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Margaret Hunnaball

Margaret Hunnaball

PhD Candidate


Margaret read Physics (BSc) and completed a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education at Southampton University. She then enjoyed a career in teaching, with senior leadership experience in both state-maintained and independent secondary schools.

She is now a PhD candidate at King’s College London, conducting ESRC-funded research into cross-sector educational partnerships. Her research interests are partnership working, leadership and education beyond the formal curriculum.


Thesis title: Independent state school partnerships (ISSPs) in England: a critical exploration of partnership enactment.

Margaret's principal supervisor is Meg Maguire, and her secondary supervisor is Jane Jones.

Her thesis explores the ways in which three Independent State School Partnerships (ISSPs) enact their cross-sector collaborations. These ISSPs are partnerships between independent fee-paying schools and state-maintained schools in England. This qualitative study investigates three ‘telling cases’ that foreground the processes and practices of their enactments from a grounded perspective. The study is theoretically framed by policy enactment theory and social exchange theory, which are used as key analytical tools to illuminate the forms that each partnership took and the contribution of the partnerships across each ‘telling case’. Findings indicate that these partnerships are not static entities but are evolving ecologies, flexing in response to changing environments and partner school contexts. The findings also show some evidence of mutual benefit. ISSPs are deemed to be worthwhile in different ways and to different extents, to different partners. Two of the ISSPs exhibited more of a collaborative and inclusive method of working and, in the third ISSP, the independent school was clearly in the lead taking responsibility for policy direction and provision. The study concludes that, based on its findings, ISSPs can transcend political differences for pragmatic reasons and can build bridges, however temporal, across the educational divide.