Past fellows and projects

The role of leadership in prioritising and improving the quality of teaching and learning in FE

The project aims to explore the relationship between leadership and the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning in FE. Despite recent and ongoing adversities facing the FE system, excellence in teaching and learning continues to thrive in some FE providers. However, what is not yet fully understood is how leadership makes a difference to teaching and learning. This project therefore aims to fill this gap in knowledge by exploring the interface between strategic thinking in leadership, its application at an operational level and how this connects to successful outcomes in teaching and learning.

The central research question that the project seeks to address is ‘How do leaders in further education create and sustain an organisational culture that prioritises the continuous improvement of teaching and learning?’

The project’s conceptualisation of leadership is underpinned by the idea that leadership is a shared responsibility that manifests itself in differing guises across organisations. If we are to develop an in-depth and situated understanding of the role leadership plays in creating and sustaining an organisational culture that prioritises the continuous improvement of teaching and learning then this requires the inclusion of multiple perspectives.

The project adopts a multi-method research design, providing a triangulated approach to understanding the research focus. This includes a purposive sample of three in-depth case study FE providers across England (consisting of an online survey, interviews, focus groups and documentary analysis), as well as interviews with prominent sector leaders and a national round table event.

The project is expected to generate a valuable evidence base to inform thinking on leadership in FE and its role in prioritising the improvement of teaching and learning. The project’s multi-layered approach to the research topic and gathering relevant data from multiple providers and stakeholders will add authenticity and credibility to this evidence base. It is anticipated that the project’s findings will make an important contribution to leadership thinking in FE and help to develop an understanding of what the successful leadership of teaching and learning looks like strategically and operationally. These can then be used to inform practice and develop greater awareness across the sector.

If you are interested in knowing more about the project then please email the project lead Dr Matt O’Leary for more details: matthew.o’