Toby's research is focused on understanding the ways in which policy and practice interact to shape current and potential educational opportunities, processes and outcomes, in particular for disadvantaged groups. He has undertaken studies funded by a range of bodies, including the Nuffield Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Research Councils UK and the Department for Education. His research into England's 'self-improving school-led system' reforms (Greany and Higham, 2018) was described by the Observer newspaper as "a seminal analysis" and by The Independent as "a state-of-the-nation study".
Toby was previously Professor of Leadership and Innovation at UCL's Institute of Education (UCL IOE), where he was also Director of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning and Vice-Dean-Enterprise. In the past he has worked for the National College for School Leadership, Design Council, Campaign for Learning and the Cabinet Office. He is a trustee of the Transform Multi-Academy Trust, a Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and sits on a number of research and evaluation advisory groups, including for Ofsted, the National Association of Head Teachers, and the Wellcome Trust. From 2005-06 he was Special Adviser to the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee.
Toby has extensive international experience and has advised the OECD, EU and ministries in several countries, including Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Spain, on issues relating to school leadership and educational system reform. He has lived and worked in Brazil and China as well as the UK.
Toby has written over 50 journal articles, book chapters and reports on issues relating to school and educational leadership. His most recent book - School leadership and education system reform - was co-edited with Peter Earley and was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.
Toby's expertise is in the areas of:
- school and educational leadership
- leadership development
- education policy, governance and reform
- the nature and role of the 'middle tier' in education systems
- evidence-informed practice and teaching
- networks, partnerships and systems leadership.
Toby teaches on the Masters in Educational Leadership, co-leading modules on Issues in Education and Effective Leadership and Change. He supervises PhD and EdD students with an interest in areas… read more
Toby's research is focussed on aspects of school leadership and school system governance and reform. He is interested in the ways in which policy and practice interact to effect change, improvement… read more
Toby teaches on the Masters in Educational Leadership, co-leading modules on Issues in Education and Effective Leadership and Change. He supervises PhD and EdD students with an interest in areas associated with his research and academic expertise, including:
- educational leadership and leadership development, including approaches to improvement, change, effectiveness and innovation
- aspects of school system governance, policy development and reform, including accountability models, 'middle tier' arrangements, networks and collaboration and the unintended consequences of reform.
He is currently supervising the following PhD/EdD students:
- Ricky Campbell-Allen - Working through the middle tier: Australian Education Directors and increasingly autonomous schools
- Carol Steed - Can understanding the dynamics of complexity provide new insights for senior leadership practice in one higher education institution in England?
- Alistair Goodhead - How school leaders influence teachers to take an emotionally literate approach to managing pupil behaviour
- Eleanor Bernardes - MAT leadership structures and the emerging role of the MAT CEO: motivations, levers for growth and self-conceptualisation of the role
- Andy Wolfe - What factors affect the implementation of a school's stated vision and its enactment in the leadership behaviours of headteachers?
Toby is an external examiner at the University of Glasgow.
Toby's research is focussed on aspects of school leadership and school system governance and reform. He is interested in the ways in which policy and practice interact to effect change, improvement and innovation, but also the unintended consequences of change, in particular in terms of equity and social justice. He is also interested in leadership development and the ways in which leaders make decisions.
His work is informed by pragmatism and draws on a range of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, including governance, complexity, and neo-institutionalism as well as school improvement, effectiveness and leadership.
One recent study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and explored the interactions between hierarchy, markets and networks across four localities in England's 'self-improving school-led system' (Greany and Higham, 2018). This large-scale mixed methods research highlighted the ways in which the accountability system and parental choice mechanisms influence both the behaviour of school leaders and the nature of school to school networks and local school systems. See here for the Open Access report, executive summary, a supplementary report analysing the impact of Multi-Academy Trusts and for related media coverage: https://bit.ly/2H8pCGv
Another recent study (Greany, 2018) explored leadership and sustainable improvement in school groups in England (Multi-Academy Trusts/MATs, federations, Teaching School Alliances and Local Authorities). The research was funded by the Department for Education and highlighted important differences in how leaders in different MATs work to secure alignment and share expertise between schools. See here for the report: https://bit.ly/2Qsckfv
Other recent and current research projects include:
In the past Toby has led and contributed to a range of studies exploring school leadership and governance issues. Examples include:
- an evaluation of the extent to which schools and teachers utilise research and evidence to inform teaching and school improvement (Coldwell et al, 2017)
- an umbrella review of evidence on effective approaches to professional development and learning for teachers (Cordingley et al, 2015) and subject-specific CPDL (Cordingley et al, 2018)
- research into the nature and impact of school-led Research and Development approaches across networks (Greany and Maxwell, 2017)
- a review of school-university partnerships in the UK (Greany et al, 2014).