Enhancing the agency of senior school leaders through professional learning: A qualitative study of Into Headship, the national headteacher preparation programme in Scotland

Julie Harvie*, Zoe Robertson, Kevin Brack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article presents the original and significant findings of a research project which used an ecological model of agency to explore the lived experiences of aspiring headteachers (school principals), undertaking masters level professional learning through the Into Headship programme in Scotland. Headteacher recruitment and retention problems exist internationally therefore understanding factors which can enhance or impinge on the agency of potential school leaders can help ensure that educational systems foster leadership aspirations in teachers and prepare and support them adequately in senior leadership roles. A qualitative approach was adopted which involved one national cohort of Into Headship participants from three different Scottish universities who undertook their studies during the COVID-19 crisis. The findings highlight a number of key themes in terms of developing professional identity and the effect of professional learning on the agency of school leaders in relation to their ability to lead school improvements. It is concluded that Into Headship impacted positively on the agency of participants in a range of ways and that these findings will be useful to those involved in school leadership preparation and educational system level strategic planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalProfessional Development in Education
Early online date12 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jun 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • professional learning
  • professional development
  • agency
  • headteacher preparation
  • professional identity
  • into headship

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