University of Bristol

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Contact Details: 

Office Room 3.01
Helen Wodehouse Building,
35 Berkeley Square, Clifton BS8 1JA
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+44 (0) 117 331 4366

Professor Leon Tikly



A key focus of Leon's work is education in low income countries and in particular countries of sub-Saharan Africa. He currently directs a project on language supportive textbooks and pedagogy in Rwanda. He recently led a DfID funded Research Programme Consortium (RPC) on Implementing Education Quality in Low Income Countries (EdQual) ( The consortium included partners based in the UK, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania, Pakistan and Chile. The research programme focused on understanding the factors that shape the educational achievement of disadvantaged learners in Africa and strategies to improve the quality of education particularly in science and mathematics education, the use of ICTs in the classroom, school leadership and language and literacy. Leon has also undertaken projects focusing on globalization and skills for development in Africa and on leadership and change in South African schools.

Leon is also interested in the achievement of Black and Minority Ethnic learners at risk of underachieving in the United Kingdom and Europe. He has undertaken several research projects in this area including evaluations of key government initiatives such as the Aiming High: Raising Black Caribbean achievement project and on understanding the educational needs of mixed heritage learners.  Leon has worked closely with policymakers and practitioners at the national and local level to develop models of successful practice for raising the achievement of disadvantaged groups of learners.

Although Leon's work is practical in orientation and has been impactful on policy and practice it is underpinned by theoretical questions. These include how to conceptualize education as an aspect of the 'postcolonial condition', the impact of globalization on the low income, world and how to understand the relationship between education, inequality and social justice.

Leon started his career as a science teacher first in London comprehensives and then in a school for South African refugees in Morogoro, Tanzania.  He completed his postgraduate studies at the University of Glasgow.  His PhD thesis is on Education Policy in South Africa Since 1947.  Leon worked as a policy researcher at the Education Policy Unit, University of the Witwatersrand during the transition period between apartheid and democracy in South Africa where he helped to formulate education policy for the new provincial and national governments.  On returning to the UK he took up a lectureship in International and Comparative Education at the University of Birmingham. Since moving to Bristol he has worked as a lecturer and then as a senior lecturer in Education Management and Policy before being given a chair in 2006.


Leon teaches at postgraduate level on the Master of Education (MEd), taught doctorate (EdD) and PhD programmes within the Graduate School of Education.  Most of his students are practicing teachers, lecturers or administrators from the UK and overseas.  A key part of his teaching is in Hong Kong where he contributes to Bristol's EdD programme.

Leon currently supervises seventeen doctoral students in the UK and in Hong Kong. He also teaches on the following postgraduate units:

- Leading for Organizational Change in Educational Settings EdD (Bristol and Hong kong)

- Leadership and Change MEd (Bristol and Hong Kong)

- Education, inequality and social justice MEd (Bristol)



  • African education
  • education quality
  • South African education
  • globalization and education
  • ethnicity and achievement in education


  • United Kingdom Forum for International Education and Training. British Association of International and Comparative Education. Comparative and International Education Society (US) World Council of Comparative and International education Societies