Gerv Leyden

Gerv Leyden
Gerv Leyden

Gerv Leyden was a brilliant educational psychologist (and soccer player) who against all odds became a university professor. His commitment to inclusion and to ‘trouble youth’ was as powerful as his relentless lobbying to change education policies in England to support inclusion.

Videos and Writing of Gerv Leyden

Gerv Leyden comparing inclusion in UK to the HWRCSSB
Gerv Leyden – Rose Quartz Lifetime Achievement Award
Gerv Leyden on Testing

Gerv Leyden – a selection of published articles (click here)

A Coherent Framework for the Application of Psychology in SchoolsArticle

British Educational Research Journal Jun 1999 Gerv leyden & Andy Miller

A coherent and integrated theoretical model for the application of psychology in schools will serve two major purposes. Firstly, it will allow practitioner educational psychologists (EPs) to represent the extent of the work they carry out with schools to research‐based psychologist colleagues. This in turn could reveal the rich research agenda that awaits creative combinations of practitioner experience and academic research skills. Secondly, a coherent framework will allow all those seeking to apply or draw on psychology when working in schools to explicate that psychology in order to promote a productive dialogue with professional colleagues, be they teachers, researchers or other psychologists. The framework proposed in this article draws mainly on practitioner‐directed research within educational and organisational psychology, supplemented by related university‐based research. In particular, the model highlights the need for those who seek to apply psychology in schools, to appreciate the relationships between both the formal and informal aspects of school staff, pupil, and family subsystems, and the ways in which different interventions impact upon different areas of this psycho‐social framework.Show more

Time for change: The reformulation of applied psychology for LEAs and schoolsArticle

Educational Psychology in Practice Jan 1999 Gerv Leyden

Including All our Children in Mainstream Schools and CommunitiesArticle

Educational Psychology in Practice Oct 1998 Gerv Leyden Andy Miller

For the parents of many preschool children with significant special educational needs, choice of school represents a crucial crossroads for their child and for themselves. The path they choose (and many parents do not feel they have a real or realistic choice) will have significant and lifelong consequences.This paper represents our attempts to place within an ‘inclusive’ context the struggles and difficulties faced by many parents as they try to make sense of often conflicting professional advice and pressures. In order to remain a major resource for their child, parents also need their own personal and community support networks.Show more

Communication skills, educational achievement and biographic characteristics of children with moderate learning difficulties Article

European Journal of Psychology of Education, Dec 1997 Gerv Leyden, Susannah LambDavid Wood,Peter Bibby

This paper examines aspects of intellectual, linguistic and academic abilities of 71 children with moderate learning difficulties. A profile of these abilities is presented and analysed. The profile provides a rationale for mounting a long-term intervention study designed to develop these children’s communication abilities. It also provides us with a baseline model against which the effects of the intervention can be assessed. In addition, the profile explores the relationships between several aspects of academic achievement and biographical factors such as age, gender, season of birth and IQ. Statistical analysis reveals significant relationships between several of the variables investigated. The implications of this analysis for educational practice are considered. Cet article concerne certains aspects des compétences intellectuelles, linguistiques et scolaires de 71 enfants présentant des difficultés modérées d’apprentissage. On présente et on analyse le profil de ces compétences. Ce profil fournit un rationnel pour mettre en place une intervention de longue durée destinée à développer les compétences communicatives de ces enfants. Il fournit également un modèle de base permettant d’évaluer les effets de l’intervention. De plus, le profil explore les relations entre plusieurs aspects de la réussite scolaire et des caractéristiques individuelles comme l’age, le sexe, la saison de naissance et le QI. Les analyses statistiques mettent en évidence l’existence de relations significatives entre plusieurs variables étudiées. Les auteurs examinent les implications de leurs analyses pour les pratiques éducatives.Show more

‘Cheap Labour’ or Neglected Resource? Article Educational Psychology in Practice Jan 1996

This paper challenges some common assumptions about ‘the efficient use of resources’ which are embedded in many attempts to implement the 1981 and 1993 special needs legislation. The often cumbersome and time‐consuming procedures for the allocation of additional resources are seldom matched by measures to monitor the effectiveness of that support. It is argued that some current classroom practices risk isolating the pupil with special needs from the potential support of the peer group. An alternative model of learning support is proposed which redefines the complementary roles of adult and peer support. All children, including those with significant special needs, can benefit from peer and collaborative learning opportunities.Show more

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Dr Gervase (Gerv) Leyden (1939 – 2015) Obituary

Research (PDF Available) · March 2016 with 49 ReadsDOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1043.8803 Cite this publication

Gerv Leyden’s contribution to the field of educational psychology was most unique. His character marked out all he did, with warmth, wit and integrity. His lifelong passion for the inclusion of children with disabilities was underpinned by a zeal for creating the best opportunities for all children. A lightning conductor, he sought to channel the focus of those around him towards enhancing the lot of others, and achieved this in diverse ways in his professional life.

Gerv was born in Nottingham just prior to the onset of the Second World War. He and his three older siblings were brought up by his mother, who supported the family alone, working in the Raleigh bicycle factory. As for so many, failing the 11-plus exam common entrance exam was a defining moment in his understanding of himself and of the education system that served him. Moving to technical school Gerv acquired practical proficiencies, but his skill with words was identified by a supportive teacher. Ultimately able to enter higher education, he took his BA Hons in Psychology at the University of Liverpool, and his Dip Ed Psych at the University of Swansea. Later in his career, an MSc in Occupational Psychology was followed by his PhD, both University of Nottingham. Gerv’s professional practice in educational psychology spanned Lancashire, Teesside, Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City. His work in the Higher Education sector included tutoring the PGCE Course at Edge Hill College, and later the University of Birmingham Educational Psychology training programme, before finding a natural home working at the University of Nottingham’s EP programmes in the late 1980s, remaining there until 2000, before moving on to focus upon work in the field of Inclusive Education.

As Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology’s (DECP) Training Committee, and member of the Association of Educational Psychologist’s National Executive, Gerv became a member of the DECP working parties on inclusive education and on supervision. The breadth of topics upon which he published illustrated his commitment to enhancing educational environments, most evident in his seminal contribution to Bill Gilham’s edited volume ‘Reconstructing Educational Psychology’ in 1978. Gerv sought to enhance the nature of training in educational psychology, in order for those in the role to be best-equipped to support the teachers facing the daily challenges of including vulnerable children. Generations of trainee educational psychologists encountered his vision, illuminated from within by his warmth and character.

Gerv’s belief in the value of the individual ran deep. Marked by his bubbling ironic wit, his approach to all he did was to discern how he might support others to achieve the utmost, whether marginalized or aspiring children, their carers or educators, whether trainee educational psychologists, or those he met in everyday life. One example of Gerv’s seminal contributions to the supervision training discourse at the time of his participation in the working party was his refrain “…you have my undivided attention!” Those who knew Gerv well would hold that he lived by these words throughout his life.

To many, Gerv was a comrade in the battle for inclusive practices, globally. In this arena his work was driven by a passion, certainly, but elevated by his recognition that preaching alone was insufficient to promote change: the rigour of intellectual discipline was needed to tell the story, to analyse and to shape policy. His study of occupational psychology, for example, signaled his understanding of the complexities of supporting systems to embrace change. He was a trustee of the Marsha Forest Center, and of the Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education, both Toronto, and was proud to be linked to Canada’s Hamilton School board, where full inclusion had been attained. He played a pivotal role in the introduction to the UK of inclusive facilitation tools, such as MAPs, PATHs and Circles of Adults, that were then small initiatives in the wider aspirational journey towards the inclusion of all children in their local mainstream school.

Passionate regarding the deep disservice done to individuals by measurement of their attributes and supposed capacities through tools intended to capture population-level data by psychologists, he found many ways, both light-hearted and serious, to poke fun or challenge the outcomes from such pursuits. He contested practices that he saw as disabling the chances of individuals and communities, but always maintained regard and respect for professionals.

Nottingham was the backdrop for Gerv’s life, from his childhood through to his enduring love of Nottingham Forest and of the deprived city communities with which he worked with in different ways. His tastes and talents were broad: cricket, the American Song Book, wordplay. Coffee with Gerv involved a mercurial tour of ideas, history, song and anecdote, more than likely peppered with greetings to the many passing folk he knew through his comradely approach to life. Life, it seemed, was a wander through the vast plain of humanity, collecting and learning from the stories of others’ lives and hopes, illustrating his own aspirations and hopes for a better society. Towards the end of his life, Gerv drew together writings upon the experiences of wartime children in Nottingham, befittingly capturing both the era, and the concern for child welfare and opportunity that had so defined his life.

Gerv’s enduring legacy was to show how deeply rooted passions could underpin professional life, and, whilst fierce, how they might be harnessed to benefit others. His sense of the EP profession’s responsibility to place itself within a value system, to promote social good, and to show how it benefits the child continues to nourish the University of Nottingham EP training programme. Beloved of his friends and colleagues, he is sorely missed, but in the undying memories of his humour and humanity, stays with us. Gerv is survived by his wife Sue, his 3 stepsons, and 7 grandchildren.

Anthea Gulliford
University of Nottingham January 2016

Dr Gervase (Gerv) Leyden (1939 – 2015) 

Professor Andy Miller Nottingham

Gerv Leyden, who died on 7 October 2015, has left a huge gap in the lives of his family, friends and colleagues.

From his early days as an educational psychologist (EP), he was recognised as a creative, thoughtful and conscientious practitioner and he continued to exert a profound influence within and beyond the profession throughout his long career.

Gerv was born in inner-city Nottingham at the outset of World War Two into considerably straightened financial circumstances. This first-hand experience of material deprivation fueled his life-long concern for the marginalised and excluded and he remained their passionate advocate right through until his final days.

The divisive ‘eleven plus’ examination determined that Gerv was most suited to pursuing his secondary education at Nottingham Building School where, among other subjects, he learned joinery, plastering and plumbing. But these were not his destined career and, after considerable application and additional study, he ended up at Liverpool University where he gained his psychology degree. 

Gerv subsequently taught in a secondary modern school in Nottingham, undertook his professional training as an educational psychologist at the University of Swansea under Professor Phillip Williams, worked in teacher training at Edge Hill College and as an educational psychologist in Kirkby in Lancashire.

From the beginning of his career, Gerv was publishing persuasive papers, challenging various established institutional practices that were not founded on, or had drifted away from, humanitarian principles. In these pursuits he was highly effective, winning hearts and minds with his beautifully-crafted prose and his outstanding gifts as a speaker. Throughout his career these qualities, combined with a razor sharp wit and a disarming charm, won him many admirers. He provided a considered perspective to those in the most senior of positions – Directors of Education would, for example, seek him out for informal counsel. And he would in turn also ensure that the voices of the least powerful were heard in the offices and committees where decisions that affected their lives were taken.

His skills as an EP were recognised early in his career and resulted in his rapid promotion to the position of Senior EP for Stockton on Tees, after which he returned to his native city in a similar capacity but with management responsibilities for a much larger team of EPs and allied professionals. 

Gerv was an obvious choice of contributor for Bill Gilham’s landmark 1978 publication, ‘Reconstructing Educational Psychology’. In a book that challenged many of the major tenets of the profession at that time – including the centrality of psychometric measures, especially of ‘IQ’, and support for segregated special educational provision – Gerv’s concluding chapter provided a magisterial overview of both the need for change and the directions in which this should proceed. Firmly rooted in his own professional practice, he argued with authority for the profession to be guided far more by psychology, research and imagination. This book, almost forty years on, continues to be one of, if not the, most influential in professional educational psychology and those in training and many in practice still benefit from its study.           

In 1986, Gerv was appointed as an Associate Tutor to the Educational Psychology training course at the University of Birmingham which was directed at that time by the influential and sometimes eccentric Brian Roberts. Later, when attempting to solve a particularly knotty or sensitive problem, Gerv would sometimes imitate Brian taking a long, reflective drag on a roll-up before saying ‘Now, what Brian would say here?’ After two years Gerv returned to a similar post at the University of Nottingham and the Nottinghamshire County EP Service.    

With the retirement of Professor Elizabeth Newson in 1994, it was necessary to design a new initial training course for EPs at Nottingham. Rather than tinker with an existing format, Gerv and Andy Miller, started from scratch and, working in the evenings over the preceding year, constructed a brand new course. Because the projected intake was likely to be small in the first few years, teaching duties would be carried out almost exclusively by these two and hence it was possible to plan a highly integrated course in which the links and progression between modules and each individual session through the year were developed to a very extensive degree.

In the early 1990s, Gerv registered in the Nottingham Psychology Department to study for a Masters degree in Organisational Health under Professor Tom Cox. He recognized that the concept of ‘organisational health’ being proposed by Cox, and its relationship to individual employees’ health and well-being, held great potential for the development of the educational psychology profession in its endeavour to help improve the quality of learning and social cohesion within schools. Undertaking such a course as an already established professional in his fifties was a typically courageous act, given that he was to be assessed by means of unseen examinations that would be marked by his, sometimes much younger and less experienced, colleagues.

Later in the 1990s, Gerv began to make world-wide links with leaders and others in the movement for inclusive education. While out running one morning in Montreal, he knocked on the apartment door of Jack Pierpoint and Marsha Forrest, the directors of the Centre for Integrated Education and Community and the publishers of Inclusion Press. Thus began an intensive collaboration in which Gerv worked voluntarily as a classroom assistant in a Canadian school to assure himself that he could speak from a position of first-hand experience. He then organised and contributed to conferences and international networking whilst, crucially, remaining an advocate for individuals.

The Nottingham training course thus became the first to incorporate a module on inclusive education and he invited Jack Pearpoint and Marsha Forest to Nottingham to run a series of national inclusion conferences alongside workshops on Circles of Friends, MAPs and PATH. When the BPS came to consider its stance on Inclusive Education in 1999, Gerv was the obvious choice of convenor for its working group, as a result of whose efforts, the BPS signed up to the Charter for Inclusive Education in 2002.  

Gerv’s wit and wisdom was honed through a lifetime of extensive reading both within, and way beyond, psychology. He drew widely from across psychology, particularly social and humanistic psychology and psychodynamic approaches. He was also an enthusiastic sportsman and a regular attendee at Nottingham Forrest’s ground and at Trent Bridge and could as easily draw on the pronouncements of ‘Cloughie’ (Brian) as Eric Berne when considering how to function effectively among ‘the games people play’.

He was the most attentive of listeners and supporter of students, colleagues and friends. He would be the most serious and steady of people when the situation demanded and the most light-hearted and irreverent when it definitely did not.  

Gerv bore fifteen years of treatment for prostate cancer with good humour and a continuing focus on the positive. He was a special person whose kindness touched the lives of so many and he is terribly missed.