Explorations by middle leaders in secondary schools of their professional networks and relationships, analysed against a framework of capital, agency, and resilience.

Reed, Lisa (2021) Explorations by middle leaders in secondary schools of their professional networks and relationships, analysed against a framework of capital, agency, and resilience. Doctoral thesis, University of Cumbria.

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Abstract

Set against a backdrop of neoliberalism and the subsequent changes within the landscape of schooling in England, the intention of this study was to explore the lived experiences of middle leaders in secondary schools. These were captured through an exploration of the networks and professional relationships of seven middle leaders, using a combination of questionnaire, interview, and field-note data, which resulted in a constructed narrative of their experiences. Grounded in interpretivism with social constructionism and combined with a third philosophical position of critical subjectivity, the study captured the interpretations of the participants as they explored their networks and relationships. The constructed narratives were analysed, using a thematic narrative approach, against the constructs of capital, agency, and resilience. The purpose of this was to understand how information flows through the middle leaders’ networks, the way this impacts on their sense of control and autonomy, and how this influences their motivation and commitment to their role.
The findings indicated the wide variation of experiences across the middle leaders and the ways they drew from the emotional support in their reciprocal and trusted relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. The level of sharing throughout the networks was surprising and the way this influenced the sense of agency and ability to enact change are a significant contribution to our understanding of the influence relationships and networks have as schools manage the political landscape of curriculum change and inspection reforms. These findings, and those around the ‘darker side’ of relationships through social control within school structures, should be of interest to those working within education, whether this be school leaders, teachers, or policy makers, as we understand what influences the motivation and commitment for people to stay and thrive within our schools.

Item Type: Thesis/Dissertation (Doctoral)
Departments: Institute of Education > Secondary PGCE
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2021 09:30
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2021 13:03
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6304

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