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Prof Catherine Lee MBE

Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean (Interim)
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Chelmsford ,
Areas of Expertise:
Education and teaching

Catherine is Professor of Inclusive Education and Leadership and a National Teaching Fellow, an award which recognises her work nationally to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in schools and universities. Catherine's areas of expertise are education and teaching, equality, diversity and inclusion. Catherine has an MBE for services to equality in education. She is Professor of Inclusive Education and Leadership and a National Teaching Fellow, an award which recognises her work nationally to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in schools and universities. Catherine is currently interim Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences and Visiting Professor at Bishop Grosseteste University. Her areas of expertise are LGBTQ+ equality, diversity and inclusion and education and schools.

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Catherine spent over twenty years as a teacher, both in inner-city Liverpool and rural Suffolk. Her teacher diaries, published in her book Pretended were used as the inspiration for the 2022 BAFTA nominated feature film, Blue Jean. Catherine is a commentator and writer on LGBTQ+ identities in education and regularly contributes to national television and radio on this topic.

Catherine is an adviser to the government’s DfE and has done extensive research in pursuit of greater inclusion for LGBTQ+ students in staff in schools and universities. She notably set up the UK’s first LGBTQ+ leadership development programme for schools and universities. Catherine has been nominated for national awards for her work in education, including a British Diversity Award and featured in the LGBT Pride Power List in 2019 as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK. Catherine has a number of strategic governance roles in the education and charity sectors, where she uses her national profile in pursuit of inclusive education and to improve the lives of those on the margins.

Research interests
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Leadership
  • LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools
  • Teacher identity and well-being
  • Autoethnography and narrative enquiry
  • LGBTQ+ History

Areas of Expertise

EDI Education and teaching

  • PhD, Institute of Education, London (UCL)
  • PG Cert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Anglia Ruskin University
  • MPhil, Institute of Education, London (UCL)
  • MA Education, Anglia Ruskin University
  • BEd Hons, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

National Awards

  • 2023 MBE Services to Equality in Education
  • 2021 National Teaching Fellow
  • 2020 British Diversity Award Finalist
  • 2020 Diva Magazine Finalist Community Champion
  • 2020 Pink News Award Finalist: Community Group of the Year for Courageous Leaders
  • 2019 Independent Newspaper’s Pride Power List (Top 100 people LGBT in UK)
  • 2019 Emerald Global Real Impact Awards
Selected recent publications
Edited Book

Lee, C (2020) Courage in the Classroom: LGBT Teachers Share their Stories: John Catt Publishers Melton, Suffolk


Lee, C. (2023) Pretended: Schools and Section 28, Hodder John Catt Publications, Suffolk, UK

Thompson-Lee, C. (2017) Heteronormativity in a Rural School Community: An Autoethnography, Sense Publications. Rotterdam, New York.

Journal Articles:

Lee, C., Rafter, J., Williams, K. and McManus-O’Connell, R. (2023) Social Work Students in School: Critical Reflections on School-based Interventions with LGBTQ+ Young People. The Journal of Sex Education

Lee, C. and Burman, D. (2023) Supporting LGBTQ+ aspiring leaders in universities: Times Higher Education Supplement: 27 February 2023

Lee, C. (2022) Coming out in the university workplace: a case study of LGBTQ + staff visibility. Higher Education https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-022-00884-y

Lee, C (2021) Inclusive Relationships and Sex Education: Why the Moral Panic? Management in Education. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F08920206211016453

Lee, C (2021) How do Male and Female Headteachers Evaluate their Authenticity as School Leaders? School Leadership & Management. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0892020621999675

Lee, C. (2021). Promoting Diversity in University Leadership: The argument for LGBTQ+ Specific Leadership Programmes in Higher Education. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603108.2021.1877205 .

Lee, C. (2020). How does Openness about Personal, Sexual and Gender Identities Influence Teacher Leaders’ Self-Perceptions of Authenticity?. Educational Management Administration and Leadership. https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143220929036

Lee C (2020) Why LGBT Teachers May Make Exceptional School Leaders. Frontiers. Sociology. 14 July 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2020.00050

Lee, C. (2020) Courageous Leaders: Supporting and Celebrating LGBT School Leaders. Impact: Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching.

Lee, C. (2020). Courageous Leaders: Promoting and supporting diversity in school leadership development. BELMAS Special Issue Feb 2020 https://doi.org/10.1177/0892020619878828

Lee, C. (2019). Courageous Leaders: Promoting and supporting diversity in school leadership development. Management in Education October 8, 2019 34(1), 5-15.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0892020619878828

Lee. C. (2019) Capturing the Personal through the lens of the Professional: The use of third party data in Autoethnography. Methodological Innovations: Vol. 12 Issue 1, pp. 205-220. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2059799119825576

Lee, C. (2019) Fifteen Years on: The Legacy of Section 28 for LGBT+ teachers in English Schools. Sex Education. Vol 8, Issue 1, pp1-16 ISSN 1472-0825. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681811.2019.1585800

Lee, C. (2019) How do Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Teachers Experience UK Rural School Communities? Social. Sciences. Volume 8, Issue 9 pp.249-258. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8090249

Lee. C (2018) Culture, Consent and Confidentiality in Workplace Autoethnography: Journal of Organizational Ethnography Vol. 7 Issue: 3, pp.302-319. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOE-06-2017-0032

Recent presentations and conferences
Keynote conference presentations:

Lee, C. (2023) Learning lessons from Section 28: Key note address at the UK Festival of Education

Lee, C (2023) Revisiting Section 28: key note address at Aberdeen University Education conference

Lee, C. (2022) promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools: Keynote address at the Bishop Grosstestte University Education Conference

Media experience
Television / Video
  • March 2023: Don’t Say Gay. British Documentary for BBC
  • February 2023: British Independent Film Association Inspiring Blue Jean
  • February 2023: Stonewall Diversity Role Model for LGBT History Month
  • September 2022: Look East to discuss Blue Jean at the Venice Film Festival
National Radio
  • August 2023: Virgin Radio LGBTQ+ inclusion in the classroom
  • February 2023: BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour to discuss my latest book Pretended: Schools and Section 28
  • November 2022: BBC Radio 5 Live Stephen Nolan to discuss Qatar World Cup
  • July 2020: BBC Talk Radio to discuss the Courageous Leaders programme my book Courage in the Classroom
  • May 2023: Community Radio Wisconsin Pretended and Section 28
  • May 2023: Peccadillo Sofa Club Pretended and Blue Jean
  • March 2023: The Guilty Feminist: Section 28 and Blue Jean
  • March 2023: The Sociology Show: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • March 2023: Pride and Progress: Blue Jean
  • February 2023: Teachers Talk Radio Pretended Schools and Section 28
  • December 2022: Women Making Waves Section 28
  • June 2022: Teachers Talk Radio LGBTQ+ Leadership development
  • March 2021: Pride and Progress LGBTQ+ Leadership development
  • July 2020: Naylor’s Natter Courageous Leaders
  • July 2020: Pearson Education Podcast Courageous Leaders
Local Radio
  • May 2023: BBC Radio Suffolk: DfE Transgender Guidance for Schools
  • March 2023: Phoenix Radio: The Arts Show: Writing from personal experience
  • February 2023: BBC Radio Essex: New Book Pretended and Blue Jean
  • February 2023:BBC Radio Suffolk: New Book Pretended and Blue Jean
  • January 2023: BBC Radio Suffolk: MBE for Services to Equality in Education
  • January 2023: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire New Book Pretended
  • January 2023: BBC Radio Lincolnshire: Keynote at Bishop Grosseteste EDI Conference
  • December 20222: BBC Radio Essex Qatar World Cup
  • July 2022: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire ARU’s Headline sponsorship of Pride
  • June 2022: BBC Radio Essex ARU’s Headline sponsorship of Pride
  • June 2021: BBC Radio Suffolk Courageous Leaders
  • May 2020: BBC Radio Essex Courageous Leaders