Muijs, Daniel and Harris, Alma
Teacher leadership in (in)action: three case studies of contrasting schools
Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 35, (1), . (doi:10.1177/1741143207071387).
Teacher leadership is a concept that is gaining increasing interest from both practitioners and researchers, but at present the literature is characterised by a largely normative rather than empirical orientation, which has led to a lack of in-depth information on what teacher leadership looks like in practice, and what school factors can facilitate or present barriers to its development.
In this paper we will present findings from three case studies in the UK. These three schools can be characterised as exhibiting developed, emergent and restricted teacher leadership. Differences and similarities between the schools were examined, leading us to conclude that purposive action by the head, school culture and school structures were the key distinguishing factors. Teacher leadership requires active steps to be taken to constitute leadership teams and provide teachers with leadership roles to overcome initial reticence among teachers. A culture of trust and collaboration is essential, as is a shared vision of where the school needs to go. Clear line management structures and strong leadership development programmes in which all staff were involved were also found to facilitate the development of teacher leadership.
In the developed and emergent teacher leadership schools, barriers to teacher leadership were mainly external to the school. In particular, the strong culture of accountability, a plethora of government initiatives and time constraints hindered teacher leadership. In the school we described as exhibiting restricted teacher leadership, internal factors such as poor communication and weak leadership from the head were also key barriers
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