Should School Leadership be ‘Shared’?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


A cluster of initiatives developed by educationalists interpret school leadership as ‘shared’ (Gronn, 2002, Kagan, 1994) or ‘distributed’. These have attracted considerable interest among policy makers concerned to address a practical response that some schools face attracting and retaining suitable practitioners. Yet the word ‘shared’ is used to cover a very wide range of differing practices. School leadership may be described as ‘shared’ where two practitioners split the traditional role of a single school leader between them (‘co-headship’); as well as the very different circumstances in which this traditional approach might be abandoned in favour of a radical model involving other workers, parents and pupils. My paper analyses the relative worth of five significant accounts of ‘shared’ school leadership, with moral and practical considerations of what successful school leadership might entail in mind. This discussion is of considerable significance to policy and practice, yet largely absent from recent writing in the Philosophy of Education. This is unfortunate; I show how a philosophical approach to ordinary language analysis makes clearer sense of what researchers in the Educational Leadership Management and Administration literature mean when ‘shared’ leadership is described. One purpose of my paper is to contribute to the quality of theoretical frameworks used to analyse ‘shared’ school leadership practice in the future. Another is to pinpoint evidence within existing research literature that school leadership can be practiced successfully, not only collectively but democratically. I challenge the conventional view of good school leadership assumed within the dominant school leadership discourse (Court, 2003, 1998, Woods, 2005, 2004) focussed on the power of an individual and suggest moral and practical reasons for leadership of another kind.
Translated title of the contribution‘Should School Leadership be ‘Shared’?’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Education Research Association Annual Conference, IOE University of London
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Conference Organiser: BERA


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