Interrogating the concept of 'leadership at all levels' : a Scottish perspective

Mowat, Joan G. and McMahon, Margery (2019) Interrogating the concept of 'leadership at all levels' : a Scottish perspective. Professional Development in Education, 45 (2). pp. 173-189. ISSN 1941-5257 (

[thumbnail of Mowat-PDIE-2018-Interrogating-the-concept-of-leadership-at-all-levels]
Text. Filename: Mowat_PDIE_2018_Interrogating_the_concept_of_leadership_at_all_levels.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (794kB)| Preview


The concept of ‘leadership at all levels’ has gained currency in Scottish education in recent years following the publication of ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ (2010), a major review of teacher education focussing on teachers’ initial preparation, their on-going development and career progression. This paper traces the drivers of change that led to the recommendations in the review and subsequent developments and interrogates the concept through examination of the policy context. The paper argues that, whilst there have been many positive developments in advancing leadership and leadership education in Scotland, the concept of ‘leadership at all levels’ is problematic and there are many tensions which need to be addressed. In particular, the paper examines the tension between systems-led leadership development and that which focuses on the professional development of the individual, commensurate with the stage of their career, and argues that models that are more fluid and flexible allowing movement in, across and through the system are required.