The paper "Middle Managers in Primary Schools: Saudi Arabia and England" is a marvelous example of a business research proposal.
The research aims to:
A middle leader is a term used to refer to teachers who perform formal leadership roles that have both managerial and teaching responsibilities in a school but are not part of the school’s senior management (Busher et al 2007). Middle leaders play a crucial role in the maintenance and development of the nature and quality of the pupils’ learning experience (Cladingbowl 2013). However, the effectiveness of middle leadership in primary schools and their performance is strongly determined by the circumstances in which they work (Busher et al 2007). This includes the political as well as the institutional context in which they find themselves. Their roles and responsibilities vary from one education system to another and are largely influenced by the nature and characteristics of the education system in which they are situated.
In the English education system, bodies such as the Board of Education and the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) have encouraged middle managers to be involved in decision-making processes such as curriculum development and planning. As a result, English primary teachers are not only responsible for curriculum delivery but have also taken leadership responsibilities which include the social, moral and emotional welfare of their students (Bell & Ritchie 1999; Cladingbowl 2013). On the other hand, the education system in Saudi Arabia is highly centralized, bureaucratic and characterized by governmental limitations on autonomy. The government supervises and controls all aspects of education from policy to curriculum and syllabus delivery (Aqil 2005). In practical terms, the very concept of shared or distributed leadership which forms the basis for middle leadership is non-existent in public (government) schools in Saudi Arabia due to the rigid bureaucracy of the education system and the centralization of decision making (Al-Sadan 2000). Their managerial and pedagogical roles are strictly prescribed by the government and they can only deliver and implement government policy (Al-Sadan 2000).
It is important to examine the extent to which shared or distributed leadership is practiced in different education systems and to examine the influence of government policy on the performance and effectiveness of middle managers (Hammersely-Fletcher & Kirkham 2007). It should be examined to what extent authoritarian and bureaucratic structures deliver quality education and how middle leaders’ and managers’ execution of their roles in Saudi Arabia impacts on learner outcomes. This requires a comparison between educational philosophies and examination of the influence of the political and policy context on the quality of education. This would help identify key areas of improvement that would enhance the role of middle managers and the applicability of policies from the English system to the fundamentally different Saudi Arabian system.
Different political or policy contexts have different theoretical conceptualizations of the role of middle managers. In the English education system, government policy focuses on the role of people (leaders) as the drivers of improvement and change in schools while in the Saudi Arabian system, structures take precedence over people as reflected by the extensive level of government control over all aspects of education from policy to curriculum and syllabus delivery (Aqil 2005; Cladingbowl 2013). The influence of government policy on the performance of middle managers can be viewed from Foucault’s genealogical approach which analyses discourse in relation to social structure and the effects of power (Jeffrey & Troman, 2009). Within this discursive theoretical framework, schools are non-discursive arenas where discursive statements are monitored and controlled, vetoed or allowed by those with power (the government). This study will demonstrate how political practice in terms of government education policy has conditioned the educational discourse through the roles and responsibilities played by middle managers in the Saudi Arabian and English education systems.
To examine how education policy conditions educational discourse, and answer the research questions, there is a need to collect qualitative data on the middle manager’s perceptions and experiences in the English and Saudi Arabian contexts. The study will involve a qualitative and interpretative approach. In-depth interviews with middle managers and school supervisors in English and Saudi Arabian primary schools will be conducted to answer the research questions. The study will also include ethnographic tools such as observations of a sample of three primary schools in both England and Saudi Arabia where the researcher will observe middle managers’ interactions with their peers. The sample of three will enable the study to identify trends and make comparisons between leadership approaches in both systems based on observations without the bias of prescriptions. The use of ethnographic tools not only makes the study empirical but also increases the reliability and validity of the findings by reducing prescriptive bias. The observations will be triangulated with the results of the interviews to draw comparisons and conclusions on whether middle managers act as leaders or as followers in their respective political contexts.
Al-Sadan, I.A. 2000, Educational Assessment in Saudi Arabian Schools, Assessment in Education, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp 143-155.
Aqil, A.A. 2005, The Education Policy and System in Saudi Arabia, Al Rushd publisher, Riyadh. (Arabic).
Bell, D & Ritchie, R 1999, Towards effective subject leadership in the primary school, Open University Press, Buckingham
Busher, H.L, Hammersley-Fletcher & Turner, C. 2007, ‘Making sense of middle leadership: Community, power and practice,’ School Leadership and Management, Vol. 27, No. 5, pp 405–422.
Cladingbowl, M. 2013 “The key role of middle leaders-an Ofsted perspective”, Teaching Leaders Quarterly, November, pp 5-7. Retrieved on March 3, 2014, from
Hammersley-Fletcher, L & Kirkham, G 2007, ‘Middle leadership in primary school communities of practice: distribution or deception’, School Leadership & Management, Vol. 27, No.5, pp 423-435.
Jeffrey, B & Troman, G 2009 ‘Creative and performativity practices in primary schools: a Foucauldian perspective’, BERA Annual Conference September, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.