Introduction to Seminar 3 - Dr Joan Mowat, University of Strathclyde


Interrogating the relationship between poverty, attainment and mental health and wellbeing: the importance of social networks and support – a Scottish case study


Key messages from Seminars 1 & 2 - Professor John McKendrick and Dr Gale MacLeod


Keynote Address: The importance of a sense of belonging as a mediator in
children’s mental health and wellbeing and attainment
- Professor Kathryn Riley, UCL

Kathryn is Professor of Urban Education, UCL, Institute of Education and an international scholar whose work bridges policy and practice. Kathryn’s research and development work has focused on schools and communities in diverse and deprived neighbourhoods, in many parts of the world. With Cuban DancePoet TioMolina, she is co-founder of the Art of Possibilities, working with schools and communities to develop new forms of collaboration around common purpose, and to help create a sense of place and belonging.

In a world that is so uncertain, it's all about place and belonging. 'Belonging'..... is that sense of being somewhere where you can be confident that you will fit in and  feel safe in your identity. For many young people today, home and community are not fixed and schools are one of the few points of continuity and stability in their lives.  As a young student-researcher reminded me, 'If children don't belong in school, they don't belong anywhere'.

Download the presentation slides


A Sense of Belonging


St. Rose of Lima 

Inverclyde Academy 


Learning from Young People - Iain French, The WeCan Project

Iain is the first appointed Youth Engagement Officer for the Mental Health Foundation. He works specifically over programmes promoting youth engagement within the families children and young people’s department. Currently he is working on the We Can Project which is a targeted intervention with young people with long term health conditions to connect them with health and social care practitioners to improve services and facilities and have a universal impact.


Keynote Address: Examining the socio-emotional aspects of the transition
from primary-secondary school and the role of resilience in this process
- Professor Divya Jindal-Snape, University of Dundee

Professor Divya Jindal-Snape is Chair of Education, Inclusion and Life Transitions in the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Dundee.  Her research interests lie in the field of inclusion, and educational and life transitions. Divya Jindal-Snape is Director of the Transformative Change: Educational and Life Transitions (TCELT) Research Centre. A significant proportion of her work has been with children and young people with additional support needs, especially children and young people with visual impairment, autism, learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural needs, and complex life limiting conditions. She is Associate Director, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships.

Positive and supportive relationships with, and between, peers, teachers and families are key to feelings of school-belongingness during primary-secondary transitions. Children, families and professionals experience multiple transitions, and their transitions can trigger transitions for each other. Although there is an awareness of providing support to children with additional support needs during transitions, it is important to remember that transitions in themselves can lead to additional support needs for some children. Further, families and professionals also require support with their transitions.


Download the presentation slides

A conversation with the Children’s Commissioner for Scotland – Bruce

Bruce Adamson is The Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland. His goal is to make sure all children and young people in Scotland are as safe and happy as possible. Before becoming the Commissioner in May 2017, Bruce worked as a lawyer. In this role, he built up over 20 years of experience working on children’s rights issues. He has also worked as a human rights expert for the United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.



Keynote Address: Interrogating the relationship between poverty, attainment
and children’s mental health and wellbeing: A Scottish perspective
- Dr Joan Mowat, University of Strathclyde

Dr Joan Mowat is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde. She has held responsibility for a range of Masters-level courses, principally within the field of educational leadership, and she is currently Course Leader for the Into Headship programme. Joan’s principal research interest is inclusion and, in particular, the inclusion of children with social, emotional and behavioural needs.

"The poverty-related attainment gap cannot be closed by schools alone. However, through collective (at a political and societal level) and individual action we can make a difference to the lives of children and young people and alleviate childhood poverty. We need to build strong networks of support around communities, families and schools and recognise that individual children can be disadvantaged and marginalised in multiple ways, therefore we need to focus on meeting individual needs, particularly for children most at risk of under-achievement. "

Download the presentation slides



Mowat, J. G. (2019). Exploring the impact of social inequality and poverty on the mental health and wellbeing and attainment of children and young people in Scotland Improving Schools. 

Mowat, J. G. (2019). Supporting the socio-emotional aspects of the primary-secondary transition for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs: Affordances and Constraints. Improving Schools, 22(1), 4-28

Mowat, J. G. (2019). Supporting the transition from Primary to Secondary school for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs: a focus on the socio-emotional aspects of transfer for an adolescent boy. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 24(1), 50-69. 

Mowat, J. G. (2018). 'Closing the Gap': Systems Leadership is no leadership at all without a moral compass – a Scottish perspective. School Leadership & Management. doi: 10.1080/13632434.2018.1447457

Mowat, J. G. (2018). Closing the attainment gap – a realistic proposition or an elusive pipe-dream? Journal of Education Policy, 33(2), 299-321. doi: 10.1080/02680939.2017.135