Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the distribution of leadership practices in Sixth Form Colleges (SFCs). This is an area where very little research has been undertaken and the intention was to investigate the topic from a critical perspective using social constructionist methodology. Design/methodology/approach – The research methodology was based on social constructionism. The research took place over two years at four SFCs and involved a range of teachers. An initial questionnaire was followed up with co-constructed discussions in which participants were able to express their views and develop the trajectory of the discussion. Findings – The findings indicated that SFCs have been under pressure to distribute work roles in order to maximise efficiency and this has led to both opportunities for career advancement and work overload. Research limitations/implications – This is a limited research exercise. As a social constructionist research project, it was deliberately aimed at providing a deep insight into a few colleges rather than making generalisable observations about the nature of the sector as a whole. Originality/value – There is very little research undertaken into the SFC sector. This research places an important concept such as distributed leadership into this niche sector. It also challenges the idea that distributed leadership is inherently positive in nature.