Co-ordinating subjects in the primary school : perceptions of subject leaders, their implementation of the role and the influence of external factors.

Jane. Fletcher, Linda
(2000) Co-ordinating subjects in the primary school : perceptions of subject leaders, their implementation of the role and the influence of external factors. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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The roots of Primary Education are found within broadly progressive ideologies. These philosophies have become subject to challenge with attempts to apply business management models to schools. Ideals of education for an economic role led to the development of the Education Reform Act (1988) which established a number of provisions, radically altering the management of schools. These requirements promoted greater school based management emphasising teachers' autonomy and the development of collaborative working patterns. Paradoxically this was within a framework that reduced schools control over the curriculum, and represented a considerable move in government policy and an alteration in the context of planning and implementation, thereby creating a tension. A major thrust of re-organisation in primary schools has been to encourage them to deploy staff in order to make best use of available subject expertise. The introduction of a National Curriculum, more formalised inspection procedures and standard attainment tests have raised school accountability and the necessity of developing pupils subject knowledge to an ever greater extent. Consequently Subject Leaders have become a serious consideration central to the quest to effectively meet the needs of the National Curriculum. It is this apparent paradox between centralist prescription and devolved control with the imposition of business management styles on primary schools that makes the role of Subject Leader such a complex issue. This research explores the roles of Subject Leaders in the context of the tensions that exist between the traditional primary school teaching values and cultures, and the new managerial systems being imposed on them. It is argued that the Subject Leadership role is influenced by three major factors. Firstly are factors external to the school such as legislative change and inspection reports. These act to shift school priorities dramatically. Legislation may also raise the importance of particular curriculum areas and act to undermine feelings of progress made in other subjects thus creating a hierarchy of subject responsibility. Secondly primary school management styles and structures are demonstrated to have a significant impact on the role. They are shown either to undermine or encourage Subject Leaders in playing an active role in the development of the curriculum. It is suggested that flat management styles are more successful as they are likely to value individual contributions. Thirdly factors are raised related to the Subject Leaders themselves showing clearly the importance they attach to communication and good relations with colleagues. In addition the culture of the school is shown to have a marked and interactive influence over all these factors Subject Leaders preferring to work in collaboration rather than seeing themselves as 'leading'. As a consequence it is argued that the language of leadership should be abandoned as encouraging division between colleagues and failing to capture the basic communal culture of primary education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2023 18:59
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2023 19:10
DOI: 10.17638/03175508
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