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Dr Rupert Higham
653
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London
WC1H 0AL
Tel: 020 7311 5146
Appointment
  • Lecturer in Educational Leadership
  • IOE - Learning & Leadership
  • UCL Institute of Education
Biography

I trained as a teacher of English in secondary schools after working for an international youth development charity and as a high-support worker for vulnerable teenagers. After three years I felt an increasing dissonance between what I believed was valuable to teach, and the demands of the curriculum and institutional culture. The question that motivated me to pursue an academic career was, "how to we challenge and support young people to act in accordance with their values?"

I completed my PhD at the University of Exeter, then worked in a range of teaching and research roles at the University of Cambridge. I was also Research Coordinator for the Index for Inclusion network, which worked with over 100 schools across an English county, and in four post-Soviet countries. These led to a Lectureship in Educational Leadership, where I taught, supervised and briefly coordinated the Educational Leadership and School Improvement MEd. I led a project evaluating the 'IDEALS' of an international network of 180 schools.

In addition to my work in leadership I co-founded the Cambridge Educational Dialogue Research group (CEDiR), now with 70 local members and over 25 international partners, and a range of active research projects. I also convened a centenary conference on John Dewey's 'Democracy and Education', which attracted over 150 academics, practitioners and students from around the world.


I have recently been appointed Lecturer in Educational Leadership at the UCL Institute of Education. I am now stepping into the role of Course Leader for the Applied Educational Leadership and Management MA. I am also looking to develop further research interests in Network Leadership.

Research Themes
Research Summary

My research aims to increase teachers' and students' agency - which I summarise as 'doing not what you want, but what's there to be done' in humane response to different people and situations. This work has 3 themes:

Values-led school improvement. People's actions in schools are shaped not only by their personal values, but also by those of their instutions and wider society. Often these come into conflict. When left implicit and unexamined, personal values can be overridden or contradicted without recognition. I have researched the use of values-explicit frameworks - especially the Index for Inclusion - to inform school improvement: holding open a space for leaders, teachers and students to discuss whether and how they put their values into action.

Student leadership. Leadership can be understood as operating within formal roles, or as taking a lead in response to motivating challenges. I have explored the latter through pragmatist and existentialist philosophy, creating a model for developing 'responsible leadership' in teenagers in extracurricular contexts. This, I argue, is at the core of democratic education.

Educational dialogue. Dialogic theory proposes that meanings emerge from the gap that opens up when differing perspectives meet. The attempt to cross that gap to understand another is 'dialogue' - which is distinct from chat, or even instruction. It is an ethical, relational theory of living and learning. With colleagues from around the world I have studied how this is best promoted within and beyond classroom contexts, among students and adults. We have created a coding scheme, SEDA, to categorise and evaluate dialogue in talk.

Teaching Summary

I have taught on, designed and coordinated a range of courses at undergraduate and Master's level in the fields of educational leadership, practitioner research, philosophy of education, educational dialogue, recent history of education, and educational futures.

In addition to the AELM programme, I am also teaching the Leadership for the Learning Community module across a range of different Master's programmes.

I have also supervised doctoral students, and welcome enquires from potential PhD and EdD students in the fields of values-led school improvement, student leadership and educational dialogue.

Appointments
01-JUL-2017 Lecturer in Educational Leadership London Centre for Leadership in Learning UCL Institute of Education, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2014 – 30-JUN-2017 Lecturer in Educational Leadership Faculty of Education University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2012 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Education University of Exeter
2008 MSc Master of Science – Education University of Exeter
2002 BA Bachelor of Arts – Social Anthropology Goldsmiths College
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