills column in the Courier Newspaper, still writes a history column in History Scotland magazine and also appears on radio and broadcast media shows on education, skills and current affairs related matters.  Neil was a Scotsman 200 writer and also reguarly reviews publications, most reccently for publications such as Bloomsbury, Scottish Education Review and Scottish Archives.  

Neil was awarded Professional Recognition for Enterprise in Education by the General Teaching Council Scotland and also was the recipient of a Royal Society of Edinburgh Medal for “for his outstanding contribution to civic society, creativity and social enterprise, education and the social sciences.”  He has also completed the Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES) Senior Leadership Development Programme as well as ILM accreditation for Leadership in Social Enterprise.

Neil also sits on a number of panels and working groups including previously being involved in Ministerial Working Groups and giving evidence to Government Comission.  He is a lay advisor to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and Director of the Royal Caledonian Education Trust, North East Scotland College and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.  He was a Board Director for Connect (the Scottish Parent Teacher Council) and a Board Director for the Scottish College for Educational Leadership before it was subsumed into Education Scotland.

Neil supports leaders across public and uniformed services in his role as Senior Lecturer and Director of Leadership Programmes at the University of Aberdeen School of Education.  He has lectured across the world including invites to speak at University of Oxford, Korea University (South Korea), Toyo University (Tokyo, Japan), Athens State University (Alabama, USA), Valenciennes University (France) and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (UK).

Neil retains an interest in history and history education where he still researches, writes and lectures extensively.  His main focus areas are The First World War, First World War poet Wilfred Owen's 're-education' and Scottish History.  The poet Helen Boden described Neil as an "indefatigable researcher." Neil's research work into the Great War was described by STV journalists as "great detective work."  The Evening Express noted him as "one of the top authorities on the First World War."  Neil was appointed an ambassador of the Western Front Association in 2020. He is also an honorary member of the Wilfred Owen Association.

Memberships and Affiliations


Programme Director MSc Leadership in Professional Contexts

Member, School of Education Communications Working Group



Scottish Education Research Network: Leadership in Scottish Education Network (LiSEN) Co-Convenor 2020-present

Course Architect, Tecmillenio University, Mexico, Certificate in Management of Educational Institutions (CMEI) 2018- present

Director, Royal Caledonian Education Trust, 2018 - present

Director, North East Scotland College, 2018- present

Director, Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2017- Present

Lay Advisor, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 2015 to Present

Associate Member Voluntary Health Scotland 2018- Present

Member of Scottish College for Educational Leadership 'Into Headship' Team 2016- Present

Member of Scottish College for Educational Leadership 'In Headship' Design Team 2016- Present

Editorial Board Member, History Scotland

Chair #iPlay4Peace / #iSing4Peace International Concert for Cooperation, 2017 to Present




Fellowship Councillor, RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) 2017-  2020

Director, Scottish Parent Teacher Council 2016- 2019

Director, Scottish College for Educational Leadership  2016-2018

(Also member, Organisational Growth and Structure Committee, Scottish College for Educational Leadership)

Chair, Wilfred Owen 1917-2017 Committee, 2014-2018

Convenor, War Poets' Corner (Scotland) Committee, 2017-2018

Member of Character and Values Pathway Team to 2017

Trustee, Royal Society of Edinburgh SCIO (2012-2016)

Former General Secretary and Co Chair of Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland

Former Chair Excellence in Education Working Group (formely Curriclum for Excellence Working Group), Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland

Former President, Enterprise Practitioners Association

Former President, Scottish Association of Teachers of History

Judge- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Inspiring Physician of the Year 2018/19

Judge- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Inspiring Physician of the Year 2017/18


Research Overview

Leadership models- cooperative leadership

Values and leadership

Public sector improvement

Change theory and practice 


History curriculum


Social studies pedagogies

Teaching 'controversial' issues

First World War History especially that of the Great War poets

Scottish History


Public engagement in the arts


National Design Group member- Scottish College for Educational Leadership, Into Headship Qualification

National Design Group member- Scottish College for Educational Leadership, In Headship Qualification

International Collaboration with SCEL writing:-Social emotional learning - a summary of changing the odds

This paper by Jay Helbert (SCEL Lead Specialist) and Neil McLennan brings together some of the core areas of research that underpin SEL. It reports on a 2016 conference and summarises the inputs to the field made by a number of significant contributors. The paper also provides a gateway to further reading and exploration into some of the fundamental aspects of SEL.

Leadership of cross sector and joint HEI projects:-

Chair of cross sector collaboration of 25 organisations to produce 17 events sharing my research into and cultural output inspired by, war poet, Wilfred Owen:-

Chair of cross sector collaboration to commemorate Scotland's Great War Poets:-

Chair of international concert for coopeartion on 100th anniversary of Armistice (#iPlay4Peace):-

Research Funding and Grants

2019 University of Aberdeen grant to support REF case studies.

2017 Scottish College for Educational Leadership grant to support travel, conference attendance in USA and writing of Professional Learning Resource on social and emotional learning.

2015 Royal Society of Edinburgh award to support Wilfred Owen research at Harry Ransom Centre, University of Texas, Austin (UTA).


Teaching Responsibilities

Programme Director for MSc Leadership in Professional Contexts

I currently teach:-

Exploring Leadership

Leading Effective Improvements

Leading Change

Action Research Project

Developing as a Strategic Leader (Into Headship programme for HT/principal preperation)

Leading Strategic Change (Into Headship programme for HT/principal preperation)(Into Headship programme for HT/principal preperation)

Shaping Professional Identity and Practice (In Headship programme for newly apponted HT/principals)

Excellence and Equity (In Headship programme for newly apponted HT/principals)

Building Capacity in Self and Others (In Headship programme for newly apponted HT/principals)

I also teach intial teacher education primary teachers and secondary social studies teachers on the following programmes


I also teach on the MSc Cultural and Creative Communication programe, lecturing on the Public Engagement for the Arts course where I share my scholarship and leadership work.



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  • At the heart of the Highland Games (The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavillion and Braemar Highland Games Centre)

    McLennan, N.

    History Scotland, vol. 20, pp. 50-51

    Contributions to Specialist Publications: Articles

  • In search of leadership: Cooperative leadership

    McLennan, N.

    Teaching Scotland (General Teaching Council of Scotland periodical), vol. 82, pp. 44-45

    Contributions to Specialist Publications: Articles

  • James Murdoch: Our Man in Japan

    Swanson, D., McLennan, N.

    History Scotland, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 24-25

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Standing on the shoulders of giants: Chief Medical Officer Sir Wilson Jameson

    McLennan, N.

    Non-textual Forms: Web Publications and Websites

  • Approach to reflection on colonialism in 1919 in connection with Paris Peace Treaty: Lessons from History and creating cooperative leadership paradigms of the future.

    McLennan, N. D. R.

    International NGO Conference: History and Peace, 1919 and Its implications for Peace and Reconciliation in East Asia. (In Association with:- NGO Forum for Peace in East Asia College of Liberal Arts, Korea University / The European Association of History Educators (EUROCLIO) / Bridge for Peace (Japan) / Institute for Peace Studies, Nanjing University (China) / The Hunters-ROTC Historical Society (Philippines) / Southeast Asian Conflict Studies Network (SACSN) Research and Education for Peace, Universiti Sains Malaysia / Center for Peace and Conflict Studies (Cambodia) / Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (USA) / London Information Network on Conflicts and State-building : LINKS (UK) / ALPHA Education (Canada))..

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Conference Proceedings

  • Do we value values?

    McLennan, N.

    Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce: Business Bulletin, pp. 40-40

    Contributions to Specialist Publications: Articles

  • Intergenerational Learning and Trasnformational Leadership for Sustainable Futures

    McLennan, N. D. R.

    Scottish Educational Review, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 81-82

    Contributions to Journals: Reviews of Books, Films and Articles

  • James Duncan and the 1919 Paris Peace Conference

    McLennan, N. D. R.

    History Scotland, vol. 19, no. 4

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Returning to Clan Homelands

    McLennan, N. D. R.

    History Scotland, vol. 19, pp. 44-45

    Contributions to Specialist Publications: Articles

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