Department of Education

Professor Alma Harris (FRSA)

Photograph of Alma Harris (29170_008)

Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy

1 WN 3.17b
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 3980

Twitter account: @almaharris1 


Professor Alma Harris (FRSA) is Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy in the Department of Education at the University of Bath. Professor Harris has held senior leadership posts at the University of Warwick (Professor and Director, Institute of Education), University College London (Professor and Director, London Leadership Centre) and the University of Malaya, Malaysia (Professor and Director, Institute of Educational Leadership). She has also held senior academic posts at the University of Nottingham and the Open University.

Professor Harris is internationally known for her research and writing on educational leadership and policy. In 2009–2012, she was a Senior Policy adviser to the Minister of Education at the Welsh Government where she co-led the national Professional Learning Communities (PLC) programme involving over 2000 schools in Wales. Professor Harris also led on the development and implementation of a Masters qualification (Masters of Educational Practice, MEP) for all newly qualified teachers in Wales.

Professor Harris has been a World Bank consultant since 2010, contributing to development and research programmes aimed at supporting and improving schools in the most challenging contexts. She is a Visiting Professor at the Moscow Higher School of Economics and a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton. Professor Harris is Past President of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement (ICSEI), which is an organization dedicated to enhancing quality and equity in education. Professor Harris received the honorary, lifetime award in 2016. She is an international adviser to the First Minister and Deputy Minister of Scotland.

Research interests

  • Education Policy and Practice
  • Organizational Leadership and Development 
  • Internationalization and globalization
  • School and System Improvement

Current projects

  • 7 System Leadership Project (2012- 2017) funded by the University of Malaya (PI)
  • Instructional Leadership (2015-17) funded by Hong Kong Institute of Education (Co I)
  • Turnaround Schools (2016-17) funded by the Head Foundation, Singapore (Co I)
  • School Effectiveness and Improvement with Universities of Southampton, Glasgow and Swansea (CoI)



Harris, A., Jones, M. and Huffman, J., 2017. Teachers Leading Educational Reform:The Power of Professional Learning Communities Routledge, London. Routledge.

Harris, A. and Jones, M. S., 2015. Leading Futures:Global Perspectives on Educational Leadership. Sage Publications.

Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2011. Professional Learning Communities in Action. LEANNTA.

Book Sections

Harris, A., Kasprzhak, A., Jones, M. and Isaeva, N., 2017. Managing to Lead? Contemporary Perspectives on Principals’ Practices in Russia. In: Waite, D. and Bogotch, I., eds. The Wiley International Handbook of Educational Leadership. USA: Wiley-Blackwell, 397 - 413.

Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2017. The Dutch Way:reflections, lessons and future directions. In: The Dutch Way in Education:. Netherlands: De Brink Foundation.


Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2017. Leading professional learning:putting teachers at the centre. School Leadership & Management, 37 (4), pp. 331-333.

Harris, A., Jones, M., Cheah, K. S. L., Devadason, E. and Adams, D., 2017. Exploring Principals’ Instructional Leadership Practices in Malaysia:Insights and Implications. Journal of Educational Administration, 55 (2), pp. 207-221.

Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2017. Leadership in turbulent times:A moment to pause? School Leadership and Management, 37 (1-2), pp. 1-2.

Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2017. Professional Learning Communities:A Strategy for School and System Improvement? Wales Journal of Education, 19 (1), pp. 16-38.

Harris, A. and DeFlaminis, J., 2016. Distributed leadership in practice:evidence, misconceptions and possibilities. Management in Education, 30 (4), pp. 141-146.

Adams, D., Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2016. Teacher-Parent Collaboration for an Inclusive Classroom: Success for Every Child. The Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Science, 4 (3), pp. 58-71.

Harris, A., Jones, M. and Adams, D., 2016. Qualified to lead? A comparative, contextual and cultural view of educational policy borrowing. Educational Research, 58 (2), pp. 166-178.

Spillane, J. P., Harris, A., Jones, M. and Mertz, K., 2015. Opportunities and challenges for taking a distributed perspective:novice school principals' emerging sense of their new position. British Educational Research Journal, 41 (6), pp. 1068-1085.

Miao, Z., Reynolds, D., Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2015. Comparing performance:a cross-national investigation into the teaching of mathematics in primary classrooms in England and China. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35 (3), pp. 392-403.

Jones, M., Adams, D., Hwee Joo, M. T., Muniandy, V., Perera, C. J. and Harris, A., 2015. Contemporary challenges and changes:principals' leadership practices in Malaysia. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35 (3), pp. 353-365.

Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2015. Transforming education systems:comparative and critical perspectives on school leadership. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35 (3), pp. 311-318.

Harris, A., Adams, D., Jones, M. S. and Muniandy, V., 2015. System effectiveness and improvement:the importance of theory and context. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 26 (1), pp. 1-3.

Bysik, N., Evstigneeva, N., Isaeva, N., Kukso, K., Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2015. A missing link? Contemporary insights into principal preparation and training in Russia. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35 (3), pp. 331-341.

Harris, A., Jones, M. S., Adams, D., Perera, C. J. and Sharma, S., 2014. High-Performing Education Systems in Asia:Leadership Art meets Implementation Science. Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 23 (4), pp. 861-869.

Jones, M. and Harris, A., 2014. Principals leading successful organisational change:Building social capital through disciplined professional collaboration. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 27 (3), pp. 473-485.

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

Harris, A., Jones, M. and Baba, S., 2013. Distributed leadership and digital collaborative learning:A synergistic relationship? British Journal of Educational Technology, 44 (6), pp. 926-939.

Harris, A., 2013. Distributed leadership:friend or foe? Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 41 (5), pp. 545-554.

Harris, A., Chapman, C., Muijs, D., Reynolds, D., Campbell, C., Creemers, B., Earl, L., Kyriakides, L., Munoz, G., Stoll, L., Stringfield, S., Van Velzen, B. and Weinstein, J., 2013. Getting lost in translation? An analysis of the international engagement of practitioners and policy-makers with the educational effectiveness research base. School Leadership & Management, 33 (1), pp. 3-19.

Harris, A., Jones, M., Sharma, S. and Kannan, S., 2013. Leading educational transformation in Asia:Sustaining the knowledge society. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 33 (2), pp. 212-221.

Harris, A., 2011. Distributed leadership:implications for the role of the principal. Journal of Management Development, 31 (1), pp. 7-17.

Harris, A., 2011. System improvement through collective capacity building. Journal of Educational Administration, 49 (6), pp. 624-636.

Harris, A., 2010. Leading system transformation. School Leadership & Management, 30 (3), pp. 197-207.

Harris, A. and Jones, M., 2010. Professional learning communities and system improvement. Improving Schools, 13 (2), pp. 172-181.

Harris, A. and Allen, T., 2009. Ensuring every child matters:issues and implications for school leadership. School Leadership & Management, 29 (4), pp. 337-352.

Harris, A., 2009. Big change question:Does politics help or hinder education change? Journal of Educational Change, 10 (1), pp. 63-67.

Leithwood, K., Harris, A. and Hopkins, D., 2008. Seven strong claims about successful school leadership. School Leadership & Management, 28 (1), pp. 27-42.

Harris, A., Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammons, P. and Hopkins, D., 2007. Distributed leadership and organizational change:reviewing the evidence. Journal of Educational Change, 8 (4), pp. 337-347.

Harris, A. and Townsend, A., 2007. Developing leaders for tomorrow:releasing system potential. School Leadership & Management, 27 (2), pp. 167-177.

Harris, A., 2007. Distributed leadership:conceptual confusion and empirical reticence. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 10 (3), pp. 315-325.

Harris, A., Chapman, C., Muijs, D., Russ, J. and Stoll, L., 2006. Improving schools in challenging contexts:exploring the possible. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 17 (4), pp. 409-424.

Muijs, D. and Harris, A., 2006. Teacher led school improvement:Teacher leadership in the UK. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22 (8), pp. 961-972.

Harris, A., 2006. Leading change in schools in difficulty. Journal of Educational Change, 7 (1-2), pp. 9-18.

Harris, A. and Ranson, S., 2005. The contradictions of education policy:Disadvantage and achievement. British Educational Research Journal, 31 (5), pp. 571-587.

Harris, A., 2003. Distributed leadership in schools:leading or misleading? Management in Education, 16 (5), pp. 10-13.

Harris, A., 2003. Teacher leadership as distributed leadership:heresy, fantasy or possibility? School Leadership & Management, 23 (3), pp. 313-324.

Harris, A., Day, C. and Hadfield, M., 2003. Teachers' perspectives on effective school leadership. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 9 (1), pp. 67-77.

Harris, A., 2001. Department improvement and school improvement:A missing link? British Educational Research Journal, 27 (4), pp. 477-486.

Hopkins, D., Harris, A., Watling, R. and Beresford, J., 1999. From inspection to school improvement? Evaluating the accelerated inspection programme in Waltham Forest. British Educational Research Journal, 25 (5), pp. 679-690.

Whitehead, J., Harris, A., Maughan, S. and Menter, I., 1998. Diversity in principle and practice:addressing the problem of teacher supply. Educational Research, 40 (3), pp. 267-281.

Gould, N. and Harris, A., 1996. Student imagery of practice in social work and teacher education: A comparative research approach. The British Journal of Social Work, 26 (2), pp. 223-238.

This list was generated on Thu Oct 19 14:01:58 2017 IST.