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Institute of Education

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Q&A with Aly Colman

Dr Aly Colman is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Educational Leadership.

What do you most enjoy about your position and why?
The Centre for Educational Leadership brings together some fascinating postgraduate courses in educational leadership offering opportunities for developing academic and practitioner research. My experience of working with students so far has shown the richness and diversity that each of their own professional and educational contexts brings to their study. 

What is the focus of your research and what benefits do you hope your discoveries or insights will bring?
I am interested in the ways in which educational leadership can address inequalities in areas of deprivation.

Specifically, I am concerned with the impact of school inspection and policy on educational leadership and the ways in which this impacts on inequality. The theoretical application of critical and sociological perspectives, e.g. Foucault, Bourdieu, etc. has been central to much of my research and teaching.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
Before working at the IOE I was involved in partnership working between the University of Brighton and the Mauritius Institute of Education. This allowed me to think about the purpose of educational leadership in different contexts including the contrasts and similarities between leadership which explicitly seeks to address inequality in both the UK and Mauritius.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your students?
Our students are often engaged in leadership roles within schools and colleges. Every role that these students are undertaking brings with it a set of challenges – some unique, and some in common across many different contexts. Learning about how institutions use leadership to address these challenges is fascinating and informs current thinking for my own teaching and research.

What attracted you to take up your position at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE)?
I studied for my doctorate at the IOE and wanted to continue to be part of this brilliant learning community. Having so many significant academics within one university in pursuit of ground-breaking research makes for an excellent environment within which to work.

From the first moment of walking into the Institute I was struck by how inspirational the environment is. It is a joy to be part of this community.

What other subjects outside of your area of specialism interest you?
My background, before specialising in education, was in music and the arts. I have recently re-connected with the arts through some collaborative research into arts opportunities in areas of deprivation and access to conservatoire settings.

What would it surprise people to know about you?
I sang for many years with the BBC Symphony Chorus.