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Positioning you within Education: A critical exploration of the Lead Practitioner role in English secondary schools

Forbes, A M (2020) Positioning you within Education: A critical exploration of the Lead Practitioner role in English secondary schools. Doctoral thesis (EdD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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Motivated by discord at the heart of my own identifications as an educator and predicated upon a constructivist approach (Berger and Luckmann, 1967) to knowledge, my thesis examines representations and experiences of educational purpose through exploration of the Lead Practitioner (LP) role. Potentially occupying similar spaces to a previous model of Leadership and Management (LM), Advanced Skills Teachers (AST), I present the LP role as a particular expression of Distributed Leadership (DL) in the context of English secondary schools. Working with data produced primarily through autoethnographic and critical conversation methodological approaches, I specifically respond to the following research aims: 1. Understand how Lead Practitioners conceptualise a sense of educational purpose within their specific professional challenges; 2. Explore how Lead Practitioners might enable changes in professional practice; 3. Theorise how educational practices might be re-conceptualised. Framing this project through hermeneutic (Gadamer, 2004) processes of understanding, I am able to chart an evolution in how I identify with key educational notions. Where fundamental considerations such as emancipation, hegemony, and subjectivity simultaneously emerge as significant in my research, it is possible to suggest that the LP construct might also engender transformative (LM) educational practices more broadly. Indeed, accounting for findings that emerge through my interpretation of literature and data, I believe that my thesis makes four particular contributions to knowledge and practice. Specifically, these are: i) Presenting the LP role as a legitimised counterpoint to current gaps in (LM) literature; ii) Identifying a framework for critical modes of collaboration; iii) Establishing the potential for subjective constructions of practice as a LP; iv) Proposing the LP role as an emancipatory model of LM.

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