Creating new from old: exploring the lived experiences of leaders implementing change within sponsored academies in England.

Entwistle, Caroline (2021). Creating new from old: exploring the lived experiences of leaders implementing change within sponsored academies in England. University of Birmingham. Ed.D.

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This study offers an original contribution to knowledge in leadership and structured professional collaboration. It adds to existing understandings of leadership within multi-academy trusts (MAT), particularly the experiences of secondary leaders within and across sponsored academies.

The thesis investigated the roles and responsibilities of leaders associated with four sponsored academies, part of a single MAT. The role of a school leader is complex. Their voices are often not heard in turnaround contexts (Leithwood, Harris, and Strauss, 2010; House of Commons, 2017a). There is also complexity around leadership roles within schools and at MAT level, as both roles increasingly require collaboration between contexts. Thus, there is value in better understanding them. By extension, little is known about daily practice or how the MAT influenced their schools (Hill et al., 2012; Salokangas and Chapman, 2014; Andrews et al., 2017; Hutchings and Francis, 2017; Papanastasiou, 2017; Greany, 2018; OFSTED, 2019). Therefore, this study included exploration of the role of those deployed from the MAT to support leaders working in sponsored academies.

The research is presented as a case study of the leadership in a MAT in England, from an insider perspective. The MAT is a system leader (Macdonald, Burke and Stewart, 2018) working within its own context and across geographical boundaries, to enact wider improvement. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather the accounts of school leaders and members of the MAT with parallel and overlapping roles. Documents that exemplified MAT leaders’ stories were also used to collate rich data, reflecting the complexities of leadership in a sponsored academy context.

The review of findings teased out the complexities of the school and MAT leaders’ roles within the sponsored academy setting. It became clear that there were marked differences in how leaders interacted and their perspectives of priorities in the sponsored academy context, despite ostensibly similar roles. The case study considered the differences in how leaders’ roles were enacted, and the reasons why. Detailed analysis identified a notable difference in the representation of the role of the MAT leader between the accounts of MAT leadership in school documents, and those of the leaders themselves. School leaders valued the contribution of the MAT leader, yet this role was less visibly represented in documents. In summary, the research contributed knowledge of educational leadership with a particular focus on structured professional collaboration in the MAT environment.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ed.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ed.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools


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