Performativity and Inadequacy in School Leadership Development
: A Comparative Study of Primary Schools in Punjab (India) and Midlands (UK)

  • Jaspal Kaur

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The study set out to understand how continuing professional development (CPD) of primary headteachers in the state schools in two diverse contexts: Midlands (UK) and Punjab (India) was organised. It aimed to identify approaches employed for headteachers’ CPD and the impact they had on headteachers’ approach to school leadership. It also aimed to identify the key factors facilitating and inhibiting headteachers’ participation in CPD activities in both contexts.

Twenty-two primary headteachers (eight from the Midlands and fourteen from Punjab) were interviewed. In addition, data was collected by conducting focus groups with three headteachers and three CPD training team members from Punjab. Also, data was collected by observing (18 hours) headteachers attending three days formal training organised by the government of Punjab. All research data was thematically analysed by using four theoretical frameworks to understand the phenomenon under investigation which are the Network of Practice (NoP) (Brown & Duguid, 2000), Community of Practice Theory (CoP) (Wenger, 1998), Capacity Building Model for a Learning Community (Mitchell & Sackney, 2000), and
a Holistic Model of Factors Influencing Learning in Work (Sambrook, 2002).

The research findings suggest that the English headteachers’ CPD lacks a systematic approach as their CPD activities are decided on the basis of their school development plans (SDP) rather than their personal professional development needs. In contrast, Punjabi headteachers have formal training, however from headteachers’ perspective, this training is inadequate as the aims and objectives are set on the basis of policy initiatives and their personal professional development needs are not considered. The findings also suggest that the English headteachers regard their “collaborative groups” as an effective tool for enhancing their professional practice. Punjabi headteachers, on the other hand, tend to seek informal help from their family, friends, and other local community members whenever they get stuck with a specific task. Finally, the findings reveal that primary headteachers’ professional development in the both contexts is influenced by three levels of factors which involve individual, organisational and functional, for instance their motivation to learn, the culture of their school and availability of resources, and funding required for their professional development activities (Sambrook, 2002).

The findings identified that each context of this study has something positive to offer which, if combined together, may contribute to an effective CPD of headteachers in both contexts. For instance, the English headteachers have “collaborative groups” and availability of online training but lack an organised formal CPD and Punjabi headteachers have an organised formal CPD but deprived of “collaborative groups” and online training.

This study fills the gap in the Network of Practice (NoP) (Brown & Duguid, 2000) by integrating three dimensions of practice known as mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and shared repertoire (Wenger, 1998) to provide a coherent structure and three levels of capacity building namely personal, interpersonal, and organisational (Mitchell & Sackney, 2000) to provide an appropriate curriculum for headteachers’ professional development. This study proposes a framework for forming a NoP for headteachers’ CPD including a factor analysis model to identify potential barriers and facilitators for their participation in CPD activities. The combination of four theoretical frameworks utilised in this study appear to be an appropriate way to theorise headteachers’ CPD practice within the given context of this study. Finally, the findings might be useful for the policy makers in the primary education sectors in both contexts to enhance professional practice of the primary headteachers.
Date of Award22 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLiz Bennett (Main Supervisor) & Helen Jones (Co-Supervisor)

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