Dr Haiyan Xu


Profile of Haiyan Xu

School/Department: Education, School of



My professional journey in education spans from China to the UK and crosses a spectrum of settings including primary, secondary, local government and higher education. I first taught English as a Foreign Language in Beijing for over ten years, winning a number of local and national teaching awards. After I obtained an MPhil from University of Cambridge and subsequently a PhD from the University of Leicester in the UK, I worked in a local government in London for three years as an internal evaluator of schools and child-related development projects. In 2021 I joined the School of Education at Leicester as a Lecturer, having previously worked in Associate Tutor and Teaching Fellow roles in the school. Currently I teach Master’s-level programmes which support both experienced and aspiring teachers to develop pedagogical and research expertise. I am the programme leader of MA International Education.  

Across this journey and the different roles, what remains constant is my keen interest in enhancing the educational experience of children and young people through developing classroom pedagogy and teachers. 


I have a broad research interest in classroom and teacher development pedagogies, with an international and cross-cultural perspective. I have over ten years of professional experience in lesson study, an East Asian model of teacher collaborative action research. In recent years, I have conducted research in this form of teacher professional collaboration with Chinese ELF teachers and UK mathematics teachers, resulting in journal articles and book chapters in this topic. 

During my time in a local government in the UK, I led the evaluation of large-scale projects, including a 2 million pounds project that provides targeted educational and professional support to children in need and their families. This is a multi-agency project that brings together professionals from education, social care, health, police, and other charitable service providers. 

Current and pipeline projects 

Currently I’m working on 

  • a UK-China collaborative project that investigates the use of Peer Micro-teaching Lesson Study, a recent variation of lesson study, for developing Chinese pre-service EFL teachers’ professional knowledge, skills and identity.
  • an Oxford University Press funded pilot study that looks at a new writing task they are developing. 

I am also working with colleagues in the school to develop a research project on classroom engagement and learning. 



Xu, H. (2020) “Lesson Study as evidence-based teacher collaboration and enquiry” in Poultney, V. (ed) Professional Learning Communities and Teacher Enquiry. Critical Publishing, 55-69

Dudley, P., Xu, H., Vermunt, J. D., & Lang, J. (2019). Empirical evidence of the impact of lesson study on students’ achievement, teachers’ professional learning and on institutional and system evolution. European Journal of education, 54(2), 202-217.

Xu, H.; Lang, Jean; & Dudley, Peter (2017) London Mathematics Lesson Study Hubs Project Evaluation Report, LSEFHUBS25, Greater London Authority, London. Available at

Cajkler, W.; Wood, P.; Norton, J.; Pedder, D & Xu, H. (2015). Teacher perspectives about lesson study in secondary school departments: a collaborative vehicle for professional learning and practice development, Research Papers in Education. DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2014.887139.

Xu, H. & Pedder, D. (2014) “Lesson Study: An international literature review” in Dudley, P. (ed) Lesson Study: Professional Learning for our time. London: Routledge, 29-58



I am interested in supervising doctoral students in the following areas:

  • Classroom pedagogy
  • Teacher professional development
  • Lesson Study
  • International education
  • Comparative education 

Current projects as co-supervisor

  • Improving access to higher education in the Global South: Creating and sharing culturally and pedagogically relevant Open Educational Resources – Dilani Abeyrathne


I am the programme leader of the MA International Education (MAIE) Campus Based programme. I teach the following modules across three Masters programmes: MAIE campus based, MAIE distance learning, and MSc Educational Leadership programmes.

  • Contemporary Issues in Education
  • Pedagogy
  • Research Methods


  • Member of the World Association of Lesson Study
  • Member of Cambridge Participatory Network
  • School Early Career Researcher (ECR) rep and member of CASSAH ECR Action Group 


University of Leicester Superstar nomination for best personal tutor (2020)


2021 – ‘District Teaching Researcher as ‘key actor’ in promoting and sustaining lesson study based learning community: A case from Beijing China’. Paper presented at the 2021 World Association of Lesson Study Conference, online. 

2021 – ‘Participatory curriculum development and research through Lesson Study: Two models from China and UK’. Invited talk at Cambridge Participatory Network, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.  

2020 – ‘Developing Lesson Study based Communities of Practice: Cases from China and UK’. Paper presented at the 2020 World Association of Lesson Study Conference, online. 

2018 – ‘Connecting classrooms and sharing learning: The London Mathematics Lesson Study Hubs Project’. Paper presented at the 2018 World Association of Lesson Study Conference, Beijing, China.

2015 – ‘Chinese, Japanese, and UK lesson studies: key features, contrast and possible implications for pupil and teacher learning and for system development. Invited talk at UK-Netherland Lesson Study Conference, Swiss Cottage, London 

2014 – What mediates collaboration in Lesson Study contexts? Insights from the discourse data of two lesson study teams in China. Paper presented at the 2014 World Association of Lesson Study Conference, Bandung.

Media coverage

  • Classroom pedagogy
  • Teacher professional development
  • Lesson study


  • Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy 
  • PhD Educational Research, University of Leicester 
  • MPhil Educational Leadership and School Improvement, University of Cambridge
  • MA Foreign and Applied Linguistics, Capital Normal University 
  • BA English Language Education, Capital Normal University 

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