Student Teachers' Interpretation of Leadership in Educational Contexts

O'Sullivan, Eilís and Nohilly, Margaret (2019) Student Teachers' Interpretation of Leadership in Educational Contexts. Education Research and Perspectives, 46. pp. 20-43.


Education in Ireland presents an idiosyncratic context. Study of this lends depth and insight to any international consideration of education, complex as this must be. This paper considers student teachers' perspectives and interpretations of leadership in primary (national) schools in Ireland. It focuses on the findings of research undertaken with two cohorts of student teachers in their final year of study. To contextualise the research findings, the paper begins by charting the development of leadership structures within the Irish primary school system. It moves then to outline briefly the Bachelor of Education programme in the university college where the study was undertaken. In detailing the research findings, the paper highlights the student teachers' experiences of leadership while undertaking school or professional placement, a core component of their university programme. It presents the students' perceptions of their potential to contribute to distributed leadership within schools while completing their final placement and afterwards on appointment to teaching positions. As part of their conclusion, the authors suggest that the extension of this research to include cohorts from each of the teacher education colleges in Ireland could support future policy development in initial teacher education.

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