Research Centre for Learning and Teaching

Staff Profile

Dr Wilma Barrow

Senior Lecturer Educational Psychology Joint Director DAppEdPsy Programme


I completed my training in 1985 and worked for eight years as an educational psychologist in Glasgow, where I was engaged in generic work and had a specialist remit for pupils with severe and complex learning difficulties.  I have combined my professional work with higher education teaching for a number of years.I tutored undergraduate psychology students with the Open University from 1994-2004.  I have worked in Scottish Borders as an educational psychologist since 1998 and since 2004 have combined this with working on postgraduate, educational psychology programmes. Prior to joining the Newcastle programme team, I was a member of the educational psychology programme team at Dundee University.

I took some time out of the profession and pursued study in other areas. This influenced the direction of my doctoral thesis. Reading beyond the discipline of psychology, has shaped my thinking and questions at the margins of disciplines hold particular interest for me and many of these are pertinent to the profession of educational psychology.

I have been motivated throughout my working life by values of equity, justice, democracy and inclusion. I am particularly interested in theoretical approaches that challenge individualism and offer a perspective on how diverse individuals can learn, work and live collaboratively. I was initially influenced by Martin Buber’s notion of the I-thou encounter and this led me on to explore the fundamental importance of intersubjectivity to all aspects of educational psychology. I am a Video Interaction Guidance practitioner and value the potential of this approach to develop and support attuned relationships in a range of contexts (both interpersonal and systemic). In the last ten years I have been exploring dialogic theoretical perspectives.

As an educational psychologist, I am interested in relationships in schools and aim to work with schools in ways that support the development of inclusive and democratic practices. My doctoral research involved working collaboratively with teachers using video analysis to support their work in enhancing pupil dialogue as a means of supporting the development of participatory pedagogy. This represents much of what is important to me in my practice. It grew from teacher interest, was a collaborative endeavour and drew upon sound theoretical and empirical principles.

Psychology is a diffuse discipline of diverse theoretical perspectives and research traditions that rest on differing epistemological and ontological assumptions. In postgraduate applied psychology training, students are necessarily required to grapple with these and recognise their implications for core areas of practice such as assessment. Without a critical and contextualised approach to the application of psychology, individuals and groups can be positioned within socially excluding, deficit narratives. I am particularly interested in the use of enquiry- based learning within the DAppEdPsy programme and the possibilities this offers to enable collaborative and critical thinking in order to prepare trainees for the demands of practice.

The current context within which many of us practice offers opportunity to apply psychology to support positive outcomes for young people. There are however many risks.  It is vital to retain professional spaces which enable us to retain a critical and contextualised approach to applying psychology. This is fundamental if psychology is to be applied in ways which support the agency of children, families and communities. It is also crucial to countering reductionist views of wellbeing. These issues shape much of my academic and professional work and underpin the DAppEdpsy programme at Newcastle University.

I am a member of the editorial board for Education and Child Psychology Journal.



My research supervision is mainly in the following areas

  • Relational approaches (both interpersonal and systemic) to support learning and wellbeing. I am particularly interested in approaches which derive from dialogic theories  (Hermans, Markova, Matusov, Wegerif, Sampson and others who view relationality as fundamental to human being)
  • Participation and inclusion of parents and young people  (including marginalised groups): I am interested in the processes and ethical complexities involved in this kind of research.
  • Enquiry based and dialogic learning (school based pedagogic approaches and professional development and organisational learning approaches).


Other areas of interest reflected in publication, research and practice include

  • Use of Video as a tool to support dialogue and facilitate professional learning
  • Supporting the development of the communicative environment in early years and for  learners who have complex needs:
  • Organisational factors and wellbeing
  • Ethicality and EP practice


Research supervision


 Nominated in NUSA Teaching Excellence Awards category Research Supervisor of the Year (2019 & 2020)

Current Supervision 

Zoe Whitby: Experiences of girls diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in contributing their views as part of the Education and Health Plan process

Rachel Meyrick: Using psychologically informed practice to support staff providing residential child care.  

Tunde Sobitan: Experience of school belonging in children and young people with refugee backgrounds

Sara Alhamid: Parental participation in the education of female students with Special needs: the views of Saudi elementary teachers and parents. 


Previous Supervision

Kimberly Whitehead (2012) An examination of the factors connected with social, emotional and behavioural changes in Nurture Group pupils and an exploration of pupils' experiences.(DAppEdPsy)

Amelia Taylor (2013). A study of the effectiveness of self-video interventions on parent-child interaction and children's verbal communication skills and the experience of video interaction guidance for parents of children with communication difficulties. (DAppEdPsy)

Christopher Heslop (2014) Exploring pupil perceptions of self and possible occupational selves, in a school for social emotional and behavioural difficulties. (DAppEdPsy)

John Adrian-Vallance (2014) A model of school inclusion based on the experiences of looked-after children. (DAppEdPsy)

Louise Sawyerr (2014) Supporting socially anxious children and adolescents: challenges and possibilities. (DAppEdPsy)

Susan Fisher (2014) does self-theories research apply to pupils with speech, language and communication difficulties? An exploratory case study. (DEdPsy)

Rebecca Wright (2015) an exploration into how collaborative problem solving groups can change teachers' practice. (DAppEdPsy)

Benjamin Greenfield (2016) Bridging understanding and action: an exploration of teacher resilience and the potential benefits of establishing peer group supervision in primary schools. (DAppEdPsy)

Laura Gray (2016) Exploring how and why young people use social networking. (DAppEdPsy)

Nicola Cockram (2017) An exploration of the application of a theory of basic psychological needs in developing practice in a secondary school. (DAppEdPsy)

Connie MacFarlane (2018) Supporting resilience processes for children from armed forces families. (DAppEdPsy)

Rebecca Clavell-Bate (2018) An exploration of the experience and impact of Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) on a group of year 5 children in a mainstream primary school. (EdD)

Philippa Kendal (2018) Re-orchestration of these voices: an exploration of how an educational psychologist can make maximum impact when only minimum contact with a child or young person is possible. (DEdPsy)

Lynsey Hutcheson (2018) It's the fear of the unknown: an exploration of parents' experiences of early education transition for children with special educational needs (DAppEdPsy)

Melissa Whitby (2018) Merging the theory and practice of restorative approaches in schools: an exploration of 'restorativeness' through qualitative research synthesis and appreciative inquiry. (DAppEdPsy)

Sarah Convery (2019) Implementing Video Interaction Guidance with children as participants: Supporting relationships for wellbeing

Lucy Pollock (2019) School experiences of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children: An exploration of Psychological Sense of Community

Jade Russell(2020): Power in parent-professional partnerships

Anna Sarjeant(2020): Examining Human Givens as an approach to support wellbeing in schools

Ania Bragg (2020): What is school Like? Educational experiences from the perspective of adoptive parents and adopted children. 

Mohammed Buobaid (2020) Professional-parent collaboration in behavioural interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders in Saudi Arabia

Funded Research

 Co-i Aberdeenshire & Aberdeen City funded  Audit of Services for children & young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. (Smith, E., Barrow, W., Hannah, E., Jindal-Snape, D. & Kerr, C. (2005-2006)

Co-i, Audit of Professional Development Programme for Educational Psychologists. (Funded by Support for learning Division, Schools Directorate, Scottish Government) (2007-2008)