Learning to be a school leader in Ireland: Investigating the understanding, use and efficacy of a model of professional learning for the professional development of school leaders in Irish schools

Nihill, Mary
The lack of coherence – both structural and process – in terms of building a national strategy to increase leadership capacity and the need to examine the components of a model of professional learning for leadership development that would assist such a strategy so as to enable a national education system to fulfil its policy aspirations, informed this research study. The CSL Model of Professional Learning (CSL 2018a) being investigated in this study, is a framework to support the design, delivery, and evaluation of professional development provision. This study explored the understandings, uses and efficacy of the Centre for School Leadership’s Model of Professional Learning (CSL 2018a), for school leaders and others in the system. The research examined how three distinct groups, providers of professional development, aspiring leaders undertaking postgraduate programmes in leadership development, and personnel involved in policy design and enactment in Irish education, understood this model and what they perceived as its current and potential use. Questionnaires, focus groups and one-to-one semi-structured interviews were used in a sequential multi-method qualitative research design to collect data from the three groups. A thematic analysis framework was applied to the data gathered to generate the research findings. Overall, the findings indicate that the construction of the CSL Model of Professional Learning (CSL 2018a) was seen as useful, and the elements identified as the features of effective professional development were generally endorsed. However, if career long professional development in leadership is to gain traction across the Irish education system, a number of issues that emerged from the research findings would need to be addressed including a greater understanding of the complex learning process of professional development including the personal and professional dimensions of professional growth. The strengthening of a culture of professional development both across the Irish education system and within individual schools, including an appreciation of sustained professional development as a core attribute of what it means to be a teacher/leader, was also seen as a core requirement.
NUI Galway
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland