Finding the glass slipper – The impact of leadership on innovation in further education

The rise of commercialisation within education (Courtney, 2015) has brought with it a number of systems and processes which have had a significant impact on how professional roles are enacted. In particular, the increased scrutiny of teacher activity has been viewed as leading to a reduction in professionalism (Ball, 2003; Ball et al., 2012).

In further education, this has led to the development of a more defined, potentially formulaic and less autonomous approach to teaching (Avis, 2003). In addition, the codification of ‘good’ teaching and learning, embedded through teacher education, the Professional Standards (Education and Training Foundation, 2014) and bodies such as Ofsted, has provided very distinct guidelines to direct teachers’ activities in the classroom.

This research forms part of a fellowship awarded by the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL). The aim was to explore how leadership within Further Education (FE) impacts on teaching and learning, specifically on the autonomy teachers have to construct their work in creative ways. The project investigated how professionals are constrained or empowered to develop methods which allow them to innovate rather than replicate in the classroom; ultimately creating an environment which inspires and challenges learners.