Fiona MacLellan

Transformative Schooling: Examining preferable futures for rural education in Scotland

Educational reform is complex, with its shifting targets, and variety of impacts across society; for example, in relation to political agendas, decisions of settlement, industry demand, and ultimately the public’s wellbeing. These implications are often magnified in smaller communities: schools in remote geographies have the highest spend per pupil of the country, while cuts to services over the last decade are forecast to continue. As such, there is a mounting need to look to the future of rural schooling, in order to support communities across the region of the Highlands and Islands to thrive. Seeking equity in delivery of services, I hope to explore notions of schooling systems that transcend issues in geography.

I am interested in opening up the process of educational reform and exposing it to creative and collaborative methods of envisaging futures. Through working with schools and pilot projects based in the region, I shall utilise the generative qualities of participatory research and design practice. The narrative tools and artefacts created shall embody the visions of senior phase school pupils, and in doing so challenge the status quo. Closing the loop, I am interested in adding new perspectives and richness to educational policy makers’ understanding of the learning needs of a young person living in a remote setting. The exhibition format used to curate future visions and open engaged dialogues around the future of education amongst change makers and service users.

This research project is part of The Glasgow School of Art’s Highlands and Islands campus and operates through a dispersed mode of postgraduate research. Scholarship funding is provided through the Creative Futures Partnership, developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Glasgow School of Art to support research opportunities through creative collaborations within the region of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Research Keywords: Rural education, slow digital movement, policy by design.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Gordon Hush

Contact: [email protected]


Portfolio Fiona MacLellan


Oblique point of view. Image credit: Fiona MacLellan