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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.