Professor Anna McNamara
Academic and research departmentsFaculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Anna McNamara is Head of School and Director of Internationalisation for GSA, previously having been Director of Learning and Teaching and before that Director of Student Experience. As Director of Learning and Teaching she oversaw school level curriculum redesign and academic periodic review, initiating school-wide steps to decolonise the conservatoire curriculum and formally embed inclusive practice within all programmes of study at GSA, including the formal incorporation of safe spaces and intimacy coordination across all programmes. Anna led on the introduction of the school's mental health training and awareness initiatives and is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor with Mental Health England. Whilst Director of Student Experience, Anna created the GSA Gillian Lynne Choreography Competition, the GSA Sir Richard Stilgoe Song Writing Competition and the GSA Morag Morris Spoken Word Competition, as well as initiating a formalised whole school student voice system of weekly minuted year group meetings. An experienced programme leader, Anna has designed, written and created GSA's BA (Hons) Theatre, BA (Hons) Applied and Contemporary Theatre, MA Theatre and MFA Theatre programmes.
Anna has served on a number of committees at university and faculty level. At university level she has been a member of the Teaching Quality and Valuing Teaching working group, the Student Experience Subcommittee, the Student Success Subcommittee, the Quality and Standards Subcommittee, the Student Charter task and finish group, the Nudges Project task and finish group, and the Curriculum Design Review advisory groups for Wellbeing and for Assessment. At faculty level she has served on the Faculty Executive Board, the Learning and Teaching Committee/Education Forum and the Quality Curriculum Management task and finish group. Anna has chaired validation panels and been a panellist on periodic review and enhancement panels for programmes across the university.
She trained in Musical Theatre at the Guildford School of Acting before moving into teaching full time in 2001, gaining an MA in Education. As a performer she appeared professionally in numerous commercials, voiceovers, photographic shoots, pantomimes, concerts, cabarets and galas. She has produced, directed, choreographed and provided movement direction and enjoyed a long association with the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC). Anna is researching a PhD in acting pedagogies and holds teaching qualifications in dance, drama, and singing and music. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy/Advance HE (PFHEA) in recognition of her sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning. She also serves as an assessor for the Advance HE Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE). In 2017 Anna was awarded the University of Surrey Vice Chancellor’s award for Teacher of the Year for her innovative work in creating the school's online learning undergraduate programme of study and for elevating the student voice at GSA. In 2021 she was conferred with the academic title Professor.
Anna has a strong interest in pedagogic scholarship, with particular focus given to inclusion, access and participation to and within professional training for the creative industries at Higher Education. She has published and presented internationally on a range of subjects including leadership and management, crisis-management, acting pedagogies, disability access to the arts, gender empowerment and equity, care in the curriculum and teaching, student experience, and change making. Research topics published within acting pedagogies include play, flipped learning and student-staff partnerships. Anna has presented regularly at the annual Surrey Excites conference, at the inaugural Oracy conference hosted by the University of Surrey in conjunction with Cambridge University in 2018, and at the Change Agents Network (CAN) conference in 2019. In 2021 Anna created and led GSA's international Be the Change digital conference, subsequently editing the book Be the Change: Learning and Teaching for the Creative Industries, bringing together thirty five colleagues globally as co-authors, due for publication in 2022. In 2022 she will be following this project with another global endeavour through a student-staff partnership project themed on student and staff experience and care in the creative curriculum.
Anna is interested in working with creative practitioners to develop teaching and scholarship opportunities and has mentored colleagues via the Advance HE Aurora network, through the University of Surrey mentoring scheme, also successfully mentoring applicants for Fellowship and Senior Fellowship with AdvanceHE via the Surrey Excellence in Teaching (SET) framework, as well as within GSA and for other UK conservatoires. Anna created the GSA People’s Network initiative, actively seeking to broaden and diversify GSA’s staff base, welcoming and encouraging applications from individuals who identify as part of or belonging to communities currently underrepresented in our workforce, as well as enabling formal opportunities for developmental placements, mentorships and internships across the school from 2022. Also in 2022 Anna will be leading a fully funded project that seeks to facilitate mentoring and development opportunities for teachers and young people in diverse geographical locations by enabling knowledge exchange, levelling up and upskilling opportunities from HE, industry and GSA alumni through the development of free to access formal and informal networks via workshops and development courses, as well via research dissemination at the end of the project.
University roles and responsibilities
- Head of School (Interim)
- Director of Internationalisation
Affiliations and memberships
In the media
Postgraduate research supervision
Musical Theatre Pedagogies
As an award winning teacher, Anna has taught across all levels of education from primary school settings all the way through to PhD level, specialising in Acting, Performance, Theatre, Dance, Singing and Pedagogy. She has been an examiner for GCSE Drama, an external examiner for BA (Hons) Acting and BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programmes and a professional advisor for BA (Hons) Acting programmes and the Trinity College London examination performance syllabi.
At GSA she has taught on the Foundation Acting and Musical Theatre programmes, the BA (Hons) Acting, Actor-Musician, Applied and Contemporary Theatre, Dance, Musical Theatre, Theatre and Theatre and Performance programmes, as well as on the MA Theatre and MFA Acting and Musical Theatre programmes and is a supervisor for PhD Theatre and Dance candidates.