University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

‘A less unpalatable alternative’: Executive leaders strategically redefining their work in primary MATs

Spicksley, Kathryn (2021) ‘A less unpalatable alternative’: Executive leaders strategically redefining their work in primary MATs. Management in Education, 36 (2). pp. 64-71. ISSN 0892-0206 Online: 1741-9883

Spicksley-2020-VoR-A-less-unpalatable-alternative-executive-leaders-strategically-redefining-their-work-in-primary-MATS.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (217kB) | Preview


Since the election of the Coalition government in 2010, an increasing number of primary schools in England have converted to academy status. This article explores how executive leaders working in primary academies construct academy freedoms and their attitudes towards their local authorities. Interviews with four executive leaders working in two contrasting Multi-Academy Trusts were analysed using critical discourse analysis. Findings show that in these primary academies, leaders chose to discursively distance themselves from other academy schools, and instead construct themselves as continuing the best traditions of local authority support. The findings indicate that the professional identities of academy leaders, as key policy actors, have an impact on how national policy is interpreted and enacted. The discourse of these academy leaders suggests that primary academisation has led to school leaders appropriating methods of strategic redefinition, to navigate the new post-2010 education landscape and construct new professional identities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

The full-text of the online published article can be accessed via the official URL.

© 2020 British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society (BELMAS). article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: academisation, critical discourse analysis, leadership, multi-academy trusts, primary schools
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Related URLs:
Copyright Info: Open access article
Depositing User: Kathryn Spicksley
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 11:04
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2022 09:32

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.