Overview of the research project

This group of researchers are all involved in educating teachers or educational psychologists at the School of Education and Social Work in the University of Dundee in Scotland. We interviewed sixty primary school Teachers and Head Teachers in depth, staring from the second week of lockdown until the end of the scholastic year (March-June 2020). The interviews aimed to gain an understanding of the impact of the experience of lockdown on teachers’ and Head Teachers’ identity. These educators were asked to comment about the impact of this experience on their ideas of teaching, learning and curriculum, and on their role as educators. Practical questions were also asked about teachers’ planning and implementation of teaching tasks, the structure of the day, their intentions of supporting pupils emotionally by providing structure, and their own concerns about their own digital fluency. We were, and still are, ‘curious’ about what they make of their experiences of work and the contribution of this to their thinking about what is valued in their work as a teacher or Head Teacher as they support children and families during the lockdown.

Following ethical approval from the University of Dundee, an invitation for voluntary participation in the project was put on social media – teachers and Head Teachers who responded were interviewed online. We clarified that we are after individual thoughts about this new way of teaching and learning and not after teachers’ and Head Teachers’ their opinion about the Local Authority response to the pandemic, nor of any Local Authority strategies towards preparation for school closure. It was also possible for educators to respond to an online questionnaire if this was deemed easier for them, given their individual circumstances. Sixty interviews were carried out. The data is being analysed and the following are outputs based on the data.



Ferguson, P., McKenzie, M., Mercieca, D., Mercieca, D.P. and Sutherland, L. (2021) Primary Head Teachers’ Construction and Re-negotiation of Care in COVID-19 Lockdown in Scotland. Frontiers in Education, 6:617869.



Brown, J., McLennan, C., Mercieca, D., Mercieca, D. P., Robertson, D. and Valentine, E. (2021) Technology as Thirdspace: Teachers in Scottish schools engaging with and being challenged by digital technology in first COVID-19 lockdown. Education Sciences, 11(3), 136. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11030136



McLennan, C., Mercieca, D., & Mercieca, D. (2020). What can I do? Teachers, students and families in relationship during COVID-19 lockdown in Scotland. Malta Review of Educational Research14(2), 163-181.



Mercieca, D., Mercieca, D. P., & Ward, K. (2021). Teachers Working in Special Schools in Scotland Acting with Practical Wisdom: Supporting Children with Additional Needs in COVID-19 Lockdown. Education Sciences, 11(10), [569].  



Papers in progress

  • Teaching and learning in COVID-19 lockdown in Scotland: Teachers’ engaged pedagogy. Tracey Colville, Sarah Hulme, Claire Kerr, Daniela Mercieca and Duncan P. Mercieca. 
  • Currently being written: Papers focussing on teachers’ perceptions of families in lockdown; issues of social justice during lockdown from teachers’ perspectives; transitions during lockdown; seeing the teachers’ lived experiences through a transition lens in particular through the Multiple and Multi-dimensional Transitions (MMT) Theory. 

Presentations and Articles


Malta Review of Educational Research: The Impact of COVID-19 on Teaching and Learning. Online Research Symposium 3rd March 2021

What Can I do? Caring Relationships Among Teachers: Students and Families During COVID-19 Lockdown in Scotland 

Carrie McLennan, Daniela Mercieca & Duncan P. Mercieca


Institute for Social Sciences Research Pandemic Series COVID-19: One year on from lockdown. 2nd March 2021

Teaching and learning in lockdown in Scotland 

Daniela Mercieca & Duncan P. Mercieca 



Educational and Life Transitions/TCELT: Research Seminar 13th January 2021

Primary school teachers’ thinking about transitions during COVID-19 lockdown in Scotland 

Daniela Mercieca & Duncan P. Mercieca 


This presentation is based on a study carried out by a group of researchers at the School of Education and Social Work in the University of Dundee. The purpose of the study was to gain insight into the lived experiences of primary school educators in Scotland delivering the curriculum from home, and/or working in the hubs, and to explore the impact of such experiences on their identities as teachers and on their views of teaching, learning and curriculum, in response to the research question: What are educators’ experiences of teaching from home/in hub during the Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland?

This presentation focuses particularly on themes emerging from teachers’ responses when asked about the transitions which are part of life in a school year. Teachers referred to children in early years entering into formal schooling after the forthcoming summer, and to children in their last year of primary school and their preparation for high school. Reference was also made to children’s coping with the transitions caused by the pandemic and the school lockdown, particularly the experiences of children with additional support needs.

The presentation will also touch upon prospective plans that teachers and schools made to substitute formal celebrations of transitions to online ceremonies.


Response to call from Scottish Parliament COVID-19 Committee (Nov 2020)

Topic 3 – Protecting those at risk

D. Mercieca and D. Mercieca

Description: This is a short summary of research carried out by a group of academics, coordinated by the authors of this document, from the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Dundee. It addresses this topic as it focuses on the education of children during lockdown, as perceived by primary school teachers. All children are seen as needing support during this time, yet this study has highlighted the efforts of primary schools and teachers towards more vulnerable children and families.



Scottish Parliament, United Kingdom, 23 Jan 2021

Expert Witness: Scottish Parliament COVID-19 Committee: World Café on the Impact of Restrictions

Mercieca, D. (Speaker) Mercieca, D. (Speaker) Urch, J. (Advisor)

Description: We were invited by Scottish Parliament’s COVID-19 Committee to be expert witnesses at a public participation event to inform the work of the Committee. The event supported the Committee’s work to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when the health protection measures put in place to respond to Covid-19 have had a considerable impact on all people in Scotland. The Committee decided to establish a randomly selected Citizens’ Panel to ensure scrutiny of measures are informed by the lived experience of people in Scotland. The focus of our input was to give expert witness to the Citizens’ Panel on Education.



Keynote Speech PsychCon2021, University of Stirling, 21 April 2021 

The impact of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown in Scotland on Primary School teachers and Head Teachers

Daniela Mercieca

Description: Keynote speech given at the annual PsychCon2021 conference for psychology students at the University of Stirling.



ISSR Pandemic Series ‘COVID – One year on from lockdown’, 2 Mar 2021

Teaching and learning in lockdown in Scotland

D. Mercieca and D. Mercieca

Description: Our presentation within this panel was entitled Teaching and learning in lockdown in Scotland. This presentation concerns a research project starting from March 2020, inquiring about the lockdown experience of primary school teachers and Head Teachers in Scotland. In-depth interviews to 60 primary school educators were carried out by members of staff at the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Dundee. The purpose of the study was to gain insight into the lived experiences of primary school educators in Scotland who are delivering the curriculum from home, and/or working in the hubs, and to explore the impact of such experiences on their views of teaching, learning and curriculum.



27 Jan 2021

Cross-party meeting – research with teachers during COVID-19 lockdown

Daniela Mercieca

Description: I was invited to talk about my research with primary school teachers during COVID-19 lockdown in Scotland with elected members of Midlothian.



Saturday Series – Saturday Evening Lecture Series, University of Dundee, 17 Apr 2021

Escaping to a post Covid world

Murray, P. (Organiser) Wallace, L. (Organiser) Chalmers, J. (Presenter) Hothersall, E. (Presenter) Mercieca, D. (Presenter) Mercieca, D. (Presenter) Sen, R. (Presenter)

Description: In the online event ‘Escaping to a post-Covid world’, a group of University experts from clinical and respiratory medicine to public health, as well as education and social work, will explore the challenges brought by the pandemic and its restrictions and consider how these may shape the future. As vaccination rates increase, the world is beginning to think about what a post-Covid future might look like. The panel of professionals spanning medical and social sciences will consider what we might hope for as we emerge at the other side, discussing both negative and positive impacts of Covid-19 and lockdown. The School of Medicine’s Professor James Chalmers, one of the UK’s leading lung experts, will join University colleagues on the panel. Over the past year, he and his team have treated hundreds of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 and undertaken some major research initiatives, from finding treatments to conducting clinical trials. He said, “We will be dealing with the consequences of the pandemic long after the virus is controlled. Covid-19 has highlighted some of the major problems in our society, from obesity to smoking and health inequalities. “However, it has also highlighted some of our major strengths. There has been incredible innovation during the Covid-19 pandemic, with acceleration of digital technologies, better ways of delivering healthcare and developments in vaccines and treatments that could be applied to many common diseases. “We all have a stake in the post-Covid future and we all get to play a part in building it. That starts with a broad conversation about where we are going and what we want the future to look like. Hopefully that’s the conversation we will start at this event.” Professor Chalmers will be joined by the University’s Dr Ellie Hothersall, Dr Duncan Mercieca, Dr Daniela Mercieca and Dr Robin Sen on the panel. Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland’s former Political Correspondent, will chair the event. Dr Hothersall is a specialist in Public Health based within the School of Medicine. She is also the Programme Director for the MBChB degree. Drs Duncan and Daniela Mercieca are both lecturers within the School of Education & Social Work. They were part of a team who carried out research in relation to learning and teaching during lockdown in Scotland. Dr Sen is a lecturer within the School of Education & Social Work. His background is within child and family social work as well as community development.



Times Educational Supplement, 24 Sept 2021

Why lockdown learning loss shouldn’t cloud the gains

Daniela Mercieca, Divya Jindal-Snape, Duncan Mercieca

Description: This article was written in response to Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman’s remarks (https://www.tes.com/news/food-parcels-were-put-ahead-education-says-spielman)


Research team

Principal Investigators

Daniela Mercieca

Dr. Daniela Mercieca is a practising educational psychologist in a Local Authority in Scotland and a lecturer in the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Dundee. Her research interest is in critically problematising the assumptions that underpin educational practice with children and deconstructing situations in which decisions are made concerning children in schools. ORCID id: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6609-1302


Duncan Mercieca

Dr. Duncan P. Mercieca is a senior lecturer in the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Dundee. His research draws upon French post-structuralist philosophers to think through educational issues, in particular those related to diversity and otherness; inclusion and disability and critiquing education research and its methods. ORCID id: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4071-9522



Gillian Bartle


Jonathan Brown


Tracey Colville


Helen Cunningham


Nikki Doig


Peter Ferguson


Beth Hannah 


Gillian Horribine


Sarah Hulme


Divya Jindal-Snape 


Claire Kerr


Megan McKenzie


Carrie McLennan


Amy Nolan


Derek Robertson


Lesley Sutherland


Eddie Valentine


Kumara Ward


Grainne Watters