DEVELOPING EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Developing leadership within an academic setting is becoming increasingly important in the UK with the changes in the higher education sector. This is particularly pertinent in relation to the leadership of learning and teaching activities, where, for the first time, there will be more systematic external review and benchmarking of academic practice through the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). However, ensuring that we are giving our current and future leaders’ appropriate development, both in terms of relevance and timeliness, is more challenging. As the Diamond report on Efficiency and effectiveness in Higher Education (2011) notes staff are an organisations most important asset and should be developed accordingly, in line with institutional strategy. In recent years there has been more emphasis on understanding what leadership development is required for educational leadership, supported by the work of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) amongst others. Yet, as The Higher Education Leadership and Management survey in 2014 found over 80% of respondents felt that more could be done to actually develop leaders in higher education. This is particularly important in relation to career progression and development for staff involved in learning and teaching. Whilst academic staff are often able to gain professional development for research activities, understanding what is required of them in relation to leading learning and teaching is less easily understood.
In order to prepare our staff more effectively for the requirements of educational leadership, at City, University of London, we are undertaking a research project to determine in more detail those attributes and support requirements for academic leaders. Our focus for this research is to understand the perception of academic leaders about the value of educational development in relationship to leadership practice. We have undertaken an initial survey with some key staff across the sector and this has shown not only the lack of preparation they had for their roles but also the vast range of knowledge and skills they believe an educational leader needs. Our next step is to interview a set of senior staff at the University, including members of the senior management team, Deans, Associate Deans Education as well as those senior staff who hold external awards relating to excellent academic practice. These interviews will be focused on what educational leadership development the leaders had received and what they would have found useful.
This paper will present the initial findings of our research, through summaries of the key themes from the interviews with academic leaders and our first draft at a competency framework. It would report on the success of the methodology used and outline the future direction of the research.