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Past event

Educational Leadership, Power and Activism (in FE): a reconciliation

Online registration has now closed. If you want to attend this event, please email for details of how to register onsite. 

The seminar starts from a critical perspective on leadership. In policy terms college principalship and school headship is viewed as the prime location for leadership which is singular in both location and execution. In this view of leadership, leaders lead, managers manage, and Others carry out instructions.

Inscribed in this notion of leadership is a power / resistance dichotomy. Power is located within the body of the leader / manager while resistance, the province of the other – is something to be overcome. This seminar will explore varying ways in which this dichotomy might be challenged. Once the dichotomy is negated the theoretical and practical possibilities inscribed in leadership and activism can begin to resonate.

This is a cross disciplinary session bringing together colleagues from diverse areas of study: leadership studies, post-16 education, teacher education and activism working across equally as broad disciplinary and theoretical fields.

The session will explore:

  • How might the field of leadership studies be reframed and reconsidered to surmount the dichotomous categorization between leader and activist
  • In what ways might the field of educational leadership or (post-16) education be enhanced by this reframing?
  • What theoretical framework actively encourages this reframing
  • What activist potential is advanced by this reframing?


09.30 Registration, tea and coffee
09.45 Welcome and introduction to the day
Dr Carol Azumah Dennis, Open University
10.00 Leadership in education: to what extent does a clearer understanding of power move us forward?
Professor Megan Crawford, Coventry University
10.30 From transactional to transformational leadership: investing in structured autonomy and professional responsibility
Professor Matt O’Leary, Birmingham City University
11.00 Round-table discussion reviewing research approaches to leadership and activism
11.30 Discussions from round table session
Tea and coffee served
12.00 Notable points from morning session
Dr Peter Wolstencroft, Coventry University and Catherine Lloyd, Bedford College
12.30 Lunch
13.30 What next – the activist agenda, the research agenda
Lou Mycroft, Freelancer and Kay Sidebottom, Leeds Beckett University
14.30 College Leadership and Social justice
Dr Rob Smith, Birmingham City University and Professor Vicky Duckworth,  Edge Hill University 
14.55 Completion of evaluation forms
15.00 Close of meeting