Local Authority Support for Creativity in Scottish Primary Headteachers
: Emergence of Social Intrapreneurialism in a Complex Pseudo-Democratic System?

  • Marie Beresford-Dey

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Government-funded schools in Scotland are required to navigate the policy initiatives driven by the Scottish Government. Through initiating and sustaining positive change for the needs of the school community within the realms of these policies, effective school leadership is viewed as a key feature of school improvement in terms of attainment. Additionally, the increasingly complex environments and rapidly changing educational, societal, political, and economic systems require headteachers to adopt creativity as an integral feature of their leadership. When considering the rapidly evolving systems and the diverse needs of the school community, creativity must be supported throughout the system, including that offered to public sector headteachers by their direct employers; in Scotland, this is the local authority.

    Although there is an abundance of literature around the two concepts of school leadership and creativity as separate entities, little attention is given to research directed towards investigating these jointly. Scholars have also reported limitations surrounding research of Scotland’s local authorities relating to education. This PhD study aimed to address these knowledge gaps by exploring the perceptions and experiences of primary headteachers in Scotland regarding opportunity and support from their associated local authority to enable creativity in school leadership. The main research question was: How do primary headteachers perceive their partnership with the local authority with regards to support for creativity in school leadership? Three associated sub-questions were developed to enable a response: 1. To what extent do primary headteachers perceive their school leadership as creative? 2. How are primary headteachers supported by the local authority to creatively lead their school? 3. How does the local authority encourage networking opportunities for primary headteachers? This research took place at a time where policy changes were either in their infancy or had yet to be realised. Grounded in complexity leadership and pragmatism, quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analysed via integrated mixed methods.

    The insights offered by primary sector headteachers indicated two planes of enactment in terms of creativity and the perceived support offered as either passive or active and shared or individual. Additionally, my findings illuminate examples of headteacher’s as emerging social intrapreneurs working within constraints of bureaucracy. In conclusion, the evidence indicates limited local authority support surrounding creativity in school leadership. Key recommendations are offered to policymakers and users, coupled with potential theoretical and methodological developments and future research. Drawing from complexity leadership, I propose a tripartite model of school leadership.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorLiz Lakin (Supervisor) & Richard Ingram (Supervisor)


    • School leadership
    • Creativity
    • Local authority
    • Social Intrapreneurialism

    Cite this