- 29 Aug 2018
Teachers’ and School Leaders’ Career Pathways: a review of International approaches in five case studies
Dr Steven J Courtney
University of Manchester
The question of how, if at all, teachers’ and leaders’ careers should be structured through specific policy interventions has been a concern internationally for many years. The reasons underlying this interest may be a perceived or putative relationship between the policy “solution” of career pathways and diverse policy “problems” ranging from poor teacher or leader recruitment, retention or job satisfaction to a desire to raise student outcomes. This literature review therefore aims to explore international approaches to teachers’ and leaders’ career pathways in the context of their policy environment. The methodology used was multiple case studies, with five contexts being purposefully selected that speak particularly to the question under investigation. The methods employed consisted in online database search, exploration of key websites and following up iteratively references.
Summary of findings
Australia has devised a four-stage career pathway for teachers based on explicit professional standards. For leaders there is a progressive system of “profiles”. Enactment of the policy is inconsistent, and is complicated by differing state-level alternatives.
Canada (Ontario’s) system comprises a dynamic certified-teacher certificate that is updated to reflect teachers’ completion of regional-state-managed “Additional (Basic) Qualifications”. Whilst not constituting a career pathway, they enable movement up the pay scale and leadership roles. Principals are not provided with an in-role structured career pathway.
Estonia in 2013 introduced a structured career pathway for teachers. General teachers have four levels and vocational teachers three. These are based on explicit professional standards. Leaders have no such system. Enactment of the policy is still inconsistent.
Finland’s education system is underpinned by Nordic values of social democracy. Instead of a structured career pathway, teachers and school principals instead enjoy considerable autonomy and high status within an undifferentiated profession. Declining PISA rankings threaten this structure.
Singapore uses a highly structured three-track, multi-level career-progression system, with “leadership” comprising one of these tracks. The context is bureaucratic, and so teachers and leaders as civil servants accept their lack of professional autonomy. Inter-track movement is possible and intra-track progression is purposefully challenging.
Taken together, these cases reveal the ambiguous relationship between a perceived policy “problem” and its attempted solution. This is particularly so where policy-makers intend raising standards through structuring teachers’ careers, because the evidence of an unproblematically linear causal link is slight. They also reveal how research evidence is weakly used in developing – or more likely, borrowing policy or programmes, particularly in leadership. The OECD is key here, since its conclusions are widely used in policy-making but are not peer-reviewed.
Making sense of the case studies
In exploring understandings and practices of career pathways through these five case studies and the wider literature, I have identified three major themes. These are a) the ambiguous relationship between the policy “problem” and “solution”, b) the ambiguous relationship between the policy and the evidence, c) policy borrowing and policy adaptation, focusing on national centres of knowledge production and the use of teacher standards.
Ambiguous relationship between the policy 'problem' and 'solution'
An important, if implicit question guiding not only this literature-based study, but also the policy processes it investigates, is ‘how, if at all, should teachers’ and leaders’ working lives and practices be structured?’ The fact that it is a question that requires exploration at all reveals that current arrangements are perceived to be failing in one or more ways: in other words, there is a “problem” that policy is intended to address. For instance, here are two of the most common potential “problems” with current arrangements in career structures:
1. They may have come to accompany perceived student underperformance, perhaps in international comparisons such as PISA.
2. They may be present at the same time as teacher and/or leader job dissatisfaction, or even exit from the profession.
I am avoiding language in the two statements above that implies or assumes a causal relationship between the variables, because the evidence that supports such a relationship tends to ignore wider societal issues beyond the classroom or school. This includes, for number one above, the effects of such structuring elements as socio-economic class, race, and sex (see Courtney et al. 2018), and for number two, the effects of national and local cultures, and of the overarching policy context. In Australia and England, for instance, such a policy context has been characterised as low-trust and high-stakes in terms of teacher and leader accountability, encouraging in school leaders the production of entrepreneurial and performative (Courtney 2016; Perryman et al. 2018) forms of practice that are largely bypassed by policy attempts to enhance satisfaction.
The case studies above reveal a number of different ways of constructing and addressing a policy “problem” and reveal also how the relationship between these two may not be as certain as is depicted through policy. As the Finnish case study above shows, Finland’s Ministry of Education is introducing reforms to teachers’ professional development activities in response to the recent “dip” in the PISA performance of Finland’s 15 year olds. This demonstrates the high value that policy-makers place in an assessment that the research evidence has for years shown to be problematic. Goldstein (2004), for instance, has argued that its methodology renders its findings untrustworthy, and the Australian academic, Dinham (2013), notes of the “competition” that:
… the emerging Asian ‘PISA powerhouses’ … are not nations at all, but cities [and] city states … They are also predominantly authoritarian in their governance, have a tradition of rote learning, cramming and testing and all have placed a major premium on improving their PISA rankings. On that measure, they have been successful. (Dinham 2013, p. 95)
The push for high test scores can harm both enjoyment and self-belief. It is doubtful that Australian parents would want this for their children. (Dinham 2013, p. 97)
The Finnish reforms also exemplify and demonstrate their belief in a simple causal relationship between student performance, teacher quality, and professional development. Of course, these elements are interrelated, but a number of other features may intervene, including in Finland’s case, students’ sex or immigrant status (OECD 2018c). Moreover, a reported lack of professional development in such an already research-rich context as Finland’s has a very different meaning to an ostensibly similar lack amongst educators who culturally neither undertake research nor see their profession as normatively research-informed (Niemi 2015). Since Finnish teachers are starting from a high base, it is likely that simply “adding professional development and stirring” will not address the policy problem of apparently declining standards. It is also probably not coincidental that Finland has reduced spending on education massively since the Global Economic Crisis (OECD 2018a). These contextual details trouble any assumption of an unproblematic relationship between policy and policy “problem”, showing that what looks at first sight like a sound policy may actually be a policy fix for a larger problem that would require far more resourcing.
In her research into Australia’s introduction of teacher professional standards, McSporran (2018) illuminates how the state’s assumption of a close relationship between improving student outcomes (the “problem”) and improving teacher quality (the policy “solution”) may be problematic:
This assumption ignored other possibilities such as: improving teaching quality may not improve student outcomes; improving teaching quality may only improve student learning to a certain point due to a ceiling effect; improving student outcomes past a certain point may have undesirable effects on student wellbeing; and, improving student learning, as measured by national and international tests, may not be good proxies for future national economic productivity. Positioning teachers as the key to improving student outcomes ignored the potential role that governments could play in addressing broader social and economic inequities, which also affect student outcomes. (McSporran 2018, p. 87)
Moreover, policy-makers may address one problem and inadvertently create another. The two problems suggested above are good examples of where, in contexts inspired by England’s example, seeking to solve one has perhaps tended to exacerbate the other. This is because the English policy strategy for raising pupils’ attainment has largely consisted in increasing teachers’ and leaders’ accountability, which reduces these professionals’ job satisfaction (Ball 2003), whereas in Finland high attainment was achieved with neither standardised tests nor school inspection, but instead with high levels of autonomy for and trust in its teachers. England is notably experiencing teacher recruitment and particularly retention issues that Finland is not, although, as Uljens and Nyman (2013) point out, Finland’s adoption of certain reform features associated with ‘the new international competition-oriented trend may not only question but also challenge the unique Finnish model, which has been so successful in combining the idea of a school for all with high standards’. (Uljens and Nyman 2013, p. 44).
Ambiguous relationship between the policy and the evidence
Researchers in western contexts have long noted the weak use of research evidence in policy-making (see e.g. Whitty 2016). This tendency is clear too in these case studies. For example, it must be noted that there is no consistent positive association in these five education systems between having a high-performing education system (according to PISA) and creating and following a career-progression structure for teachers or leaders. Of course, there may well be other reasons for attempting it, but it is obvious in the data that claims are often predicated on beliefs rather than on evidence. The OECD is a key actor here: as a supra-national organisation, its reports, assessments and claims are taken extremely seriously, but they are not subject to scientific peer review and they construct a neoliberal view of education and education professionals whose basis in belief rather than in evidence is occluded by the status of the organisation. For instance, in their report for the OECD on Estonia, Santiago et al. (2016) see it as problematic that school leaders there do ‘not adequately enjoy a distinct professional status’, with ‘the position of “school leader” [being] rather an extension of “teacher” (p. 24). This is an ideological position that takes it for granted that a discrete status is desirable and necessary, and ignores a rich history in Europe of social-democratic education for the public good that held the role of headteacher to be the lead professional, or primus inter pares, rather than a quasi-corporate CEO (Gunter et al. 2016; Grace 1995). This position also contradicts concerns raised in reports of empirical research focusing on countries where such a distinction does exist. For instance, in England, the differentiation of school leadership into a distinct “class” has enabled its capture by corporatising influences (Courtney 2017a; 2017b) and has produced notable dissonances between “leaders” and “the led” (Courtney 2015).
Singapore’s Leaders in Education Programme is based on weak academic evidence. It is underpinned by what it calls the ‘innovative 5R5M (Five Roles and Five Minds) framework’ (National Institute of Education Singapore 2013, p. 2), the latter half of which draws on Gardner’s (2006) “Five Minds for the Future”, which, as Gardner makes clear in an interview, was not intended as an academic book:
When I wrote the book Five Minds for the Future, I was not writing primarily as a psychologist. I was writing as a policy maker … there is no scientific claim that these are the five minds that God gave us or that are innate or that we have to develop. Rather, I’m making the case that in the future people need to have minds that are disciplined, capable of synthesis, creative, respectful, and ethical. And we could know all about the mind and the brain without ever coming up with those five lists. Those five are based on my analysis of what’s needed for today and tomorrow. (Gardner 2007, unpaged website)
Knowledge about educational leadership is therefore predicated mainly on beliefs rather than evidence: this resonates with Gunter’s (2012) analysis of the development of school-leadership programmes in England under the National College of School Leadership under New Labour. This has influenced a number of the case-study sites and so is explored in more detail further below.
The peer-reviewed literature has examples to offer in developing new, evidence-informed ideas about teachers’ careers and motivations. For instance, Evans, writing in 2018 about an idea that she has been developing since 1998, proposes ‘proximity theory’. This ‘posits that job-related attitudes and effect are determined by the proximity of what is subjectively perceived as one’s current actual to one’s current ideal job situation’ (p. 140). ‘Situation’ is understood in a wide sense to include:
… the physical and geographical workplace location; the nature of the work, including the minute detail of the day-to-day tasks that it involves; one’s level of seniority and status; the conditions of service and working conditions – again, including minutiae such as whether one has one’s own or a shared workspace, and what facilities one has access to; the quality of internal décor and buildings maintenance, etc.; the level of convenience or inconvenience caused by the work (e.g. whether it involves a long daily commute or is close to home; whether the working hours suit one’s personal circumstances and family responsibilities); and the people. (Evans 2018, pp. 139–140)
Movement up a career structure would constitute only a small part of this holistic experience of work and so can contribute only somewhat to the construct of “job satisfaction”, should achieving that be a motivation for introducing such a policy.
Policy borrowing and policy adaptation
Policy is not, in the main, based on research analysis and findings, but rather is often transferred from one context to another in a process called policy borrowing, where it may or may not be appropriately adapted to its new context. Dinham (2013) raises serious concerns about developing policy through borrowing:
We need to recognise and build on the strengths we have rather than attempting to ‘cherry pick’ what appear to be recipes for success from vastly different contexts. In the 1990s Japan was a focus of attention because of the strength of the Japanese economy. We were encouraged to emulate the educational and business practices of Japan, and Australian students were urged to learn Japanese. No one talks about copying Japan now. (Dinham 2013, p. 94)
Nonetheless, policy borrowing is evident throughout these case studies, and England appears to be one of the source nations for many of the structures attempted internationally. England has long been a ‘laboratory’ (Finkelstein & Grubb 2000, p. 602) of neoliberal education reform that individualises responsibility for outcomes, but also blame, and one of its functions as a laboratory has been to pilot education policies and make them amenable to export. I will exemplify this tendency through examining briefly the origins and instantiation here of two features found in certain of the case studies: the first is national centres of knowledge production in teaching and/or leadership and the second is professional standards for teachers and/or leaders.
National centres of knowledge production
The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) was established in 2000 by the UK’s New Labour Government. It was intended to be the sole producer and disseminator of knowledge about school leadership in an attempt to raise standards in England through enhancing the quality of school leaders. Gunter (2012) characterises its development:
In developing this approach, primacy was given to private-sector leadership models to secure leader responsibility and accountability, provide the language, processes and legitimacy for delegating work, and command commitment through followership. Professionalism was redesigned as technical capability (e.g. data-handling competence) combined with personal attributes (e.g. charisma) and attitudes (e.g. responsibility), underpinned by an overt commitment to New Labour strategies and processes. (Gunter 2012, p. 20)
Gunter argues that the NCSL was conceived as the mechanism to achieve the state’s education reforms: ‘New Labour operated through 24,000 heads rather than 400,000 teachers as their direct agents, with the training of heads and the labelling of their work as effective leadership … central to this’ (p. 21). In this respect, the NCSL (and its successors throughout the case-study sites) was very different from Scotland’s General Teaching Council, which was developed by and is still led by the profession (The General Teaching Council for Scotland 2018).
In order to legitimate its status as knowledge producer, the NCSL was physically located at the University of Nottingham, and drew on what Gunter (2012) calls ‘selected leadership theories and the work of preferred researchers’ (p. 29). Thrupp and Willmott (2003, p. 7) call these scholars ‘textual apologists’ to capture how their work supported and legitimated the NCSL model. Nevertheless, the evidence base for the NCSL’s claims was weak and often belief-based (Gunter 2012).
Following repeated reforms and reimaginings by policy-makers (including its 2013 merger with a similar body aimed at teachers and teaching, the Teacher Development Agency), what was finally known as the National College for Teaching and Leadership was dismantled in 2018. However, it seems that its influence persists through “policy borrowing and adaptation” in similar reforms throughout the world, including in some of these case-study sites.
This is seen most strongly in Singapore, where the National Institute of Education and the Academy of Singapore Teachers have considerable responsibility for and influence on teachers, teaching, leaders and leading. The education system these two bodies help to administrate is even more highly structured than that New Labour envisaged in England. This may be partly explained by the relatively lower influence of corporatised cultures, objectives and methods on Singaporean education and the relatively higher influence of bureaucratic cultures and structures. Indeed, in Singapore, “educational leadership” is conceptualised as being equally applicable to schools or to the Ministry of Education. The same skills are developed for both sites through the leadership track. This locates educational leadership within a bureaucratic framing rather than a market framing. It would be difficult to imagine this collocation, for instance, in England, the USA or Australia, and shows how policy has both travelled and been adapted to the local context.
There are consequences to the way education is arranged in Singapore, and these mostly relate to low levels of teacher autonomy and trust. For example, professional development is tightly linked to track and level: these being controlled by the state, the individual teacher has little agency to undertake non-sanctioned activities. So teacher autonomy in career progression is re-imagined rather reductively only as inter-track movement, and for as long as teachers remain on their current track, their options for professional development are limited and their future mapped out. This raises questions about who the knowers and knowledge producers are in the Singaporean education field of practice: is it the profession or is it the state? And even if the profession makes a claim here to know best about education, its “representation” (or capture) by state-aligned institutions such as the NIE makes autonomous knowledge problematic. There are also important cultural differences in how this structure is received and understood: note that Yang’s (2018) testimony concerning professional development posited that teachers’ not having to think about it because the state had arranged everything was a positive aspect of the system. This speaks to a particular relationship in Singapore between the state and the individual that may well not easily “travel”. Indeed, locating her analysis in the west and referencing western literature, Evans (2011) notes ‘whether they are right or wrong, teachers will inevitably oppose and resist a professionalism being thrust upon them which they do not recognise as ‘better’ than the one that they have played a part in shaping and with which they are, to varying degrees, comfortable (c.f. Evans et al., 1994; Stronach et al., 2002; Hilferty, 2008; Wilkins, 2011)’ (Evans 2011, p. 866).
In Ontario, and in a way more resembling the NCSL than the GTCS, professional knowledge has been captured by the state through the Ontario College of Teachers, 14 of whose 37 members are appointed by the provincial government (Ontario College of Teachers 2018a). Ontario’s system of cumulative AQs and ABQs might be viewed as being conceptually resonant with Singapore’s track/level structure, particularly in how they are framed and certified by the state through the OCT. It does, however, provide more space for teacher agency in offering the gamut of qualifications to all teachers (save those reserved for technologists). The fairly minimal-to-absent pay-scale advancement for initially well-qualified Ontario teachers, who may have started on A3 or even A4, means that professional development activities for many are disaggregated from their career advancement in the most direct sense, although professional learning for other reasons is of course valid and valuable. In devising an intensely structured system that ultimately does not constitute a career pathway, Ontario has decided that progression need not be along a defined route, but can instead be defined as the accumulation of accredited skills and competences that are recognised and are presumably consequential in the recruitment market. Its teachers are busy; they are learning; that learning is acknowledged formally; and that is understood as progression. The framing for this learning, however, is entirely state-managed.
‘Competence centres’ (Eurydice 2018b) are also being developed in Estonia, explicitly to enable the government’s reforms set out in its White Paper, “The Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020” (2014). This question concerning who is entitled to “know” about education often arises in times of education reform, where arguments may be made that professional knowledge has not produced the required results and so the state should intervene. The example of England’s NCSL shows that the fact that these centres are legitimated through links with higher education does not automatically guarantee the quality of the knowledge that will be produced there. Writing of the NCSL, but applicable here, Gunter (2012) identifies a number of problems with this policy approach that privileges state-aligned or managed centres. These include a disposition to marginalise perspectives that come from outside the state-sanctioned centre(s) and a concomitant over-emphasis on knowledge produced there, particularly where such knowledge constructs the aims of education as being normatively aligned exclusively with those of the national economy. Finally, it merits reiteration here that Estonia’s success in PISA reflects its pre-reformed system, with no “competence centres” and therefore greater levels of teacher autonomy over what counts as excellent teaching.
Evans (2011) notes that professional standards for teachers (and by extension, leaders) may constitute ‘government-initiated professionalism-shaping mechanisms’ (p. 853). In England, the introduction of such standards constituted an important element in the range of interventions into teachers’ practice and professionalism, and has influenced policy globally. New Labour’s suite of standards (see Teacher Development Agency 2007) categorised teachers into five distinct career stages:
- Q: qualified teacher status, or QTS (for teachers in their first post following successful completion of their initial teacher education qualification);
- C: core standards (for teachers having successfully completed the year-long ‘induction’ period after earning QTS);
Reaching and maintaining these two levels above were compulsory and brought no salary benefit. The three levels below were optional and were associated with salary increments.
- P: post-threshold (for teachers who had attained the additional standards and whose submission of a portfolio of evidence to the headteacher was successful);
- E: excellent teacher (for teachers undergoing external assessment to validate their having attained the relevant standards. This career level involved ‘specific teacher leadership roles and responsibilities’ (Evans 2011, p. 853).
- A: advanced skills teacher (as for excellent teacher above).
England’s coalition government has since altered the standards (see Department for Education 2011), reducing them from 33 to 8, with a further eight un-enumerated bullet points on ‘personal and professional conduct’ (p. 14). The later version removed the career pathway integral to the earlier version, making ‘progression’ entirely a matter of new, salary-related and individualised performance-management processes.
What this example reveals is that there is nothing inherently more “modern” or progressive about creating and using professional standards for teachers, or using these to create explicit career pathways. History shows that there is travel in both directions in these respects. The case studies consequently reveal a range of different ways of understanding and operationalising professional standards and of relating them to career stages.
Australia’s present system of teacher standards reflects that established in England by New Labour in 2007 (see Dinham 2013). Standards in a given domain become progressively more challenging to demonstrate and so are intended to require increasing skill. There are explicit career stages attached to each of the four levels of challenge. Critiques have been raised of this structured approach, both in its Australian and its English instantiation. For example, where responsibility for the development or enforcement of professional standards for teachers or leaders moves from the profession to the state, the focus may shift from career progression to accountability. These shifts may locate the responsibility for student outcomes on teachers instead of on schools or governments (McSporran 2018). The literature, particularly that located in England, is replete with examples of the negative impact of high-stakes accountability on the practice and identities of teachers (see e.g. Evans 2011) and leaders (e.g. Courtney 2013, 2016; Perryman et al. 2018), and on decisions to leave the profession (Whiteoak & Thomson 2017).
Ontario’s system of teacher standards more resembles that introduced by England’s Coalition government (2010-15) and indeed, pre-dating it, may well have inspired it (Ontario College of Teachers 2018c). There are only five domains, with each having just around three explanatory sentences attached. These standards pertain to teachers at all career stages (see Ontario College of Teachers 2017a, p. 26). There is also a similarly succinct set of ethical standards (p. 24).
The very notion of state-imposed teacher standards and of their alignment to professional development and career progression has also attracted critique. McSporran (2018) summarises these in the following way: teachers’ opportunities for professional development and for collaboration may be reduced (Evans 2013; Leaton Gray & Whitty 2010); indeed, collaboration as a way of improving students’ experiences and outcomes may be under-valued (Connell 2009; Leaton Gray & Whitty 2010); and teachers’ autonomy and professionalism may be undermined and their workload increased (Hargreaves & Goodson 2006; Larsen 2010). Finally, the low-trust environment that often accompanies high-accountability systems may ‘immobilise, individualise and isolate teachers’ (McSporran 2018, p. 55) and reduce teachers’ morale (Bottery 2006; Levin 2010). Furthermore, in her analysis of England’s 2007 standards, Evans (2011) found that the domains of professionalism that were being standardised ‘focus considerably more on behavioural than on attitudinal and intellectual development’ (p. 867). Whilst similar work has not been undertaken on the Australian, Singaporean and Ontarian standards (or indeed on Scotland’s), it seems reasonable to note that all professional standards will reflect particular ideological frameworks and conceptual architectures. They will do so normatively and in ways that may or may not accord with the interests of education as a public good that are beyond the perception of those happening to create the standards at that time. Following this logic, linking standards to career stages constructs a ‘good’ and/or ‘excellent’ teacher or leader whose characteristics more reflect contemporaneous political priorities than they do professional, educational values.
This literature review and analysis has a number of policy implications, some of which I will set out below:
1. The policy “problem” in these case studies is sometimes not well related to the solution offered through the new policy. This is often the case where new policies conform to the trend that has been dominant in western-style democracies for forty years and which privileges audit- and market-based solutions to “problems” as diverse as perceived low standards, inequality, and teacher recruitment. The evidence that these constitute the principal “solution” is weak, particularly considering the recent dominance in PISA of authoritarian, bureaucratic East Asian city-states, and of social-democratic Finland.
2. In considering policy borrowing, questions need to be asked concerning:
a) How particular local cultures/understandings and historical practices in the “donor” education system might have enabled the creation of that model;
b) How particular local cultures/understandings and historical practices in the “borrowing” education system might align or not with the framing or usage of the model to be borrowed. Consideration must be give, for instance, to the relative importance of teacher and leader autonomy in the two contexts, and of structures underpinned by high levels of professional trust versus high levels of accountability. Is the model amenable to adaptation?
3. Models that theoretically might enable accountability often end up doing so, whatever their original purpose and remit, particularly if:
a) Their development and deployment is the responsibility of the state or a centre closely aligned to the state;
b) One, sole way of “doing” teaching or leadership is intended to be a/the product of the new model.
4. The way in which professional and academic involvement in the development and deployment of the new structures needs to be carefully considered to make it meaningful. The existence of the strong, well-established and, importantly, independent General Teaching Council for Scotland makes Scotland stand out above the case study sites in its potential here.
5. The literature does not reveal many instances where increasing accountability measures, even perhaps inadvertently through the use of explicit professional standards, increases teachers’ job satisfaction. The exception is Singapore, which is not easily comparable to Scotland in a number of important respects including Singapore teachers’ lower expectations of autonomy and acculturation within an explicitly bureaucratic framework.
6. Professional standards lend themselves relatively easily to transformation into career pathways on paper, but rather less so in practice. Where discrete career pathways have been attempted in this way, these may have either been discontinued (e.g. England); or they have not been consistently taken up in practice (e.g. Australia and Estonia). The policy implications of this are that such an endeavour has challenges that may not yet be revealed in the academic literatures and so may require empirical investigation.
7. The case study sites do not differentiate leadership to the extent that already happens in Scotland, where middle leadership and headship are addressed explicitly through discrete standards (The General Teaching Council for Scotland 2012). The implications of this for policy are that innovative and context-led practice and structures may be developed that might influence policy-making elsewhere in the world.
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Care must be taken in identifying the principal policy “problem” and how the evidence links this to the proposed solution. The role of local cultures, understandings, structures and practices is important when “borrowing” policy, both from the donor and the recipient context. It is easy to exacerbate inadvertently one policy “problem”, e.g. job dissatisfaction, in addressing another, e.g. perceived low standards. Professional standards are relatively easy to convert into a career pathway on paper, but less so in practice. Leaders’ career pathways are not well-evidenced in the literature: this may be because they are unnecessary, i.e. they are not yet the answer to any conceivable policy “problem”.