New understandings in educational leadership and management

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The 7th International BELMAS Research Conference
in partnership with SCRELM

8th10th July 2004


Conference abstracts
St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

The 7th International BELMAS

Research Conference

in partnership with SCRELM
New Understandings

in Educational Leadership and Management
Conference abstracts

Abstracts of keynote presentations ……………………………… 3
Abstracts of symposia ……………………………………………. 6
Abstracts of workshops ………………………………………….. 18
Abstracts of papers ………………………………………………. 24

Abstracts are listed in alphabetical order of the surname of the convenor in the case of symposiums and workshops, and in alphabetical order of the surname of the lead presenter in the case of papers.

The 7th International BELMAS

Research Conference

in partnership with SCRELM
New Understandings

in Educational Leadership and Management

Abstracts of keynote presentations

Who benefits? New knowledges, identities and technologies as problematics in researching educational leadership and management
Professor Jill Blackmore
The 'inevitability discourses' of globalisation have constructed education as a matter of intense national and trans-national interest. New policy fields are emerging that inform the work of educational researchers, teachers and leaders, amongst them the media and transnational/regional policy fields such as the OECD and the EU. Together with new institutional formations such as learning networks and partnerships and new modes of communication and learning online, these policy fields shape everyday social relations of gender, class and 'race',  and the use of resources, space and time in and between schools, families, the workplace and communities. The disposition towards uniformity of 'hybrid' education markets and managerialism competes with, and captures cultural, gender and 'racial' diversity. Discourses of innovative pedagogies ignore the increase in locational disadvantage. New educational accountabilities focusing on performativity simultaneously appropriate and undermine teachers' passion. Teacher leadership and evidence-based policy promise empowerment, but principals and teachers (as researchers) have never felt more controlled. This paper draws on various Australian and international projects to discuss how policy makers, researchers and practitioners address (or do not address) an increasingly unequal distribution of risk, responsibility and rights, and identifies new research directions if educational researchers are to undertake that work.

Reflections on educational leadership today

Professor Tim Brighouse
In this paper will draw in his extensive experience working in education and in educational leadership to reflect on educational leadership today. Tim Brighouse is presently Commissioner for London Schools and visiting professor at the Institute of Education at London University. Until September 2002 he was Chief Education Officer in Birmingham for nearly ten years. Earlier he was Professor of Education at Keele University (1989-1993) Chief Education Officer of Oxfordshire (1978-1989) and Deputy Education Officer in the ILEA. He was brought up in East Anglia, attended state schools and read history at Oxford University before embarking on a career in education and teaching in grammar and secondary modern schools. He entered the world of educational administration in what was Monmouthshire and served in Buckinghamshire and with the Association of County Councils. Tim has written extensively especially on school improvement and has a number of books and articles to his name. He has also broadcast on radio and television and has spoken at many national and international conferences.
Tim has received honorary doctorates from The Open University, University of Central England, Oxford Brookes University, Exeter University, Warwick University, Birmingham University, University of the West of England and Sheffield Hallam University. He has also contributed articles to the Political Quarterly and the Oxford Review of Education. Tim is author of ‘What makes a Good School?’ and ‘How to Improve Your School’.

Leadership Ltd: White elephant or wheelwright?
Professor Keith Grint

Complaints about leaders, and calls for more or better leadership, occur on such a regular basis that one would be forgiven for assuming that there was a time when good leaders were ubiquitous. Sadly a trawl through the leadership archives reveals no golden past but nevertheless a pervasive yearning for such an era. An urban myth like this ‘Romance of Leadership’ – the era when heroic leaders were allegedly plentiful and solved all our problems - is not only misconceived but positively counter-productive because it sets up a model of leadership that few, if any of us, can ever match and thus it inhibits the development of leadership, warts and all.

The traditional solution to this kind of problem is to demand better recruitment criteria so that the ‘weak’ are selected out, leaving the ‘strong’ to save the day. But this approach, linked to Plato’s assumptions about leadership, is to reproduce the problem not to solve it. An alternative approach might be to start from where we are, not where we would like to be: with all leaders – because they are human - as flawed individuals, not all leaders as the embodiments of all that we merely mortal and imperfect followers would like them to be: perfect. This approach, linked to Popper’s notions of working with flaws rather than trying to eliminate them, offers a radically different approach to the problem of leadership.

Knowing and knowing more about leadership in education:

Reflections on a life in research and a conference on research
Professor Peter Ribbins

In this keynote, at the invitation of the organisers, I will reflect, necessarily selectively, on my life as a researcher and on the research reported at this conference. To structure my account I will draw on an approach to knowing and knowledge that Helen Gunter and I have been developing in recent years in order to chart the field of leadership in education. For this purpose we identify a framework of six typologies of knowledge production that can be used to enable understanding of the dynamic interplay between researching, theorising and practising: Producers, Positions, Provinces, Practices, Processes and Perspectives. At the heart of this framework is the notion of the knowledge province. Currently we are engaged in drawing together our ideas on this and related matters in a book with three purposes. First, to establish the rationale for this typology. Second, to explain in detail each of the eight provinces (the Conceptual, Descriptive, Humanistic, Aesthetic, Axiological, Critical, Evaluative and Instrumental). Third, to present examples of each of these provinces by drawing on our work. These examples will be used to show the diverse knowledge claims in the field. Our intention is to illuminate with examples and to set each example into its research, institutional and policy context. How we read and engage with these examples will form a core feature of the text, so that the approach to mapping the field we present is made accessible and usable for field members. More broadly, our intention is to demonstrate the pluralistic nature of knowledge claims in the field, and how as field members we can, through our professional practice, engage in a range of forms of knowledge production. Against this background, my purpose in this keynote is necessarily more modest. Drawing upon the knowledge provinces, I will attempt two main things. First, to reflect on my life and work as a researcher. Second, to review the research presented at this conference with a view, inter alia, to identifying what has been done, what is being done and what needs to be done.

Research, knowledge and improvement in educational leadership
Professor Geoff Southworth
This presentation will begin with an overview of the National College for School Leadership’s role and the current priorities and foci of its Research Group. Given this standpoint the speaker will reflect on four perspectives about school leadership and research: 1. the papers about National College for School Leadership in the forthcoming Educational Management, Administration and Leadership journal; 2. the nature and quality of the evidence-base about school leadership and its implications for future work; 3. the research – policy interface; 4. international work and thinking about leadership research and the management of the knowledge base. Throughout the speaker will try to identify the key questions and issues which he believes the research community needs to consider to advance its standing and contribution.
The 7th International BELMAS

Research Conference

in partnership with SCRELM
New Understandings

in Educational Leadership and Management

Abstracts of Symposiums

Effective professional learning communities
Convenor: Ray Bolam (University of Bath UK)

Ray Bolam (University of Bath UK)

Angela Greenwood (University of Bristol UK)

Kate Hawkey (University of Bath UK)

Malcolm Ingram (University of Bath UK)

Agnes McMahon (University of Bristol UK)

Louise Stoll (University of London UK)

Sally Thomas (University of Bristol UK)

Mike Wallace (University of Bath UK)
This paper will report on the Effective Professional Learning Communities (EPLCs) project, funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the General Teaching Council England (GTCE) and the NCSL from 2002-2004. The idea of a professional learning community is now central to the NCSL’s revised National Standards for Headteachers and the DfES’s Core Principles for raising standards in teaching and learning. This paper will provide evidence about the processes and factors associated with the creation, sustenance and impact of an EPLC and will be presented under four headings.

  1. The literature review and the framework based on five broad EPLC characteristics - shared values and vision, collective responsibility for pupils’ learning, reflective professional inquiry, collaboration and the promotion of group and individual learning;

  2. A questionnaire survey of 390 schools in which headteacher/continuing professional development coordinator respondents characterised their school as being at one of three stages of EPLC development: starter, developer or mature. Key EPLC process indicators will be compared and contrasted with pupil National curriculum assessments and ‘value added’ measures to examine the impact on student outcomes.

  3. Case study data from 16 school sites exploring key internal and external processes and factors in creating and sustaining EPLCs.

  4. The implications for practice, policy and theory.

Agnes McMahon

Project Coordinator

Graduate School of Education

University of Bristol

35 Berkeley Square

Bristol BS8 1JA


Discourses of leadership, power, and creativity in social, institutional and policy contexts: Negotiating curriculum change in primary and secondary schools
Convenor: Hugh Busher (University of Leicester UK)

Lynne Croft (Primary School UK)

Linda Hammersley-Fletcher (Staffordshire University UK)

Penny McKeown (Queens University, Belfast UK)

Alison Taysum (Wolverhampton University UK)

Chris Turner (Swansea University UK)

These papers explore the processes of change in schools, because change is endemic and affects the core (technical) process of schools, the curriculum, by subtly altering their organisational cultures and sub-cultures, created by the agency of staff and students, through which it is constructed. The curriculum is conceived as all that is taught and learnt in schools formally and informally, intentionally and unintentionally and, like the school as institution, is constructed by its members: teachers, other staff, students, governors, parents and carers working in asymmetrical power relationships with each other and with formally designated senior and middle leaders in schools. Teachers are perceived as leaders / managers of students / pupils who exercise power to help them to engage with an intentional intellectual, moral, social and creative curriculum in order to help them develop as people. Such processes are heavily value-laden, representing not only the social and educational values formally projected by the policies of government and other bodies external to a school, but also the educational, personal and professional values of leaders at all levels in a school’s hierarchy, those of the support staff, those of the students and, at least by proxy, those of students’ parents and carers, too. Consequently leadership and management in schools in England, UK, can be understood as an exercise in negotiation with staff and students to sustain personal creativity and development through facilitating particular institutional cultures and sub-cultures and access to knowledge in ways that are meaningful to each participant.

This symposium is presented by members of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Special Interest Group (SIG) on Leading and Managing Schools and Colleges (LMSC).
Hugh Busher

School of Education

University of Leicester

21 University Road

Leicester, LE1 7RF

Tel: 0116 252 3688


New understandings in leading and managing networks
Convenor: Megan Crawford (University of Warwick UK)

Tracey Allen (University of Warwick UK)

Christopher Chapman (University of Warwick UK)

Samantha Gorse (University of Warwick UK)

Judith Gunraj (University of Warwick UK)

Alma Harris (University of Warwick UK)

Daniel Muijs (University of Warwick UK)
Members of the Leadership, Policy and Development Unit at the University of Warwick will focus on looking at ways in which the research agenda in the field is moving in England, and identify some of the key challenges and opportunities for research, not only at the present time, but over the next few years. This will be discussed in the context of some of the research projects that the Unit is currently involved with, or recently completed.

  1. Evaluation projects - the London Leadership Challenge, CPD, LEA evaluations.

  2. Issues around researching into challenging and very challenging circumstances.

  3. Teacher Leadership.

The symposium will involve brief presentations from the researchers and then a discussion of the key issues arising.

Megan Crawford

Institute of Education

University of Warwick




Headteacher socialisation
Convenors: Gary M. Crow (University of Utah USA)

and Dick Weindling (Create Consultants, London UK)
This symposium will explore and analyse the socialisation of headteachers. The session will focus on two aspects, the first of which will deal with headteacher socialisation in the contexts of school reform and the broader issues relating to the selection of headteachers and organisational socialisation. There will be two papers presented by the joint convenors after which there will be discussion of the issues raised.

The professional and organizational socialization of new UK headteachers in school reform contexts (Gary M. Crow). The critical role of the school administrator has received considerable attention in the school reform agenda over the last several years (Bolam et al., 1993; Mortimer & Mortimer, 1991; Southworth, 1998). Recently UK headteachers have encountered increased scrutiny and increasingly complex jobs as greater accountability has been emphasized (Bredeson, 1993; Crow & Peterson, 1994; Murphy and Louis, 1994; Southworth, 1998; Weindling, 1992a). The emphasis on the administrator's role for school improvement and the changing nature of the role suggests the need to investigate how new school administrators learn their jobs, i.e., their socialization to the administrator role. This study will: (1) identify the content and tactics used in the professional and organizational socialization experiences of new UK headteachers; and (2) examine how headteachers perceive that these socialization processes impact their roles as headteachers. A qualitative design using multiple case studies was used to investigate these socialization experiences of headteachers. The study focused on four headteachers who began their second year in the fall of 2001 and were all current headteachers of primary schools in England. Data were collected using standard qualitative methods of interviewing, observing, and document analysis. A series of three on-site interviews with each headteacher were conducted during the first year of interviewing, i.e., second year of headteacher experience, to explore their perceptions of the tactics and content of socialization. A year later another on-site interview was conducted to follow up on the headteachers’ experiences. Along with interviews, observations of each headteacher's behaviour in faculty meetings; impromptu conversations with faculty, students and parents; and a board of governor’s meeting. Documents, including job notices and descriptions and curriculum from the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and the Headteacher Leadership and Management Programme (HEADLAMP) programs were collected to investigate more formal socialization content and tactics. The data collected from interviews, observations, and documents were analyzed using content analysis methods to identify the content and tactics of socialization. Findings from the study included the importance of several themes: the strength of organizational socialization, the influence of the deputy experience—especially the role of the previous headteacher, the role of staff and parents in the socialization, the role of mentoring, and career aspirations.

Headteacher selection and organisational socialization (Dick Weindling Create Consultants, London). The appointment of a new headteacher is a major event in the history of a school and is a crucial decision for the governors. However, the last piece of research on this topic was conducted 20 years ago, so in 2003 the National College for School Leadership commissioned a pilot study to explore the process. This paper reports the findings of the study and explores selection as the first stage of organisational socialisation, when the new head begins to learn about the norms and expectations of the governors and the LEA, and they begin to find out about the new head’s values and beliefs. Twenty schools which had appointed a new headteacher in the last year were chosen as case studies (seven secondary, eleven primary and two special schools in 20 different LEAs). Semi-structured interviews, lasting about 1-2 hours, were conducted separately with the Chair of Governors and the newly appointed head. The main elements of the process were: the school context; the perceived need for change or continuity; the production of the advert, and the job and person specifications; long listing and short listing; various types of exercises and activities for the appointment process; and final decision making. The research showed the importance of the ‘degree of fit’ – how the selectors perceived the qualities, values, skills and experience of the candidates against the ‘ideal type’ of headteacher for ‘their’ school. The project has revealed a number of significant issues which require further in-depth study.

Gary M. Crow

University of Utah

Dept. of Educational Leadership and Policy

1705 E. Campus Center Drive, Room 339

Salt Lake City, UT 84105-9254 USA


Dick Weindling

Create Consultants

109 West End Lane

London NW6 4SY


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