University of Gothenburg

School Development and Leadership

In the School Development and Leadership research environment, our interest is in what teachers and school leaders do to enable the development of children and pupils and their learning. The transformation and improvement processes underway in preschools and schools reflect national reforms that set limits, but that also provide opportunities for professional learning and action.

We are interested in the role that the formal and informal learning done by teachers and school leaders can play in school development, with a particular focus on professional development and leadership practices. Leadership at school and public administration level are of equal interest to studying their relevance for professional learning. We welcome collaboration with schools and public administration, combining (action) research and school development.

Research focus

In the School Development and Leadership research environment, the focus is on school practices. School practice is understood as a human and social activity that is tied to moral, political and historical dimensions, including also in the conversion of pre-school and school curricula. In focus may be, for example, how school pupils shape and are shaped by teaching practices and school leadership practices, or how teachers change their teaching practices in response to development introduced by school leaders, and vice versa.

In our efforts to identify critical situations or important power relations in school practices, we use different theoretical perspectives. These can involve theories of practices and organisational or institutional perspectives, but also cultural history and social constructivism. Our research often couples practices with change, with a special interest in students, teachers and school leaders as change agents.

Our interests mean that many of us use action research as a good way to combine research and development. In action research, school development is undertaken via planned activities. Action research supposes that dialogue-based collaboration between practitioners and researchers can be an effective way to harness teachers’ and school leaders’ learning. Our research is therefore more typically practice-based (in Swedish: praktiknära), in which questions that teachers have and challenges they face offer good starting points for both research and development.

Project members


Research Collegia

Collegium for Action Research

The collegium for Educational leadership


Members of the School Development and Leadership research environment are involved in several Nordic and international networks. You will find more information about each network here:

International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement

The Nordic Network for Action Research (NNAF)

The international network Pedagogy, Education, Praxis (PEP)

Nationellt forskarnätverk om skolors styrning, organisering och ledarskap (NSOL)