The perceived role(s) of year heads in a secondary school, in the implementation of the positive behavioural policy

Gordon, Mary (2006). The perceived role(s) of year heads in a secondary school, in the implementation of the positive behavioural policy. EdD thesis The Open University.



The school is a small Catholic secondary (550+) in an inner-city area, implementing a positive behavioural policy. The research is a case study of year heads and aspects of their perceived role(s). It was undertaken in line with the drive for school improvement and effectiveness, which focuses on learning. Interviews were carried out within and outside pastoral middle and senior management, meetings were observed, and class tutors were surveyed using a questionnaire to ascertain their views of their line managers ' roles.

The sample included twelve class tutors, five year heads and several middle and senior managers, plus observations of many meetings and examination of some documents. Detailed semi-structured interviews were conducted and a substantial questionnaire accessed class tutors' expectations of the year head role with regard to the policy. Data on how roles were sent and how people knew what to do emerged.

Following an initial study, research instruments were further developed and tested. Data were coded and assessed qualitatively. They were thematically analysed using some grounded theory methods. This case study will show year heads working ceaselessly to fulfil the tasks associated with their roles, in the context of the implementation of the positive behavioural policy, within the setting examined, but it will reveal their own feelings of a shortfall between the enacted role and the subjective role, limiting their perceived effectiveness within role.

A key issue which appeared was that roles and effectiveness within the context of Pastoral' middle leadership were found to be dependent upon trust and autonomy. Themes such as time shortage, training needs, role tensions and overload emerged from the data. Another theme uncovered was many participants' disregard of the pastoral/academic divide, preferring a more holistic role for year heads.

Conclusions tentatively suggesting ideas of distributed leadership and communities of practice, as possible solutions to the problems of such middle leader role fulfilment, were drawn.

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