John Leach is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Staff and Equalities and Dean of the Faculty of Development and Society at Sheffield Hallam University. He has previously held senior leadership roles at the Universities of Leeds and Hull.
John’s academic background is in science education. He completed both his first degree in pharmacology and his PGCE in chemistry and science at the University of Bristol. He later obtained a PhD in science education from the University of Leeds. He has conducted empirical studies of the teaching and learning of science in formal settings ranging from primary classrooms to university research laboratories, and theoretical work about the nature of learning science in formal settings. The main focus of his work is on science education in secondary schools, where he has shown how insights about the nature of learners’ everyday thinking about the material world can be used in the design of teaching interventions to make significant improvements in learning outcomes, compared to what would be achieved using usual teaching approaches. His work has also considered how the science curriculum might better prepare young people to become informed and active citizens in a society facing issues with scientific and technological dimensions.
John has had significant research funding from various sources including the ESRC, the Wellcome Trust, the Nuffield Foundation and the European Commission. He was part of the group that established the National Science Learning Centre at York and Regional Science Learning Centres to provide world-leading CPD for science teachers (with funding from the DfE and Wellcome), and is now a Board Member of STEM Learning Ltd. He was a member of the Education Sub-panel of the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 and was Deputy Chair of the Education Sub-panel of the Research Excellence Framework in 2014. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.