Collaborations and Activities

September 2023

ICSEI ELN Research Group | Conceptualizing and Contextualizing Innovation for Educational Change: Exploring the Relationship between Innovation, Leadership, and Capacity Building

In December 2022, we were delighted to be joined by Dr Jiafang Lu from the Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change at the Education University of Hong Kong for a webinar on ‘Innovative leadership: Leading learning in times of complexity and change.’

You can watch the recording here: 

Emerging from this is interest in a collaborative research group exploring the concept of innovation in relation to leadership.

If you are interested in getting involved in this, please get in touch with Dr Paul Campbell ([email protected]). 

The group will be leading an innovate session at ICSEI 2024 in Dublin on this theme. Please do join! More information can be found below:

Conceptualizing and contextualizing innovation for educational change: Exploring the relationship between Innovation, Leadership, and Capacity Building

Contributors and Affiliations

Dr Paul Campbell

Education University of Hong Kong

Dr Joan Conway

University of Southern Queensland

Professor Dorothy Andrews

University of Southern Queensland

Dr Stephen MacGregor

University of Calgary

Dr Rania Sawalhi

Eduenterprise, Qatar

Objectives or purposes of the session

As the concept, idea, practice, and goal of ‘innovation’ has grown in dominance in the discourse around leadership and educational change, there remains a scope for exploration as to how innovation is conceptualized, theorized and supported in policy making and practice (Poirier, et al, 2017). Varied societal, systemic, and contextual conditions which influence the work of educators and leaders can come to frame how innovation is understood and manifested. Cultural values, systemic priorities, political norms, and competing demands can enable or inhibit the emergence of innovation in its varied forms (Lu & Campbell, 2020). 

Deriving from an ICSEI Educational Leadership Network webinar, and subsequent research group, this session aims to explore how leaders, as sense-makers and influencers within their organizational contexts, are well placed to utilize contextual knowledge, negotiate political demands, and mobilize others in developing and sustaining collective forms of professional learning that can lead to innovation, and the improvement and change that can result (Murphy & Devine, 2023). 

Educational importance for theory, policy, research, and/or practice

What remains, and will be explored through this innovate session, is the need for a critical examination of how innovation is understood and manifested across systems, how this relates to broader concerns of equity, excellence, and professional capacity building in the pursuit of improvement and change, and the lessons that can be derived from varied cultural and systemic contexts.

The format and approach(es) that will be used in the session to engage participants in the exploration of the area of practice

To facilitate this, the session will be framed around three key questions:

      • How is innovation understood and manifested across contexts?
      • Which, if any, underpinning concepts relating to innovation could transcend context and system?
      • How might we understand the relationship(s) between innovation, leadership, and capacity building?

The session will begin with a brief provocation exploring innovation in the context of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area drawing upon the work of Lu (2019). Participants will then be invited to collaboratively, in smaller groups, respond to the questions driving the session, and visually represent the common threads and themes for presentation back to the whole group. Following this, avenues for continued exploration of these ideas and themes will be shared; namely through a collaborative research group, Twitter Chats, and subsequent ICSEI Educational Leadership Network activity.


Lu, J. (2019). Teacher innovation and school-level predictors: observations from Hong Kong. In: M.A. Peters and R. Heraud, eds. Encyclopaedia of Educational Innovation. Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-13-2262-4

Lu, J. & Campbell, P. (2021). Conceptualising innovation and professional learning in the Hong Kong context, PRACTICE, 3:1, 67-72, DOI: 10.1080/25783858.2020.1831887

Murphy, G. & Devine, D. (2023). Sensemaking in and for times of crisis and change: Irish primary school principals and the Covid-19 pandemic, School Leadership & Management, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2022.2164267

Poirier, V., Schwartz, L. H., Eddy, D., Berman, R., Chacour, S., Wynne, J., Cavanaugh, W, Martin, D. F., Byrne, R., & Sanberg, P. (2017). Thoughts on Improving Innovation: What Are the Characteristics of Innovation and How Do We Cultivate Them?. Technology & Innovation. 18. 319-330. 10.21300/18.4.2017.319. 

Connection to the conference theme


(Selected from here):

      • research and evidence for leadership education and capacity building;  
      • leading improvement collaboratively and sustainably;
      • leveraging research and data for inquiry, insight and innovation; and
      • leading schools and education systems that promote equity, inclusion, belonging, diversity, social justice, global citizenship and/ or environmental sustainability.

January 2022

Leading in times of disruption – preparedness, problems, and possibilities.

School Leadership & Management Special Issue | ICSEI ELN | 2022-23


Guest Editors: 

Paul Campbell

University of Glasgow, Scotland/ ESF Sha Tin Junior School, Hong Kong

[email protected] 

Esther Dominique Klein

TU Dortmund University, Germany 

[email protected] 

Rania Sawalhi


[email protected]

Abstract Deadline: 7 March 2022    Manuscript Deadline: 30 June 2022

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, constitutional uncertainty, forced migration, climate emergency, and the challenges of a post-truth era were some aspects of the complexity society was facing. While perhaps changing in nature and form, these challenges persist, and education and the work of schools remain at the forefront of how societies respond.  

Emerging trends as a consequence of the pandemic, and how schools and leaders respond to disruption, uncertainty, and emergencies, has included the need for strong and responsive communities, collective reflection, and greater forms of distributed leadership (Gouëdard, Pont & Viennet, 2020). Educators are still making sense of the implications of the shared, yet varied pandemic experience for the purposes and functions of schools, and how this relates to the systems and structures of our education systems (Scanlan, 2020), and leaders have been forced to consider the preparedness, problems, and possibilities of their leadership practice. 

Almost fifty years of school effectiveness and improvement research have shown that how leaders are able to respond to change, rapid or slow, depends on factors at different levels (Reynolds & Neeleman, 2021; Hopkins, Stringfield, Harris, Stoll & Mackay, 2014):

  • individual characteristics of leaders, such as their cognitive, meta-cognitive, and interpersonal skills, their beliefs and self-efficacy expectations, or their self-concept;
  • characteristics of the school, such as the school’s staff structure, the teachers’ willingness and ability to change, their knowledge and skills, collaborative cultures, available resources, and shared values and beliefs;
  • characteristics of the school’s local environment, such as the community the school serves, opportunities for networking with other schools, available resources and support from local authorities; and
  • systemic or institutional characteristics, such as school autonomy or hierarchical structures, educational policy expectations, goals and regulations, systemic support and relief structures, teacher shortages, and allocation of material resources.

Because these factors vary from principal to principal, from school to school, from community to community, and from country to country, we must assume that the ability of leaders to strategically meet the challenges of rapid and unforeseen changes, lead their school through these challenges, and keep in mind both professional and academic learning, and their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of students and teachers, is very individual. Nonetheless, there are likely to be common patterns that are not only helpful to understand the responses to the pandemic in retrospect, but can also serve as a magnifying glass showing what leaders and schools need in order to be able to handle unexpected and seemingly overwhelming challenges, emergencies, and uncertainty in the future.

In this Special Issue, guest edited by the Educational Leadership Network leaders (ELN) of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI), we therefore want to explore two sets of questions. 

First, we want to unravel what characteristics at the individual, school, community, and system level in different contexts enabled or hindered leaders to guide their schools through the challenges of the pandemic. We seek to explore the preparedness of leaders to lead in times of disruption, uncertainty, and change, and the problems and possibilities that may arise as a result of this. 

With this comes the opportunity, second, to explore alternative conceptualisations and perspectives on what it means to lead, and be a leader, and how in times of disruption, leadership can remain a means through which inequalities and established orthodoxies can be challenged. 

Prior to the pandemic, in spite of the ever increasing demands placed on schools and leaders, leadership was most frequently conceptualized based on position, role, and traditional parameters of professional responsibilities and functions (Harris, 2020) associated with a position, a role, as having authority, accompanied by clear line management responsibilities and the professional support of others. With the shifting demands, spaces, and parameters of what it means to exercise leadership and to be a leader throughout the pandemic, a number of questions arise. 

In this Special Issue, we invite papers that address one or more of the following questions for discussion and debate:

  • What does it mean to lead in times of crisis and change?
  • What sort of leadership or leadership practice was required during times of disruption, uncertainty, and change?
  • What factors at the individual, school, local/regional, and / or systemic level enable or hinder leadership in times of disruption, uncertainty, and change?
  • How prepared were/are leaders for leading in times of disruption, uncertainty, and change?
  • How prepared were/are local, regional, and national authorities in leading and supporting their schools?
  • How have understandings of leadership at the school, local, regional, or system level changed as a result of what we have learned through the pandemic experience?
  • What decision making processes do school leaders negotiate in times of uncertainty and risk? 

As an international network, we encourage authors from all over the world to contribute papers to this issue. This includes, but is not restricted to, papers with an international comparative perspective. We welcome scholarly articles that either report new empirical data or provide reviews of existing research, as well as contributions from policymakers and practitioners.

Submission guidelines

Authors who want to contribute a paper to the special issue are asked to first submit a short abstract of their paper. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words in length, including titles and references, and must include the following components:

–       Paper title

–       Name and affiliation of the author(s)

–       Objectives

–       Perspective or theoretical framework

–       Methods and data source / Evidence

–       Results and conclusions

Abstracts, and any related queries, should be sent by e-mail to [email protected]. The deadline for submission of the abstract is 7 March 2022. 

Authors will be notified by 15 March 2022 as to whether their abstract is suitable for the special issue. If your abstract is suitable for the Special Issue, you will be asked to submit your full paper to the SLAM online system. The deadline for submission of the full paper is 30 June 2022. 

Please note that acceptance of the abstract does not mean acceptance of your full paper; all papers will be subject to the normal SLAM processes of blind review by referees. Guest editors can suggest reviewers but will not be part of the review process. 

Full papers have a word length of between 5500 and 7500 words maximum (inclusive of references, figure captions, footnotes, endnotes). All articles should, in line with SLAM’s remit, indicate a focus on issues in leadership, management, reflected in both the title and the abstract.

Important dates

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts: 7 March 2022 (via email to the ELN)
  • Decision for acceptance of abstracts: 25 March 2022
  • Deadline for submission of full paper: 30 June 2022 (through the journal online system)

Articles that are accepted for the special edition will be published on-line without delay. Hard copies of the special edition will not be published until sufficient articles are accepted. 

More information on the requirements for full papers can be obtained from the journal’s website.


Reynolds, D. & Neeleman, A. 2021. “School Improvement Capacity–A Review and a Reconceptualization from the Perspectives of Educational Effectiveness and Educational Policy.” In Concept and Design Developments in School Improvement Research, edited by A. O. G. Beverborg, T. Feldhoff, K. M. Merki, and F. Radisch, 27-40,

Gouëdard, P., Pont, B. & Viennet, R. 2020. “Education responses to COVID-19: shaping an implementation strategy.” OECD Education Working Papers.

Hallinger, P. & Heck, R. H.2011. “Exploring the journey of school improvement: classifying

and analyzing patterns of change in school improvement processes and learning outcomes.” School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 22 (1): 1-27.

Harris, A. 2020. “COVID-19 – school leadership in crisis?” Journal of Professional Capital and Community 5 (3/4): 321-326.

Hopkins, D., Stringfield, S., Harris, A., Stoll, L. & Mackay, T. 2014. “School and system improvement: a narrative state-of-the-art review.” School Effectiveness and School Improvement 25 (2): 257-281.

Scanlan, M. 2020. “Guest editorial.” Journal of Professional Capital and Community 5 (3/4):. 201-202.




August 2021


ICSEI 2022 

We look forward with anticipation to the next ICSEI Virtual Congress in 2022. The theme is ‘Back to the Future? Problems and Possibilities for Educational Equity, Quality and Sustainability’.

Find out more and submit your proposal:   

The ICSEI 2022 Promotion Committee has organized for all networks to showcase and give insight into their networks in advance of the congress. This can include member spotlights, sharing abstracts linked to the network that have been submitted/are accepted, showcasing Network Sessions planned for during the congress and sharing interesting papers/ publications members of the network have recently published. 

Each ICSEI network has been allocated a two week slot for this where content will also be shared by the @ICSEIglobal account. In a spirit of healthy competition, we hope to showcase the high engagement and global reach of the Educational Leadership Network, and encourage all members to take part during these two weeks between Monday 30th August and Sunday 12th September.

We encourage all network members and friends to engage with @ICSEI_ELN and @ICSEIglobal  Twitter posts, utilizing the hashtag #ICSEIEdLead, and if you have any work, thinking, or ideas to showcase, we encourage you to share:

  • A 30 second video about your previous experiences at ICSEI congresses and encouraging others to participate 
  • Share photos/ posts from previous experiences of ICSEI activity
  • Tweet/ retweet @ICSEI_ELN tweets and don’t forget #ICSEIEdLead
  • Tag friends/ organizations 
  • Participate in this Padlet to share your experiences and contexts

All of this engagement will be an excellent starting point for continued networking and collaboration before, during and after the ICSEI 2022 congress.

Twitter Activity

Thank you to those who have engaged so well with our recent Twitter chats. Keep on the look out for future chats in the lead up to the ELN mini conference, and ICSEI 2022.

Every Friday we will continue to ask members and friends to share books/ publications related to educational leadership, again as a source of inspiration and prompting for all those that follow the account. Please share your publications or any other articles you recommend.


July 2021


Communication sub-committee

Salman Zaed is working on developing our newsletter and preparing content for our social media accounts, please let us know if you like to volunteer to contribute to this subcommittee or if you have any comments/ ideas on how to engage ICSEI ELN members and achieve our goals via this link:

Primarily, this sub-committee will be focused on:

  • Enhancing our current social media output, including the newsletter, to engage as broad an audience as possible.    
  • Broaden the content of what is shared through network communications which could include, for example, announcements for postgraduate or postdoctoral scholarships/ funding, job vacancies, members achievements, network activities, recommended readings etc. 
  • Develop multilingual editions of our output, for example special editions in English, Arabic, German etc. that tackle context specific themes.
  • Building a strong subcommittee of members who are able to spearhead this work collaboratively.


June 2021


Professional Learning Platform

Dr. Martin Scanlan and a group of volunteers are working on developing a platform to facilitate our communications and share resources effectively a platform to foster networking, sharing, learning and collaboration. 

To view the video, please click on the below link. If you are interested in joining a sub-committee who will lead the development of this idea and platform, please let us know by return email ([email protected]):

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