Staff Profiles


Dr Judy Durrant

Head of Postgraduate Taught and Research Programmes

School: Faculty of Education Postgraduate Programmes

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 923640

Profile summary

Judy is Faculty Director of Masters Programmes, responsible for developing and quality assuring the Faculty's Masters Portfolio. She is an experienced tutor, supervisor and examiner on a range of Masters programmes and pathways and for EdD and PhD. Her background is in school-based teacher-led development including action research-based approaches. 

Judy has contributed presentations to the Faculty's Erasmus Intensive programme in Canterbury, Oslo and Dublin, (2008-11) and Erasmus+ Teacher Education project in Palestine (2015-18) has contributed to international conferences in School Effectiveness and Improvement and  British Educational Research Association (BERA) for many years. She has been a Master's external examiner for University of Cambridge and London University Institute of Education and examines regularly at doctoral level both internally and externally.

Judy's main academic interests are in the field of professional identity, teacher agency, leadership and action research for school improvement, professional learning and organisational change. She leads school-based action research projects that tap into teachers' creativity and support investigation and thereby improvement of learning and teaching through participative and dialogic approaches. Key to this is the individual and collaborative agency of teachers, students and other members of school communities. 

Judy helped to instigate 'Canterbury Action Research Network' (CANTARNET) in the mid-90s and now supports a thriving postgraduate community encompassing all fields of education and drawing on a range of methodological traditions. Conferences and library study days benefit from diversity of participation of students and staff. Judy has always supported teachers' and postgraduate students' publication, initially through an in-house journal, 'The Enquirer' and more recently in other journals such as ‘Improving Schools’, ‘Teacher Leadership’ and 'Professional Development Today'.

Judy is involved in a variety of quality assurance and programme development work for the university including validation panels, partner events, consultations and 'task and finish' groups. 

Research and knowledge exchange

Judy has been involved in a range of school improvement consultancy, including school-based action research projects and teacher leadership programmes, for more than two decades. This has included projects and evaluations with Local Authorities, Multi-Academy Trusts and schools in England. Judy participated in an International Teacher Leadership Project led by the University of Cambridge across 15 European countries. She led a film-based multi-agency leadership development pilot with Buckinghamshire County Council and is part of the University's multi-professional working group developing innovative cross-Faculty appoaches to professional learning. She is interested in cross-disciplinary programme development and eclectic and creative methodologies to support individual and organisational change.

External evaluations include 'Teachers as Readers' and the 'Baby Rooms' project (Esmee Fairbairn), Creative Partnerships (Hastings and East Sussex) and a Parent Development programme with Every Family Matters (Big Lottery Fund). Judy is currently a reviewer and guest editor for 'Improving Schools' and a reviewer for 'Professional Development in Education'. She has also reviewed for 'International Journal for Christianity and Education' and for Sage. She published 'Teachers Leading Change: Doing Research for School Improvement' in 2006 and is a regular contributor to 'Professional Development Today'.

Judy's doctoral research was entitled 'Portraits of teachers in landscapes of change: exploring the role of teachers in school improvement'. The thesis explored teacher professionalism, identity and agency in school improvement using a portraiture methodology. This is the basis for her most recent book 'Teacher Agency, Professional Development and School Improvement' (2018, Routledge). Current publications focus on introducing frameworks that promote an agentic perspective for professional and organisational development, and in using narrative and visual methodologies within school improvement processes.

Teaching and subject expertise

Judy's expertise includes research, evaluation and development in all phases and ages of education. She is currently contributing to projects on inter-professional learning, mentoring and sustainability.     

Judy is a long-standing member of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement and the British Educational Research Association and has contributed to the Teacher Educational Advancement Network conference. She represents the Faculty on the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) Continuing Professional Development committee.

She has previously worked with the National College for School Leadership's Networked Learning Communities programme, Creative Partnerships with the Arts Council (Hastings and East Sussex) and the TDA's Best Practice Research Scholarships scheme (nationally and locally). Recently she has been involved in leading the Quality Assurance aspect of a three year Faculty of Education Erasmus+ project, 'Raising the Quality of Teacher Education in Palestine: Technology Enhanced Learning, Teaching and Assessment' and in 2016 spent 10 days in The Philippines which included a keynote address at a national teacher education conference and seminars and workshops with teachers, consultants and the national Department for Education.  

In addition to a wide range of experience in Master's and Doctoral teaching, including supervision, Judy is currently involved in partnerships with schools to build capacity for teacher-led research and development. Recent projects have included action research for school improvement with primary schools in Kent and Essex.

Judy is particularly interested in how a more agentic perspective can be encouraged, both for education professionals and for children and young people.She promotes a broad concept of leadership in relation to learning, participation and development in which individuals are supported structurally, culturally and methodologically to contribute actively in the design as well as implementation of organisational and societal change, through dialogue, participation and creative, integrated approaches to enquiry. 

External activities

As a regular conference contributor, Judy has presented many papers on her individual and collaborative research projects, doctoral research and knowledge exchange activity at a variety of conferences. This has included a series of symposia for CELSI (Centre for Education Leadership and School Improvement) and University of Cambridge 'Leadership for Learning' symposia, also individual papers for the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (Toronto, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Sydney, Barcelona, Florida, Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur, Cyprus and Glasgow).

She gave a paper at a symposium for a symposium within the Practitioner Research Special Interest Group at the British Educational Research Association conference, 2011 (London Institute of Education) and presented an individual paper on her doctoral thesis at BERA in 2012. In May 2014 her contribution to the TEAN (Teacher Education Advancement Network) conference, with Dr. Hazel Bryan, was entitled 'More than Providers' and focuses on how universities can and should position themselves within the changing political landscape. In 2016 she gave a keynote address on Teacher Agency, Professional Development and School Imrpovement at a teacher education conference in The Philippines and led workshops and seminars supproting teacher-led reform. She als leads the Quality Assurance aspect of the Faculty's Erasmus+ Teacher Education project, working with three Palestinian Universities, University of Northen Finland and Fontys University, Netherlands.  

Judy has presented to professional audiences for Local Authority conferences in Hertfordshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Medway and Kent. Themes have included teacher agency, teacher-led development; teacher enquiry, agency and voice; creativity and change; portraiture methodology; action research for school improvement; CPD impact; leadership, learning and inclusion; school - university - LA partnerships and multi-agency leadership development. Titles include 'School improvement is everybody's business', 'Children see things differently from us' and 'Impact Matters'.

Connections with national agencies and networks include Networked Learning Communities (NCSL), Best Practice Research Scholarships (TDA), Creative Partnerships (Arts Council), Teaching Schools Research and Development (NCTL), Research Mark (NFER) and Teaching and Learning Academy (TLA) recognition and accreditation (formerly GTC, now through CCCU). Judy has represented the Faculty of Education on the UCET CPD committee for several years.

Publications and research outputs

Durrant, J (2018 forthcoming) Teacher Agency, Professional Development and School Improvement. London: Routledge. 

Frost, D., Durrant, J., Head, M and Holden, G (2000) Teacher-Led School Improvement, London: Routledge Falmer

Durrant, J and Holden, G (2006) Teachers Leading Change: using research for school improvement, London: Paul Chapman Publications

Frost, D and Durrant, J (2002) Teachers as Leaders: exploring the impact of teacher-led development work, School Leadership and Management, 22 (2)

Frost, D and Durrant, J (2003) Teacher Leadership: rationale, strategy and impact, School Leadership and Management, 23 (2)

Durrant, J (2005) Teachers Leading change: frameworks and key ingredients for school improvement, Leading and Managing 10 (2), pp.10-29. 

Durrant, J. (2014) ‘Children See Differently from Us.’ An agentic perspective as the foundation for school improvement Professional Development Today. 16 (2).

Durrant, J. (2012) (Ed.), Special Edition of Improving Schools: ‘Diversity, Creativity and Participation in Learning’ 15 (2)

Frost, D and Durrant, J (2004) ‘Supporting Teachers’ Leadership: What Can Principals Do? A teacher perspective from research’, 2003 in J. Chrispeels (ed.) Learning To Lead Together: The Promise And Challenge Of Sharing Leadership, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Durrant, J. (2013) External Evaluation: ‘Every Family Matters’ Parent Champion programme, Medway funded by Big Lottery (2010-2013)

Durrant, J. (2011; 2012) External Evaluation: Baby Rooms Project Phases I and II (professional development for Baby Room practitioners) funded by Esmee Fairbairn (2009-11)

Durrant, J. (2007-10) Teachers as Readers project Phases I, II & III External evaluation Reports, funded by Esmee Fairbairn


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Last edited: 29/01/2019 15:27:00