New book on FE published: The Principal: Power and Professionalism in FE

Principal CoverThe Principal: new book on FE published


A new book on FE ‘The Principal: Power and professionalism in FE’ will be published on 4th September 2017 and can be ordered here.  It has had significant ARPCE Committee involvement (Joel Petrie co-edits, Geoffrey Elliot wrote the preface, and Gary Husband and Vicky Duckworth contributed chapters).

The collection examines how power is exercised and experienced in the Further Education sector. The sequel to ‘Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses’, this book is similarly playful, but deadly serious in intent.

Using Machiavelli’s celebrated and contested treatise ‘The Prince’ as a metaphorical guide, the contributors each take a different perspective to interrogate leadership, agency and professionalism in FE. The scope of The Principal is as wide as the sector, with chapters on adult education and the FE systems throughout the UK and in Ireland and Australia. The writers share a fierce commitment to FE and this book is a must-read for anyone who cares about how and where the FE sector is being led.




‘The relevance of Machiavelli to current FE leadership is made horribly clear in this ingenious, fresh and challenging collection of essays. Political theory is used to devastating but useful effect to open up a space in which it is possible to think about power and the principal differently.’

— Stephen J. Ball, Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology of Education, UCL Institute of Education

‘This book shines light on the dark arts of political street fighting in colleges. Machiavelli is the prism through which you will learn about how power between governments and colleges, and management and teachers, is exercised, resisted, exercised and resisted again. While the book shows just how brutal the exercise of power can be in the college sector, it also tells of resistance, courage, and hope. This is a book for all students of education. It is gripping reading.’

— Leesa Wheelahan, William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership, University of Toronto

‘Just when I was wondering what more damage politicians could possibly do to the vital FE sector, this book arrives with disturbing comparative studies, unsettling, critical research and deliciously subversive irony. Together these 25 authors offer the sector the democratic practices needed for a journey of hope.’

— Frank Coffield, Emeritus Professor, UCL Institute of Education

‘The need for a dynamic further education system is greater than it has ever been, but too often the sector has been hampered by weak governance and limited ambition. This volume confronts those limitations head on and sets out an alternative prospectus for the sector that is both imaginative and audacious. Much more than an argument for “second chance” education, the contributors open up the possibility of genuine transformatory change. This book could not be more timely.’

— Professor Howard Stevenson, Director of Research, School of Education, University of Nottingham

‘A direct and provocative challenge to every principal and senior leader in FE. It raises difficult but pertinent ethical, strategic, professional and pragmatic questions concerning the whole system as well as policy, students, practitioners, motivation, action and self justification alongside the potential, or actual, use and abuse of power. The thread of irony running throughout the book is used to clever effect and may, at times, require an open, inquiring, reflective, honest and tolerant mind from any reader currently in a leadership position.

This is a deeply refreshing and important contribution to the leadership literature of FE, written from the perspective of voices seldom heard. If read widely and taken seriously this book could revolutionise FE leadership discourse, professionalism and practice.’

— Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, Former FE college principal, Chief Executive of the 157 Group (2008–15) and Centre for Excellence in Leadership (2004–08)