Skip navigation

Aidan Gillespie

Senior Lecturer

Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Prior to joining the Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing team at Northumbria University, I was Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at Canterbury Christchurch university. I came to Initial Teacher Education having had a successful career as a primary school teacher, teaching in Lincoln, Italy, London and Kent. Now as Initial Teacher Education subject lead for Religious Education, I design and teach modules focussed on the role of religion in state education in the UK and the way in which religion, society and values intersect. With a research focus on spirituality, I am deeply interested in the intersection between spirituality and professional identity. Alongside my work in Initial Teacher Education, I also teach on Masters and postgraduate programmes in Education as well as working alongside new university colleagues in developing their practice in teaching and learning.

Aidan Gillespie

Campus Address

C115, Coach Lane Campus West,
Northumbria University,
Newcastle upon Tyne



Research Themes & Scholarly Interests

As head of subject for Religious Education across the Teacher Education programmes at Northumbria University I have a deep interest in children’s and teaching professionals’ spirituality and how this affects their understanding of self and identity. My research has looked at the motivations arising out of spirituality including and exceeding that of recognised faiths and the interplay this has with professional agency. I am currently engaged in research examining the link between emotional investment in religious stories and how this assists in the understanding and empathetic response of children to stories and lessons from within differing religious traditions. 

Professional Activity

Member of Northumberland Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education.

Member of Newcastle and Gateshead Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education.

Member of National Association of Teachers of Religious Education.

Member of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality.

Member of the International Association of Children’s Spirituality.

Current/Recent Projects

‘An investigation to compare moral thinking and communication among emerging adults in different cultural contexts’. (2019)

‘Emotional development and the links to Religious Education in primary schools. A programme of personal development and challenge in parallel with religious stories and characters to aid learning’. (2017)

‘A quantitative analysis of teacher education students’ perceptions of the appropriateness of a secular education in the English context.’ (2014).

Key Publications/Outputs

Gillespie, A. (2015) Can using children’s visual literacy help them to learn Religious Education? In: Sangster, M. (Ed) Challenging Perceptions in Primary Education. London: Bloomsbury.

Gillespie, A. (2015) How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? (Psalm 137.4) A Quaker understanding of education. In: Bryan, H. and Worsley, H. (Eds) Being Christian in Education. London: Canterbury Press.

Revell, L. and Gillespie, A. (2015) An Introduction to Religious Education. In: Driscoll, P. Lambirth, A. and Roden, J. (Eds) The Primary Curriculum; a creative approach. London: Sage.


2016, BASS – British Association of the Study of Spirituality:

Presented paper on ‘Challenges to Traditional Concepts of Vocation’.


09/2015,  BERA – British Education Research Association:

Co-presented a paper on ‘Assumptions of the Secular: an examination of student teachers’ perspectives on the role of religion and secularism in Education’.


05/2015, NICER – National Institute for Christian Education Research

Co-presented a paper on ‘An analysis of student teacher perspectives on secularism and the assumption of a secular world view’.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • An Introduction to Religious Education, Revell, L., Gillespie, A. Mar 2015, The Primary Curriculum, SAGE
  • Can Children's Visual Register be an Aid to Accessing Knowledge of Religion?, Gillespie, A. 26 Feb 2015, Challenging Perceptions in Primary Education, Bloomsbury
  • How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? (Psalm 137.4), Gillespie, A. 2 Nov 2015, Being Christian in Education, Norwich, UK, Canterbury Press


  • Education MA June 30 2009
  • Doctorate of Education EdD 2012
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2015


Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.


Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

More news

Back to top