Dr Maria Kaparou, Assistant Professor in the School of Education at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) is the winner of the prestigious British Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) Thesis Award 2015.
The BELMAS Award panel has selected Dr Kaparou’s doctoral research study among high quality submissions, as the best doctoral thesis awarded by a university, The University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.
BELMAS conferred this award to Dr Kaparou as it is deemed for its significant contribution towards a better understanding in education leadership in high performing schools in contrasting educational systems.
“The quality this year was exceptionally high, a really good reflection of where we are,” said Professor Peter Earley, Professor of Education Leadership and Management at UCL Institute of Education London.
“The were nine submissions this year and the winner was Maria Kaparou for her thesis on learning centred leadership in two education systems, a very good read indeed,” Professor Earley said at the awards presentation ceremony.
This study on ‘instructional leadership within a cross-country comparative education context’ has been recognised as a study with the most significant contribution to the field of educational leadership, management and policy, while it enhances theoretical significance grounded in comparative empirical research.
Research on instructional leadership
In the light of constant changes and policy instability in the English and Greek policy systems, the doctoral thesis examined the enactment of instructional leadership in high performing secondary schools in order to explore the diversity of leadership conceptualisation and implementation within and across the systems. In addition, the relationship between leadership and learning in enhancing student progress and encouraging teachers’ professional learning in a centralised and partially-decentralised educational system has been examined.
Instructional leadership is about the professional learning of teachers as well as student growth, with the focus to improve learning outcomes. Improving learning outcomes requires an approach to leadership development, which includes teaching and learning as a vital part of the educational process, and this is instructional leadership with a focus on ensuring consistently good teaching and learning for everyone.
“The critical role that instructional leadership plays in creating and sustaining a learning culture has gained international currency while teaching quality and leadership are recognised as the two key influences on student learning within European governments’ reform agendas. In the same vein, the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) highlights the need for school leaders to become instructional leaders, while the Ministry’s intention is to empower leaders to act as instructional leaders in order to raise student outcomes, Dr Kaparou explains.
The study demonstrated theoretical significance in its focus on the collaborative and reciprocal nature of instructional leadership. Despite the hierarchical limitations, the pedagogical empowerment of teachers also suggests a collaborative instructional leadership culture. This study’s empirical contribution lies in generating new knowledge on how instructional leadership is contextually bounded.
The research has also made a unique contribution to knowledge by developing a model of instructional leadership that is particularly apposite for highly-centralised education systems, such as that found within Greece.
“I am grateful to my supervisor, Professor Tony Bush, for his precious academic guidance and contribution. A very special thank you to BELMAS for recognising the excellence of this doctoral research”, said Dr Maria Kaparou.
Dr Kaparou also expressed her appreciation to the University of Warwick, UK which has added significantly to her academic and professional development. Dr Kaparou received the award during the BELMAS annual conference on Saturday 11 July 2015 at the Wokefield Park, Reading (UK).
Prior to her appointment to the UNMC in October 2014, Dr Kaparou has been an academic member of staff at the University of Warwick, UK . She has more than 13 years of experience in the education sector in Athens and the UK.
In 2013, Dr Kaparou received a University of Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence in Higher Education, for her innovative teaching methods in Higher Education.
BELMAS encourages the fullest engagement of members in the study and practice of educational leadership, management and administration and recognises significant contributions through a number of annual awards. These awards are presented at the annual conference.
UNMC’s 15th Anniversary
One of the world’s truly global universities, with campuses in Malaysia, the UK and China, 2015 marks the 15th year since setting up as UK’s first full-fledged international campus in Malaysia and all three campuses continue to enrich the lives of students across the world through global education, ground-breaking research and community engagement.
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