Professor David Owen

Tell us about your contribution that has been recognised through the professorship/associate professorship.David Owen

My outstanding contribution has been in External and Professional Engagement (E&PE) through over thirty five years of teaching, educating teachers, and leading educators. That contribution can be defined by the following three principles:

  1. I have ensured that the highest quality of subject and research-informed teaching has been provided to school learners, teachers in training, and the staff who train teachers, especially in contexts of economic disadvantage.
  2. I have built partnerships, coalitions, and networks, as I believe that education at all phases is best supported through collaboration.
  3. I have, through the leadership of others, ensured the best professional development for the teams I have created and led.

I’ve been involved in shaping national teacher training policy, leading educational partnerships, and curriculum development at a national and international levels.

My significant contribution has been in Teaching  and Learning (T&L) in the fields of geographical education, e-learning in higher education, and research-led partnership based teacher education.

What does it mean personally to you to be a Professor at Sheffield Hallam?

I’m really proud to be a Professor at Sheffield Hallam, and to work with so many inspiring colleagues, students and partners. I value the chance to have a positive influence on the life chances and opportunities of young people in our region and beyond.

Tell us a bit about your career story so far.

I started my career as a secondary school geography teacher in Outer London, and since then I have made a contribution to geographical education for teachers in practice, and for trainee teachers at Sheffield Hallam.

Later work in residential education in Strathclyde focused on supporting young people from areas of significant economic and social disadvantage through engaging them in environmental and outdoor education. I have continued this work at Hallam in the support of civic and place engagement in schooling, and by focusing on the education of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, through governance roles in schools and colleges in areas of disadvantage.

The focus of my PhD was geographical education in a primary school context. I have published textbooks and teaching materials for primary geography teachers that have shaped the curriculum, and led the delivery of professional development via the Geographical Association for many years. I continue to teach in my current role, because I am passionate about it, and also to model teaching commitment in a department which values research informed teaching. Leading the Sheffield Institute of Education as Head of Department is a privilege and brings opportunities to contribute to college, University and external education projects.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some career advice, what would it be?

That advice would be:

  • Check if what you plan to do is going to have a positive impact on students – if it’s not then don’t do it.
  • Say yes to most opportunities; but it’s good to say no sometimes.
  • Be careful with those late Friday afternoon emails…

What’s next? Tell us about how you want to further develop your contribution.

There are several key challenges and opportunities in my field in which I can lead and contribute to:

  • New models of professional and civic education in the context of COVID-19 recovery;
  • New higher education led research-informed and partnership-based teaching and learning collaborations at a national level in response to the Department for Education Market Review of Teacher Training;
  • A renewed international strategy for educational professional development working across the university with strategic international partners.