Dr. Rachel Mathieson

Dr. Rachel Mathieson


I have spent my working life in education, in both teaching and research. I have an MSc in Educational Research Methods, a DPhil in Education, and a PhD in Music.

I have taught in a variety of contexts. My first teaching job was in Reception/Year 1, but my most recent experience was as Director of Music in a sixth form college, teaching A-level Music and running extra-curricular activities. I continue to teach, and think it is important to maintain a realistic perspective on how teachers and students experience teaching and learning within the classroom.

My DPhil investigated how Year 1 teachers responded to the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy (1998-9). I was interested in how and why actors in a particular situation accommodate or reject requirements imposed by others, and how they respond to change. In my PhD in Music, I explored university Music students’ thinking about performance. Preparation for formal assessment again revealed issues relating to accommodating and managing the expectations of those in positions of authority and/or power. These studies highlight the importance of the self, of enjoyment, and of being treated with respect for one’s knowledge and experience within one’s chosen area. Both studies used ethnographic methodology, and in both cases I was fortunate to spend a whole academic year in the field collecting interview and observational data.

I am the main qualitative researcher on the Core Maths project, working with case study schools across England. Core Maths is a relatively new qualification that I wish I had had the chance to study at school, and which could potentially benefit hundreds of thousands of students and have an important influence on post-16 education. 

I am also part of an Impact Acceleration Account project about how teacher wellbeing is related to their workplace experiences. This project, conducted jointly between University of Leeds, National Education Union, and National Association of Schoolmasters & Union of Women Teachers, examines the causes of well-being and burnout in teaching, generating a range of practitioner-focused guides and support materials, focused on tackling stress, improving well-being and mental health, and reducing burnout.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • DPhil (Oxon) in Education
  • PhD (Hull) in Music Education
  • MSc (Oxon) in Education Research Methods
  • PGCE (Oxon)
  • BA Hons (Oxon) in Modern Languages

Student education

I contribute to modules EDUC2106 - Education Policy and Politics, EDUC 2108 - Managing Classroom Behaviour, and EDUC5060M - Getting Started: Research Questions and Approaches in Education.

I am module leader for Leeds International Summer School module 1037: Education in the media.

I am also Associate Lecturer in the Leeds University Business School (LUBS), supervising Master’s dissertation students on module 5376M.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Curriculum, Pedagogy and Policy