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

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

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. 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.

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.

Invited Presentations

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.