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Power, agency and middle leadership in English primary schools

Hammersley-Fletcher, Linda and Strain, Michael (2011) Power, agency and middle leadership in English primary schools. British educational research journal, 37 (5). pp. 871-884. ISSN 0141-1926

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Abstract

English primary schools are considered quasi‐collegial institutions within which staff communicate regularly and openly. The activities of staff, however, are bound by institutional norms and conditions and by societal expectations. Wider agendas of governmental control over the curriculum and external controls to ensure accountability and learning standards have influenced the development and purposes of middle leaders’ roles. This is a conceptual paper that explores issues around the agency of primary school middle leaders within a wider context of the political and educational agenda. Through a reconsideration of research conducted by one of the authors since the inception of the notion of ‘subject leaders’, we exemplify ways in which primary school middle leaders’ attitudes have developed and changed over the past 15 years. In this paper we identify attitudes to leadership, the influence of distributed leadership on primary school role‐holders and possible ways forward for middle leaders.

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