Staff Profiles


Dr Judy Durrant

Principal Lecturer

School: Faculty of Education Postgraduate Programmes

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 923640

Profile summary

Judy is Faculty Head of Postgraduate Taught and Research Programmes, with responsibility for developing and quality assuring the Faculty's Postgraduate Portfolio. She is an experienced tutor, supervisor and internal and external examiner on a range of Masters courses and routes and for EdD and PhD. Her background is in school-based teacher-led development including action research-based approaches. She chairs the Faculty of Education Ethics Panel.  

Judy's main academic interests are in the field of teacher agency, professional identity, leadership and action research for school improvement, postgraduate pedagogy, professional learning and organisational change. She has experience in using and supporting qualitative and creative methodologies, particularly within school settings, for research and professional development. At the heart of this is improvement of learning and teaching through participative, inclusive dialogic approaches, led through the individual and collaborative agency of teachers, students and other members of school communities. 

Judy supports a thriving postgraduate community of colleagues and students, encompassing all fields of education practice and drawing on a range of methodological traditions, crossing professional and academic boundaries.

Judy is involved in a variety of quality assurance and course development work for the university. She holds a Senior Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy.  

Research and knowledge exchange

Judy has been involved in a range of school improvement consultancy and teacher leadership programmes for more than two decades. She has led numerous action research projects supporting creative curriculum, pedagogic and organisational development, collaborating with Local Authorities, Multi-Academy Trusts and schools. She has provided critical friendship to faculty collaborative research groups on multi-professional working and teacher mentor development.

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' (2020, Routledge). Current publications focus on introducing frameworks that promote an agentic perspective for professional and organisational development, using narrative and visual methodologies within school improvement processes and exploring the risks and rewards of creative postgraduate pedagogies. These themes underpin her teaching of postgraduate students and contributions to initial teacher education. In challenging times for education and society, Judy is interested in the ways in which human sustainability and agency can be nurtured through enhancing the agentic dimensions of learning and leadership. 

Research students focus on a range of themes under Judy's supervision, including recognition of beginning teachers; teachers' responses to policy; theological dialogue between headteachers and priests in church schools; teachers' perceptions of professional identity in Ghana; collaborative learning in Higher Education in Algeria; professional identity of teachers from PGCE 14-19 cohorts. These encompass qualitative methodologies including Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), interviews and observations, life history, reflective spirals, narrative inquiry and artistic / visual interpretations.      

Involvement in funded projects includes external evaluations for 'Teachers as Readers', 'Baby Rooms' (Esmee Fairbairn) and a parenting programme (Big Lottery). She led  Quality Assurance for the Faculty's Erasmus+ project supporting Teacher Education in Palestine.

Teaching and subject expertise

Judy's expertise includes teaching, research, evaluation and development in all phases and ages of education, with particular focus on agency, professional learning and organisational improvement. She is interested and experienced in qualitative methodologies, action research, creative and visual methods, and teaches an EdD module on 'Research, Self and Positioning'. She is an experienced programme director and team leader in Higher Education and has contributed to research on inter-professional learning, mentoring and sustainability.     

From 2013-18, Judy led the Quality Assurance and Evaluation work package for an Erasmus+ project, 'Raising the Quality of Teacher Education in Palestine: Technology Enhanced Learning, Teaching and Assessment'. In 2016 she spent 10 days in The Philippines, providing a keynote address at a national teacher education conference on teacher agency and leading seminars and workshops with teachers, consultants and the Department for Education.  

In addition to a wide range of experience in Master's and Doctoral teaching and assessment, including supervision, external examining and evaluation, Judy has experience of partnership working locally, nationally and internationally, particularly to build capacity for teacher-led research and development.

Judy is particularly interested in how a more agentic perspective can be encouraged within organisations and education systems, both for education professionals and for children and young people. She promotes a broad concept of leadership 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, inclusive approaches to enquiry. 

External activities

Judy is a long-standing member of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI), the British Educational Research Association (BERA) and the International Professional Development Association (IPDA). She has presented many papers on her individual and collaborative research projects, doctoral research and knowledge exchange activity. This has included a series of individual papers and symposia for the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, 2002-2018  (Toronto, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Sydney, Barcelona, Florida, Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur, Cyprus and Glasgow).

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 Improvement at a teacher education conference in The Philippines and led workshops and seminars supporting teacher-led reform for teachers, consultants and policymakers. A 2019 paper to the International Professional Development Association was concerned with the risks and rewards of postgraduate pedagogy and challenged the restrictions of the academy on teaching, learning and assessment.  

She represents the Faculty on the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) CPD committee.

Publications and research outputs

Durrant, J (2020) Teacher Agency, Professional Development and School Improvement. London: Routledge. 

Hughes, L., LeMoine, G. and Durrant, J. (2017) 'Skilling up for wellbeing: the professional development challenge', Professional Development Today, 18:4, 16-25

Durrant, L (2016) 'What is evidence-based practice and why does it matter?' chapter in Researching Primary Education (R.Austin ed.), London: Sage, p.9-24.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Connect with us

Last edited: 19/11/2020 13:32:00