Distributed leadership in colleges: leading or misleading?
Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 31, (3), . (doi:10.1177/0263211X03031003005).
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This article on leadership in the English learning and skills sector is a development of a keynote paper presented at the BELMAS 2002 conference and forms a pair with the companion article on schools by Alma Harris. The article argues that research on colleges to date has focused on discrete levels of management/leadership and seems to be out of key with developing theories of distributed leadership emerging from schools research. It is suggested that leadership is embedded in the activities of staff and students, including delegated management, and can be understood to be both distributed and systemic. The creation and enactment of such leadership is explored by drawing on data from two research projects in England, one of which focused on general further education colleges and the other on sixth form colleges. It is argued that the distribution of tasks and responsibilities are fundamentally different in the two categories of college. The reasons for these differences indicate that the leadership which is constructed in each type of college is shaped not only by the pressures of government policies, as suggested by previous research, but also by a number of factors including the socioeconomic composition of students and the profile of staff. This article therefore suggests that leadership cannot be understood by discretely analysing the practice of particular categories of staff. Rather it can be seen as distributed in a variety of different ways and also as simultaneously systemic, flowing through and shaped by the entire community of each college.
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