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About the group

The Educational Policy and Leadership research group seeks to critically discuss, analyse and debate policy making, implementation and impact in all levels and facets of education.

We bring together individuals with an interest in policy and/or leadership, collaborating externally, beyond the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services (most commonly with the faculties of Business & Management and Health & Social Care) and the University as a whole, motivated by a common interest in educational policy and leadership.

As the political landscape is continually subject to change, so is the policy that is formed by it. Educational institutions are among those most commonly impacted by this change, particularly in cases where control shifts between local and centralised state administration.

Our goal is to not only develop staff-led research in the field but to encourage research from a practitioner/student perspective, via doctoral-level research. We also seek to investigate the concept of leadership, not just in the way it relates to policy but in its theoretical constructs and its execution through impact-based practitioner enquiry.

Our work is broadly located under three distinct but interconnected themes:

Leader development

This group looks at how we can develop the future generation of leaders. By considering the traits and behaviours that leaders believe it is important we can create novel approaches to leadership development. We use tools such a coaching techniques, psychometric testing, GERT assessments and EEG to better understand leadership.

Leadership theory

This strand of work looks at the application of leadership theories, in particular ideas associated with sustainable leadership and leverage leadership. These conceptual frameworks and not easily translatable across different phases and types of educational setting. We look at the transferability of theories and whether they have any quantifiable impact on educational settings.

Educational policy

The education policy strand of work looking critically evaluates government policies and whether they are compatible with education. Recently we looked at policies relating to the participation of young people in education, the barriers to engagement and those who are at-risk of disengaging in education. The findings of this area of research helps to inform educational policy and practice.

For more information on how the individual members of the team conduct and implement their research, please visit our profiles or our publications pages:


Research Students

Sarah Gleave (with Dr D. Pope)


Andy McCarroll (with Dr S. Poole)

My research investigates contemporary leadership approaches utilised in the Further Education (FE) sector. I explore the journey of leadership since Incorporation and how this has been shaped through a plethora of challenging policy contexts. I am interested in how leadership creates organisational culture and how this can have positive and negative impacts on leader and follower relationships. Through a Nietzschean lens I seek to understand the relationships between leaders and followers in FE and how these relationship frameworks can impact on institutional outcomes. I use these methods to advance the study of FE effectiveness in relation to improving the social mobility of students and how FE has changed as an instrument of government.

Mark Sutcliffe (with Dr J. Bulkeley)


Jennifer Harper (with Dr G. Edwards)

Technological integration within the educational system represents the next stage of educational evolution. Where economical drive, expansion and innovative technology is forming the next step in pedagogical practices within the educational sector and how this relates to learning and development approaches. Thus, enhancing technological processes that drive the leadership skills of our educators. My research will examine the next stage of technological integration through the means of enhancing the learning and development experience and its rate of conceptualisation. The use of forefront virtual reality simulations will be analysed, constructed and applied for the purposes of training the next generation of educational leaders through the neurological analysis and neuroimaging of learning and development practices. Therefore, crossing the boundaries and merging the specialisms of science, engineering, and educational practices to conclude the rate of cognitive educational leadership learning and development within educational pedagogy and practice.

Alex Thomas (with Dr J. Bacon)

I am undertaking a longitudinal study, exploring student self-efficacy after the cancellation of the GCSE exam series due to Covid. I am looking at how the centre assessed grade process has had an impact on academic self-efficacy during the next stage of the student’s educational journey (namely an A level programme). The research will follow the conceptual framework of Bandura’s Self Efficacy theory and will use a collective case study approach as the research methodology. Mixed-methods techniques of draw/write/tell, focus groups, semi-structured interviews and informal observations will illuminate the phenomena in more detail. Because of the unique nature of the research, a hypothesis is difficult to offer, but the case study approach will allow a multi-faceted exploration of the complex scenario in a real-life setting.

Past Students

  • Liana Beattie (EdD) (with Dr B. Hulse)
  • Wilfred Flanders (DBA) (with Prof. C. Schofield)

Latest News


  • Calling all middle leaders - a new study on emotional recognition is available now. Click here for more details. 
  • Congratulations to Liana Bettie on successfully defending her doctoral work at very recent viva.