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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: The Challenges of Leading the Attainment Agenda: Framing the Role and Practices of the New Secondary Headteacher
Author(s): Cook, Elaine Duthie
Supervisor(s): Fenwick, Tara
Drew, Valerie
Keywords: Attainment agenda; Headteacher; performativity; accountability; Foucault; educational leadership
Issue Date: Jun-2015
Publisher: University of Stirling
School of Education
Abstract: Scottish institutions within the educational networks, including Government, local authorities, and schools, are entangled in performative activities dedicated to improvements in student attainment. Secondary school performance in Scotland is measured nationally predominantly by the number and level of national qualifications achieved. The thesis makes the case that this attainment agenda places enormous pressures on Headteachers to ensure student outcomes are maximised and that the culture of performativity is a major factor in shaping the roles and practices of Headteachers. The study is based on four new secondary school Headteachers in a single Scottish local authority. It is through an examination of their work practices that the formation of subjectivities within a range of power relations and discursive regimes are explored. Performativity and accountability influence the role and actions of the Headteacher in many ways which are unanticipated. There is an ongoing power struggle engendered by the pressures and controls imposed on new Headteachers which modify and discipline their behaviours. In this thesis, a case study methodology is employed and the concepts of Michel Foucault are applied to provide an alternative means of understanding the practices of Headteachers. A Foucauldian approach also provides a different perspective on the problematic conceptualisation of school leadership. The aim of this study is to make a research-based contribution to our understanding of the complexities and competing priorities negotiated by new Headteachers. The research evidences the dominance of the attainment agenda on the lived lives of the new Headteachers. This study should enable the development of additional ways to assist with Headteacher preparation and the provision of improved support in the early years of Headship.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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