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Toby Greany

Chair in Education, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

Toby joined the University of Nottingham in 2018. He was previously Professor of Leadership and Innovation at the University College London Institute of Education (UCL IOE). During his time at UCL he was Director of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning and Vice-Dean - Innovation and Enterprise. Prior to the IOE he worked for the National College for School Leadership, the Design Council, the Campaign for Learning and the Cabinet Office.

Toby is a Director of the Transform Multi-Academy Trust based in Nottingham and sits on a number of research and evaluation advisory groups, including for Ofsted, the Wellcome Trust and the Foundation for Education Leadership. From 2005-06 he was Special Adviser to the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee for its enquiry into Sustainable Schools.

In 2018 he undertook a fellowship at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, where he advised the Ministry of Education on its review of Tomorrow's Schools and the Kahui Ako/Communities of Learning programme.

He has lived and taught in Brazil and China and has undertaken research, advisory and teaching engagements in various countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Spain.

His most recent book - School leadership and education system reform - was co-edited with Peter Earley and was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.

Expertise Summary

Toby's expertise is in the areas of:

  • school and educational leadership
  • leadership development
  • education policy, governance and reform
  • evidence-informed practice and teaching
  • networks, partnerships and systems leadership.

Teaching Summary

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

Research Summary

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

Recent Publications

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 hisresearch and academic expertise, including:

- educational leadership and leadership development, including approaches to improvement, effectiveness and innovation

- aspects of school system governance and reform, including accountability models, 'middle tier' arrangements, networks and collaboration and the unintended consequences of reform.

He is an external examiner at the University of Glasgow.

Current Research

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 a range of theoretical perspectives, including governance, complexity, organisational and institutional theories 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. The research was described by the Observer newspaper as "a seminal analysis" (30.6.18) and by the Independent as a "state of the nation review" (1.7.18). See here for the full report, the 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 current research projects include an evaluation of a model for school to school peer review for the Education Endowment Foundation, and an evaluation of rural school networks for the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership with Professor Pat Thomson.

Past Research

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)
  • the national analysis and report of findings for England from the Trends in International Maths and Science Survey (TIMSS) 2015 (Greany et al, 2017).

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