Cardiff School of Education & Social Policy>Research>Centre for International Research into Leadership in Education (CIRLE)

Centre for International Research into Leadership in Education (CIRLE)


​​It is well established within the international literature that leadership has a pivotally important influence on organisational performance (Leithwood, Harris and Hopkins, 2020). The quality of leadership within education is unquestionably a critical component of success. The vast literature on organisational change underlines the centrality of leadership in the pursuit of improvement and transformation. The evidence underlines that leadership is the critical component within any organisation’s trajectory of success (Fullan, 2021).

Several external and independent reports (e.g. OECD, Welsh Government, World Bank) have recently highlighted that the quality of leadership development for leaders within educational institutions can be variable. One way of ensuring that leadership development and preparation is of a consistently high quality is to provide a contemporary international research lens on leadership in education.

The establishment of this University research centre (CIRLE) provides the opportunity to bring together international research expertise. The research generated by CIRLE. and facilitated through its extensive international links, aims to offer those leading in schools, colleges, and other education institutions contemporary evidence about effective leadership practice. CIRLE aspires to raise the scholarly debate about leadership in education and to improve the knowledge base by actively engaging in research with international scholars and by bringing international scholars to Wales.

CIRLE aims to lead research and development in the field of leadership in education through its strategic international links, research partnerships and specialist networks in order to generate new knowledge and scholarship around the broad theme of leadership in education. CIRLE is already recognised internationally for its research contribution within the field of leadership in education.

CIRLE is connected to a dynamic international, intellectual community. It is engaged in high quality international collaborative research and hosts the international journal ‘School Leadership and Management’ (SLAM)


Centre Leads

  • Professor Julia Longville (Dean, CSESP)
  • Professor Steve Cooper (Associate Dean Research, CSESP)
  • Professor Alma Harris (Professor of Leadership in Education, CSESP- Editor SLAM)
  • Professor Michelle Jones (Professor of Education CSESP-Editor SLAM)

Centre Members

  • Professor Carol Campbell (Visiting Professor, CSESP)
  • Dr Cecilia Hannigan Davies (Deputy Dean, CSESP)
  • Dr James Snook (Senior Lecturer, CSESP)
  • Dr Anna Bryant (Principal Lecturer, CSESP)
  • Rhys Lloyd (Lecturer, CSESP)
  • Rhian Wyn Griffiths (Senior Lecturer, CSESP)
  • Rhian Crooks-Williams (Lecturer, CSESP)
  • Dr Jemma Oeppen Hill (Associate Dean Student Engagement, CST)
  • Dr James Whitehead (Senior Lecturer, CSM)
  • Dr Claire Evans (Senior Lecturer, CSM)
  • Dr Michael Seery (QED)
  • Kallie Noble (Senior Lecturer, CSM)
  • Dr Leanne McCarthy-Cotter (REF Coordinator, CSESP)
  • Doctoral candidates​ (across Cardiff Met)

International P​artners

Based on current research projects, collaborative bids, professional links, and professional networks our university partners include:

​​​Melbourne University, Australia​University of Ottawa, Canada​​​
Sydney University Australia​​University of Hong Kong
University of Glasgow, UKNorthwestern University, USA​​​
National Institute of Education, SingaporeUniversity of Malaysia
Hume Centre, SwitzerlandJagiellion University, Poland
Georgia Southern University, USAOxford University, UK​​​
Monash University, AustraliaUniversity of Teacher Education Zug, Switzerland​​​
Mazaryck University Czech RepublicUniversitas Yogyakarta Indonesia​

​CIRLE is also connected to the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement and will be actively working with the Leadership Network and the ICSEI Board to create new opportunities for research dissemination and collaborative working.

Research within CIRLE

Current research themes within the Centre include:

  • System Leadership
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Women in Leadership
  • Collaborative Leadership
  • Professional Leadership
  • Distributed Leadership
  • Wellbeing in Leadership

The main purpose of the Centre is to undertake comparative work through international collaboration and/or interdisciplinary collaboration to provide more intellectual power and critique of current leadership theories and practices. The main purpose of CIRLE is to add new research-based knowledge and to spotlight new lines of enquiry within the leadership field from a research- informed perspective.

Inter-disciplinary research on leadership is also a key area of enquiry and development within CIRLE (e,g., Management, Business, Sport, Health Sciences).CIRLE will contribute directly to the ​Health and Human Performance Global Academy at Cardiff Metropolitan University by helping individuals within organisations to be the best they can be by providing cutting edge research on leadership that can inform other disciplines and professional practices.

The Centre will contribute directly to the Academy’s focus on leadership and management by taking a holistic, internationally informed view of human performance. Issues of wellbeing are now of paramount importance for those in leadership roles, hence the centre will contribute knowledge that will help individuals to cope with demanding leadership roles and to stay healthy.

The Centre will be concerned with improving leadership for the benefit of the organisation and society as a whole, emphasising good health and well-being that results in better organisational performance and outcomes.

The activities supported by CIRLE present an exciting opportunity to develop a strategic research alliance, nationally and internationally, to provide a platform for cutting edge collaborative, international research on the latest issues, challenges and demands of leadership within an educational sphere.

Research Projects

Examples of current research projects and proposals include:

  • Investigating Leadership and Education Policy Making in Four Countries – Wales, USA, Poland, and the Czech Republic (Spencer Foundation)
  • Exploring System Leadership – A Tri Nations Study (National Academy for Educational Leadership)
  • World Leadership Project (Led by University for Teacher Education in Zug)
  • Leading Schools in Challenging Circumstances (Welsh Government)
  • Leading Whole School Improvement with Estonia, Finland and Norway (Horizons Widening Access Fund, European Research Agency)
  • Middle Leadership in Schools with North-West University (Mahikeng Campus), South Africa Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein (National Research Foundation)

Centre Launch

The Centre was launched on the September 7th, 2023. ​

Registering your Interest in CIRLE - Contact

​Professor Alma Harris