A beginner’s guide to Professor Toby Greany
Where does he work?
Toby Greany is currently professor of education at the University of Nottingham, prior to which he was a professor of leadership and innovation at University College London's Institute of Education. He completed his MEd in adult education at the University of Manchester, before going on to become director of research and information for the Campaign for Learning.
What is he best known for?
His 2017 edited anthology School Leadership and Education System Reform, which draws together research from leading national and international voices in the field of leadership and management. It's considered a vital text for postgraduates looking to study and develop their leadership practice, laying out key issues surrounding education system reform and leadership.
What's it all about?
Greany's book identifies ways in which school leaders can ensure a high standard of education in the face of rapid changes to the educational landscape. Using examples of how leadership practice has adapted to the change of the needs of children, stakeholders and policymakers over the last ten years, it considers what the future holds in terms of changing demands and how school leaders can meet them.
It also draws on empirical research studies into how schools are led and reformed, and considers key topics in adult, student and organisational learning, including changes in accountability, new opportunities and challenges for leaders in the form of technological developments, and how leadership and student learning are linked.
What does he research?
A lifelong professional in the field of leadership and learning, Greany originally focused his research on the learning process and our understanding of metacognition and its impact on learning and attainment. He has also explored how learning environments impact on school performance.
However, it was his work as a senior civil servant, advising the Education and Skills Select Committee, that has influenced his more recent research into educational policy, its processes, and impact on education. He conducts research into how leaders operate within school systems, and has advocated against government measures to reduce central and local support for schools. Instead, he calls for measures to help governors and headteachers in local areas develop shared visions, budgeting for "local solutions" to issues in school systems, and more partnerships between local schools.
What he says:
"I do believe that most academy leaders are honourable and that cases of deliberate fraud are rare, so I don't think we should impose heavy-handed bureaucratic systems that prevent them doing their jobs. My worry is that instances of conflicts of interest in academies are actually symptomatic of wider weaknesses in the system. Some academies appear to be losing confidence that they can manage improvement themselves and are turning to the private sector to do it for them."
Why you should consider reading more:
Professor Greany's work has a strong grounding in practice – as someone who has taught all over the world, as well as having held senior advisory posts within the government, his research is influenced by ground-level engagements. Having served in directorial roles for the National College for School Leadership, Design Council, and the Campaign for Learning, Greany's years of experience have made him a leading voice in school leadership and policy practice.