Changing expectations and experiences of headship in Scotland

Christine Forde, Deirdre Torrance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Scottish education school leadership is regarded as central in realizing the policy ambitions to raise attainment. This article compares the policy expectations on headteachers with their experiences of the role. Firstly, successive sets of a professional standard - The Standard for Headship - are used to trace the evolution of the key purpose of headship. Secondly, interview data, which was collected as part of a larger study examining the recruitment and retention of headteachers, is used to examine the experiences of serving headteachers. The issues explored include the range of tasks the headteachers undertake routinely, their motivations and experiences of the role and the means of coping with demands. The discussion highlights some of the tensions experienced by headteachers as they work to meet expectations. The article concludes by identifying some critical issues for the preparation of headteachers and the design of professional standards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Studies in Educational Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016


  • headship
  • principalship
  • professional standards
  • leadership standards
  • headteacher role
  • school principal role


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