Keynote Speaker - Howard Stevenson

howardstevensonHoward Stevenson Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham. From January 2014 he will be the School's Director of Research. His research interests relate to education policy, teacher leadership and teachers’ work. He is currently undertaking research for the International Baccalaureate Organisation and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation. Howard is a co-editor of the journal Forum. Forum was founded by Professor Brian Simon over 50 years ago to promote comprehensive education, and to challenge fixed ability thinking. The journal still performs that role today, as well as offering a critical perspective on many contemporary developments in education policy. Howard is co-convenor of the BELMAS-UCEA sponsored International School Leadership Development Network, a group that now includes more than 40 scholars undertaking work in 20 countries. He is also the President of the University of Nottingham University and College Union.


Can leaders shape the landscape? Understanding the battle of ideas between what works and what matters

Education policy in England is experiencing rapid change. Much of the discourse that frames policy emphasises leaders’ freedom and agency to drive change. There is often a correspondingly optimistic analysis of leaders’ ability to shape the landscape.

In the presentation I will seek to argue that changes in the educational landscape, most importantly the changing relationship between the state and the market, can close down the spaces in which more optimistic and democratic visions of schooling can be imagined. In an increasingly privatised world educational leaders, and researchers, are often compelled to focus on a narrowly defined ‘what works’ agenda, rather than framing more ambitious questions about what really matters. In this presentation I will argue that if we are to better understand the transformative potential of leaders then research needs to make more explicit the ideological framework within which the work of leaders takes place. The shape of the educational landscape cannot be divorced from the wider battle of ideas about the purposes of schooling and the role of education as a public good.

The presentation intentionally focuses on developments in England. England is seen as being at the forefront of a global reform movement and the neoliberal restructuring of education that is being reproduced in different forms in many countries. The presentation therefore will be national in focus, but international in outlook.

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