|1 What is the nature of leadership in the current context?|
|2 What processes, variables and conditions affect the practice of headship?|
|3 How do heads pursue strategic agendas?|
|4 What are the implications for headteacher development?|
These four main questions gave rise to many sub-questions.
The strategy involved the use of survey and case studies: the survey to gain information across a range of respondents, the case studies to gain 'rich' information from a few respondents. The research took place in three phases, using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods.
The first stage was a questionnaire designed to identify heads' perceptions of their training needs, which would also indicate areas of their work they found challenging. It contained 56 items relating to training needs and 17 relating to training opportunities. This was sent proportionately to heads in three school sectors (primary, middle and secondary) and there were 171 responses - a somewhat surprising 45 per cent return.
The second stage built on this through in-depth semi-structured interviews with a sample of ten headteachers and four local authority inspectors. Interviews, lasting in the region of 1½ to 3 hours, were recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed.
The final stage, to ground the research more contextually, involved case studies in two schools deemed by the local education authority to be effective and one school in special measures. For the first two schools, the study was conducted over two weeks, shadowing the head and using multiple interviews in the first week, and interviewing staff during the second. Again, all interviews were recorded and analysed as above. The third case study, for operational reasons, was less elaborate, and relied on in-depth interviews with the head at different times over a nine-month period. Aspects of these