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Yearly Archives: 2016

Special issue of MiE now underway

We now have seven articles being prepared for our special issue of Management in Education, which are to be submitted in February 2017 for response papers to be written and a review process which will see us through the summer to submitting to the publishers Autumn 2017. The papers offer a great range of methodological approaches and will focus on different aspects of the research process; each with reflections on how the research methods chosen help enhance what we know about and how we can practice educational leadership. For more information on the process of producing this special issue please consult belmas-mie-proposal-schedule-jan-2017

BERA conference Leeds

Educational Leadership SIG activity at the conference  and next steps September 2016

Thank you to all those who attended and participated in the BERA Educational Leadership SIG activities: we had five individual paper session slots, an innovative early career panel and workshop, a SIG forum meeting and an informal meal. A summary can be found on one of this site’s blog posts. These provided rich spaces to discuss our current and future work, as well as find connections which we hope will productive ones.

Across all these activities we took forwards the commitments identified at our April session. Slides from the early career panel session will be found shortly under keynotes and panels (both for the combined panel and Liz Hidson’s slides as a subset of the panel), with a summary of the discussions appearing as a blog post on this site.

Three strands to our work appear to be arising, which might lead to collaboration and expanding research agendas:

  1. Self-study of practitioner leaders in a range of settings
  2. Critical mapping of the impact of policy on landscapes of leadership practice
  3. International dimensions to leadership enactment

All of these strands see us seeking to expose and challenge assumptions – our own, in our research setting and ultimately in wider society. Some of the aspects we commit to being alert to are: race, gender, class, status, cultural norms and power and have been thinking about whether an intersectionality lens is useful in thinking through the multiple ways these issues interact.

Our next steps:

  • Creation of the special issue of Mangement in Education. Advice from the deputy editor shared at the early career workshop is available here: writing-for-mie and the call for papers can be found here
  • Using the BERA blog to draw attention to our special issue papers leading up to the time of its publication
  • Contribution to a practitioner research SIG led event mapping the methodological territory within an educational leadership practitioner research subtheme
  • Exploring asynchronous chat mechanisms for continuing our discussions through Twitter, BERA discussion forums and this website





Preparing for our special issue Management in Education

Please click on the link below for information about our plans for the special issue arising from our work in 2016.


Full call for papers for special issue post BERA version

And access the advice on authoring and reviewing for the journal, as shared at the BERA annual conference using the link below.


The Educational Leadership SIG at BERA conference 2016


Calling early career researchers attending BERA annual conference!

We invite you to:

Critical conversations about how to research educational leadership: A workshop for early career researchers

Parallel Session 8 | Thursday 15th September 2016 | 10.05-11.35

This is to let you know about an innovative session in the BERA 2016 annual conference programme which focuses on supporting early career researchers. This session will suit anyone who can see a leadership strand to their studies. It is the result of collaboration between the Educational Leadership and Research Methods SIGs in BERA, together with BELMAS. The workshop builds on an event held at Newcastle University in April 2016 to allow further discussion about methodological creativity and challenges, as well as planning for submissions to a special issue of the BELMAS journal Management in Education in 2017. We already have the panel membership for the September session in place, of early career researchers who attended the initial event, who will pick up and lead further discussion of the themes identified. This discussion will be followed by a writing for publication workshop led by one of the members of the editorial board of the BELMAS journal, Dr Gerry Czerniawski.

This session creates a space for a narrative to be collectively built through a combination of brief presentations and reflective panel discussion, followed by a workshop. It will be conversational, hence the title, and seeks to include a wide range of voices. You, as audience, will be active participants in helping build a collective account of research in this field, identify trajectories of future work and work towards joint publication.

We hope to see you there…Alison Fox, Anna Reid, Victoria Showunmi and Gerry Czerniawski

Follow us, the BERA Educational Leadership SIG at: #edleadres

Please circulate this through your networks to any early career researchers you know are, or are thinking about, attending BERA Leeds 2016.

Post-event reflections

The event was a lively and productive day, bringing together a mixture of practitioners and academics and allowing voices to be heard who couldn’t make it in person through pre-recordings, as well as lively Twitter activity using #edleadres. A big thank you to all those who contributed.

We are very grateful to Newcastle University for hosting the event in their Research Beehive, for support from the department’s leadership and to Eat Courtyard for excellent catering.

The sleet lashed down on the building and we found a cosy space to hear first hand accounts challenging educationalists to pick up research on current leadership issues, to find out how researchers were constructing appropriate designs to address topical issues and to explore through a keynote and plenary the context for this research, its challenges and its opportunities. Notes from the day which summarise the key questions arising (apologies to those in the qualitative design workshops for whom there are no direct references) are available here.

Presenters have been given an opportunity to add their on-the-day presentations to the website and we have started planning the follow-on event for early career researchers as part of the BERA annual conference, this year in Leeds. This will allow further discussion about methodological creativity and challenges as well as planning for a special issue in the BELMAS journal Management in Education in 2017.

Yammer and the #womened network

I just wanted to advertise the activity of a growing community within the relatively new social media platform Yammer amongst women in education/educational leaders and those who support them. In particular this post advertises more widely their recent news about securing a column in the TES (please see below). The message is “join up to Yammer and #womened and consider contributing”. This is a vibrant group discussing and supporting one another to deal with contemporary issues for women in education and educational leadership. A series of 1st birthday party events are currently being organised, suggesting members invite those committed to the He4She campaign.

OMG! I am so excited.
The TES have agreed to a weekly #womened column.
Starting next weekend we will submit 1,000 words each week.
I was already doing a piece to coincide with our 1st birthday  – this will be published on 29/4 and will introduce the Founders and Steering group.
We then need volunteers for submissions from the 1/5.
For all of those you who are keen to write a piece please can you please send me a theme/ title ASAP  and I will pull together a schedule.
We will need to commit to meeting these deadlines to ensure that we grow our profile – the piece will be due each Saturday so we can QA before the Steering Group submit a weekly piece from the community to TES.
This is a fabulous opportunity!

Hannah Wilson

on the WomenEd Yammer network, April 14 at 7:12am


Questions to guide our critical conversation

Overarching agenda

a) Scope current contemporary educational leadership issues
b) Map the range of methods being used to address these (including novel methods to try)
c) Identify possible research agendas to follow

Post-morning questions

1. Which conceptual challenges arise from the presentations?
2. Which conceptual resources/traditions are/could we draw on to deal with these?
3. Does this see educational leadership research boundary crossing into new territories/fields?
4. Which methodological challenges arise from the presentations?
5. Can we, and is it helpful to, categorise these challenges?
6. In what ways do educational leadership research studies need to speak to one another to offer complementary research designs?

Panel questions

‘How can we know which research topics/questions are worthwhile within educational leadership?’ Led by Miriam David.

‘How can we ensure that we are approaching educational leadership research topics/questions appropriately?’ Led by Victoria Showunmi

‘How can we reveal and promote educational leadership research topics/questions within broader educational research?’ Led by Liz Todd

‘How can we consider impact of educational leadership research?’ Led by Sue Robson

‘How can we go about studying educational leadership research topics/questions ethically?’ Led by Alison Fox

Final draft programme: 26th April 2016, Newcastle University

9.30am                     Hot drinks

10.00am                   Welcome – Mr René Koglbauer, Acting Head of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University and Introduction – Organising committee

10.15am                     Testimonials (short presentations, videos/posters) about contemporary educational leadership issues – 6 accepted titles covering early leadership, recruitment in special schools, experiences of deputy headship, the pressures of accountability, the impact of the PREVENT strategy and reflections on system leadership.

11.00am                  Parallel workshops of studies:

Workshop 1: Quantitative and Mixed Methods approaches3 accepted titles covering the study of Universities in school-University partnerships, surveys and focus groups when studying pupil leadership and a critical realist approach to examining educational policy

Workshop 2: Qualitative approaches – 5 accepted titles covering interactive analysis, narrative interviewing, interpretative phenomenological analysis and studies of ego development and leadership identity & agency.

12.30pm                  Lunch and networking

1.30pm                     Keynote ‘Researching  Educational Leadership: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges’ – Professor Sue Robson, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University

This talk explores the new forms of educational leadership that are emerging in response to social, cultural, political, and economic changes internationally. It considers some of the challenges for research and for the professional development of current and aspiring educational leaders.


2.30pm                     Panel debate about the kinds of evidence being generated by educational leadership researchers to propose future directions for inquiry

Panel members – Professor Miriam David, UCL Institute of Education Dr Victoria Showunmi, UCL Institute of Education Professor Liz Todd, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University (Chair: Dr Alison Fox, School of Education, University of Leicester).

3.30pm                    Departure

Educational leadership: what are the current issues and how should they be studied?

2016 is a great time to review the state of educational leadership research and reflect on firstly, what are the key contemporary issues and secondly, how best to research them. Educational leadership has been studied from a school perspective – in particular the traditions of school effectiveness and school improvement – and from the perspective of individual school leaders and their personal styles/characteristics. In the last decade there has been a broadening to consider distributed and collective, teacher, views of leadership. However, have we offered a platform for the full range of leadership issues to be raised and reflected on the most appropriate ways to research them? Who is currently considering feminism in educational leadership, a topic popular in the 1990s (e.g. Blackmore, 1999; Strachan, 1999) and reviewed and revisited in the mid-2000s (e.g. Young and astral, 2012; Linley and Preston, 2009)? How is gender and leadership currently conceptualised and studied? Are the influences of all views of gender being considered and contradictions of views revealed, as advocated by Fuller (2014)? As we celebrated international women’s day on 8th March, see the blog from the IoE about the current state of women in academic leadership (https://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-we-are-going-to-need-bigger-tables/#more-3676) which also refers to research activity in the BELMAS RIG in Gender and Leadership  (https://www.belmas.org.uk/RIG-GEL/Overview). LGBT perspectives on educational leadership also need to be considered, beyond student leadership (e.g. Renn and Bilodeau, 2005). Who is considering this and how? What about studies of faith and educational leadership? Which faiths are included (or excluded) from our windows into educational leadership? There is important work on the connections between Islam and the enactment of leadership in educational settings e.g. Shah (2006) and thinking about single faith schools e.g. Cairns et al (2004) but what about the relationship between faiths such as Judaism, Sikhism or Buddhism and educational leadership? There are many aspects of educational leadership still to be researched. Many educational researchers, whatever their focus, will have a leadership dimension – although perhaps yet to be foregrounded? Those studying curriculum development, social justice or pupil wellbeing for example. The educational leaders themselves might be best placed to prioritise the issues most affecting them in their practice. As well as listening to current educational leaders and reflecting on those not yet heard to identify issues worthy of study, the next open-mindedness needed by researchers is to review the most appropriate ways to research issues related to educational leadership.

Whilst there has been diversification from quantitative approaches and modelling in school effectiveness research to include qualitative approaches, such as narrative, life history and case study, have we fully embraced the insights to be gained by methods such as phenomology, autoethnography and critical approaches? BERA and BELMAS offer two events in 2016 as a stage to consider the scope of contemporary issues and the breadth of research designs to investigate and shed light on them. The first is hosted by Newcastle University on April 26th. For further information consult: https://www.bera.ac.uk/event/how-to-research-critical-conversations-in-educational-leadership. The second will be the work of the Leadership and Management SIG at BERA at the BERA annual conference in Leeds. For further information on the programme, as it becomes available, consult: https://www.bera.ac.uk/beraconference-2016


Blackmore, J. (1999) Troubling Women Feminism, Leadership and Educational Change, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Cairns, J., Gardner, R. and Lawton, D. 2004 Faith schools: consensus or conflict? London: Routledge.

Fuller, K. (2014) Gender educational leadership: beneath the monoglossic facade, Gender and Education, 26(4): 321-337.

Linley, A.L. and Preston, A. (2009) Understanding leadership experiences: the need for story sharing and feminist literature as a survival manual for leadership, Gender and Education, 21(6): 769-777.

Renn, K.A and Bilodeau, B.L. (2005) Leadership Identity Development among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Student Leaders, NASPA Journal, 42(3): 342-367.

Shah, S. (2006) Educational leadership: an Islamic perspective, British Educational Research Journal, 32(3): 363-385.

Strachan, J. (1999) Feminist Educational Leadership: Locating the concepts in practice, Gender and Education, 11(3): 309-322.

Young, M.D. and Skrla, L. (2012) Reconsidering feminist research in educational leadership, Albany: State University of New York Press.