Mr Neil McLennan

Mr Neil McLennan
Mr Neil McLennan
Mr Neil McLennan


Senior Lecturer



Senior Lecturer &

Director of Leadership Programmes

Associate, & Director of Leadership Studies,  Centre for Global Security & Governance Studies

University of Aberdeen

Room 520, MacRobert Building

King's College


AB24 5UA


+44 (0)1224 274512



Neil has held a number of roles supporting public sector improvement.  After a teaching career he was seconded to LTS (now Education Scotland) as a National Development Officer.  After two secondments implementing national policy he became a Quality Improvement Officer (Education, Culture & Sport) at Aberdeen City Council where he was also Acting Service Manager (Schools & Curriculum). He remains a Reading Champion for Aberdeen City and is a Burgess of Guild of the City and Royal Burgh of Aberdeen.

Neil has led national bodies; is an established author and regular broadcast & print media contributor; sits on a number of boards including being on a Ministerial Working Group and giving evidence to Government Comission.  He was a Scotsman200 writer and reviews many publications (Bloomsbury, Scottish Education Review & Scottish Archives).  He is regualrly invited to speak internationally including University of Oxford, Korea University, Toyo University (Japan), Athens State University (Alabama, USA), Valenciennes University (France) & Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (UK).  

Awarded Professional Recognition (Enterprise in Education) by the GTCS he also recieved 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 completed the ADES Senior Leadership Development Programme & ILM accreditation.

Neil researches history and history education.  He focuses on First World War poet Wilfred Owen's 're-education' and Scottish History.  The poet Helen Boden described Neil as an "indefatigable researcher." STV described his research as "great detective work."  The Evening Express called him, "one of the top authorities on the First World War."  

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

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Programme Director MSc Leadership in Professional Contexts

Member, School of Education Communications Working Group

External Memberships


British Transport Police (BTP), Strategic Advisor, Independent Strategic Advisory Group (SIAG) July 2021-present

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

Western Front Association Education Ambassador 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

[NESCOL Curriclum and Quality Committee Member 2018-2021

Finance and Resources Committee 2018-2021

Curriclum and Quality Committee Vice Chair 2021-Present

Human Resources Committee 2021-Present]

Director, Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2017- Present

[RNSO Renumeractions Committee Member 2021- Present]

Wilfred Owen Association, Honorary Member 2017

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

[SCEL Organisational Growth and Structure Committee Member] 

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):-

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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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications

Non-textual Forms