Masters Research: An Exploration of Teachers’ Experiences of Non-Positional Leadership in Irish Primary Schools

An Exploration of Teachers’ Experiences of Non-Positional Leadership in Irish Primary Schools

This study presents an investigation into the experiences of teachers in non-positional leadership roles in Irish primary schools. Non-positional leadership stems from the concept of teacher leadership, which provides teachers a means of acting strategically on one’s own vision leading to school improvement (Frost 2014). However, the Centre for School Leadership (CSL) in Ireland identifies teacher leadership as an area of the education system which is overlooked in comparison to other European countries (CSL 2018). This study utilised a qualitative, phenomenological design, employing the use of semistructured interviews as a means of data collection. The research participants consisted of eight primary school teachers who had experience of leadership in a non-positional capacity. The research provides an insightful account of non-positional leadership in Irish primary schools. The findings illustrate that teachers have predominantly positive dispositions towards non-positional leadership. It was revealed in the findings that nonpositional leadership benefited participants through further professional development and increased self-efficacy. School improvement and increased collaboration were also identified as positive results of non-positional leadership. However, it emerged from the findings that there is pressure on teachers who are recently qualified or on temporary contracts to partake in non-positional leadership roles as a means of securing future employment. The findings also suggest challenges and tensions for non-positional leaders in terms of increased workload and resistance from other members of staff. The findings from the investigation infer recommendations for schools, policymakers and further research. The study indicates the possibility for non-positional leadership to play some part of the Cosán framework being developed by the Teaching Council. Nonpositional leadership should also fall under the scope of the CSL. Through this, nonpositional leaders could be provided with appropriate professional development and support.

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 Patrick Gallagher

CSL is funded by the Teacher Education Section (TES) of the Department of Education (DE)
This service is managed by Clare Education Centre.