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Title: Learning from experiences and investing in opportunities : a narrative inquiry about the career progress of public kindergarten principals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Author: Bukhatir, Safa Abdelrahman
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 1203
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This study explores the career progress of three public kindergarten principals in the UAE. Narrative inquiry within the three-dimensional space approach (Clandinin and Connelly 2000), is used as a methodology to re-live and re-tell significant events in the personal, social and professional life stories of the principals. Their accounts are analysed to examine the influence of the UAE's socio-cultural, political and institutional/organisational contexts on their career progress as school leaders. Inspired by Dewey's (1938) theory of experience, the key underpinnings of the study's conceptual and theoretical frameworks are identified as professionalism, career progression and leadership. The professionalism of school teachers and leaders had been criticised by the national and international communities due to poor educational outcomes and lack of qualified school teachers and leaders. The UAE Vision 2021 initiated a transformational plan for change in education, which emphasised that professionalisation of school leaders and teachers is key for the country to meet societal and international expectations. Furthermore, early childhood education was regarded the stepping stone for constructing children's personalities and the foundation of their education and future. However, rapid changes in the global and national education reforms, mainly multiple series of international policy-borrowing/transfer, impose many challenges to the UAE public school and kindergarten leaders' daily work and career advancement. These challenges impose external pressures leading to internal tensions that challenge their perceptions of professionalism, and might hinder their professionalisation and career progress. The principals noted the significance of the preparatory socialization processes (culture, society, family, education institutions, peers and reference groups) in the formation of their personal and professional identities and experiences, and in facilitating their career progress. However, the findings also highlighted aspects of the socio-cultural context that impeded the principals' career choices. Additionally, centralisation/managerialism, standardisation and lack of contextualised professional development were the main challenges principals faced in the organisational socialisation processes. Thus, the study encourages school/kindergarten principals to carefully 'read' their social structures and systems, and let professional responsibility guard their professionalism and agency, through engaging in continuous cycles of professional self-evaluation and owning their achievements. For officials and policy makers, the study also proposes the prioritisation of context and people over spiritless statistics while creating improvement and professionalisation plans. Two ways are suggested: through empowering school/kindergarten leaders, and using interpretative approaches for a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available