Professor Chris Chapman, BSc (Hons), MA, PhD, FRSA, was Director of Policy Scotland from 2019 to 2021.


Head and shoulders photograph of Chris Chapman

Professor Chapman is Chair of Educational Policy and Practice at the University of Glasgow.

He was the key architect and Principal Investigator of Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland and the Network for Social and Educational Equity based at the University of Glasgow.

Chris is seconded part-time to Scottish Government as Senior Academic Adviser in the Learning Directorate where most of his work focuses on supporting the Scottish Attainment Challenge. He is also a member of the First Minister’s International Council of Education Advisers and President-elect of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Professor Chris Chapman sits on on several Scottish Government working groups:

He also sits on the Welsh Government’s Academic Expert Group to advise on the development of their Educational Research Strategy and COVID-19 continuation of learning recovery plan.

Research interests

Chris’s research focuses on the interaction between educational and public policy and practice, specifically in relation to the improvement of outcomes in disadvantaged settings. The recurring themes are leadership, improvement and effectiveness, collaboration, equity and organisational/system reform.



Before moving into academia Chris taught in challenging secondary schools in Birmingham where he undertook a part-time MA.  He then completed his PhD thesis on intervention and improvement in schools in challenging circumstances.

He held academic and research posts at the universities of Nottingham and Warwick , before being appointed Professor of Education at the University of Manchester.

He was the Founding Director of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change and he also served as Co-Director of the ESRC/Scottish Government funded What Works Scotland centre.






Blogs and publications

Finding pathways to educational equity: new book out now

A new book on what can be done to promote greater equity in education.

Policy Scotland director on Spotlight podcast

Policy Scotland director Chris Chapman talks about attainment in Scottish education on this podcast from the College of Social Sciences at Glasgow University.

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland Annual Report 2020-2021

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland (CNS) has published its 2020-2021 annual report.

Educational researchers launch manifesto for change in Scottish education

Researchers at the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change call on politicians to enable schools to work together more effectively to break the link between disadvantage and educational attainment.

A year of COVID-19 research and knowledge exchange

It is a year since Policy Scotland began its COVID-19 urgently needed insights programme to support the rapid mobilisation of knowledge in the unprecedented situation.

New book points to pathways for educational equity in Scotland

A new book edited by Professor Chris Chapman and Professor Mel Ainscow outlines an agenda for change within Scottish education based on research by the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change.

What is the best way to reopen schools safely? Reflections from Scotland

The process of evidence-based policymaking in decisions regarding education in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Place and collective impact: Implications for leadership

Why we urgently need to develop new ways of working to tackle the range of issues around inequality and disadvantage that negatively impact children and young people.

Latest Scottish Government advice for in-person learning published

The Scottish Government has published two new documents related to the return to in-person learning in schools and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings.

Scottish Government advice on phased return to in-person learning in schools and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings

This Scottish Government paper provides an overview of evidence relating to the state of the epidemic in Scotland and offers advice on the phased return to in-person learning in schools and ELC settings.

Policy Scotland Director takes on presidency of international education organisation

Professor Chris Chapman, Director of Policy Scotland, takes on the 2021 presidency of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement today.

Achieving equity post-COVID-19?

Paper exploring some of the key medium and longer-term considerations for educational decision makers who are attempting to create more equitable education systems post-pandemic.

International Council for Education Advisers – School exams ‘outdated technology’ in the 21st century

Report from the Scottish Government’s International Council for Education Advisers about the future of exams.

Policy Scotland in 2020

Policy Scotland reflects on the challenges and achievements of 2020 and looks ahead to 2021 and the focus on recovery and rebuilding following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rural poverty and social exclusion with a focus on children and young people

A critical review published by Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland of how poverty and social exclusion are experienced by children and young people in rural areas of Scotland.

COVID-19: Do we need to redefine practices for school inspections?

This paper presents the findings from a webinar with Inspectorates of Education from 8 countries, discussing the question: Do we need to redefine practices for school inspections in response to the pandemic?

CNS – Rural experiences of COVID-19: Insights from frontline practitioners

This briefing presents the views and experiences of frontline practitioners working in rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: Do we need to redefine the priorities for school inspections?

The second paper from ICSEI Crisis Response in Education Network focuses on priorities for inspection as school systems resume but under a variety of operational scenarios.

The COVID-19 cohort and the ‘mess’ of public exams: reconsidering the roles and responsibilities

Reflections on fundamental questions on the roles and purposes of public exams and how these were not taken adequately into account when deciding on alternative grading arrangements.

CNS: Early Insights into the COVID-19 Response – 30 July 2020 – refugee and migrant families

Briefing based on research with frontline practitioners working with refugee and migrant families in Glasgow about the impact of COVID-19.

New Policy Scotland paper: COVID-19: do we need to re-imagine the purpose of school inspections?

As regular school inspections have stopped in many countries, and its not ‘business as usual’, this paper asks should we ‘inspect’ schools, and if so, for what purpose?

Planning the re-opening of school education in Scotland

Policy Scotland has been supporting national and local decision-making regarding the re-opening of school education in Scotland.

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland Annual Report

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland (CNS) has published its Annual Report, providing an update and overview of the programme as well as a look at the next steps.

CNS: Early insights into the COVID-19 response – 12 June 2020

This CNS briefing focuses on the lessons learned from the ‘hubs’ for vulnerable pupils and children from key worker families, in the context of re-opening schools in August 2020.

Outdoor learning briefing paper

Review of international evidence on benefits of, and barriers to, outdoor learning, with reflection on how outdoor learning can be managed.

New Crisis Response in Education network

Policy Scotland and the Network for Social and Educational Equity are convening a new international network focussing on Crisis Response in Education.

Reopening of schools in Norway – Briefing paper

A distillation of the current available school guidance from Norwegian authorities regarding the reopening of kindergartens and schools and a concentration on operational examples, which might inform decision-making within the Scottish education system.

CNS: Early insights into the COVID-19 response – 24 April 2020

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland, Policy Scotland and the Network for Social and Educational Equity, are undertaking research to understand local responses to COVID-19 in contexts of high poverty across Scotland.

Reopening of schools in Denmark – Briefing paper

Briefing that summarises some of the key practices in Denmark used to reopen some educational establishments in April 2020.

Coping with COVID-19

Policy Scotland’s role in shaping the debate about how our future is reframed and redesigned as a result of COVID-19.

COVID-19: Urgently needed insights for public policy challenges

Policy Scotland will mobilise urgently needed insights in response to the social and economic policy challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Empowerment, equity and excellence: Where next for Scottish education?

This conference and workshop aims to stimulate participants to reflect on the emerging empowerment agenda within Scottish education. It is the inaugural International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement Professional Learning Conference, and co-hosted by University of Glasgow’s School of Education and Policy Scotland.

School Improvement Networks and Collaborative Inquiry: now published

Policy Scotland Director, Chris Chapman, is the co-author of a new book about school improvement networks and how they can support the professional capital of school principals and curriculum coordinators.

Changing Education Systems: out now

The book Changing Education Systems: A Research-based Approach was published in November 2019

Education systems: research and change

Two new publications from Policy Scotland’s Director Chris Chapman focus on the role of research and researchers in changing education systems to improve equity and opportunity for learners.

Creating an effective learning system – East Renfrewshire headteacher conference

Policy Scotland Director Professor Chris Chapman gave a presentation at the East Renfrewshire Council headteacher conference in March 2019 on creating an effective learning system.

Making sense of education reform: Where next for Scottish education?

Making sense of education reform: Where next for Scottish education?, a thinkpiece by Policy Scotland Director Chris Chapman has been published by the Association of Directors of Education Scotland.

News: £2 million for Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland

Announcement that Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland features strongly in the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

Key education policy announcements made during lecture at Glasgow University

Professor Chris Chapman asks whether school partnerships are promising for equitable change and improvement in education.