Diverging Systems of Educational Leadership in the Four Nations of the United Kingdom? Special Issue

Philip Woods (Editor), Deidre Torrance (Editor), Caitlin Donnelly (Editor), Tom Hamilton (Editor), Ken Jones (Editor), Ian Potter (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


The purpose of this special issue of School Leadership and Management is to explore ways of examining, conceptualising and theorising the developments in the four educational jurisdictions of the UK, concluding with a comparative analysis. The special issue seeks to raise awareness and understanding of the governance of education across the UK and its impacts, including analyses of the direction of travel of leadership, management and administration in the four jurisdictions, illuminating both divergences and similarities between these discrete education systems. In doing this, it also aims to offer concepts, theories and ideas that help in understanding the challenges of school leadership, management and administration faced in all education systems and thus to be of value internationally.

The special issue is a product of the Comparative Review of Educational Leadership, Management and Administration in the United Kingdom, funded by the British Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (BELMAS), which was undertaken in 2018-2019. The project was led by Prof. Philip Woods with the support of the project team, of which the editors of this special issue were members. (For a complete list see Woods et al., 2020.) The objective of the UK Review was to explore and compare policy and practice in educational leadership, management and administration across the four jurisdictions of the UK (Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland). The project facilitated discussion and collaborative dialogue between those working at policy and institutional levels in the school system and academics. This critical examination of policy frameworks and interpretations included consideration of key implications for the future, to support debate and to assist with the improvement of practice and policy on educational leadership. The review is unique, in that its scope and method - comparing the UK constituent countries in a devolved governance context, through participatory workshop-style conferences - has not been undertaken before. Its report (Woods et al., 2020), with the papers presented at its conferences provide a resource for exploring both how developments can be theorised (especially in comparative perspective) and the implications for policy and practice of its findings. The report reflects the position in each jurisdiction at the time of the project, but also seeks to convey the fluidity of these positions and issues for future consideration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSchool Leadership and Management
Issue number1-2
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Mar 2021


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