Smith, Penny (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis examines the relationship between headteachers and chairs of school governing bodies in Wales, exploring lay involvement in the governance of education. One main rationale for the thesis was the recognition that school governors constitute the biggest group of volunteers in the UK (400,000), 26,000 in Wales and are, theoretically, at least, a potentially powerful group. There have however been few studies on school governors. A multi-methodological approach was taken. Schools were initially selected in nine Welsh LEAs with three schools in three LEAs forming the case studies. Data revealed the key relationship between headteachers and governor chairs, the most notable tension between the ‘insider’ identity of the headteacher, and the ‘outsider’ identity of the chair. Governors, and chairs in particular however, tended to be professionals themselves, their ‘habitus’ inclining them to act in accordance with the values of headteachers, the two speaking the same ‘language’. Tensions between the chair’s community leadership role and the head’s professional position were also identifiable, although these were often offset by the chair’s relative insider identity, potentially muting the challenge to school practice. The study is located within a history of governors and schooling as governance. Michel Foucault, Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu provide a theoretical framework, giving rise to the following questions: What discourses are valued in school governing bodies and head/chair relationship? What are the effects of the coding of knowledge and discourse in the professional / lay interface? How are social dispositions of governors’ influential in how they conduct their role – and what are the political implications of this. Ultimately, the research addresses the question concerning the extent that governors can be agents for democratic participation in the context of local politics and national systems.
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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