School Leadership Unmasked: ‘Forming’ Leaders, Trans-forming Leadership?

  • Ciaran Sugrue
Part of the Studies in Educational Leadership book series (SIEL, volume 20)


This concluding chapter brings together various strands of the leadership mosaic that are provided in the preceding chapters. It does this in a sequence of 7 ‘leadership lessons’ that are grounded in the lives and work of the 16 participants in the study while the purpose is to synthesise in a coherent yet open ended manner these lessons that make up the Irish case. These lessons are discussed and connected with extant literature while there is an emphasis throughout on the necessity for leadership formation to be addressed systematically and a concomitant requirement to alter significant aspects of systemic structures in order to build leadership capacity in a sustainable yet relatively unrestrained manner. Toward the end of the chapter, the focus shifts to using these lessons as the basis for leadership formation for a more transformative leadership agenda, and connects this with contemporary international literature thus identifying key concerns as appropriate programme content, with important caveats to avoid prescription despite the prevalence of performativity policy scripts. One important means of avoiding such overly prescriptive leadership formation programmes is to have multiple providers while their programmes will need to recognise the importance of intellectual input that is evidence-informed partnered by the wisdom of practice, of mentoring and shadowing, but in a manner that leaves spaces also for informal learning. In the absence of such an encompassing programme of leader formation the transformative potential of leadership will remain under-developed.


Transformative Leadership School Community Informal Learning Revolving Door Leadership Formation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Archer, M. S. (2007). Making our way through the world human reflexivity and social mobility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ball, S. (1994). Educational reform: A critical and post-structural approach. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barber, M., Whelan, F., & Clark, M. (2012). Capturing the leadership premium how the world’s top school systems are building leadership capacity for the future. London/New York: McKinsey & Company.Google Scholar
  4. Biesta, G. (2007). Why “what works” won’t work: Evidence-based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educational Theory, 57(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biesta, G. (2010). Good education in an age of measurement ethics, politics, democracy. Boulder/London: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Catholic Primary School Managers Association (CPSMA). (2007). Management board members’ handbook (Revised 2007, pp. 1–405). Dublin: Veritas.Google Scholar
  7. Cocklin, B., & Wilkinson, J. (2011). A case study of leadership transition: Continuity and change. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 39(6), 661–675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Coghlan, M., & Desurmont, A. (2007). School autonomy in Europe policies and measures. Brussels: Eurydice.Google Scholar
  9. Coolahan, J., Hussey, C., & Kilfeather, F. (2012). The forum on patronage and pluralism in the primary sector report of the Forum’s Advisory Group. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills.Google Scholar
  10. Day, C., & Sachs, J. (2004). International handbook on the continuing professional development of teachers. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gardner, H. (with the collaboration of E. Laskin) (1995). Leading minds: An anatomy of leadership. London: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  12. Gleeson, J. (2010). Curriculum in context partnership, power and praxis in Ireland. Bern: Peter Lang Ltd.Google Scholar
  13. Goodson, I. F. (2013). Developing narrative theory life history and personal representation. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Green, J. (2011). Education, professionalism and the quest for accountability hitting the target but missing the point. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Gronn, P., & Lacey, K. (2004). Positioning oneself for leadership: Feelings of vulnerability among aspirant principals. School Leadership and Management, 24(4), 405–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gunter, H. (2008). Policy and workforce reform in England. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 36, 253–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gunter, H., & Thomson, P. (2009). The makeover: A new logic in leadership development in England. Educational Review, 61(4), 469–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital transforming teaching in every school. New York/London: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.Google Scholar
  20. Harris, A. (2008). Distributed school leadership developing tomorrow’s leaders. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Huber, S. (Ed.). (2004). Preparing school leaders for the 21st century: An international comparison of development programs in 15 countries. London/New York: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  22. Iacocca, L., (with Catherine Whitney). (2008). Where have all the leaders gone? New York/ London/Toronto/Sydney: Scribner.Google Scholar
  23. Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking fast and slow. London/New York: Penguin Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  24. Leithwood, K., & Levin, B. (2008). Understanding and assessing the impact of leadership development. In J. Lumby, G. Crow, & P. Pashiardis (Eds.), International handbook on the preparation and development of school leaders (pp. 280–300). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. MacBeath, J., Schratz, M., Jakobensen, L., & Meuret, D. (2000). Self-evaluation in European schools: A story of change. London: The Falmer Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mertkan, S., & Sugrue, C. (2014). Building institutional capacity: More accountability than autonomy? Journal of Organisational Change Management, 27, 331–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Polkinghorne, D. E. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis. In J. A. Hatch & R. Wisniewski (Eds.), Life history and narrative (pp. 5–24). London: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  28. Rudd, P., & Davies, D. (2000). Evaluating school self-evaluation. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association from
  29. Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons what can the world learn from educational change in Finland? (Foreword by Andy Hargreaves). New York/London: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  30. Sahlberg, P. (2013, December 8). The PISA 2012 scores show the failure of ‘market based’ education reform. A truly successful education system has students of all socio-economic backgrounds scoring highly on PISA tests. The Guardian from
  31. Spillane, J. P., & Lee, L. (2013). Novice School Principal’s sense of ultimate responsibility: problems of practice in transitioning to the principal’s office (Working Paper 13-05). Unpublished working paper, Northwestern University.
  32. Sugrue, C. (2003). Irish primary principals’ professional learning: Problems and possibilities. Oideas, 50, 8–39.Google Scholar
  33. Sugrue, C. (2009). From heroes and heroines to hermaphrodites: Emancipation or emasculation of school leaders and leadership? School Leadership and Management, 29(4), 361–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sutphen, M., & de Lange, T. (in press). What is formation? A conceptual discussion. Higher Education Research and Development. Google Scholar
  35. Tyack, D., & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward Utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Walker, A., & Hallinger, P. (2013). International perspectives on leader development: Definition and design. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 41(4), 401–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Walker, A., Bryant, D., & Lee, M. (2013). International patterns in principal preparation: Commonalities and variations in pre-service programmes. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 41(4), 405–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Whitty, G. (2008). Twenty years of progress? English education policy 1988 to the present. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 36(2), 165–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wilkinson, R., & Pickett, K. (2009). The spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do better. London/New York: Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  40. Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer effect how good people turn Evil. New York: Random House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ciaran Sugrue
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity College DublinBelfield, DublinIreland

Personalised recommendations