Middle leaders as policy translators: prime actors in the enactment of policy

Craig Skerritt, Gerry McNamara, Irene Quinn, Joe O’Hara, Martin Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper picks up and elaborates on the conception of policy translators in schools – key actors in the enactment of policy. The qualitative data presented here highlight how it is often middle leaders doing high-profile policy work in schools, turning ideas into actions and bringing policy to life. As translators, they organise, manage, lead, plan, produce, inspire, persuade, and appease, and in doing so they translate policy into practice and make it a collective effort. At the same time, they are often overloaded and inundated. In focusing on middle leaders as policy translators, this research makes several important contributions to scholarship: empirical data is provided to support and expand on policy enactment theory, the limited research base on middle leadership is developed, and understandings of how school self-evaluation plays out in schools are strengthened. Thus, it is envisaged that this paper will not only be of interest and of use to researchers and policymakers concerned with policy, evaluation, and leadership but to practising teachers and school leaders attempting to make sense of their own experiences at the coalface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-585
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number4
Early online date2 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • Policy enactment
  • middle leaders
  • policy actors
  • school self-evaluation
  • translators


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