Overview of Organisation and Social Context

Stranmillis University College was established in 1922 'to provide teacher training for Northern Ireland'. In 2018 Teacher Education remains its core mission. We are one of the leading providers of Initial Teacher Education in Northern Ireland. The College is situated on a beautiful 46 acre site in South Belfast and is part of a vibrant city which has experienced tremendous investment and growth since the end of the Troubles over twenty years ago.

There are two successful diversified undergraduate programmes (B.A. in Early Childhood Studies; B.Sc. in Health, Physical Activity and Sport) but the main area of work is Teacher Education through the full-time four-year undergraduate B.Ed. programme (Primary and Post-Primary) and the one-year PGCE (Early Years Primary). In total, the College has over 800 full-time students as well as several hundred part-time undergraduate and post-graduate Masters' students. Students are prepare for teaching in Early Years to Post 16 settings within maintained, controlled, integrated, mainstream and special schools. The majority of full-time students at Stranmillis come from Northern Ireland itself and live on campus, but for many years the College has been involved in the Erasmus student mobility exchange programme and has also developed a wide range of international partnership agreements with HEIs in the USA, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Uganda.

The College has approximately 45 academic staff engaged on the undergraduate and post-graduate programmes. The academic staff have also built strong links with communities through teaching and learning projects, research projects and widening participation including working with community groups and schools involving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Areas of Specific Expertise

Stranmillis has developed expertise over many years in a number of specific areas related to Education: early years provision; literacy; special educational needs; pastoral care in schools; pupil underachievement and its link with disadvantage; entrepreneurship, inclusion and diversity; initial teacher education; teacher continuing professional development; subject specific research; paediatric physical activity; health and health promotion; and gender and sport. An important emerging area involves the STEM subjects - mathematics, science and technology and design. This growing scholarship and research profile is reflected in the College’s recent success in the UK-wide Research Excellence Framework exercise in 2014 where an independent panel rated 72% of the College’s research activity to be of internationally recognised standard, with an impressive 30% of our research outputs being awarded the top 4*(world-leading) ranking. In recent years the College has secured CPD/research funding of £3.4million from the Department of Education (SEN Literacy Project) and £900k from the International Fund for Ireland (Classrooms re-Imagined: Education in Diversity and Inclusion for Teachers).

Quality Systems

Stranmillis University College is subject to the quality assurance procedures of Queen’s University, Belfast (a member of the Russell Group of prestige public research universities in the UK) while its Teacher Education courses are accredited by the General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland and inspected by the Education and Training Inspectorate of Northern Ireland.  The College is subject to the new operating model for quality assessment introduced by its sponsoring government department, the Department for the Economy, introduced for the first time for the 2016-17 academic year. Under this new model, the College's Governing Body must make regular assurances to the Department in terms of the continuous improvement of the student academic experience and student outcomes, as well as in relation to its adherence to the Financial Memorandum.

About Dr. Noel Purdy

Noel PurdyDr. Noel Purdy is Director of Research and Scholarship and Head of Education Studies at Stranmillis. Dr. Purdy was chair of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum from 2013 to 2016. The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) brings together organisations acting together to end bullying of children and young people. During his period as chair, the NIABF carried out an extensive ministerial review of policy, legislation and practice in relation to bullying in schools in Northern Ireland, which set the context for the development of the "Addressing Bullying in Schools (Northern Ireland) Act 2016" which gained royal assent on 12 May 2016. In January 2016 Dr. Purdy presented oral evidence on the new Bill to the Committee for Education at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Dr. Purdy is an experienced researcher and has already led collaborative projects with one of the project partners, Professor Peter K. Smith (Goldsmiths, London). In 2014-15 he took the lead in a project on the content of anti-bullying policies in Northern Ireland. He has published in leading journals such as the Oxford Review of Education, Educational Research, the Education Law Journal and the European Journal of Special Needs Education, and edited "Pastoral Care 11-16: A Critical Introduction" (London: Bloomsbury).

As a member of the Senior Management Team, Dr. Purdy has responsibility for designing, implementing and evaluating the research strategy for his institution, as well as line management responsibilities and membership of the Corporate Planning Team. Dr. Purdy also has experience in producing anti-bullying materials with the NIABF which are used across 800 school in Northern Ireland. He brings considerable skills and expertise in project management, as well as research experience and expertise in relation to bullying and cyberbullying. As project lead, he will assume overall responsibility for the co-ordination of the project including financial management and will lead in the creation of the recommendations for Social Network Site Providers.