Nancy Allan

Nancy Allan



Research activity per year

Personal profile


As an experienced educational practitioner who has worked across educational sectors teaching in primary and early years I have a broad understanding of the learning journeys and experiences of children, young people and educational practitioners. I have extensive experience of leadership and management in the primary and early years’ sector and prior to joining UWS held the position of Head of a Primary School and Nursery.

I am a GTCS registered primary teacher and in addition to my primary teaching qualification, I have a Post-Graduate Certificate in Early Years. Most of my teaching experience in primary school was in the P1-P4 stage. This was followed by a move into the Early Education and Childcare sector over twenty years ago. After a period as a nursery teacher I was promoted to senior teacher in nursery later becoming the head of a large nursery and thereafter was again promoted to the post of head of the primary school and nursery. The post of head of nursery involved leading and managing a large team of early years’ practitioners and support workers. The role involved leading curriculum development and managing a number of innovative projects such as the design and development of an outdoor nursery facility and leading and managing creativity across the curriculum.


I have worked at UWS for twelve years lecturing on the BA (Hons) Childhood Studies, BA (Hons) Childhood Practice, BA GA Early Years, M.Ed. in Early Years and Initial Teacher Education programmes. I am currently module co-ordinator for eight modules and was a successful Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Childhood Practice and Graduate Diploma Childhood Practice from 2018 to 2020. Following a successful tender to the Scottish Government for the development and delivery of four CPL modules, to support the professional development needs of the Early Years Workforce, I lead the development team at UWS with the modules successfully launched in 2020.

I have particular expertise and interest in Creativity in the Curriculum, Promoting Learning, and Leadership and Management in Early Years. I successfully re-developed more than seven modules across the Early Years provision with the move towards a ‘flip classroom’ approach following restrictions on face-to-face delivery and a transition towards a more sustainable hybrid delivery methodology.

Current research activities

I am completing a Professional Doctorate in Education and will submit my dissertation early in 2024.

My dissertation research focus is on the concept and measurement of quality in early years.  As a contested area in education I have used Foucault to explore how current conceptualisations of quality are practiced as a disciplinary tool within education. My Doctoral dissertation is entitled: ‘The issue of quality and tools of surveillance in early learning and childcare in Scotland: A Foucauldian analysis’. I have also developed an expertise in the work of Martha Nussbaum – a key philosopher within the liberal tradition. I am currently using a focus group methodology to explore the concept of flourishing as understood by practitioners and managers in early years settings. As an expert in Nussbuam I have used these concepts to develop new teaching materials such as on the Creativity in the Curriculum module to include the exploration of the young child as a critical thinker able to be and to do.


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