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Headteachers' reflections on primary headship from 1988-2003: an exploratory study

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Purpose - To explore the reflections of primary headteachers on a series of major policy initiatives introduced by successive Conservative and Labour governments from 1988 to 2003. Design/methodology/method - The methodology is an interview-based survey of six headteachers. The interviews were structured around the headteachers' recollections of their headship during the period of Conservative government from 1988 to 1997 and, following the election of the Labour Government, from 1997 to 2003. Findings - The headteachers' reflections have changed from recalling a sense of excitement and anticipation immediately following the introduction of the 1988 Education Reform Act to ones of increasing disillusionment as the period of the Conservative Government drew to a close. However their expectations following the election of the Labour Government in 1977 were quickly dashed and followed by feelings of disappointment and, for some, of frustration. Research limitations/implications - The small size of the sample is the major limitation but this opens up an agenda for future research. Practical implications - The implications for government are to limit the number and scope of any new initiatives that schools are expected to implement and to ensure that these are properly funded. Originality/value - The article presents an alternative view of headship that balances the overly optimistic impression that may be obtained from government and its agencies, leading to a deeper understanding of the realities of headship today.
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Keywords: Government Policy; Leadership; Performance Management; Principals; United Kingdom

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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