University of Leicester
2020KilicYPhD.pdf (5.35 MB)

How Cultural, Social, Political and Religious Forces Shape Principals’ Roles and Challenges: Evidence from Four Primary Schools in Turkey

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posted on 2020-11-25, 23:45 authored by Yakup Kilic
This study investigates the roles and challenges of primary school principals by seeking how roles and challenges reflect sociocultural political and religious structures of Turkey, and aims to understand the nature of primary school principalship within the highly centralised structure of the Turkish Education System. It argues that primary school principals have very limited authority and power, however, they also have excessive responsibilities and great accountability in return. Principals are also not able to fulfil their leadership roles, as principalship is a promotional – rather than a professional – position for teachers. Adopting cultural and bureaucratic models of school management perspectives, this study draws upon the educational initiatives and reforms that negatively affect primary school principalship and the quality of education in Turkey.
This study relies on the perceptions and perspectives of school stakeholders and on multiple data resources as a way of understanding what role and function principals play in school management. Highlighting the importance of the individuals’ experiences and voices on the daily practices and routines of principals, six different groups of key stakeholders were used as informants. Semi-structured interviews were conducted as the main sources of data in four different primary schools. Student drawings, government documents and the researcher’s field notes were also used as supplementary evidence to corroborate interview narratives.
Raising concerns about the centralised control of finance matters and corrupted processes of principals’ appointment and resource allocation, findings of the study show that principals do not have enough time to focus on instructional processes as they spend most of their time on fundraising, caretaking of school buildings, and dealing with parental problems. Principals are also considered as inexperienced and incompetent to supervise and control the instructional processes. The ways and strategies principals draw on to tackle the problems and overcome the difficulties mostly shape their daily routines and practices at school. Findings suggest that primary school principals largely play caretaker and fundraiser roles, and function as gatekeeper and problem-solver.
Based on the findings, recommendations are offered predominantly for policymakers. There is a need to rearrange and improve the financial conditions of primary school and give schools enough – yet expert and competent – support staff, which would enable principals to have more time on instructional and in-school processes. There is also a need for a professional body defining the knowledge and skills for principals, and a certification and qualification program assuring quality leadership for school principals. This would bring more experienced and competent principal candidates to school management. This study significantly contributes to the knowledge, particularly to the Turkish EAML field, in terms of empirical, conceptual, and methodological accounts.



Wei Zhang

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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