Understanding Educational Leadership: People, Power and Culture

By Hugh Busher | Go to book overview

4 School leaders as politicians
Governing in whose interests?

Leaders as rulers

The construction of schools as organizations and communities is carried out by all participants in a school, be they students, teachers, support staff or governors, but some people have more access to power to influence the shaping of these entities. The more powerful are usually the formally designated senior leaders of a school, who try to enact a variety of policies in particular socio-economic and macro-policy contexts to construct preferred organizational cultures and teaching and learning practices. It involves the creating, organizing, managing, monitoring and resolving of value conflicts of many different people which reflects the view of the world constructed by each member of a school. Leadership is carried out at many levels in a school from senior leaders (head teachers or deputies) to middle leaders, who manage academic and pastoral departments as well as administrative services such as the school office or the school site, to first-line leaders or supervisors. They are whose authority to act in certain socially defined ways in certain circumstances (e.g. lessons) or social arenas (such as classrooms or playgrounds) to supervise other people is based on their hierarchical position in a school. There are, however, also informal leaders, whether at school, department or classroom level or in extra-mural activities, whose influence is based more on their personal and work-related skills and knowledge and their alliances with other people inside and outside school than on their formal position in a school. Among such people might be students as well as teachers.

From this, Muijs and Harris (2003) have developed the concept of teacher leaders, people who have a major part of their work based in the classroom but seek to work collectively with their colleagues outside it to shape school policy. Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001), admittedly writing in an American context, also emphasize the importance of classroom practice as a defining criteria for teacher leaders. Not surprisingly, then, Frost and Durrant (2003) firmly confine the notion of teacher leadership to people holding non-promoted posts in schools but who take a lead in decision

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