Sheelagh started teaching in 1982 as a Home Economics teacher. From 2004, she was at the forefront of formal curricular innovation as Faculty Head for Language and Enterprise and later as ‘School of Ambition’ Project Manager for Castle Douglas High School.
In 2012 she moved to a wider quality improvement and support role, from 2015-21 with responsibility for 114 schools in Dumfries and Galloway, and from 2021-2023 supporting teachers across 512 schools in South West Scotland. She was tenacious in translating complex policy ambitions to be meaningful and practical for school leaders. Her considerable reach expands to schools, local authorities, colleges, Regional Improvement Collaborative, SQA and Education Scotland.
As a farmer and home economist, her work in linking ‘farm to fork’ and supporting young people’s learning with relevance and impact to their local community and the rural economy was ahead of its time. One legacy is that 14 of her former pupils are Home Economics teachers themselves today.
Sheelagh retired in 2023 after 40+ years of service to the education community across Scotland. Colleagues describe her as an advocate for change, standing out through challenging the system to better meet young people’s needs.