'Reading' Educational Leadership through Foucault.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


How can we come to understand the impact of high-pressure environments on emerging school leaders? Since the introduction of NAPLAN in 2008, Queensland school leaders have been working in a rapidly shifting space, with expectations of principals to work towards system-defined improvement measures involving increasingly higher external accountabilities.

This paper reports on long-term case studies of the effects of school improvement expectations on principals. I make use of Foucauldian theory to ‘read’ the impact of performative cultures and heavy external accountabilities on a specific group of principals. A unique feature of the region in which these case studies were undertaken is the large proportion of small school principals, the majority of whom are in the early stages of their teaching careers. These principals joined the teaching profession post-NAPLAN and the influence of these accountabilities is emerging as a point of difference between them and longer-established school leaders.

The paper highlights the emergence of a new leadership paradigm and identifies this as an area inviting further inquiry within the wider field of educational leadership and administration. It suggests that Foucault’s ideas provide a way of critically reading the influence of rapidly shifting expectations on individuals’ leadership practices.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2016
EventPostgraduate and Early Career Researcher [PGECR] Symposium - University of Southern Queensland, Springfield, Australia
Duration: 18 Nov 201618 Nov 2016
Conference number: 18th


ConferencePostgraduate and Early Career Researcher [PGECR] Symposium
Abbreviated titlePGECR


  • Leadership
  • Foucault
  • Policy

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