The journey to academy principalship

Mackenzie-Batterbury, Rona (2012). The journey to academy principalship. University of Birmingham. Ed.D.


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This study explored the life and career journeys of twenty Principals leading sponsored academies in disadvantaged areas, which opened in England during 2010. The research focused on: the emergence of the academy programme; the significant influences on the life and career journey; the reasons behind the Principals’ application for academy leadership. The career pathway model identified by Gronn (1999) acted as the reference framework, focusing on the phases of formation and accession. This qualitative study adopted interview survey methodology, utilising the semi-structured interview method. Interviews were undertaken between September 2010 and January 2011 and explored the significant influences on three phases of leader development: the formative years; the journey to academy principalship; academy principalship. The findings showed that the process of leader formation for these respondents was influenced throughout their lives by contextual factors. In the formative years, family and schooling experiences were significant. During the career pathway, four categories of significant influence were identified: influential people; significant experiences; opportunities and rewards; impediments and challenges. These nurturing experiences influenced the development of the leaders’ values, personal qualities and leadership ambitions. An emerging theoretical framework is proposed to demonstrate the key influences. The emergence of the sponsored academy programme is detailed within the Review of Literature chapter. The fundamental factors underpinning the motivation to lead an academy were found to be driven by core values, promulgated from formative experiences and enhanced during the career pathway. The academy model was seen to provide a fresh start and aid the realisation of their ambition to work in a challenging, disadvantaged educational environment, making a positive difference to raise aspiration and improve the outcomes for students and their families.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ed.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ed.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
L Education > LA History of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education


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