"Tears, laughter, camaraderie" : professional development for headteachers

Philip Woods, Glenys J. Woods, M. Cowie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports and interprets the findings of a study of headteachers' views and perceptions of continuing professional development (CPD) provision and their ongoing CPD needs and priorities, carried out in 2007 in Scotland, involving headteachers from the primary and secondary sectors. Topic areas in which headteachers generally were most likely to perceive a need for professional development included: dispersing leadership (empowerment, coaching and building leadership capacity); management skills concerning underachieving staff and learning and teaching; time for reflection (encompassing holistic needs). A need for more time and opportunities for reflection is a theme that pervaded the responses of headteachers, with reflection including cognitive and technical, as well as affective, ethical and spiritual aspects. New headteachers emphasised the technical challenges of the post, enhancing knowledge and understanding of leadership, sustaining/rebuilding confidence, and improved support and information. Established headteachers, whilst also highlighting knowledge and understanding of leadership, particularly emphasised the value of sabbaticals, secondments and time for reflection. In discussing the findings, the article considers the importance of learning through 'disturbance' of taken-for-granted assumptions, of a holistic approach to professional development, and of thinking and acting systemically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-104
JournalSchool Leadership and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • school leadership
  • professional development needs
  • reflection
  • new headteachers
  • established headteachers


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