Pressures and Influences on School Leaders As Policy Makers During COVID-19

28 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2020 Last revised: 3 Aug 2020

See all articles by Peter Fotheringham

Peter Fotheringham

University of Cambridge - Trinity Hall; University of Cambridge - Faculty of Education

Thomas Harriott

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Grace Healy

University College London - UCL Institute of Education

Gabrielle Arenge

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Education

R McGill

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Education

Elaine Wilson

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Date Written: July 3, 2020

Abstract

Pressure and influences on school leaders as school policy makers during COVID-19 have made the task of interpreting, translating and implementing guidance more a complex and essential operation. School leaders need to prioritise and balance ever-changing government policy advice, against limitations of school buildings, the welfare of students and staff as well as the needs of the communities their schools serve. By surveying and interviewing headteachers, senior leaders and governors, this paper identifies the inputs school leaders have had to react and respond to when creating policy in the context of COVID-19. The paper addresses the nature of, and factors affecting, pressures school leaders feel in authoring policy. The considerable challenges school-based policy makers face in implementing social distancing policy are non-trivial and increase tension to what is already highly stressful work. The report draws on data collected from a randomised, stratified sample of primary and secondary school leaders from across England in early June 2020, during the time of social distancing and school closure for most students. Findings suggest quality, quantity and frequency of top-down communication have contributed to school leader stress, while horizontal communication and collaboration between school leaders and across school communities helped to support leaders during rapid change. We recommend government and the education sector address communication, collaboration and change, to harness the challenges and opportunities identified by school leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: education leadership, education policy, policy making, COVID-19, england, schools, headteacher, policymakers, communication, collaboration, change

JEL Classification: I21, I26

Suggested Citation

Fotheringham, Peter and Harriott, Thomas and Healy, Grace and Arenge, Gabrielle and McGill, Ross and Wilson, Elaine, Pressures and Influences on School Leaders As Policy Makers During COVID-19 (July 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3642919 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3642919

Peter Fotheringham (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Trinity Hall ( email )

Trinity Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1TJ
United Kingdom

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Education ( email )

184 Hills Road
Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 8PQ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://twitter.com/mr_foth

Thomas Harriott

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge ( email )

184 Hills Road
Cambridge, CB2 8PQ
United Kingdom

Grace Healy

University College London - UCL Institute of Education ( email )

20 Bedford Way
London, WC1H 0AL
United Kingdom

Gabrielle Arenge

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Education ( email )

184 Hills Road
Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 8PQ
United Kingdom

Ross McGill

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Education ( email )

184 Hills Road
Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 8PQ
United Kingdom

Elaine Wilson

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom
01223336297 (Phone)
CB2 8PQ (Fax)

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