Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module EDUC46530: Leading Reflective Organisations

Department: Education

EDUC46530: Leading Reflective Organisations

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module is designed for middle or senior leaders in schools and educational organisations who are leading and/or participating in Research and Development (R&D) or professional enquiry projects. Topics include: leadership capacity building for R&D; current understandings about the area of innovation being prioritised; participatory and other approaches to conducting school-based research; the logistical, structural and cultural issues in establishing research learning networks; and developing data-driven, evidence-informed school and/or education policy. The module has a practical basis and will involve leading a project within your school/across schools that will form the basis of your assignment.


  • Since 2010 approaches to school reform in England have been grounded in the notion of school self-improvement. In this system, schools are positioned as autonomous and accountable, with increased diversity and choice for parents through free schools, Academies and Multi-Academy Trusts, and with a radical reduction in central and local oversight. Broadly the ‘self-improving school system can be characterized by four core criteria (Greany, 2014):
  • Teachers and schools are responsible for their own improvement;
  • Teachers and schools learn from each other and from research so that effective practice spreads;
  • The best schools and leaders extend their reach across other schools so that all schools improve; and
  • Government support and intervention is minimised.
  • Making school self-improvement a reality, however, requires school leaders to focus on addressing four distinct but overlapping and interdependent factors. These are: 1) the existence of teacher capacity (i.e. ability) to engage in and with research and data; 2) school cultures that are attuned to collaborative, inter-school, evidence use (i.e. that make collaborative research-use a cultural norm); 3) schools promoting the collaborative use of research as part of an effective learning environment; and 4) the existence of effective structures, system and resource that facilitate to facilitate research-use and the sharing of best practice within and across schools.
  • In light of these factors, this module explores a number and inter-related themes:
  • The leadership of R&D activity and the leadership more generally of both schools (or groups of schools) and the improvement of teaching practice and outcomes for pupils.
  • The role of Research Learning Networks (RLNs) in the context of England’s new educational landscape and how RLNs help in the development and scale up of interventions.
  • The evaluation and mobilisation of research-informed initiatives: ensuring school leaders know where and when they are making a difference and how to share impactful innovation so that all schools, teachers and students benefit.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The aims of the module are to equip you, as a participant, with:
  • 1. A body of knowledge to inform students’ understanding regarding the necessity of engaging with evidence and in evidence-informed practice; how this engagement might be undertaken most effectively; and an understanding of those aspects of leadership that will facilitate the uptake of R&D within and across schools.
  • 2. Analytical frameworks and protocols that will enable students to engage with and apply to their organisation key concepts, theories and models in relation to: engaging in and with R&D activity; establishing and leading effective learning networks; approaches to measuring impact; and effective approaches to knowledge mobilisation.
  • 3. A systematic understanding of the key principles related to leading R&D activity within and across schools.
  • 4. An understanding of the connections between evidence use, learning networks, school and system improvement and educational leadership;
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On completion of the module, you will have:
  • Developed the ability to reflect on key concepts, theories and models in relation to: engaging in and with R&D activity; establishing and leading effective learning networks; approaches to measuring impact; and effective approaches to knowledge mobilisation;
  • Applied key concepts, theories and models to their own institution(s) and/or practice.
  • Gained practical experience of leading R&D activity, learning networks, the assessment of impact and the sharing of effective practice
Key Skills:
  • Demonstrate the ability to design a collaborative enquiry within or across a school(s) that has impact.
  • Demonstrate how you have established or sought to establish a research learning network within and/or across schools by proactively involving colleagues, pupils, their parents and other key stakeholders in your project.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is delivered through a series of interactive workshops that are designed to introduce students to the key theories, concepts and ideas of the module. There will be an emphasis on self-reflection and group discussion, with other module participants, about your research and development project and the literature in relation to the topics covered. Workshops will also offer students the opportunity to explore theories reflect on ideas and discuss with peers and tutors the merits and limitations of current understandings.
  • Face-to-face teaching is supplemented by a series of on-going consecutive tasks which students will be required to do in time for each of the workshops. These tasks will relate to the establishing a research learning network and engaging in school related R&D project. As such they will for example, include collecting data on your ‘baseline situation’, sourcing research elating to your problem of practice, developing a research-informed intervention and sharing this with colleagues, evaluating the impact of your approach and knowledge mobilisation activity.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 8 3 hours 24
Tutor facilitated guided reading 6 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 5000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

The module contains a number of opportunities for formative feedback through the discussions in the workshops and tutor and peer comment in relation to the self-reflection activity. In addition there is a formative assessment task specifically designed to support students in the development of their summative work. Students will prepare an outline, maximum 2 pages proposal. The proposal will detail how students have identified problems within their organisations that need addressing and their proposed research-informed solution to these problems. Students will receive written feedback on these outlines but will also have an opportunity for an individual meeting with the module tutor to discuss their plan prior to the written submission.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University