‘Performing’ Leadership: Professional Responsibility in a Climate of Accountability

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


In some jurisdictions, external accountability mandates have been blowing consistently at gale force, while they have been more like a persistent Westerly in the Irish context. This chapter begins by positioning external and internal evaluation policies in Ireland within international policy trends. It then documents the impact of more recent policy shifts regarding Whole School Evaluation, promotion by the Inspectorate of school self-evaluation (SSE). School leaders are increasingly expected to comply with externally determined standards, to be accountable, while leading innovation within the school community. An accelerating pace of change, and a more general NPM climate that clamoured for public sector reform, coalesced into a set of demands on school leaders. Thus the sense of ‘performativity’ became more characteristic of education reform efforts nationally. Externally driven reforms increase in-school pressures to perform to pre-determined standards, thus potentially disrupting carefully calibrated trade-offs intended to maintain an even keel in the delicate and fragile ecology of school communities. In such circumstances it is often the moral compass of school leaders that sets the climate for how professional responsibility is continuously re-negotiated, with compliance frequently competing with collaborative collegiality as discretion and professional judgement are exercised in everyday practices. When the web of relationships becomes tauter due to external (performativity) demands, commitments are rendered more fragile, professional relationships more frazzled, while sometimes also sponsoring collective cohesion. This chapter charts the evolution of this process over time and how school leaders have coped with increasing performativity; its consequences for roles and responsibilities.


School Leader School Community Professional Responsibility Shared Leadership School Inspection 
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.


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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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