Dr Sophie Ward, PhD
Sophie Ward is an Associate Professor of Education. She joined the School of Education in 2011 after completing a BA, MA and PhD in Education at Durham University. Sophie’s research interests include: neoliberalism and education; creativity; the arts in education.
Sophie is interested in how neoliberal economic policy informs education policy. The most obvious manifestation of neoliberal thinking in contemporary education is the argument that the primary function of education is to equip young people with the skills and knowledge for employment. Sophie considers how and why employability has come to dominate education, and offers Shakespeare’s Renaissance humanism as a corrective to neoliberal ideology, in her book: Ward, S. (2017) Using Shakespeare’s Plays to Explore Education Policy Today: Neoliberalism through the lens of Renaissance humanism. Abingdon: Routledge.
In March 2013 Sophie was invited by Professor Carl Bagley to join the UK work team of the European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNosL). This organisation aims at improving school leadership in Europe through a collaborative network. It yielded two peer-reviewed journal articles (see publications below). In 2014 the UK team secured funding from the EU for the final stage of their research, which was to develop an English Action Plan on School Leadership. Sophie helped transform the current EPNoSL documentation and understandings on School Leadership developments and requirements for further action into a toolkit for teachers focussing on policy response, displayed on the EPNoSL website: http://toolkit.schoolleadership.eu/response_intro.php
Carl and Sophie gave a webinar on Policy Response: http://www.schoolleadership.eu/epnosl_vip/discussion/epnosl-webinar-policy-response-video-recording
In order to disseminate their research as widely as possible, Sophie devised and created a stop-motion Lego animation on Policy Response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSES3J10W-A
In 2011, Sophie formed a research team with colleagues in the School of Education (Dr Sue Beverton and Dr Sean McCusker). In conjunction with a team from the Centre for Evaluation and Measurement (CEM), led by Professor Christine Merrell, they wrote a successful funding bid for a two-year national evaluation of Teach First, on which Sophie was Co-Investigator. Funding came from two grants: Teach First Evaluation (£73021.65 from Teach First); Teach First Impact Assessment (£102258.35 from Teach First). The School of Education’s award was circa £200,000. Project title: Teach First Evaluation.
As a member of the UK work team of the European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL), funded by the EU, I co-authored four documents for dissemination amongst our European partners; posted work on a virtual platform and responded to comments, and attended the EPNsol Peer Learning Activity (PLA) social partners’ event under the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, ‘School Leadership as an Impetus to Education Policy Reforms’, 25th-27th November 2013, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions
Sophie would be pleased to hear from potential research students with an interest in how ideology shapes education in terms of the rationale offered for its provision; the way in which it is organised and delivered, and what is and is not taught.
School of Education
- Neoliberalism and education
- The arts in education
Indicators of Esteem
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy:
- Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce):
- Member of Durham University's Curriculum and Pedagogy Research Group:
- Member of the European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL):
- Member of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB):
- Registered as a referee for the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA):
- Ward, S.C. (2016). Using Shakespeare's Plays to Explore Education Policy Today: Neoliberalism through the lens of Renaissance humanism. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
- Ward, S.C. & Bagley, C. (2010). Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. Qualitative Research 10(2): 273-277.
Chapter in book
- Ward, S.C. (2015). The role of the Arts in the Society. In The Routledge International Handbook of Arts and Education. Fleming, M., Bresler, L. & O'Toole, J. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 106-121.
- Ward, S.C. (2014). Education and the 'New Totalitarianism': How standards for reporting on empirical studies of education limit the scope of academic research and communication. In Educational Research: Material Culture and its Representation. Smeyers, P. & Depaepe, M. Springer; Dordrecht. Educational Research, Vol. 8: 71-85.
- Ward, S. & Newton, L.D. (2012). 'Creativity is our Hope': A wider perspective on creativity. In Creativity for a New Curriculum: 5-11. Newton, L.D. Routledge. 120-130.
- Meyer, J.H.F., Shanahan, N., Norton, L.S., Walters, D., Ward, S. & Ewertson, H. (2006). Developing students' metalearning capacity: a grounded assessment framework. In Improving student learning 13 - Improving student learning through assessment. Rust, C. Oxford: OCSLD. 248-266.
- Ward, Sophie (2020). Education at the End of History: A Response to Francis Fukuyama. Educational Philosophy and Theory
- Ward, S. & Connolly, R. (2020). The Play is a Prison: the discourse of Prison Shakespeare. Studies in Theatre and Performance 40(2): 128-144.
- Ward, Sophie (2019). Virtue and the quiet art of scholarship: Reclaiming the university by A. Pirrie. Educational Philosophy and Theory 1.
- Ward, S. (2018). Boal, Theatre in Education and the Promotion of Fundamental British Values. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies: JCEPS 16(3): 38-67.
- Ward, S.C. (2018). In Search of Progress: Female Academics after Jane Eyre. Other Education 7(2): 55-74.
- Ward, S.C., Bagley, C., Lumby, J., Hamilton, T., Woods, P. & Roberts, A. (2016). What is ‘policy’ and what is ‘policy response’? An illustrative study of the implementation of the Leadership Standards for Social Justice in Scotland. Educational Management Administration & Leadership 44(1): 43-56.
- Ward, S.C., Bagley, C., Lumby, J., Woods, P., Hamilton, T. & Roberts, A. (2015). School Leadership for Equity: Lessons from the Literature. International Journal of Inclusive Education 19(4): 333-346.
- Smit, J., Bagley, C. & Ward, S. (2014). Uncovering Policy Response: Primary School Principals in the Netherlands and the Professions in Education Act. Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies – Sodobna pedagogika 65/131(4): 30-47.
- Ward, S.C. (2013). Creativity, Freedom and the Crash: how the concept of creativity was used as a bulwark against communism during the Cold War, and as a means to reconcile individuals to neoliberalism prior to the Great Recession. JCEPS: Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies 11(3): 110-126.
- Ward, S.C., Connolly, R. & Meyer, J.H.F. (2013). The Enactment of Metalearning Capacity: Using drama to help raise students' awareness of the self as learner. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 50(1): 14-24.
- Ward, S.C. (2012). Education under the Heel of Caesar: Reading UK Higher Education Reform through Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Journal of Philosophy of Education 46(4): 619-630.
- Ward, S.C. & Meyer, J.H.F. (2010). Metalearning capacity and threshold concept engagement. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 47(4): 369-378.
- Meyer, J.H.F., Ward, S.C. & Latreille, P. (2009). Threshold concepts and metalearning capacity. International Review of Economics Education 8(1): 132-154.
- Ward, S.C. & Connolly, R. (2008). Let them eat Shakespeare: prescribed authors and the National Curriculum. The Curriculum Journal 19(4): 293-307.
- Connolly, R. & Ward, S. (2010). Enacting Metalearning: Using Performance Based Research in conjunction with Meyer's Reflections on Learning Inventory to raise HND/FD students' awareness of the self as learner in the context of level six (final year) undergraduate study. Palatine (Performing Arts Learning and Teaching Innovation Network).