Being and Becoming a Principal: ‘Navi-Gotiating’ Roles and Responsibilities

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


Principalship is rather like parenthood, nothing prepares for the reality; no matter how much prior learning or anticipation, getting to grips with the reality is a shock to the system. This is a combination of navigating (‘to find one’s way and keep one’s course’) the contours of a role that is occupied by many others, thus travelling a recognised course or route, while simultaneously (re-) negotiating (‘to bargain … for the purpose of mutual arrangements’) the responsibilities that the position entails on individual terms, and within the distinct culture of a particular school community (Wenger 1998, pp. 60–61). Becoming a principal therefore is a process of on-going navi-gotiating that is shaped significantly by tradition, school culture, policy environment and international social movements, and the interpersonal (inter-)actions of the main protagonists in the school drama-principal, colleagues, pupils etc. As Starratt suggests, principals are challenged “to look beyond the present realities and the scripts that control them, to improvise on those inherited scripts, and to imagine a different kind of performing school” (Starratt 2011, p. 9). This is what is entailed increasingly in the ‘new work of leaders’ (Gronn 2003). This chapter then is intended to shed light on an under researched area and how such roles and responsibilities have been navi-gotiated over time.


School Leader School Culture Servant Leadership Succession Planning Junior School 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

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

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