The shifting discourses of educational leadership: International trends and Scotland’s response

Deirdre Torrance, W Humes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing emphasis has been placed on leadership within educational theory, policy and practice. Drawing on a wide range of academic literature and policy documents, this paper explores how the discourse of leadership has shifted and for what purposes. The authors are critical of the lack of conceptual underpinning for that discourse, evident both nationally and internationally, and they identify key issues that the teaching profession has been left to try to
understand and make sense of. They caution that, despite attempts to align contemporary policy developments to position leadership as inherent in the role of every teacher, flaws in the conceptualization of leadership, and particularly in favoured forms such as ‘distributed leadership’ and ‘teacher leadership’, pose significant challenges to a serious attempt to ‘reprofessionalise’ teachers. Contemporary developments in Scottish education are referred to, exemplifying key tensions inherent in translating international trends into practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-810
JournalEducational Management Administration & Leadership
Issue number5
Early online date8 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • distributed leadership
  • education policy
  • leadership
  • management
  • teacher leadership


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