Our Experts

Dr Glenda Walsh

General Information

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Glenda teaches on a number of modules informed by her research interest across a range of different programmes including the BEd, PGCE, MA and Early Childhood Studies degree programmes.
  • She is the Course Director for the Post Graduate Certificate in Early Years
  • She is the module coordinator for the undergraduate module Playful Learning and Teaching (final year BEd, ECS (full-time and part-time).
  • She is the module coordinator for the MA in Early Childhood Studies module Quality Pedagogy.

External Interests / Community Service

  • Trustee and member of Early Education (September, 2017 – )
  • Associate Assessor for ETI (September 2011 -)
  • Visiting Professor at Plymouth Marjon University (September 2018 -)
  • Reviewer for the International Journal of Early Years Education, the International Journal of Childcare and Education Policy, Early Childhood Research and Practice and Early Years.
  • Chairperson of Board of Governors at the Royal School Dungannon (2018 –
  • Member of the Board of Governors at Howard Primary School (2008 –
  • External examiner of BEd programme for the Church of Ireland College of Education, Dublin (2012-2019)

Research Interests

  • Research on quality issues in Early Childhood Education, particularly in the field of pedagogy and curriculum.
  • Play and playful pedagogies in early childhood and primary education with a particular focus on resolving the dilemmas associated with play as learning in practice.
  • Policy issues, teachers’ beliefs and practices, professionalism and young children’s views and perspectives.

Background & Qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PhD, The Play Versus the Formal Debate: a Study of Early Years Provision in Northern Ireland and Denmark (Queen’s University, Belfast, 2000)
  • Bachelor of Education (Hons) First Class (Queen’s University Belfast, 1994) – Recipient of the Maeve Ann Winters Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education
  • ALCM – Speech and Drama (Honours) 1992.

Research & Scholarship

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Sproule, L., Walsh, G. and McGuinness, C. (in press), ‘Signalling Playfulness: Disguising work as play in the early years classroom,’ The International Journal of Play.

Beck, G.J. ,  O’Connor-Bones, U, Gracey, J., Kelly, G and Walsh, G. (2021) ‘In need of review: Developing Sensory Provision in Northern Ireland’s Mainstream Primary classrooms,’ Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs.

McMillan, D, Walsh, G & Doherty, A (2020) ‘Getting a Better Picture of the ‘Whole’ Child: A Case for Interprofessional Learning in Early Childhood Staff Training,’ Practice, in press.

Walsh, G., McGuinness, C. & Sproule, L. (2019) ‘It’s teaching … but not as we know it’: using participatory learning theories to resolve the dilemma of teaching in play-based practice,’ Early Child Development and Care, 189:7, 1162-1173, DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2017.1369977

Walsh, G. and Fallon, J. (2019) ‘What’s all the fuss about play’? Expanding student teachers’ beliefs and understandings of play as pedagogy in practice,’ Early Years, DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2019.1581731

Sproule, L, Walsh, G & McGuinness, C (2019) ‘More than ‘just play’: picking out three dimensions of a balanced early years pedagogy’, International Journal of Early Years Education, 27:4, 409-422, DOI: 10.1080/09669760.2019.1628011

McGuinness, C, Sproule, L, Bojke C, Trew K. &. Walsh G (2014) ‘Impact of a play-based curriculum in the first two years of primary school: literacy and numeracy outcomes over seven years’, British Educational Research Journal, 40:5, 772-795. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3117

Hunter, T and Walsh, G (2014) ‘From policy to practice?: the reality of play in primary school classes in Northern Ireland,’ International Journal of Early Years Education, 22:1, 19-36, DOI: 10.1080/09669760.2013.830561

Walsh, G., Sproule, L., McGuinness, C. and Trew, K. (2011) ‘Playful Structure: A Novel Image of Early Years Pedagogy for Primary School Classrooms. Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development 31 (2): 107-119. DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2011.579070


Walsh, G, McGuinness, C & McMillan, D (March, 2017) Playful Teaching and Learning. London: Sage. https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/playful-teaching-and-learning/book245867

Book Chapters

Walsh, G. (2021) ‘Foreword’, in MacBlain, S. (2021) Learning Theories for Early Years Practice: Second Edition. London: SAGE.

Boyd, D, Walsh, G et al (2015) A Conversation between the Four Nations, in Understanding the Early Years across the UK: Case studies from England, Scotland, NI and Wales, Boyd, D and Hirst, N (Eds). London: Routledge.

Doherty, A & Walsh, G (2015) The Foundation Stage Curriculum, in Northern Ireland: An Inside Practical Perspective in Understanding the early years across the UK .Case studies from England, Scotland, NI and Wales (Boyd, D and Hirst, N (Eds). London: Routledge.

Dowling, M & Walsh, G (2017) Growing the Child in the Playful Setting, In Walsh, G, McMillan D and McGuinness, C (Eds) Playful Teaching and Learning, London: Sage.

Palaiologou, I,, Walsh, G et al, (2016) The National Picture, in Early Years the Foundation Stage (3rd Edition). London: Sage.

Walsh, G (2017) Why Playful Teaching and Learning?, In Walsh, G, McMillan D and McGuinness, C (Eds) Playful Teaching and Learning, London: Sage.

Walsh, G (2017) Pillars of Practice for Playful Teaching and Learning, In Walsh, G, McMillan D and McGuinness, C (Eds) Playful Teaching and Learning, London: Sage.

Walsh, G & Sproule, L (2017) Assessment within the Playful Teaching and Learning Experience, In Walsh, G, McMillan D and McGuinness, C (Eds) Playful Teaching and Learning, London: Sage.

Walsh, G. (2018) Legende Undervisning Og Læring – Hvorfor?, in Møller, H. H., Andersen, I. A., Kristensen, K. B. and Rasmussen, C. S., Leg I Skolen. Københaven: Unge Pædagoger.

Walsh, G. (2019) Towards Playful Teaching and Learning in Practice, In Andreassen-Becher, A, Bjørnestad, E & Dehnæs-Hogsnes (Red) Lek I Begynneropplæringen, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Scholarly Publications

Walsh, G and Gillespie, S (2016) Observations in Foundation Stage using the Quality Learning Framework, CCEA, http://training.ccea.org.uk/course/view.php?id=86&pageid=702

Walsh, G. and Gillepsie, S. (2016) Infusing Playfulness in Language Teaching and Learning, Support Materials for Teachers, NCCA website, available at: http://curriculumonline.ie/getmedia/bb9ac07f-2eeb-46d2-a130-0abb0aa74cf6/ORW_InfusingPlayfulness_1.pdf?ext=.pdf

Walsh, G. and Gillespie,S. (2016) Observational Assessment using the Quality Learning Framework: Kilmaine Primary School, Foundation Stage online course, http://training.ccea.org.uk/course/view.php?id=86

Walsh, G. (2016) A Northern Ireland Perspective: the Early Years Workforce, Early Education, No 78, Spring, 7-9.

Research Reports

Walsh, G., Woods, T., Palli-Aspero, C., Herron, A. and Stallard, A. (2021) Play in Practice during the Pandemic,  Full Report. Belfast: PlayBoardNI

Walsh, G., Woods, T., Palli-Aspero, C., Herron, A. and Stallard, A. (2021) Play in Practice during the Pandemic: Summary Report. Belfast: PlayBoard NI

Purdy, N., Harris, J., Dunn, J., Gibson, K., Jones, S., McKee, B., McMullen, J., Walsh, G., and Ballentine, M. (2021) Northern Ireland Survey of Parents/Carers on Home-Schooling during the Covid-19 Crisis: 2021, Belfast: Centre for Research in Educational Underachievement

Dunn, J., Walsh, G., Elliott, D. and McClelland, D. (2018) Creative Child: An Evaluation of the Young at Art Creative Child Project. Belfast: Stranmillis University College.

Walsh, G. and Fallon, J. (2018) The PLAI Study: Playful Learning across Ireland. Armagh: SCoTENs

Walsh, G and McConnell, B (2014) An Evaluation of the All Ireland Centre of Excellence Programme. Belfast: Early Years.

Invited Presentations

Herron, A., Palli-Aspero, C. and Walsh, G. (2021) Play in Practice during the Pandemic: a Northern Ireland Perspective, Early Education Annual National Conference: What have we Learned from the Pandemic, 14-18th June.

Herron, A, Palli-Aspero C. and Walsh, G. (2021) Play in Practice during the Pandemic, PlayBoard NI Webinar, 9th June. Available to view here.

Walsh, G. (2021). ‘Towards the Best and Fairest Start for All, Invited Presentation, the Department of Education Curriculum and Assessment Team,’ Tuesday 23rd March.

Walsh, G (2019) ‘It’s more than Just Play: Infusing Playful Teaching and Learning Indoors and Out, Controlled Schools’ Support Council’s Teacher Professional Learning Seminar in Stranmillis University College, Belfast, 27th November.

Walsh, G. (2017) THE PLAI Study: Playful Learning across Ireland, Worksop at the annual SCoTENS conference in Dundalk, 13th-14th October

Walsh, G (2017) Effective Learning and Teaching in the Foundation Stage: Unravelling the Conundrum, Chief Inspector’s Report Conference, Enniskillen, 17th May and Belfast 18th May.

Walsh, G (2017) Playful Teaching and Learning: the Underpinning Rationale, Western Norway University College, Bergen Campus, 4th April.

Walsh, G (2017) Infusing Playfulness into Learning and Learning into Play: the Role of the Playful Teacher, Western Norway University College, Stord Campus, 5th April.

Walsh, G (2017) Infusing Playful Learning into the Outdoors, Western Norway University College, Stord Campus, 6th April.

Walsh, G (2016) Education in Northern Ireland: progress and pitfalls, BESA Conference, University of Wolverhampton, 30th June 2016;

Walsh, G (2016) The Place of children 0-8 in 21st century Northern Ireland: research informed policy, Keynote address, OMEP European Conference, Canterbury Christchurch University, 6th May.

Walsh, G. (2016) A Quality Learning Experience in the Early Years of Primary School: Unravelling the Conundrum, NCCA Aistear Tutor Event, Athlone Springs Hotel, 3rd March.

Walsh, G (2015) Early Years policy from Across the UK: Common Challenges, Diverse Solutions – a Northern Ireland Perspective, Early Education, AGM, NCVO: London, 14th November.

Walsh, G (2015) Infusing Playfulness into Learning and Learning into Play, Aistear Tutor Initiative, Athlone: Hudson Bay Hotel, 14th May.

Doctoral Examination

Glenda has set on differentiation panels of MPhil/PhD students and she has been involved in the examination of several MPhil/PhD proposals at Queen’s University Belfast. She also acts as an internal examiner for PhD and EdD theses at Queen’s University Belfast.

Her doctoral examination experience includes:

EdD: (November 2010) External Examiner, Durham University, Thesis: Developing Children’s Cognitive Functions and Increasing Learning Effectiveness: An Interaction using the Bright Start Curriculum for Young Children.

EdD: (July 2016) External Examiner, Institute of Education, University College London. Thesis: A Critical Study of Academic Acceleration In the Early Childhood Years in Singapore.

DChild: (February 2017) Internal Examiner, Queen’s University, Belfast. Thesis: An Examination of Undergraduate Students’ Knowledge of and Attitudes to Children’s Rights

PhD: (June 2017) External Examiner, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Thesis: An Investigation into Thinking Skills and Young Children’s Emergent Metacognition in the Foundation Phase in Wales.

PhD: (June 2018) External Examiner, University of Sheffield, Thesis: Dispositions and Socio-dramatic Play in the Early Years.

EdD (September 2019) External Examiner, University of Cambridge, Thesis: From font of knowledge to facilitator: Exploring a model of professional change with South African early educators.