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Title: Images of Headship : a narrative inquiry into the construction of identities for Headteachers in all girls' selective independent schools
Author: Pascoe, Caroline Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6477
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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This study is an exploration into how Headteachers, in all-girls’ selective independent schools, construct their professional identities with the aim of gaining an insight into what it is like to be a Headteacher within this context. Whilst there is significant literature concerning leadership, and the concept and process of identity construction, there is little discernible research which explores the experiences and organisational socialisation of Headteachers within this specific context. Therefore, this research contributes significantly to the body of knowledge by studying female Headteachers leading all-girls’ selective independent schools. This study took a narrative inquiry approach to examine the process of socialisation involved in the construction of Headteacher professional identities. Photographic images were used in narrative conversational interviews with four Headteachers; this resulted in interview data which was explored and interpreted for emerging ‘themes’ and ‘signs’. Analysis was informed by theoretical themes developed within communities of practice literature (Lave & Wenger, 1991). The framework of ‘communities of practice’ was used because it underpins personal development and learning as well as the process of socialisation and hence the forming of professional identities. The underlying assumption is that the formation of professional identities occurs via participation and engagement in a context and a community of practice specific to these Headteachers. The themes, that were applied and emerged from the narratives, manifested themselves within the Headteachers’ stories as ‘signs’. Once these signs were identified within the narrative transcriptions, they were analysed for dynamic connections between the signs in order to build what I refer to in this study as ‘identities construction plots’. The findings of this study suggest that the process of socialisation and the construction of a Headteacher’s identities within leadership communities of practice are complex, multifaceted and influenced by many sociocultural and contextual aspects. The concept of a core identity with varying degrees of agency and conformity will be shown to play a part. However, the issue of negotiating multiple identities will also be shown to have caused uncertainty and a potential lack of confidence amongst these Headteachers. Although it is not possible to suggest generalisations from these findings, due to the small number of participants and the personalised nature of the data, the study will be of value to practitioners, educationalists and policymakers. This in-depth and insightful interpretation of the Headteachers’ construction of identities provides colleagues with examples from which they could begin to question, and reflect upon, their own practice and actions within their leadership role.
Supervisor: Allen, Alexandra Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available