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Professor Mary Kellett

Mary Kellett

Profile summary

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Professional biography

Mary joined the OU in 2002 and became Vice-Chancellor in April 2018.

As Vice-Chancellor, Mary is the chief academic and administrative officer of the University, responsible for providing strategic leadership through her senior executive team, championing the interests of the institution at the highest levels with government, policy makers and funders, and ensuring the long term financial and operational sustainability of the OU.

You can view her full executive profile on the about website.

A Professor of Education and Childhood, she has held a number of senior leadership roles in the university including, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law and Dean of the Faculty of Education and Language Studies. 

Mary has over 35 years' experience in the fields of education, childhood and youth. Before entering academia, she had two periods of professional practive in social work and teaching. She holds a number of Adjunct Professorships, is an Honorary Fellow at University at University of Central Lancashire, sits on several international advisory panels and was the Founding Director (2004) of The Children's Research Centre at The Open Unviersity in 2004.

She has authored on a wide range of education and childhood and youth related subjects, most notably on voice, participation, rights and empowerment issues.

Research interests

  • Empowering children as active researchers
  • Children's participation and voice
  • Children's rights
  • Ethics
  • Developing communication skills in children with severe learning difficulties
  • Disaffected learners
  • Self-esteem

Teaching interests

  • Education
  • Childhood and youth studies
  • Learning disabilities
  • Primary years

External collaborations

  • The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation, UCLAN
  • Diana Award
  • National Council for Voluntary Youth Services
  • SHORE and Whariki Research Centre, School of Public Health, Massey University, Australia
  • Centre for Chldren and Young People, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • UnitingCare Burnside, Sydney, Australia
  • Institut fur Bidungswissenschaft, Vienna
  • Children's Research Centre, Ankara, Turkey

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
CREET: Child and Youth Studies Research ClusterGroupFaculty of Education and Language Studies


Externally funded projects

Open World Learning
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Oct 201528 Feb 2022LEVERHULME The Leverhulme Trust

The OU has been awarded a major grant from The Leverhulme Trust to enable 18 new PhD scholarships to drive forward knowledge of Open World Learning. The focus will be on how to increase access to education for all across the globe using new technologies and innovative approaches. The Leverhulme Trust has awarded a grant of £1,050,000 to The OU's Institute of Educational Technology (IET) and Faculty of Education and Language Studies (FELS) to fund 15 full-time, three-year doctoral scholarships over the next five years. In addition to this, the OU will fund a further three scholars from low and middle-income economies, taking the total number of places up to 18. Managed by the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET), the purpose of these scholarships is to explore the factors that support or impede inclusive approaches to learning, for example around the use of new communication methods such as social networking and devices such as mobile phones and tablets.