Paula McElearney


Associate Lecturer and PhD Researcher

Education and Inclusion

Research Degree Students

Contact Details


Paula is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Education and Inclusion, and is soon to complete her PhD in critical pedagogy in the lifelong learning sector. She has twenty years’ teaching experience in adult education and in Special Educational Needs, Disabilities and social inclusion.

She taught for 13 years in a large further education college where she was a Programme Co-ordinator and Lecturer on adult and community courses, followed by Course Leader and Lecturer on courses for adults with special educational needs. She then worked with a group of residential special educational needs further education colleges, and studied for an MSc in their unique pedagogy based on the methods of Rudolf Steiner and the insights of William Morris and John Ruskin.

Following this she was Head Teacher at a rural residential special school. She has taught in higher education for 4.5 years, firstly tutoring students with SEND, and latterly teaching on the BA SENDi, BA Education Studies, MA Education, Foundation Degree in Learning Support, and Diploma in Education.



  • BSc (Hons) Psychology (2:1). University of Leicester
  • Diploma in Education Marketing. Birmingham City University
  • Certificate in Education: Post Compulsory Education. University of Wolverhampton (QTLS)
  • MSc Practical Skills Therapeutic Education (Distinction). University of the West of England
  • PhD Critical Pedagogy in the Lifelong Learning sector. University of Worcester-in progress

Teaching & Research

Teaching Interests

  • Special Educational Needs and Inclusion     
  • Mental health
  • Identity and social justice  
  • Equality and Diversity   
  • Critical pedagogy    
  • Transformative learning    
  • Adult Education and lifelong learning     
  • Widening participation   
  • Practical Skills Therapeutic Education    
  • Steiner Education    
  • Radical Education

Research Interests

  • Critical pedagogy
  • Transformative learning
  • Adult education and lifelong learning
  • Widening participation 
  • Nature based education   
  • Practical skills Therapeutic Education

Professional Bodies

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Association for Research in Post Compulsory Education (ARPCE)
  • British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (POESGB)
  • Standing Conference on the University Teaching and Education of Adults (SCUTREA)



McElearney, P. (2018) 'What Gives Life to Critical Pedagogy in the Lifelong Learning Sector? Some Early Findings.' Worcester Journal of Teaching and Learning (12)

McElearney, P. (2020) Critical Pedagogy in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Research in Post-Compulsory Education. 25 (1). pp. 23-41

Seal, M.2020 (ed) Hopeful Pedagogies. London: Bloomsbury (in press)

Conference Presentations

  • Association for Research in Post-Compulsory Education (ARPCE) 2018
  • British Educational Research Association (BERA) 2018
  • Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) 2018
  • Radical Pedagogies 2018
  • The Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) 2018
  • Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA) 2018
  • University of Worcester Teaching and Learning Conference (2018)