The lay/professional relationship: the relationship between headteachers and chairs of governing bodies of schools in wales.

Smith, Penny (2010). The lay/professional relationship: the relationship between headteachers and chairs of governing bodies of schools in wales. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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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.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
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 > LB2361 Curriculum
L Education > L Education (General)


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