Empowering school principals to overcome turbulence in school partnerships through governance systems for equity, renewal and peace: Northern Ireland

Samuel J. McGuinness, Jessica Bates, Stephen Roulston, Stephanie Keating, Catherine Quinn, Brian Waring

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the topic of supporting young people to become innovators for societal change in terms of equity and renewal from the perspective of school principals in Northern Ireland, a post-conflict society. We examine how school principals can be empowered in their role in providing this support and the challenges and turbulence that they face in their work. The chapter provides contextual information about education in what is still largely a divided society in Northern Ireland. The principals who were interviewed as part of this research were working within school partnerships as part of ‘shared education’ projects. In Northern Ireland, the Shared Education Act (2016) provides a legislative basis for two or more local schools from different educational sectors to work in partnership to provide an opportunity for sustained shared learning activities with the aim of improving both educational and reconciliation outcomes for young people. The challenges for school leadership of working in partnership in societies emerging from conflict has not been given the attention it deserves in the literature, so this work is significant in that it brings together a focus on school leadership in a ‘shared education’ context, drawing on theories of collaboration and turbulence to examine how principals can best be empowered to be agents of change, so that pupils in Northern Ireland can also become empowered to make society there more equitable and peaceful. While the focus is on Northern Ireland, the learnings from this study will be of wider interest and significance as similar challenges are faced by school leaders internationally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTurbulence, Empowerment and Marginalisation in International Education Governance Systems
EditorsAlison Taysum, Khalid Arar
Place of PublicationBingley, UK
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-78754-676-9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Publication series

NameStudies in Educational Administration


  • Schools
  • School principals
  • Northern Ireland
  • Turbulence theory
  • social change


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