Professor Lynne McKenna, the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at the University of Sunderland, has been granted an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours list for her invaluable contributions to education.
Professor McKenna, who has played a crucial role in shaping the future of teacher training, joined the University in 2015 as the Head of the School of Education. Recognizing her exceptional dedication and expertise, she was later appointed as the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society in 2018.
Prior to her role at the University of Sunderland, Professor McKenna served as the Director of Initial Teacher Education in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Northumbria University.
Professor McKenna said: “I’m truly honoured to receive this award, but I share it with so many talented, inspirational and dedicated colleagues across school and university sectors.
“I wholeheartedly believe in the transformative power of education, having experienced this for myself entering higher education as a mature student at Sunderland Polytechnic in 1987. It has been a privilege to work in education over the past 32 years, first as a teacher in schools across the north-east and then subsequently in initial and post-qualifying teacher education in universities.”
She added: “To be Dean at the University of Sunderland – the University which gave me the platform to launch my career – has been and continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my working life.”
The former teacher studied at the University of Sunderland and graduated with a BEd (Hons) in 1991, before starting her career in a primary school in South Shields. Professor McKenna went on to study for her M.Ed at Newcastle University and has an Ed.D from Durham University.
Professor McKenna has worked in higher education at three north-east universities since 1998 in a variety of leadership roles.
As Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at Sunderland, she is responsible for the strategic direction and development of two large academic Schools; the School of Education and the School of Social Sciences.
The Faculty – which has campus provision in Sunderland, Hong Kong and London, and partners throughout the world – focuses on key areas of teaching and research comprising of initial and post-qualifying teacher training and social sciences programmes, including social work, criminology, professional policing, investigations, sociology, community and youth work, childhood studies, health and social care and related disciplines at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Alongside developing strong regional, national and international partnerships with schools to support school-led provision in School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), School Direct and Teaching Apprenticeships; Professor McKenna is a passionate advocate for raising the status of the teaching profession and the role universities play in teacher education provision both in the UK and internationally.
As a key member of the two recent DfE Expert Working Groups for the development of International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS) and the development of the Inspection process for iQTS, Professor McKenna has been at the forefront of the development of this innovative globally recognised qualification.
She is also a member of several organisations including The MillionPlus Deans of Education Network, The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Teaching Profession, The University Council for the Education of Teachers, The Chartered College of Teaching, Schools North East and #WomenEd. These organisations have been influential in increasing awareness of the need for quality initial teacher education and training and providing ongoing support for serving teachers.
Professor McKenna is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and in 2020 was named as a leader in the field of innovation on the list of #NorthInnovationWomen. The aim of the list is to highlight and recognise the excellence of female innovators working right across the North of England, as well as presenting a showcase of role models to women and girls thinking of working in or studying the many sectors where innovation is key.
Success has followed Professor McKenna to Sunderland when the Guardian University League Tables 2020 ranked four education courses at the University as second in the UK.
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, said: “I am delighted that Lynne McKenna has been recognised through the award of an MBE for her outstanding contribution to education.
“Over a long and distinguished career, she has transformed the lives of thousands, more recently here at the University of Sunderland where she has been an inspirational leader to trainee teachers, social workers and others, as well as to her colleagues.
“Lynne’s popularity and standing will be evident as colleagues across our institution will be delighted for her and her family. At a personal level, I would also want to pay tribute to Lynne for her unwavering loyalty and commitment to the University of Sunderland which I appreciate greatly.”