Education Research Programme


Sustainable school leadership

Sustainable school leadership: comparing approaches to the training, supply and retention of senior school leaders across the UK.

Project description

Project Lead: 

Professor Toby Greany 


1/12/2022 – 30/11/2025 (36 months)


 University of Nottingham

Research theme:  

  • teaching and learning, with a focus on teachers and their recruitment, retention and professional development  

The four nation focus: 

  • UK/ Northern Ireland/ Scotland/ England/ Wales 

Project overview


This study will research approaches to the supply, development and retention of senior school leaders across the four UK nations.  It asks how well these approaches take account of individual, local and systemic needs, in particular in relation to the sustainability of leadership supply, its diversity, equity, quality and fitness for the future?


The project will assess leadership development approaches for primary and secondary schools across the UK and will explore how these can be enhanced. Methods will include interviews with policy makers and leadership development experts, secondary analysis of existing datasets, place-based case studies and surveys of leaders. Comparative findings and recommendations will be disseminated to research, policy and practice audiences, including through web-based resources that can be used to enhance local and national leadership succession planning.

Project partners

The national Advisory Groups are key to our engagement approach. We have secured commitment from the following lead partner organisations:

  • England: National Association of Head Teachers, Association of School and College Leaders
  • Scotland: Education Scotland
  • Northern Ireland: Queens University, BELMAS.  

These partners will help us recruit representative Advisory Group memberships in each nation.  

Partnership plans

We will work with the lead organisations listed above to develop advisory group membership in each country. 

  • Professor Toby Greany (PI); University of Nottingham
  • Professor Pat Thomson (Co-PI); University of Nottingham
  • Dr Tom Perry (Co-I); University of Warwick