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Keynote Speaker

Dr Karen Edge.jpg

Dr Karen Edge

Pro-Vice-Provost (International)

UCL Institute of Education, University College London

United Kingdom
About Karen Edge

Dr Karen Edge is Pro-Vice-Provost (International) at UCL and Reader in Educational Leadership at UCL Institute of Education. Karen has conducted research in over 30 countries and has recently completed a 6 jurisdiction study of teacher motivation and retention. Karen recently led the ESRC-funded Global City Leaders Project working with 60+ Generation X (under-40-year old) school leaders in London, New York and Toronto to understand how the new generation of leaders are experiencing their careers, leadership and future aspirations. In turn, Karen and the team actively engage in research and policy advocacy to inform how education systems and cities can create new strategies to bolster the recruitment, development and retention of school leaders. She sits on ESRC (UK), Danish and Swiss National Research Review Panels and the Advisory Panel for International School Leadership Principals [] in Ontario. She has been a visiting academic in Canada, Malaysia and Chile. She is Past Editor-in-Chief of Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability (EAEA) and a current Editorial Board Member for EAEA, Educational Administration Quarterly, School Leadership and Management and Leadership and Policy in Schools. Before joining UCL IOE, Karen worked in senior advisory and research roles for the Minister of Education (Ontario) and the World Bank (Washington, DC). Karen consults domestically and internationally with organisations on strategy, leadership and research topics. Partners include Local Authorities, WISE Foundation, DfiD (UK), PLAN UK, British Council, the Department for Education (UK), ActionAid/Gates/ Hewlett Foundations and STIR Education. Karen also delivers professional and academic keynotes and workshops on leadership, knowledge management, talent spotting, well being, retention and system-level reform. In 2019, Karen will publish three books on transnational education policy (Bloomsbury), cities and education policy (Bloomsbury) and Generation X public sector leaders (Routledge). She completed her PhD in knowledge management and educational reform at the Ontario Institute of Education/University of Toronto. Karen is a highly sought after keynote speaker. She is known for being able to blend theory and practice with insight and humour. 


Bright Lights, Big Cities, Big Questions: 
Recruiting, Developing and Retaining Our Next Generation of Educational Leaders

Over the last decade, Dr Edge and her team observed a generational shift occurring in several big cities: the entrance of a new, younger, generation of leaders into the most senior school-level positions. These younger leaders are often from GenerationX (born between 1960-80). Generational sociology and business research has established that GenerationXers are collaborative, work-life balance hungry, tech-savvy and innovation and diversity-seeking at work. As a result of spotting this new city-based trend: our burning research questions were: Who are these leaders? How did they arrive? How are they leading? What do they want to be when they grow up?. Based on this evidence, our worry was that these Generation X school leaders may prioritise work-life balance, grow weary quickly of high-stakes accountability pressures and career-hop into other sectors or jobs. If this was to be the case, our collective policy assumptions about the future and stability of school leadership, may be wrong!


To answer these questions, Dr Edge and her team conducted a 4-year ESRC-funded (UK) research study exploring the work and lives of 60 Generation X leaders in three Global Cities (London, New York City and Toronto). The goal was to create a new evidence base on what some people refer to as the future of the education system: the next generation of school leaders.  The study has garnered much policy and practice attention for its preliminary findings on the past, present and future of GenerationX leaders and what current leaders can do to ensure the recruitment and retention of the leaders that will follow them.


In this interactive keynote, Dr Edge reviews the evidence about how the different generations currently working in Singapore schools may approach their work, lives and future ambitions. Participants will be able to reflect on their own generational positioning and how this may influence their own work priorities and preferences. Based on evidence, participants will also gain practical advice on how best to mobilise their colleagues to collaborate, lead and respond to challenges. In turn, Dr Edge will focus on the findings from the overall study and focus on how Generation X leaders are experiencing their career paths, leadership and lives beyond school. More specifically, Dr Edge will encourage participants to examine their own work and how they currently serve as role models and talent-spot and diversify the future generation of school leaders. The lessons from the research provide some important and inspiring points of reflection for leaders, academics, policy makers and professionals on their journey forward.


As we are globally in the midst of a period of forward thinking and educational innovation, there is an important policy/practice moment at which to pause, take stock and consider the future. Drawing on recent research and our study, the keynote presents a set of ideas and strategies for leaders and policy makers to consider as they work to recruit and retain leaders who can join them in their efforts to create the strongest possible educational community to support innovation and sustainability across the education system. 

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