Followership among UK Secondary School Teachers

This paper reports the preliminary findings of an exploratory study which investigates the followership of longstanding, classroom-based school teachers working in the UK secondary education sector. Using Gronn’s (1999) educational leadership formation model as a frame of reference, the study employs a multiple case study methodology with data collected using semi- structured biographical interviews and Kelley’s (1992) followership questionnaire. Focusing on those individuals that have not embraced a formal leadership or management role as part of their teaching career (teacher-followers), the study investigates how these teachers follow and how the characteristics of their life and career have influenced their followership journey. The preliminary findings indicate that followership is characterised by two of Kelley’s five classifications, i.e., pragmatic and exemplary followers. Further, the reported experiences and influences of the teacher-followers in the formative stages of their career are aligned with those reported for teacher-leaders (Ribbins, 1997; Gronn, 1999; Inman, 2007; Mackensie-Batterbury, 2012). Finally, self-belief and confidence; opportunity to lead; and pragmatism are reported as differentiating factors in shaping the nature of the career journeys of the teacher-followers engaged in this study.