Dr Ian Finlay

Supernumerary Fellow

Ian Finlay is Education Development Consultant for the Social Sciences in the Oxford Learning Institute. He has worked in teacher education at all levels from primary through to higher education for the past 25 years. His main interests are in teaching and learning and educational policy and leadership.

His first degree was in social sciences and his masters and doctorate are in educational research. His current research interests are in the education of disadvantaged young people and how those learning to teach in university link research and practice. He was a visiting lecturer at the University of Hamburg in 1992 and a visiting research fellow in the Department of Education here in Oxford during Trinity Term 2008. He moved to Oxford from the University of Strathclyde in 2010.


Courses to develop the teaching skills of doctoral students and early career lecturers in the University forms the bulk of Ian’s teaching. However, he also considers it important in this role to keep up his credibility as a teacher by taking a few undergraduate students each year in sociology tutorials and also by supervising masters students in education in their dissertations.


Ian’s research has three main themes. One is working, learning and managing in the intersection between different institutions. His early work in this area examined the ways that these intersections were managed as schools, local authorities and FE colleges; and FE colleges and universities formed collaborations. Another aspect of this work was examining the learning that takes place in the intersection between universities and workplaces in teacher education courses for FE lecturers. This work was funded by grants from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and The Open University.

A second theme is education policy particularly for vocational education and training. Projects in this theme included international comparisons of VET policies; home internal comparisons of education studies in universities; FE colleges’ implementations of employability policies; and the impact of policy on learning and inclusion in the English Learning and Skills Sector. This work was funded by Scottish Enterprise, CEDEFOP, the Scottish Funding Council, and the ESRC.

The third theme is the education of disadvantaged young people and adults. This included a survey of adult education in FE colleges and examining policy and practice impacting on young people in the NEET (not in education, employment or training) category. This work was funded by the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education and Learning and Teaching Scotland. Dr Finlay is currently research the redemptive impact of sports and creative arts on disadvantaged young people.  This work is funded through a Farmington Fellowship at Harris Manchester College.

Selected Publications

Finlay, I, Sheridan, M, Coburn, A & Soltysek, R (2013) Rapid Response Research: using creative arts methods to research the lives of disadvantaged young people. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 18(1-2), 127-142

Finlay, I, Sheridan, M, McKay, J  & Nudzor, H. (2010) Young People on the Margins; In need of more choices and more chances in 21st Century Scotland. British Educational Research Journal, 36(5), 851-86

Finlay, I. (2010) Expansive Learning Across University and Workplace Learning Systems in Jonathan H Westover (ed.) Training the Next Generation of Knowledge Workers: Readings for Effective Secondary Education and Workplace Learning Practices. Australia: Common Ground Publishing Pty Ltd

Finlay, I. (2008) What’s Learning For? – Interrogating the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, in R. Murray (ed.) The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Buckingham: Open University Press

Coffield, F, Edward, S, Finlay, I, Hodgson, A, Spours, K. & Steer, R. (2008) Improving Learning and Inclusion: the impact of policy and policy making. London, Routledge.


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