Roseleen Shanley

Teacher, Mentor, Environmentalist

About me

NAME: Roseleen Shanley

CITY: Aberdeen



BACKGROUND: University Degree and Teacher Training


POSITION: Former Principal Teacher of Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies.
Former Guidance Teacher
Currently Leader for Sustainability and Citizenship
Teach RMPS, Biology and take the John Muir Outdoor Learning Classes.
At present working two and a half days a week developing Pupil Voice in Aberdeen City Council.

ORGANIZATION: Grampian Distrcit Council


My Background and Career

Wide Range of Educational Experience

Biology, Science, Religious Studies and Outdoor Learning Teacher.

Principal Teacher of Guidance (Pupil Support and Careers) and Religious Studies.

Curriculum Development Officer for Aberdeen City Council.

Worked for Scottish Exam Board setting Examination Papers.

Lecturer in Environmental Studies at Northern College

Lectured in Environmental Studies, trained teachers, completed research projects. Ran inservice courses for teachers throughout Scotland on Multi-cultural/Anti-racism. Worked with Grampian TV to produce two films for schools. One gained a European award for its contribution to Anti-racism.

Adopted children – Career Break

Return to Teaching

Involved in Eco Schools and community based environmental projects.

Work with World Wildlife Fund on a carbon foot printing project. Project published.



Invited to join World Wildlife Fund research project into Psychology and Sustainability, Natural Change.

Speak about Environmental projects and Natural Change Project at Government and United Nation’s Childrens’ Conferences in Stavangar and South Korea.

Committed to teaching sustainability and citizenship where young people become the leaders and catalysts for encouraging others to live in a more sustainable way.

I have led the development of a project model to enable schools to connect with their communities and undertake partnership working. Young people have been supported to lead these intergenerational partnerships between school, business and community members. Projects are sustainable and encourage lifelong learning.


My Experience


Working with young people. Observing their potential, motivation and skill growth when given leadership opportunities. Having been a Principal Teacher of Guidance/Pupil Support, I realised the transition between school and work could be improved.

World Wildlife Research project Natural Change, Psychology and Sustainability. It has been influential in shaping approaches to sustainability education in school and in the community.

Working with the John Muir Trust and learning about the benefits of outdoor learning. Adopting their “Hand, heart, head model” for sustainability work to help others connect with nature and want to care for it. http://www.jmt.org/jmaward-home.asp

Partnerships with business and community members on environmental and energy projects. Increased networks, understanding of work and community issues. Better equipped to develop sustainable, meaningful projects which can make a difference to communities and aid transition to work and further education for pupils.

Threats /Constraints

Sometimes staff and pupils require to be out of school to attend meetings and conferences. This could prove difficult due to rigid timetable systems in secondary schools. If pupils are out of school too often, they can miss key lessons and could fall behind in their work. Examination success and statistics can drive the secondary curriculum although the 3-18 Scottish “Curriculum for Excellence” is encouraging wider achievement for pupils.

Staff time, setting up and managing projects does not count towards their working hours agreement and is done on a voluntary basis within schools. If on minimum non teaching time (6 hours a week), the workload of managing projects as well as teaching is immense. Project work at weekends and evenings is entirely voluntary.


My Skills

Economic. Raising funds to carry out projects. Networking enabled funds to come in through donation and partnership working. Teaching students / working with community members to write funding bids.

Getting the time to organise and manage projects on minimum non teaching time. Becoming a Pupil Voice Development Officer enabled some projects to become part of the Officer’s role.

Family / Personal / Social. After a career break looking after children, getting back to a decision making position in education.

Others. Convincing others of the value of sustainability and pupil voice projects. This was overcome by involving others and working hard as a team to make projects successful. Ensuring hard work of others was appreciated.

Accreditation and awards for pupils and adults was important. Last year, 120 students and adults gained their John Muir Awards for sustainability projects. Celebrating small successes led to larger celebrations of achievement at awards ceremonies. Senior pupils used project information on CV’s when applying to college or university. They spoke positively about projects at interviews for jobs and places at further education establishments. Employers value the John Muir Awards.

Ensuring hard work of others was appreciated. Project information was networked and published where possible.

Hints & Tips

Inspiration for your project/action/enterprise?

The Curriculum for Excellence has encouraged teachers to be more creative and foster high quality partnership working. The four capacities and 10 dimensions of CFE are at the heart of Bucksburn Academy’s sustainability and citizenship work.


The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child.


World Wildlife Fund’s Natural Change Projects. Roseleen was a participant.

WWF set out to investigate why, despite knowledge of the damage humans were doing to the planet, people were not changing their lifestyle to live in a more sustainable way. The report recommended that people reconnected with nature to understand the issues and then make the lifestyle changes. Participants took part in workshops, discussion sessions and had isolation time in the outdoors. See Natural Change Reports for research findings. This work inspired Roseleen’s sustainability projects.

John Muir Awards. All generations gained these through school and community projects. The hand, heart, head model within them is inspirational and has had impact in the school and community. (see johnmuirawards.org.uk for information on the hand, heart, head model).

The young people. Witnessing their enthusiasm for sustainability work and the

Re-thinking Energy Project. The projects built up their knowledge and leadership skills which led many to a desire for lifelong commitment to sustainability.

Suggestions and advice to women:                                                                                           

Have a vision for a better way. Create the systems in education to make communities strong, where young peoples’ voices are informed, heard, respected and acted upon.

Discuss vision with other creative thinkers and colleagues.

Be strong and believe in your ideas. Be prepared to take risks.

Look beyond constraints and challenge old ways.

Ask “How can this be done? not, “Can this be done?”

Dig deep to find the energy, strength and resilience to make your vision a reality.

Inspire others to follow you by engaging their hearts and minds.

Share small step successes as well as the large ones.

Networking is crucial. Networks and partnerships will publicise the work you do.

Work at a pace. Have a sense of urgency and passion for what you want to achieve.

It was something I had not given a lot of thought to until the 100 mirrors project.

Entrepreneurship is very important for the business world and enterprise activities in schools encourage this. There are however, Educational Entrepreneurs who can make a difference in the education sector by shaping education to meet the challenges in the present and in the future. The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence could be the catalyst here.

Social Entrepreneurs can make a difference locally, nationally and globally by striving for greater good with humanitarian / utilitarian principles and projects 

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