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Shaping Futures of Education: Why Leadership Comes First

Speaker: Professor Qing Gu 

University College London 

Improving education quality holds the hope of ending learning poverty for the most disadvantaged and marginalized children and young people around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated many of the profound pre-existing inequalities in education provision, including the hundreds of millions of children who were not in school before the pandemic, and those not learning while in school (Save the Children, 2021). For these children especially, school represents an oasis of safety and hope where they can learn, play, grow and achieve. Although schools alone cannot address many of the centuries’ old issues of educational and social inequalities that still challenge many children’s fundamental right to quality education in modern times, they are spaces where many committed and caring teachers are dedicated to inspiring the learning and achievement of young minds.  

The disruption in learning caused by the pandemic calls for radical and positive change. Drawing on the research findings from a range of UK government and research council funded national and international projects over the last decade, Prof Gu will discuss five research-informed claims about successful leadership and school improvement. Principals who do well in steering their schools successfully through changing social and policy landscapes know how to use policies as opportunities (rather than threats) to anchor core values of the school and regenerate capacities for further growth and development. They know how to design the social and intellectual conditions that engage the hearts and minds of individuals in the school, and through this, harness their ideas, experiences, knowledge, and relationships to fulfil shared values and achieve shared goals. They are the architects of social relations and learning conditions in schools. Taken together, Prof Gu hope that the five claims about successful leadership will open a new conversation about how school leaders – individually and collectively – can build a stronger future for all children and young people. 

Lecture 4: About the Lecture
About the speaker

Professor Qing Gu 
University College London 

Professor Qing Gu is Director of the UCL Centre for Educational Leadership and Professor of Leadership in Education. She is the Past Chair of the British Association of Comparative and International Education (BAICE), Co-Editor of Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, a member of the Research Standing Committee of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES), and a member of the Research Evidence and Impact Panel for the Leadership College for UK Government. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change (APCLC) and Honorary Professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership at the Education University of Hong Kong. 

Professor Gu has directed and co-directed many government and research council funded projects in the areas of teacher professional development, school improvement, and systemic reform and change. She is currently leading a £1.9m UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project Schools as Enabling Spaces to Improve Learning and Health-Related Quality of Life for Primary School Children in Rural Communities in South Africa. Some of her books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. Her co-authored paper on the impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes was given The William J Davis Award by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) in 2016.  

Lecture 4: About the speaker

Discussion panel

Professor Allan Walker, Adjunct Research Chair Professor, EdUHK
Dr Darren Bryant, Associate Professor, EdUHK
Dr Qian Haiyan, Associate Professor, EdUHK
Mr. Chan Wing Kwong, Principal, Po Leung Kuk Laws Foundation College

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