Give and Take: An Exploration of the Perspectives on Distributed Leadership Held by Secondary Head Teachers in South Wales

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    This study reports the findings of research into the perspectives held on distributed leadership by secondary head teachers in South Wales. Taking an interpretivist approach, the study used in-depth, semi-structured interviews with eight head teachers. A literature survey was completed to identify suitable sub-questions for these interviews. The analysis of the participants’ responses was conducted according to the principles of grounded theory. The study argues that although the head teachers are generally positive about the concept of distributed leadership, their efforts to enact it in practice are challenged by a systemic focus on achieving consistency in many significant areas within their schools. Thus, levels of autonomy and professional discretion over decision making become sites of tension. The head teachers in this study profess a philosophical and moral wish to enhance these aspects of professional life for their colleagues. Simultaneously, however, they feel compelled to put in place processes and systems which restrict these aspects, in order to achieve a ‘corporate’ consistency that they perceive is being demanded by external bodies such as regional consortia and Estyn, the Welsh inspection service. The study explores the head teachers’ often paradoxical attitudes to professional trust, and goes on to argue that these points of conflict are currently in the process of being resolved by head teachers. This process is far from complete. The study, then, produces a ‘snapshot’ in time of the dynamic evolution of distributed leadership in South Wales, within the context of contemporary educational pressures. It goes on to suggest that further research should be undertaken to explore in more detail how this resolution is being effected by head teachers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2017
    EventBERA 2017 - University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom
    Duration: 5 Sept 20177 Sept 2017


    ConferenceBERA 2017
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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