Leadership effectiveness in Scottish primary schools
Paper presented at the Scottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Perth, Scotland, 27-29 November 2003
Recent government initiatives in Scotland and other parts of the world have located national and local professional development programmes for aspirant and current head teachers at the centre of efforts to develop effective leadership for raising standards and improvement of public services. Hall and Southworth (1997, p.167) advocated that "If it is true that heads are the central players in their school’s success, then we urgently need to embark on the studies which will illuminate how they can be supported, challenged and developed into highly effective head teachers" This paper will address the extent of recognition these themes have in different Education Authorities particularly views on CPD effectiveness as a central theme. Education authorities have a major part to play in addressing this issue. Effective research use and effective CPD implementation at the local level have the potential to facilitate head teacher effectiveness. This project has identified some barriers to CPD effectiveness and possible strategies of reducing such problems. Linking the "double-gap" between research and CPD and between CPD and practice could enhance leadership effectiveness for school improvement.
Grace (1995, p.1) stated, "The culture and politics of educational leadership is currently emerging as a major field of social and educational inquiry. The study of school leadership is attracting much more attention internationally" Leadership studies are attracting more researchers in quest to develop leadership effectiveness. Higher education academics, practitioners and other CPD providers are involved in action research that seeks to define the complexity of the nature of leadership. Harris, et al (2002) suggests, "Effective school leadership has become a dominant theme in contemporary educational reform. Research findings from different countries and diverse school contexts have revealed the powerful impact of leadership on processes related to school effectiveness and improvement".
The establishment of the relationship between leadership and school effectiveness has been strongly claimed by many for example, Mortimore (1991 in Tomlinson, 1999, p.20) defined an effective school as one in which students’ progress further than might be expected. He suggested that, "The standard measurement of effective schools is reflected by high achievement in test scores or high grades". Many factors of effective schools are interdependent and important but a closer examination of each, in this case headship, might help us to understand the dynamics of leadership and the crucial role it plays in the process of developing effective schools. Gronn, in Tomlinson, (1999, p.24) strongly asserted that head teachers determine failure or success of their schools. The importance of leadership in attaining effective schools could be argued but this project focuses on the importance of leadership within a school as its own control. Thomas (1998, p.341) argues, "If we approach the importance of leadership between schools or general variables in education, we will find that leadership probably accounts for no more than 10% of variance in effectiveness or outcomes because of other demographic factors for example, school background or home environment where as if we use each school as its own control we may find that leadership accounts for about 70% of the remaining variance". Whilst the quality of teaching has a powerful influence upon pupil motivation and achievement, the quality of leadership may determine the motivation of teachers and the quality of teaching in the classroom. "It is for this reason that leadership has generated an enormous amount of interest among researchers and practitioners and continue to produce a stead stream of empirical evidence about headship but the endless accumulation has not produced effective leadership practice" (Harris and Lambert, 2003). This implies that despite a long list of empirical studies on effective leadership, some leaders continue to lead with difficulty.
Silins and Mulford, (2001) some of the latest distributed leadership theorists advocated that, "Other forms of leadership have been found to have a positive impact on achievement". They could argue the head teacher’s pivotal position in attaining effective schools but my project clarifies the importance of other levels of leadership within a school but as stated in the abstract, one of the compelling statements in my review of literature was by Hall and Southworth (1997, p. 167) who stated, "Head teacher development is not fully understood. There is a need to map the critical incidents and epiphanies in their professional development. If it is true that heads are the central key factors in their schools’ success, then we urgently need to embark on the studies which will illuminate how they can be supported, challenged and developed into highly effective head teachers". Leadership effectiveness of other staff members is largely dependent on the head’s ability to empower them and the effectiveness of the head is largely dependent on the support he gets from all stakeholders. Bolman and Rafael, (1995 p. 312) stated:
"The head teacher is like a driver of a skidding automobile. The marginal judgements he makes, his skill and his luck will make some difference to the life prospects of his riders. As a result, his responsibilities are heavy. But whether he is convicted of manslaughter, or receives a medal for heroism is largely outside his control".
My study is concerned with analysing the head teachers’ perceptions on the nature of leadership, analysing the content and organisation of local and national CPD for effective leadership and how best heads could be supported, challenged and developed into highly effective practitioners. Having done a qualitative study in schools from one EA, five themes of effective leadership emerged. Further interviews in more schools from three other Education Authorities (EAs) and a group interview with twenty-two heads and teachers from a Research practitioner’s group clarified the importance of these themes in improving and maintaining effective leadership. Further work in EAs was designed to investigate how far these themes were valid and how heads could be supported in developing them for better schools.
In this paper, I focus on the responses of education authorities (heads employers and central CPD providers responsible for their effectiveness) to the five themes, which emerged, from the earlier parts of my investigations but in some cases, I will refer back to some responses by heads to clarify how EAs came to respond the way the did.
The five themes, which illuminate the nature of effective leadership, are:
The Aims of the Study are to:
The methodology employed was both quantitative and qualitative. This involved survey questionnaires which, were sent to all EAs in Scotland and. They were meant to inform the design of the qualitative approach. These provided the background of EAs and views to inform structured interviews to those who were willing to be interviewed.
The procedures used in data analysis vary depending with the chosen type of qualitative method. There are a number of well-known accounts of the principles of underpinning data analysis but the analytic inductive processes have had considerable influence on the task I did. (Glaser and Strauss, 1992, Pages 19-23). Burgess has commented upon the importance of evaluating processes involved in analysing data. Inductive processes involved sorting and sifting of coded data. Isolating similarities and differences then identifying relationships between variables gradually elaborated generalisations that covered consistencies discerned in the data. Confronting these generalisations with a formalised body of knowledge was done in the form of constructs of themes. (Burgess, 1995) Inductive processes serve to provide the structure within which data are organised, for example organising emergent themes. The strength of qualitative data is their richness and holism and they may give an idea of what "real life" is like. The limitation of inductive processes is that explanations based on this method can never achieve the status of ‘proof’, (Atkinson, 1991, 47).
PD: Professional Development
CPD: Continuing Professional Development
CPDP: Continuing Professional Development Programmes
EA: Education Authority
EAs: Education Authorities
ICS: Integrated Community Services
SEED: Scottish Executive Education Department
* Diagram on p.23 (x) will show when you print
Education authorities views on Themes
The nature of decision-making has always presented complexity, but most researchers would agree that this complexity should not deter us from vigorous analysis. Steinberg (1992) defined consultation as "A leadership approach which is a joint exercise in problem clarification and problem solving which enhances the professional competence of those involved. The consultant should have a co- equal relationship where each respects the other’s expertise and the climate is created to enable each to contribute"
One of the EA coordinators defined a consultative approach as, "The process of actively providing stakeholders with an opportunity to contribute to the decision making process, having a canvassed opinion, consultation also provides an opportunity for all participant to receive feedback" (Silverview EA co-ordinator)
The definition of consultative approach appeared to be problematic at all levels, locally within the schools, regionally between EAs and schools and nationally between EAs and the government. This section will focus on how EA coordinators feel about the concept of consultative approach. Education Authorities are aware of the need to develop consultative practices e.g.
"New legislation means that schools must consult with stake holders" (Eastview EA coordinator)
Education Authorities, like heads views in earlier investigations also feel that the definition of consultation remains problematic at all levels for example,
"There needs to be a better understanding of what is meant by consultation. Too often, consultation is seen as an agreement with your ideas rather than a genuine desire to learn what others have to say and be prepared to alter your intended outcome in the light of the consultation you have sought" (Borrowdale EA coordinator)
"There is a need for those who consult to develop awareness and a wider room to appreciate roles and responsibilities of practitioners and be realistic of expectations and limitations to facilitate effective consultation" (Falcom EA coordinator)
Further interviews with the education authority coordinators showed that the concept of consultative approach remains problematic even at the EA level. Some confirmed similar views between the EAs and government for example:
"I am very cynical about consultation processes by the government because I sometimes feel that it is meaningless. I can’t remember any instances in the last few years in Scotland there had been any evidence of change as a result of consultative exercise, that has been my experience of national consultation processes
Nevertheless, interviews with EA coordinators, like heads’ views, clarify that there are many definitions and processes of consultation (see table) below on types of consultative approach. Education Authorities views suggest that there are two major definitions of consultation, fixed and open consultative approach.
"Fixed consultative approach is usually contrived, predetermined which means the person who consultation would have made a decision before the exercise, defeating the purpose of the exercise. It does not leave room for manoeuvring or flexibility" (Falcom EA coordinator)
He gave an example of fixed consultative approach, which occurred in their EA when the government consulted the community about closure of some schools of which none wanted those particular schools closed but they closed them to facilitate political interests, defeating the purpose of the exercise. "They just consulted for the sake of consultation to calm down and disguise frustrations of the community". (Falcom) On the other side "Open consultation" (OC), involves planning clear objectives for the exercise, a genuine process whereby views of the people are taken on board as a distributive decision making approach which is described by Day, (1998, p. 11-19) as headship collective which promotes the concept of shared leadership, one of the factors of effective leadership. The open model encourages the person who consults to inform people as much as possible with room for flexibility. Transparent processes are involved from the beginning to the end of the decision making process.
Effective communication prior to consultation could clarify the purpose whether it is done to facilitate closed, contained or open change. Open change occurs where there is a wide spread agreement of those involved, they identify what happened, why it happened and how they need to change it. Closed change do not need acceptance by those involved because they are not aware of the need to change or what to change. This is a vital step because the person who consults needs to communicate a clear purpose of the exercise in order to get full participation by those who will implement change (Bales, 1996, 70).
An open model of the consultative approach is practiced in one EA where the coordinator stated that,
"Our director assures that all groups are represented by getting them involved in active consultation groups. We have consultation groups made up of a group of heads from each cluster. EA passes all issues to the group before sending them out. Each cluster representative goes back to their schools and share with them and then back to the heads consultation group to agree and then feed the EA with their collective their views" (Borrowdale EA coordinator)
He claimed that government consultative processes are contrived and politically driven. Most EAs appeared to comply with the government impositions but some took an aggressive approach by consulting with staff as to how best they could implement policies. One author advocated the importance of distributed decision making processes by emphasizing, "Leaders of establishments have a responsibility to establish shared cultures. Without collaboration and effective consultation processes, change processes could be difficult" (Fullan, 2003, page 68). Most EA coordinators interviewed acknowledged that effective consultation processes are vital to facilitate change. Fullan suggests that involving those who will implement changes could make consultative processes less difficult but it could be argued that unless the contextual environment and making working conditions desirable with effective follow up of implementations, resistance could still prevail.
Models of consultative approach appear to be linked to types of authority identified by Max Weber in Mullins, (1999). These are the rational legal authority, traditional and charismatic authority. Legal rational authority, a strong factor in bureaucratic organizations appears to dominate the fixed consultative approach. Weber defined bureaucratic organizations by listing four major characteristics which are: specialization, hierarchy of authority, system of rules and impersonality where by rules are carefully defined to appeal certain types of decisions to meet certain types of people. Weber, (1977) in Mullins, (1999, 226-227) It is clear that Fixed Consultation ties with the legal rational authority which is "Based on the establishment of rules, laws and ascribed procedures of the political system", (Bacharach and Lawler, 1990, 98). Like Bacharach and Lawyer’s views, most heads and education authority coordinators interviewed believe that the National Priorities are prescribed to promote political interests. All EAs interviewed are aware that the government imposes but they comply with the rules as a duty to fulfill their responsibilities, which they feel they have been employed to implement. When asked about their views on consultative practices by the government, some responded:
"It becomes difficult when they come from the government as impositions while at the same time we are expected to consult at the EA level, I am cynical about the government consultative processes because they defeat the purpose but we are bound to comply to promote politically driven national priorities " (Iona EA coordinator)
"We are paid to carry out the National Priorities, they expect us to consult but they dictate and we get paid for that" (Sacred Hills head)
"It is about having final powers to require Education authorities to drive up standards, new rules to empower EAs to have a right to appeal against ministerial intervention to force improvements…." (Peacock, reported by Munro, 2003, 11 p.7).
When asked if the processes defeat the purpose of consulting, one coordinator responded, "Yes" (Glenlivet EA coordinator). This draws us back to the complexity of the meaning of a consultative approach but the two major models helps to clarify common procedures employed by practitioners locally, regionally and nationally.
It appears that a lot of times, the two models of consultative approach tie with the two major leadership styles, fixed consultation with autocratic leadership style and open consultation with the democratic leadership style. (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 1994, page 266).
Two Major Types of Consultative Approach derived from EA views
Fixed Consultative Approach
Open Consultative Approach
Tallies with autocratic leadership style and Legal rational Authority (Weber in Mullins, 1999)
Legitimate Power (perception that the leader has a right and ability to exercise positional power
Tallies with democratic leadership style (Fieddler, 1992)
(decisions usually made before consulting)
Open Consultative Approach:
Consulting appears to be an easy exercise, most leaders consult but the "meaning and purpose" of consultation to those who consults makes a difference. I have developed the following definition of an open model of consultation, derived from EA views is:
The problem is shared with the group, the leader acts as chairman rather than an advocate. Together they generate and evaluate alternatives and attempt to reach group consensus on a solution.
The dominant definition in practice in most cases visited appears to be as follows:
The leader consults individually or to the group, makes decisions, which may or may not reflect influence of the group. Some justify their approach by stating that, "At the end of the day I have to decide………"
The difference between the above definitions is that on the second definition (common one in practice) the process is not open and feedback is not clear as to how and why they reached the decision and therefore defeating the purpose of the exercise.
The Open Consultative approach occurs when:
2. "Extended Education Management"
Fiddler (1997, 2) emphasised that "Head teachers are important as mediators between pupils and many other external alliances", but some heads tend to go beyond their responsibilities and appear to engage in many aspects of education beyond the convention and normal expectations of their role taking certain "social work" activities. Government initiatives in Scotland, as well as else where in Europe and North America to locate leadership programmes for head teachers at the centre of efforts to improve school effectiveness have been stepping stones to promote headship as a profession in its own right. This transitional process and the drastic changes in family structures, values in education, have presented complexity to everyone involved especially the head teachers.
A landmark study by Coleman (1996. p.266) concluded "Family background matters far more in determining student achievement than any other attributes of the formal educational system. The study concluded that home is twice as powerful as the school in determining achievement". Given the existence of changes in families and influence of television, it becomes obvious that the challenges faced by schools in meeting the needs of today’s children are different from several decades ago. A long list of changes has complicated the changing role of the head teacher.
This is not a common theme in literature but is dominant in practice within schools apparently because of the change of the society, break down of the nuclear family unit, teen parenting, diminishing role of the church as far as moral aspects are concerned and loosened disciplinary policies at school and at home. "Extended Education Management" appeared to be problematic when heads get over involved instead of involving other interdisciplinary team members in looking at the child as a whole. It appears that over involvement could deprive the child of the expert intervention; increase staff overloads and divert focus from leadership and management roles.
Education authorities have extremely different approaches to this theme, (see responses below) probably because of different demographic contexts. Development of an awareness of this theme in each EA has been varied with some well into progressive developments while some responded that some schools or heads are not aware of the role of extended educational management; for example two coordinators responded that:
"Oh! This is an interesting one, which I haven’t thought about, some heads are not aware that there is expert help and they do not even pause to ask that am I the right person to do this? It is important that we develop an awareness of availability of appropriate help, in addition to that, it is possible that shortage of social workers, psychologists and other inter agencies could drive schools to get over involved."
"This could also be inevitable given the current agenda that schools are expected to address problems to other agencies but unfortunately the burden of actual doing things seems to fall unduly on schools. One coordinator stated that it could be argued that the balance of priority needs should be readdressed in favor of teaching and learning" (Glenlivet EA coordinator)
Interviews suggest it is not clear as to when heads should pause and consider experts’ involvement. My argument is that although heads or schools are expected to look at the child as whole, the consequences of over involvement have negative impact on the child, head teacher and the school. When heads get over involved, effectiveness of inter-agency teams could be affected.
In contrast with other EAs that are not aware of the availability of expert help, some EAs have established strong supporting evidence for developing this theme for example, Silverview education authority have plans to facilitate a model of care and welfare guided by the data protection Act of 1998. Plans are in place to nominate a children's service coordinator who will be leading an inter-agency working group to provide balanced support of children with those particular needs within an educational establishment. The person will contribute to the implementation processes of consistent support across their schools. They will work collaboratively to integrate schools, social workers, medical professionals, psychologists, and police and sports services for the benefit of the child.
"All statutory organizations' representatives will aim to safeguard and promote the welfare and safety of children in needs. They plan to have periodic meetings as a Joint Assessment Team (JAT) discussing positive ethos, personal safety, protection and ways of developing self-esteem in young people’s lives". (Silverview EA coordinator)
The concept of the New Community School is a positive step towards the Extended Education Management role but teething problems appear to cause some confusion for example,
"The national evaluation of the project by the University of London Institute of Education concluded that the pilot community school has been unable to demonstrate substantial impacts on any of the ambitious targets set" (TES, September, 2003, p. 5)
One of the leading heads, a principal of a New Community School stated that the judgment on the success or failure of the project are being made too early compare to America where the concept originated and evaluations of impact made after ten years.
"The Integrated Community School (ICS) is a kick start that has shown what is possible, judgments should be made on their potential rather than branding them as success or failure" (Head teacher reported by Cairney, 2003, p.6)
He further stated the danger of looking for outcomes too soon and that if we don’t find them it could be misinterpreted for failure. The idea of the project is a positive step but my argument is that leaders are not prepared to welcome critics; yet developing an awareness of problems at an early stage needs to be addressed. SEED plans to extend the project to all schools by 2007:
"The Scottish Executive is pledged to expand the Integrated Community Schools concept to every school by 2007, provided nearly 78 million to support it" (Cairney, 2003, 7)
Recent views from the Education Minister suggest that Extended Education Management is a strongly emerging concept with wider plans to extend the role of the head teacher. The minister of education Mr. Peacock spoke on bringing down the barriers to achieving Integrated Community Schools by stating,
"I want us to explore what more head teachers can do to help secure the packages of support for younger people and families who need it in and out of school" (Peacock, reported by Munro, 2003, p.3)
One EA coordinator acknowledged involvement in the new community school as a positive model of looking at the child as a whole but argued that, "It could be fatal for heads to try to be social workers or health care," (Glenlivet) He emphasized that the major role for heads should be that of creating partnership with inter agency teams. It could be argued that although schools are the centre of the learning community, other agencies should not take schools as anchors (attached to them to fulfill their job) but should always bear in mind that their major role is mainly of teaching, learning and to support multi agency for the benefit of the child. One of the heads in this EA had just taken up a new role as the Learning Community Principal where one of the heads has a special role to coordinate six primary schools, six secondary schools and six special education schools.
His title is Principal of the Learning Community School and his major role is to integrate and create partnerships with other organizations to come into the school to work with staff. As the manager, his role is to: co-ordinate and integrate about 24 schools with other multi-agencies, improve integration between interdisciplinary teams or agencies with school staff to meet the needs of the children, discuss how best they can work together to improve children’s services. Other disciplines involved are police, social workers, sports development officer, psychologists and medical personnel. (Glenlivet EA coordinator)
Promoting the concept of extended education management when the head extends his role to a completely new title with a different agenda is ideal but it could be argued that development of this theme could limit heads’ over commitment. The idea of the New Community School is a positive model but the danger is that the head is taking up a completely different fulltime role as an extension on top of an already demanding role. Future plans for Silverview New Community School will attempt to develop leadership opportunities by nominating staff to take lead of the Integrated Community School and to allow head to offer limited support and advice in order to focus on leadership and management of teaching and learning. Obviously as a new post, it becomes clear that brand new roles are introduced including working with an extra set of staff from 24 schools. It could be impossible to meet needs of both roles as they are both demanding jobs for example the EA coordinator in this EA also stated that, "It is a huge job" on top of headship. (Glenlivet EA coordinator)
EAs could allocate a different person, (not a head teacher with full responsibility of a school) to fill this position to make the best out of it and enhance the theme of extended education management in a positive way. There could be role conflict if the head takes on extra role of Principal of the Learning Community. There is a need for clearly defined policy on roles to avoid role ambiguity and ineffectiveness of the positive framework they initiated. Allocating a new role could promote SEED’s draft for consultation, (2002, P.3) which aims to develop distributed leadership. The framework encourages annual reviews to help heads to create leadership opportunities for teachers who could be project, team, or strategic leaders who can further develop themselves by taking up such roles than widening other types of leadership on the head teacher, who has an already demanding job.
EA views show that some EAs are aware of the need for extension of heads’ role to create partnership with interdisciplinary teams but some are still juggling with everything without realizing that they are over-working themselves and depriving children of expert help. It appears that there is inconsistency of support to develop the concept of extended education management. There could be a need to raise an awareness that SEED needs to be consistent in support because it appears that some EA have not started to involve special services to meet these needs and also that heads are not even aware of the special services available to them. Some EAs are rapidly developing this theme, with plans for special roles in place to operate in the near future. The argument is that role clarification still remains unclear. It is important to commit non-heads to take full responsibility as principals of learning community schools than overloading heads who have an already demanding job. One EA coordinator stated,
"It could be important for SEED ministers like Peter Peacock to form a task force group like the LAMPS group, something like that to look at issues in society and how they could be best addressed by what organization or agencies and how those agencies could be supported financially and consider appropriate training because social issues are as important as leadership issues. They tend to affect most social institutes like schools, family background as well as variables like attainment and inter agency effectiveness" (Riverside EA coordinator)
A couple of months after one EA coordinator suggested the above statement, the minister of education announced the plans to commit himself to monitor development of Integrated Community Schools when he delivered a stern rebuke on EAs, he stated,
"Looked after children are condemned to a life of difficulty because of failing services. I will be monitoring very closely the actions they are taking to ensure that we secure a better deal for these young people"
He also demanded to know how EAs spent £10 million, which was allocated to improve integrated services. With plans to expand Integrated Community Schools in 2007, we can expect the "Extended" role of the head to be further complicated. Urgent work is vital to clarify the nature of Extended Education Management remits. Further commitments by the minister of education could be helpful especially developing a fresh approach to role clarification which Fullan identified as "Role overload and Role ambiguity" when he did a study of headship in Toronto and found that, "Almost everywhere you go you see more expectations being loaded on principals, this explosion of demands on heads decreases school leaders' sense of efficiency leading to many questioning whether the job can be done but also whether it is worth the personal cost" (Fullan, 2003 p.22).
One EA acknowledged the development of the New Community School as a positive model of looking at the child's as a whole but remarked that heads should not try to do too much. The Borrowdale coordinator emphasised that the head’s major role is to assist creating partnership with other interdisciplinary team members. He argued that although schools are the centres of the Learning Community Schools, it should not be partnership where other agencies should take schools as anchors (attached to them) but should always bear in mind that their major role is of teaching and learning and supporting interagency in their strategies. Arguably, they may not compensate, but they can work but caution is vital to limit interference of management and leadership roles. Ineffective integrated services could affect the flow of teaching and learning.
One of the directors of education and a member of the community school steering group stated that,
EAs have to display vision and commitment and be prepared to let go and be clear about our expectations. We have to allow and empower heads and other staff at local level to consider the right solutions for their communities" (Rae, reported by Cairney, 2003, p. 6)
She also pointed out the role of the EAs to monitor them. She advocated decentralisation of leadership in developing Integrated Schools, which would empower heads to consult and decide to fit their communities.
When the United States initiated Community Schools over two decades ago, Levy and Copple (1993) noted that, "Schools alone cannot compensate for the disadvantages created by troubled homes and communities" They advocated that complex problems call for comprehensive services for the whole person. Under the community service centre concept, schools are expected to collaborate with a variety of multidisciplinary services to meet diversified needs of the children where schools would serve as broker of services. The role played by the head is crucial in mediating these services. Heads need support and a clear role clarification of extended management to avoid over-commitment. EAs could nominate an independent manager to be responsible of co-coordinating inter-agencies to enhance effectiveness of extended education management.
My argument is that systematic development of "Extended Education Management" appears to be hindered by role ambiguity and ineffective collaboration of interagency. Effectiveness of Extended Education Management could be developed when heads limit over commitment within the inter-agency context. Heads’ role as mediators could facilitate performance when they get involved appropriately especially in facilitating effective integration of multi-agency team.
When heads are aware of expert help, they identify that help and support the multi- disciplinary team. Their role in facilitating effectiveness of inter-agencies is pivotal. It could be dysfunctional when they are not aware or do not acknowledge external integration services team roles. They get over-involved depriving the child of appropriate intervention, over working themselves leading to stress and diversion of leadership roles that could lead to poor attainment. With plans to expand Integrated Community Schools in all schools by 2007, "Extended Education Management" role is prominent but its clarification is important to avoid facilitating other roles at the expense of leadership in teaching and learning.
3. "Public Perceptions of Educational professionals"
Menter et al, (1995, p.311) analysed the heads’ perceptions in twelve primary schools in England and remarked that, "The impact of marketisation on schools has made some significant changes on the role of the head teachers and public expectations due to the complexity of the processes of connecting business models of management and heads’ practices". Fullan in his study of the changing role of the head teacher in Canada concluded, "Almost everywhere you go you see more expectations being loaded on principals, this explosion of demands on heads decreases school leaders' sense of efficiency". (Fullan, 2003 p.22). He stated that all the heads encountered in this acknowledged that their lives have grown more complicated and less satisfying leading to many questioning whether the job can be done but also whether it is worth the personal cost.
Varied views were given on this theme. Most EA co-coordinators agreed that schools can’t do everything, but they feel that the public including SEED, parents and the whole community in general expect too much from schools. The government has raised expectations from schools probably because of taxpayers’ money invested in education. Although the government trusts schools to be change agents, some practitioners interviewed stated that the change of society, declining family stability, the rise of single parent families, teen pregnancy leading to immature parenting drug and alcohol abuse and other family changes have complicated the teachers and head teachers’ job. Chapter eleven is about the views that heads are accountable to all stakeholders but maximum support from CPD providers is vital to enable the maximum accountability they can afford. Holmes, (1993, 133) stated that "The number of accountabilities is vast, their nature is complex and their mechanisms vary in their effectiveness". He further emphasised that heads are accountable to all stakeholders but the most people the heads are accountable are the parents.
Heads should be encouraged to welcome unfavourable criticism, which display failure or scandal and use it to improve quality control and quality assurance. The head’s attitude in dealing with public is contagious, if they hold friendly attitudes when talking to angry parents, this could vent their anger to calm quickly and as they do, they would feel more in control and professional. Enrichment of head teachers’ communication could develop an awareness that practitioners care and are aware that they deserve first class service and as they do, partnership relations could be highly productive.
On the other hand practitioners feel schools can’t do everything. For example a recent
Article reported that: "Scotland has the highest teen pregnancy in Europe, worst diet, highest drug related deaths" Metro newspapers (2002). Some practitioners feel placing these issues in schools overcrowded the curriculum leading to unrealistic expectations. Practitioners are aware that the public expects schools to deal with such problems, squeeze them into an already overloaded curriculum for example:
"They believe that everything that is gone wrong, schools should sort it out" (Iona EA coordinator)
"There are serious concerns as to how unrealistic expectations from schools affect teaching and learning. It is a major problem in our EA, the misconception that everything that has gone wrong mean schools are not doing their job frustrates us" (Glenlivet EA coordinator).
The media will always update the community about any outstanding issues, be it negative or positive. Burns (1994) advocated that education’s service has a fixed number of buyers that is parents with close proximity to the school and parents with school age children, therefore; parents are important and head teachers should view their complaints as a prompt need for action of satisfaction.
One EA coordinator stated that they initiated the BLB (Better Learning Behaviour) projects to improve behaviour and managing pupils in schools. Despite the blame culture on heads, EAs are looking at ways of taking schools forward against the background of teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol, and poverty. School leaders are challenged by integrating and transforming such backgrounds, which normally affects attainment. Most EA coordinators feel that it is their responsibility to support heads with the radical changes they go through as leaders. Another EA coordinator believes that the diminishing value of church and moral development has affected good behaviour in schools e.g.
"Religious education developed an awareness of wrong and right like …it is wrong to hurt another, kill, immature sex or even respect has complicated the flow of teaching and learning processes" (Riverside EA coordinator).
She emphasised the need for SEED to place those responsibilities to families and religion where pupils could learn and understand the meaning of Ten Commandments. Some responded that the new possible move to penalise parents when their children break laws which could encourage them to seek or develop an interest in religious activities where they could be taught moral development at an early age. Better behaviour could facilitate effective teaching and learning and less interruption of leadership and management processes. This could develop self-respect and self-esteem as they bring good behaviour to schools. Practitioners’ job could be enhanced without much interruption as Morrison, (1996, 22) advocated that, "A behaviour policy is not just about behaviour…it touches every aspect of the formal and hidden curriculum of schools and their relationships with the other community. Good behaviour and good teaching cannot be separated". Poor behaviour contributes to stress, poor attainment and eventually a bad reputation of the whole school, which, also results in the blame culture of heads when effectiveness is affected. Parents could reflect well in rating and respect professionals but there is always a blame culture within our educational system when things go wrong.
Practitioners feel that they get misunderstood and easily become the victims of the blame culture. Heads are expected to be superhuman beings that guard things against chaos; their role is expected to be that of preventing things to go beyond control and creating negative reputation. Their role is crucial and pivotal which urges the need to support them with the technical skills to develop them into highly successful practitioners. The headship role is complicated by politics and dealing with people. One coordinator stated that,
"The public, especially parents and politicians are not aware that headship is a complex job" (Iona EA coordinator).
The central role of headship makes it hard to please all stakeholders. Some EAs realised the need to support heads in dealing with the public. One candidate that was taking the Scottish Qualification for Headship stated "SQH requires you to consult with parents but it does not help you in dealing with difficult parents" (Menter, et al, 2003)
It’s all about people, negotiating, and building of interpersonal relationships. New approaches of developing interpersonal skills as a subject, with effective implementation processes as part of a CPD strand to support heads in dealing with the public at all levels are needed.
4. Leadership and Stress.
Scepticism surrounding the concept of stress has been approached in many ways, which partially overlap, but by no means converge on a common definition. Some theories of stress could be viewed in terms of psychological, physiological and behavioural responses on the part of a person to a situation where he is unable to cope with the demands imposed upon him or her leading to stress and illness. Personality traits determine the degree of resistance and tolerance when responses on the part of a person to a situation lead to inability to cope with demands imposed upon a person’s incapacity (Lazarus, 1970). One survey concluded that teachers, nurses and managers have the highest proportions of work related stress. Work related stress was defined by Smith et al (2000) as the adverse reaction that people have from excessive pressure or other demands, stress occurs when they feel they cannot cope.
A different definition of stress was given by Ellison (1990); he saw stress as a biochemical response by the body to a threatening situation (threat) Regular exposure to stressors could lead to illness like heart disease, mental illness and high blood pressure. There could be several dimensions of stress, for example good stress and bad stress. Good stress occurs when we find something challenging and motivating where as bad stress leads to frustration, exhaustion, irritability and eventually illness (Sells, 1970).
Stress is individually defined; one person’s stress can be another’s energiser. Everyone has a range of comfort zone within which they can feel steady. It is a complex topic, which is tied to individual’s perceptual system and could be seen as a subjective phenomenon but can also be objectively defined in terms of physiological measures. (Cooper et al in Mullins, 1999, 316) He identified six major sources of stress at work as:
Intrinsic to the job for example, the nature of headship
Role in the organisation-role ambiguity, overload etc
Relationships at work-conflicts at work are undeniable causes of stress
Career development-midlife being a critical stage e.g. CPD demands
Organisational structure and climate-extend of rules and regulations e.g. unrealistic expectations
Home-work interface-balancing family needs and work needs
Some education authorities responded "Agree" without further comment on the statement that "While most education authorities are aware that headship is characterised by stress, a few appear to be prepared to provide coping strategies to support them". Despite the size of the EA, it appears that it is difficult to identify those who need help for example,
"It is hard for small EAs to support heads in small schools with one or two teachers." (Shelview EA coordinator)
"It is difficult to identify those who need support in a big EA because we work at a distance from heads". (Glenlivet EA coordinator)
Most education authority co-ordinators responded that they have support structures with officers to support those affected. One coordinator stated,
"Our education authority have a range of supporting strategies, we have trained personnel staff, referral agreement with Care First and BUPA" (Glenlivet EA coordinator)
Most EA coordinators interviewed stated heads’ failure to admit need for help as a hindrance to effective coping strategies for example,
"The teaching professionals are not inclined to sign up for stress management courses, it is too close in perception to admission of failure or inability to cope, a change of culture would help" (Falcom EA coordinator)
"Our education authority has good support structures but heads can be their own enemies by trying to do all things for all people, there’s also a personal responsibility on heads to admit and seek help" (Silverdale EA coordinator)
EA views on the table about "fear of being labelled as weak", had different reactions, some stated that one has to want to come or seek help and that they cannot force them for example,
"I think we need to realise that we cannot force people, they must want to do it and show responsibility for their well being" (Iona EA coordinator).
One of the six major sources of stress mentioned earlier is work relationships. One coordinator stated that sometimes local colleagues or the head could be source of stress, especially when interpersonal relationships are not healthy within the school. One EA co-ordinator clarified that supporting structures are necessary but it could be argued that on their own, they are not the answer for example,
"I offered a twilight meeting with a well known consultant with an educational background. I tried to work it out very carefully so that the end of the session could help them to identify causes of stress and begin to set up better working arrangements. That never happened, none of the three people I had in mind admitted or attended the meeting. Either they won’t admit it or they don’t see that they are affected themselves. Possibly people are so busy doing a lot that they don’t see the effect it has on them and it becomes so complex
This shows that there is a need to raise self-awareness on the impact of stress on "self" that some heads are affected but because they are tightly caught up, they do not have time to reflect and identify symptoms of stress that affect them. Others suggested use of critical friends as supporters. If they are not aware that they are affected by stress it becomes difficult to see the need for help. As Goleman said earlier in this chapter, stress affects effective leadership processes and therefore, the need to develop effective supporting strategies.
A few EAs are aware that they contribute to stress for example,
"The deputy director was talking about the service plan for 2004-2007. He was making the point that there is a need to stop adding more changes, pause, reflect and moderate what we have, Glenlivet’s service plan for 2004-2007 is much more the same as the one for 2001. He was saying it is much more radical. We try to reduce introducing new things in an effort to take the changes we already have forward, work with them in a manageable fashion. We are trying, the other aspect is that EAs can be blamed but it is not justifiable, there are laws for us to change and that puts a lot of pressure on staff" (Glenlivet EA coordinator).
This also shows that the Fixed Consultative approach identified in chapter one, is dominantly practiced by the government, so as the legal rational authority which compels EAs to comply with the contrived government policies.
Transparency is one of the competencies identified as a crucial factor of an effective head. Goleman, (2002, p.254) advocated that, "Leaders who are transparent live their values and are open to others about their feelings, beliefs and actions. Such leaders openly admit failure and confront unethical behaviour". McClelland, (1998, p. 331-339) in Goleman (2002) stated, "Leaders who know their emotions have the ability to understand how their moods, emotions and drives have effects on staff and parents". Management of emotions is important for head teachers. It is important for others to realise that heads unlike other staff have different pressures from different stakeholders. The ability to control or redirect negative impulses, moods and thinking could help heads to manage possible eruption of emotions that reflect stress. Goleman suggests that, "The ability to manage emotions develops self-confidence, self-awareness, trustworthy, integrity and openness to change". Such leadership components could help heads to recognise and understand emotional make up of others and how they can develop a culture of care.
My argument is that despite the availability of supporting strategies, heads continue to experience bouts of stress because they do not admit and seek help and therefore defeats the purpose of such strategies. The availability of structures only, is not the answer; EAs need to focus on attracting heads for attendance and effective implementation of offered support. Developing ways of attracting them to participate in CPD that will help them to implement coping strategies is important.
William (1995) in Goleman, (2002, 163) stated, "Headship is intrinsically stressful, when a person’s stress increases, his power motives arouse the body reactions by secreting more adrenaline and stress hormones leading to high blood pressure and the body creates stress hormones which interferes with new learning". This theme appeared to be important because of the effects of stress on effective learning and leadership.
Most coordinators interviewed emphasised the need to develop support mechanism within the schools as critical friends to inform the EA. Some only get to know informally by word of mouth from a concerned friend but one could argue that there is a possibility of ethical conflicts concerning confidentiality of other members of staff when they attempt to raise the flag to the EAs. Most heads, as said in earlier investigations of heads views, would resort to silence due to fear of being labelled as weak, something which needs to be dealt with, that seeking help should not be viewed as weakness or failure to cope. Supporting each other locally, where close proximity and observation of early signs as indicators of stress for example, excessive drinking, absenteeism and withdrawal has been viewed by some respondents as the most effective way of identifying need for local support. Other possible ways of developing local support are:
EAs could take responsibility on their part by taking measures to reduce stress and introduce programs/courses to encourage staff to take responsibility of their welfare for example a course on health and wellbeing. Supporting programmes to develop an awareness of the importance of "self-care" locally and talking about possible long-term effects could encourage heads to participate in a non-threatening environment.
The course could involve time keeping logbooks, exercising facilities and electronic timeout cards to manage overworking. Team-teaching whereby teachers could share relaxed subjects like PE, Art and topic classes towards the end of the day could help staff to relieve each other for planning to reduce overworking after-hours. Alternatively, an extra staff-member could relieve teachers and the DHT relieves the head to give them time for preparations. Not all primary schools have physical education or music specialists but providing such arrangements for every school could be helpful.
5. Professional Development
The Paisley University study of Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) concluded; "The overall findings of this study are extremely positive and confirm the significance of the SQH programme for the future of Scotland". Murphy, (head of the Centre for Education Leadership at Edinburgh University) commented that: "While these positive findings show that systematic and structured professional development can have a desirable impact on practice. The successes should not blind us to the need for further improvement" (Munro, TES 12/9/2003) The reporter emphasized that SEED could extend opportunities available for other managers for whom there is a lack of structured training. Training opportunities for other forms of leadership are important to develop the concept of distributed leadership.
Different CPD arrangements for each EA are usually work-based programmes that are varied and optional. Unlike England that has HIP (former HEADLAMP), NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship) equivalent to the Scottish Qualification for Headship in Scotland and the LPSH (Leadership Programme for Serving Head teachers) the only national programme available in Scotland is the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) for aspirant heads. Scotland has other good programmes but they do not appear to be nationally enforced. Individuals are free to attend with or without difficulties. The consultation draft on school leadership by SEED aims to support the process of professional review and development by outlining a progressive set of qualities pertinent to different responsibilities in education. The document aims to assist the development of an EA or a school based framework and will cover areas like project, team, strategic and school leadership in general (SEED, Draft for consultation, CPD, 2002, p.3) HMI (2000, p.11) developed guidelines on "Improving leadership in Scotland", a document which lists ten characteristics of effective leadership as:
Then the "How good is our School" Self-evaluation programme is meant to help schools identify quality indicators as guidelines for improvement. These are curriculum, attainment learning and teaching, support for people, ethos, resources and management and leadership. (Osler, 2002, p.33). It could be argued that availability of such help can only be useful if effectively implemented. Unlike the United States or Canada that have national Principal’s Qualification Programmes compulsory for those who want to be heads, Scotland does not have any national programmes in Higher Education Institution. Individuals can attend post-graduate courses at universities as if they wish to develop themselves or use credits towards a master’s degree. One of the universities had plans to develop such a programme but plans are on hold due to staffing problems. (Borrowdale EA coordinator)
Some EAs feel that limited investment in the leadership profession has affected effective CPD processes due to the limitations of resources. This shows that such challenges need to be dealt with before it is too late for example some EAs stated that it is difficult to reach all heads and therefore, some heads continue to suffer due to poor support. Equal access to CPD is vital in Scotland. Other respondents stated that there is need for better provision but argued that,
"SEED’s approach to CPD for heads is extremely laisser faire. Scotland is poorly funded in CPD for heads compared to English heads and therefore difficult to make the most out of the little funding they get"(Falcom EA coordinator).
"I totally agree with the fact that there is need for better provision for our heads but head teachers in England get over £2000 for CPD while in Scotland they get £100-200!!" (Borrowdale EA coordinator)
Williams in Fullan (2003 p.23) noted that there is still limited investment in leadership development. In his recent study of Principalship in Ontario, he found that "The looming shortage of head teachers and deputy head teachers is a trend. He concluded that 80% of heads in Ontario are to retire by 2009.Two thirds by 2006 and that there are fewer candidates for each vacancy. The negative impact on the attractiveness of headship and major problems could be a result of poor implementation processes of professional development offered". Similar remarks were also given by one of the coordinators who stated that:
"We are very anxious to promote SMT but we need to continue preparing for the future, many leaders within education are getting older the aging population of teachers and heads. 60% of the teaching professionals due to retire in the next ten years, according to GTC figures. It is very important that we don’t just develop the DHTs, PTs and AHTs; we should start right with the probationer and the young and new teachers. Thinking about opportunities that help those people to develop leadership skills is important." (Riverside EA coordinator)
She advocated the urgency to provide leadership development opportunities for all levels of leadership. Some suggested a national development centre for training heads with wider selection, routes and flexibility.
Different EAs appeared to have different levels of courses with different content, some more effective than others but they are general barriers to CPD effectiveness, which appeared to be problematic in all the cases where I carried out interviews. From these interviews, I identified the following barriers to effective CPD that could improve leadership effectiveness. These are:
There are at least two main sources of these barriers. Some are self-imposed and others are system-imposed barriers. Fullan, (2003,47) stated that "System imposed barriers occur due to neglect of leadership succession like the problem of sustainability", for example life after the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH), or implementation processes after training. One head stated
"You could get the best course under the sun but if it is not effectively implemented, it defeats the purpose of offering it" (Grange head teacher)
Fullan referred this as the "Absence of a system change strategy" He advocated that "Self-imposed barriers occur when individuals have an inability to take charge of their own learning", for example when they do not make an effort to develop themselves as leaders or they are not self-motivated to attend offered CPD.
A commitment to motivating individuals and making the job attractive by the providers could develop a desire to learn. Our modern society needs intellectual leaders who are knowledgeable to the trends associated with effective leadership. EAs can only do so much, one coordinator said, "They have to want to do it, you can't force them'' (Iona). Current heads who did not do any post graduate work or SQH perceive more limitations in their role than is warranted, for example, Fullan advocated that ''Being a classroom teacher by itself is not enough preparation for becoming an effective head teacher" Fullan (2003, p.25). In his book, "Change forces with a vengeance" he argued that "Policies are poorly implemented due to unprepared contexts", for example, after EAs offer courses, they expect heads to go and implement taught lessons without further environmental or contextual preparation to accommodate change. They do not perceive the need to change the environment like resources, training of staff then implementation of change; they expect heads to perform miracles. Contextual change is important to facilitate effective implementation processes of offered programmes.
Some EAs claim that sometimes it is difficult to fill in headship positions due to the complexity of the job and retiring rate. Developing leadership at all levels is important but it is also important that the government develop headship profession into an attractive profession to attract more candidates to meet the staffing needs.
The XYZ Model of Professional Development for Head teachers. (Sketched after heads’ perceptions of Professional development)
The diagram shows three (XYZ) possible explanations of professional development practices based on the fieldwork responses from earlier investigations in different schools. It emphasises the need to:
It appears that the two-fold gap between CPD offered and practice is due to ineffective implementation processes. It further shows that the possible way of achieving and maintaining effective leadership could be through Effective PD and Effective Implementation methods. Model Z does not rule out any pitfalls, but they could be limited.
X Model (First column)
Inadequate PDP for Head………X
Y=After field work (Most PDP processes operate at this model)
Z= Heading for success
Having developed the XYZ model of professional development from the basis of my analysis of head teachers’ views "In their voices", I am now able to refine it further at the basis of my analysis of the data from Education Authorities as head teachers’ employers and major CPD providers. (See the Modified model below)
It could be argued that availability of such help can only be useful if effectively implemented. Again, some EAs emphasized the need for a uniform, national formal compulsory CPD for current heads because it appears that at the present moment each EA has its own CPD which many find difficult to attract heads to attend for reasons stated earlier. That could also be helpful to promote sustainability after the completion of the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) as there are fears that some do it to get the qualification and "flop back" to traditional leadership styles. Providing national development opportunities could defeat the problems of inconsistency on funding and compulsory attendance problems could be limited.
The model was further developed after the views from education authorities. The key to success is, linking the gap between CPD and practice through effective implementation processes of professional development offered. (See barriers of effective leadership list in this chapter). The Y model shows that we could have appropriate CPD but if the gap (centre box exist with ineffective implementation processes, it defeats the purpose of its availability implying that continuous provision of appropriate CPD without effective implementation strategies takes us back to the X model (ineffective leadership) Heading for success, towards the Z model can only be achieved through effective implementation processes of appropriate CPD which is incorporated with the latest research findings to meet the demands of the changing society (centre box of the Z model) Again the Z model does not rule out any problems but they could be limited. The need to press towards the Z model is crucial to achieve and maintain effective leadership for better schools.
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