AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

The Leadership careers of selected primary school principals

by Gerard McHugh

Institution: Dublin City University
Department: School of Education Studies
Year: 2015
Keywords: Education; Primary school principals; Leadership in education
Record ID: 1181217
Full text PDF: http://doras.dcu.ie/20408/


This thesis explored the leadership role of the Primary School Principal in Ireland. It examined the making of a principal (formation), becoming a principal (accession) and being a principal (incumbency). It painted a portrait of accession to principalship and investigated how participating principals perceive the role of principal early in the second decade of 21st century and moreover what inspires and sustains them in their work. A review of literature included works on leadership, leadership in education, career history approaches and the history of the Primary School Principal in Ireland. Twelve principals were interviewed for a period of between one and half and two and a half hours each. The study was located within a phenomenological paradigm using a qualitative methodology. The research tool used was the face to face semi- structured interview combined with a life story and career history approach to studying school leaders. The thesis found that Irish Primary Principals are very highly motivated, they believe they have high levels of autonomy in many areas of their work and that they are accountable to many stakeholders. Further findings are described under five themes; Values/Moral Purpose/Interests of Children; Empowerment; Frustrations; Passion and Pride and Emerging Landscapes. While principals are extremely positive about their role they acknowledge many significant frustrations accompanying the role in a time of uncertainty. A number of recommendations were made which may be of interest to principals, policy makers and researchers.