4 minutes reading time (834 words)

A beginner’s guide to Professor Andy Hargreaves

A beginner’s guide to Professor Andy Hargreaves

Best known for:

In January 2015, Hargreaves was ranked the number six scholar with the most influence on US policy. He consults with organisations and governments all over the world and has authored or edited over 30 books, several of which have gained awards. He currently serves as adviser in education to the Premier of Ontario. He is also founding editor of two scholarly journals, and is President Elect of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement. 

Quick biography:

Doctor Andy Hargreaves Photo credit: andyhargreaves.com

Nationality: English

Born: 1951

Professional biography



Where does he work?

Hargreaves is the Thomas More Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. He is also the co-founder and former co-director of the International Centre for Educational Change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Up until 1987 he lectured in a number of English universities including Oxford, and from 2000–2002 he was Professor of Educational Leadership and Change at the University of Nottingham in England. Hargreaves earned his PhD in Sociology at the University of Leeds.

What's it all about:

Hargreaves' focus in recent years has been on educational excellence. His latest book, The Global Fourth Way: The Quest for Educational Excellence, argues that there is no quick fix solution for deep and lasting educational reform. He uses examples from new research to challenge educational leaders, teachers, and policy makers to put evidence-based strategies to work.

He advocates an approach to education reform that integrates government policy, professional involvement, and community engagement to help transform teaching and learning in school. This new 'Fourth Way' of change, he suggests, will enable governments and educators to create more inclusive, inspiring, and sustainable future for pupils, without relinquishing educational elements that support the development of personal integrity, social democracy, and the advancement of human decency.

He sees limitations in both a top down approach – in which central authorities prescribe reforms – and the bottom up approach in which schools are given autonomy. He promotes more effective collaboration and partnership working between schools, groups of schools, and districts – in which leadership, expertise, ideas and resources are shared, and in which there is collective effort and responsibility to drive system-wide improvements; as well as greater flexibility to evolve local solutions. This he characterises as 'leading from the middle'.

What does he research?

As well as writing about education, Hargreaves is still an active researcher with a focus on measuring the effectiveness of different government initiatives. He recently produced a report on the development, design, implementation and impact of Ontario's Essential for Some, Good for All (ESGA) initiative.

ESGA is a unique, systemic, educational reform strategy. It took the principles of Canadian special education and created a programme that would impact the education of pupils and the work of their teachers across the education system. ESGA focused on changing the beliefs and working practices of teachers, rather than restructuring the formal roles and responsibilities within the education system. In its focus on all pupils and in its engagement of professionals, Hargreaves felt ESGA's aims enshrined the philosophy of meeting pupils "where they are and [then] moving them forward".

What he says:

"Education leaders must have the will at times to release leadership to the teachers, the parents and the students."

'Large-scale success cannot be achieved if districts continue to act independently of one another. Leading from the middle, not just in the middle, can use the power of local solutions to address diverse problems in an environment where schools work with schools, and districts work with districts, as they exercise collective initiative and responsibility for all students' success.''
Speaking at the SSAT annual conference in December 2016, Hargreaves said:

"There are four expectations of sound collaboration: better teaching; leadership succession; shared accountability and stronger purpose".

What others say:

Hargreaves is well regarded on the international stage, and has been invited to present lecturers for international organisations such as the World Bank, OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), UNESCO, the Soros Foundation, the European Union, and the International Baccalaureate. 

His views on the importance of collaboration and partnership working are reflected in thinking that informs education reforms – although not everyone agrees with his ideas about the importance of effective co-ordination and interventions through Districts and local authorities.

Why you should consider reading more:

Hargreaves' international influence makes him an interesting author to read, and having a better knowledge of his work can help educators understand the vision of education being debated and discussed in international policy setting organisations.

He offers valuable insights into system-wide change; the limits of top down and bottom up interventions; what is required of system leaders; and the importance of collaboration and leading from the middle – all of which are having an impact on education reforms worldwide.

Top reads:

EdProfessional members:

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