School of Education

Curriculum Production – the role of Middle Leaders

The British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference takes place 12-14 September 2023 and Assistant Professor John Perry will be presenting a session titled 'Curriculum Production – the role of Middle Leaders' as part of a symposium focused on the importance of teacher expertise.


Understanding policy enactment and curriculum production in the everyday life of schools is challenging. This paper identifies some of the factors a sample of secondary school Heads of Departments (HoDs) (n=10) use to produce curricular models in their schools. Using Henri Lefebvre’s triadic theory of spatial practice (Lefebvre, 1991) I demonstrate how the HoDs use their available autonomy and agency (Priestley et al., 2012) to resist current policies dominating the English school system. Lefebvre’s framework has not been previously used to analyze policy enactment, school leadership or curriculum production; thus, this paper makes an original contribution to research in these fields. Using Reflexive Thematic Analysis (Braun et al., 2019) I analyze semi-structured interview data to present factors used successfully by middle leaders to produce curricular models appropriate for individual schools’ specific contexts. Relevant factors include the HoDs’ commitment to social justice; their sense of agency; and their expertise, both in their subject and their leadership.

John is part of the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) team and a tutor on our Ofsted-rated 'outstanding' Secondary PGCE English course.

Posted on Tuesday 5th September 2023

School of Education

University of Nottingham
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