Findings from research into the challenges of headship in HMC schools

Peter Earley and Jill Berry (Institute of Education)

This Workshop will outline the main findings of a research study, commissioned by HMC and conducted earlier this year by the Institute of Education, UCL, into the professional development needs of heads of HMC schools. The research aimed to inform the future development of support services and provision for HMC heads. More specifically the research sought to: identify and clarify the challenges encountered by heads of HMC schools; understand if heads’ expectations of the role were met or not; examine how heads of HMC schools are currently developing themselves; and understand how members can be better supported by HMC. As well as offering an overview of the main results, the Workshop will give Conference delegates the opportunity to discuss the findings from their own experience as heads and to consider the research team’s recommendations to HMC to improve current professional development provision and levels of support.

Professor Peter Earley holds the Chair of Education Leadership and Management and is Head of Academic Affairs at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Department of Learning and Leadership, UCL Institute of Education, University College London. His central research interests are leadership, school improvement, professional development, inspection, self-evaluation and school governance. Recent externally-funded research and evaluation projects include: leadership development for headteachers (2016); new paths or routes to headship (2015); effective headteacher performance management (2014); the changing landscape of educational leadership in England (2012); the experiences of new headteachers (2011); an evaluation of the NPQH programme (2010); and a review of fast-track or accelerated leadership development programmes (2009). Recent publications include: Exploring the School Leadership Landscape: Changing demands, changing realities (Bloomsbury, 2013), Accelerated Leadership Development: fast-tracking school leaders, (IOE, 2010 with Jeff Jones) and Helping Staff Develop in Schools (Sage, 2010 with Sara Bubb). His most recent book is: Earley, P and Greany, T (eds) School Leadership and Education System Reform, (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2016).

Jill Berry cropJill Berry taught for 30 years between 1980 and 2010 and was a GSA head for the last ten of these, and GSA President in 2009. Since 2010 she has completed a Professional Doctorate in Education, researching the transition from deputy headship to headship, and has reported her findings in a book, 'Making the Leap: Moving from Deputy to Head' which is due to be published by Crown House in January 2017. Jill also carry out a range of leadership consultancy work, including heads' and senior leader appointments and appraisals, staff training, coaching and mentoring. Jill tweets at @jillberry102 and blogs using the platform @Staffrm ( and is a firm advocate for the power of social networking as a channel of professional development for educators at all levels.

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