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Seven Strong Claims about Successful School Leadership



This article provides an overview of the literature concerning successful school leadership. It draws on the international literature and is derived from a more extensive review of the literature completed in the early stage of the authors’ project. The prime purpose of this review is to summarise the main findings from the wealth of empirical studies undertaken in the leadership field.
Seven strong claims about successful
school leadership
Kenneth Leithwood
*, Alma Harris
and David Hopkins
OISE/University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada;
Leadership and Policy Unit, University of
Warwick, UK;
London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education, London,
This article provides an overview of the literature concerning successful school leadership. It draws
on the international literature and is derived from a more extensive review of the literature
completed in the early stage of the authors’ project. The prime purpose of this review is to
summarise the main findings from the wealth of empirical studies undertaken in the leadership
This paper summarises key findings from the much more comprehensive review of
literature undertaken as a point of departure for the study described in this special
issue of the journal. These findings are organised around what we refer to as
‘strong claims’ about successful school leadership. These seven claims, in total, are
not all strong in quite the same way, as we shall explain, but they all find support in
varying amounts of quite robust empirical evidence, the first two having attracted
the largest amount of such evidence. These claims are as follows:
1. School leadership is second only to classroom teaching as an influence on pupil
2. Almost all successful leaders draw on the same repertoire of basic leadership
3. The ways in which leaders apply these basic leadership practices
/not the
practices themselves
/demonstrate responsiveness to, rather than dictation by,
the contexts in which they work.
4. School leaders improve teaching and learning indirectly and most powerfully
through their influence on staff motivation, commitment and working condi-
5. School leadership has a greater influence on schools and students when it is
widely distributed.
*Corresponding author. Email:
ISSN 1363-2434 (print)/ISSN 1364-2626 (online)/08/010027-16
#2008 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13632430701800060
School Leadership and Management,
Vol. 28, No. 1, February 2008, pp. 2742
6. Some patterns of distribution are more effective than others.
7. A small handful of personal traits explains a high proportion of the variation in
leadership effectiveness.
Claim 1: School leadership is second only to classroom teaching as an
influence on pupil learning
This claim will be considered controversial by some. We could have claimed simply
that school leadership has a significant effect on pupil learning, but our choice of
wording captures the comparative amount of (direct and indirect) influence exercised
by successful school leaders. Leadership acts as a catalyst without which other good
things are quite unlikely to happen. Five sources of evidence justify this claim. While
the middle three sources we identify are quite compelling, it is the first and fifth
sources that place leadership in contention with instruction.
The first justification for this claim is based on primarily qualitative case study
evidence. Studies providing this type of evidence are typically conducted in
exceptional school settings.
Such settings are believed to contribute to pupil
learning and achievement that is significantly above or below normal expectations
(defined, for example, by research on effective schools based on comparing value-
added similarities and differences among high- and low-performing schools). Studies
of this type usually report very large leadership effects, not only on pupil learning but
on an array of school conditions as well.
What is lacking in this evidence, however, is
external validity or generalisability.
The second type of evidence regarding leadership effects is from large-scale
quantitative studies of overall leader effects. Evidence of this type reported between
1980 and 1998 (approximately four dozen studies across all types of school) has been
reviewed in several papers by Hallinger and Heck.
These reviews conclude that the
combined direct and indirect effects of school leadership on pupil outcomes are small
but educationally significant. While leadership explains only 5
/7% of the difference
in pupil learning and achievement across schools (not to be confused with the
typically very large differences among pupils within schools), this difference is
actually about one-quarter of the total difference across schools (12
/20%) explained
by all school-level variables, after controlling for pupil intake and background
The quantitative school effectiveness studies providing much of this data
indicate that classroom factors explain more than one-third of the variation in pupil
A third type of research on leadership effects is, like the second type, large scale
and quantitative in nature. However, instead of examining overall leadership effects,
it enquires about the effects of specific leadership practices. A recent meta-analysis,
for example, identified 21 leadership responsibilities and calculated an average
correlation between each one and the measures of pupil achievement used in the
original studies. From this data, estimates were made of the effects on pupil test
28 K. Leithwood et al.
scores. The authors concluded that a 10 percentile point increase in pupil test scores
would result from the work of an average headteacher who improved her/his
demonstrated abilities in all 21 responsibilities.
The fourth of five sources of evidence has explored leadership effects on pupil
engagement. In addition to being an important variable in its own right, some
evidence suggests that school engagement is a strong predictor of pupil achieve-
At least 10 mostly recent, large-scale, quantitative, similarly designed studies
in Australia and North America have concluded that the effects of transformational
school leadership on pupil engagement
are significantly positive.
Finally, leadership succession research indicates that unplanned headteacher
succession is one of the most common sources of schools’ failure to progress, in
spite of what teachers might do. These studies demonstrate the devastating effects of
unplanned headteacher succession, especially on initiatives intended to increase
pupil achievement.
The appointment and retention of a new headteacher is
emerging from the evidence as one of the most important strategies for turning
around struggling schools or schools in special measures.
Our conclusion from this evidence as a whole is that leadership has very significant
effects on the quality of school organisation and on pupil learning. As far as we are
aware, there is not a single documented case of a school successfully turning around
its pupil achievement trajectory in the absence of talented leadership. One
explanation for this is that leadership serves as a catalyst for unleashing the potential
capacities that already exist in the organisation.
Claim 2: Almost all successful leaders draw on the same repertoire of basic
leadership practices
This claim emerges from recent research initiatives, and we believe that its
implications for leadership development have not yet been fully grasped. The basic
assumptions underlying the claim are that (a) the central task for leadership is to help
improve employee performance; and (b) such performance is a function of employ-
ees’ beliefs, values, motivations, skills and knowledge and the conditions in which
they work. Successful school leadership, therefore, will include practices helpful in
addressing each of these inner and observable dimensions of performance
particularly in relation to teachers, whose performance is central to what pupils learn.
Recent syntheses of evidence collected in both school and non-school contexts
provide considerable evidence regarding four sets of leadership qualities and
practices in different contexts that accomplish this goal.
We have organised these
core practices into four categories: building vision and setting directions; under-
standing and developing people; redesigning the organisation; and managing the
teaching and learning programme. Each includes more specific sub-sets of practices:
14 in total. To illustrate how widespread is the evidence in their support, we have
compared each set of practices to a widely known taxonomy of managerial
School Leadership and Management 29
behaviours developed by Yukl
through a comprehensive synthesis of research
conducted in non-school contexts.
.Building vision and setting directions. This category of practices carries the bulk of
the effort to motivate leaders’ colleagues. It is about the establishment of shared
purpose as a basic stimulant for one’s work. The more specific practices in this
category are building a shared vision, fostering the acceptance of group goals and
demonstrating high-performance expectations.
These specific practices reflect,
but also add to, three functions in Yukl’s managerial taxonomy: motivating and
inspiring, clarifying roles and objectives, and planning and organising.
.Understanding and developing people. While practices in this category make a
significant contribution to motivation, their primary aim is building not only the
knowledge and skills that teachers and other staff need in order to accomplish
organisational goals but also the dispositions (commitment, capacity and
resilience) to persist in applying the knowledge and skills. The more specific
practices in this category are providing individualised support and consideration,
fostering intellectual stimulation, and modelling appropriate values and beha-
These specific practices not only reflect managerial behaviours in Yukl’s
taxonomy (supporting, developing and mentoring, recognising, and rewarding)
but, as more recent research has demonstrated, are central to the ways in which
successful leaders integrate the functional and the personal.
.Redesigning the organisation. The specific practices included in this category are
concerned with establishing work conditions which, for example, allow teachers to
make the most of their motivations, commitments and capacities. School
leadership practices explain significant variations in teachers’ beliefs about and
responses to their working conditions.
Specific practices are building collabora-
tive cultures, restructuring [and reculturing] ...the organisation, building pro-
ductive relations with parents and the community, and connecting the school to its
wider environment.
Comparable practices in Yukl’s managerial taxonomy
include managing conflict and team-building, delegating, consulting and network-
.Managing the teaching and lear ning programme. As with Redesigning the organisation,
the specific practices included in this category aim to create productive working
conditions for teachers, in this case by fostering organisational stability and
strengthening the school’s infrastructure. Specific practices are staffing the
teaching programme, providing teaching support, monitoring school activity
and buffering staff against distractions from their work.
Yukl’s taxonomy
includes monitoring as a key part of successful leaders’ behaviours.
These four categories of leadership practices, and the 14 more specific sets of
behaviours they encompass, capture the results of a large and robust body of
evidence about what successful leaders do. Leaders do not do all of these things all of
the time, of course (you do not have to create a shared vision every day), and the way
they go about each set of practices will certainly vary by context, as we discuss in the
30 K. Leithwood et al.
next section. That said, the core practices provide a powerful new source of guidance
for practising leaders, as well as a framework for initial and continuing leadership
Claim 3: The ways in which leaders apply these leadership practices
/not the
practices themselves
/demonstrate responsiveness to, rather than dictation
by, the contexts in which they work
Much has been written about the high degree of sensitivity successful leaders bring to
the contexts in which they work. Some would go so far as to claim that ‘context is
everything’. However, based on our review of the evidence, this reflects a superficial
view of what successful leaders do. Without doubt, successful leaders are sensitive to
context, but this does not mean they use qualitatively different practices in every
different context. It means, rather, that they apply contextually sensitive combina-
tions of the basic leadership practices described above. By way of example, consider
the leadership of schools in special measures during each stage of being turned
around. Beginning at the end of a period of declining performance, these stages are
typically characterised, in both corporate and school literature,
as early turnaround
(or crisis stabilisation) and late turnaround (or achieving and sustaining success).
Evidence suggests differences in the application of each of our four core sets of
successful leadership practices.
.Building vision and setting directions. This category is particularly important for
turnaround school leaders at the early crisis stabilisation stage, but the context
requires enactment of these practices with a sense of urgency, quickly developing
clear, short-term priorities.
At the late turnaround stage, much more involve-
ment of staff is necessary in crafting and revising the school’s direction, so that
ownership of the direction becomes widespread, deeply held and relatively
resistant to the vagaries of future leadership succession.
.Understanding and developing people. This category of practices is essential in all
stages of school turnarounds, according to evidence from both US and UK
Although this evidence is not yet sufficiently fine-grained to inform us
about how these practices are enacted, it is consistent in highlighting its
importance in all contexts.
.Redesigning the organisation. These practices are quite central to the work of
turnaround leaders. For example, transition from early to later turnaround stages
depends on organisational reculturing.
However, much of what leaders do in the
early stage of the turnaround process entails restructuring to improve the quality
of communication throughout the organisation and setting the stage for the
development of new cultural norms related to performance and the more
distributed forms of leadership required to achieve and sustain high levels of
.Managing the teaching and learning programme. All the practices within this
category have been associated with successful turnaround leadership but their
School Leadership and Management 31
enactments change over time. For example, the flexibility leaders need in order to
recruit staff with the dispositions and capacities required to begin the turnaround
process often means negotiating for special circumstances with local authorities
and unions.
Ongoing staffing of the school at the later turnaround stage,
however, cannot be sustained outside the framework of established policies and
Additional evidence for the enactment of these basic successful leadership practices
in contextually sensitive forms can now be found in relation both to highly
accountable policy contexts and to the contexts found in schools serving highly
diverse student populations
Claim 4: School leaders improve teaching and learning indirectly and most
powerfully through their influence on staff motivation, commitment and
working conditions
As we pointed out in relation to Claim 2, a key task for leadership, if it is to influence
pupil learning and achievement, is to improve staff performance. Such performance,
we also claimed, is a function of staff members’ motivations, commitments,
capacities (skills and knowledge) and the conditions in which they work. Consider-
able emphasis has recently been placed on school leaders’ contributions to building
staff capacity in particular. This emphasis is reflected, for example, in the popularity
in many countries of the term ‘instructional leadership’ and in fledgling efforts to
discover the curriculum content knowledge that successful school leaders should
There is, however, very little evidence that most school leaders build staff capacity
in curriculum content knowledge, or at any rate that they do so directly and by
themselves. Indeed, to suggest they should is, in our view, to advocate, yet again, a
‘heroic’ model of school leadership
/one based on content knowledge rather than on
charisma, as in the past (primarily, but it would also be heroic to expect huge
amounts of curriculum content knowledge). Such heroic aspirations do more to
discourage potential candidates from applying for leadership jobs than they do to
improve the quality of incumbent leadership.
Our review suggested that, while school leaders made modest direct contributions
to staff capacities, they had quite strong and positive influences on staff members’
motivations, commitments and beliefs concerning the supportiveness of their
working conditions. The nature of the evidence is illustrated by the results of a
recent study
carried out across England.
Based on a national sample of teacher survey responses, the study enquired about
the effects of most of the basic or core leadership practices described above, as
enacted by headteachers, on teachers’ implementation of the Primary Strategies
(originally the National Literacy Strategy and National Numeracy Strategy) and the
subsequent effects of such implementation on pupil learning and achievement.
Figure 1 is a simplified (number-free) model of the sort typically used to represent
32 K. Leithwood et al.
results of the kind of complex statistical analyses used in this study.
Such analyses
are designed to test the direction and strength of relationships among variables in a
model, as well as the amount of variation in certain variables that can explained by
other variables.
The model indicates that the more headteachers enacted the core leadership
practices described earlier, the greater was their influence on teachers’ capacities,
motivation and beliefs regarding the supportiveness of their working conditions. In
turn these capacities, motivations and beliefs had a significant influence on classroom
practices, although in this study such practices seemed unrelated to pupil learning
and achievement. As Figure 1 indicates, the influence of leadership practices was
strongest on teachers’ beliefs about working conditions, followed by their motivation
to implement the Primary Strategies and then by their views of their preparedness to
implement those strategies. Figure 1 also suggests that the strongest direct
contribution to altered classroom practices was teachers’ beliefs about their capacity
to implement the strategies. Thus it is clearly important to develop teachers’
capacities, although school leaders, in this study, have less influence on this
dimension of teachers’ performance than they do on the motivation and working
conditions dimensions.
These results have been replicated most recently in separate very large English
and American studies.
Further weight is added to these results by a recent
synthesis of evidence about the emotions that shape teachers’ motivations (levels of
commitment, sense of efficacy, morale, job satisfaction, stress and the like) and the
effects on their pupils’ learning. This evidence indicates strong effects of teachers’
emotions on their practices, and strong effects of leadership practices on those
emotions. The recent four-year mixed-methods national study
of variations in the
work, lives and effectiveness of teachers in English schools confirms the importance
of leadership
/alongside other mediating influences /to teachers’ commitment,
resilience and effectiveness, and the key role of emotional understanding in
successful leadership.
Leadership Motivation
** **
Figure 1. The effects of school leadership on teacher capacity, motivation, commitment and beliefs
about working conditions
Key:*weak influence;**moderate influence;*** strong influence.
School Leadership and Management 33
In the face of such evidence, the position most often advocated is that leaders
ought to make greater direct contributions to staff capacities, and that this is a
challenge to be addressed in the future.
Claim 5: School leadership has a greater influence on schools and pupils
when it is widely distributed
Despite the popularity of this claim, evidence in its support is less extensive and in
some cases less direct than that in support of the previous claims. Nevertheless, it is
quite compelling. We begin with an illustration of this evidence using a recent study
designed in much the same way as the one used to illustrate Claim 4. Results of this
study are summarised in Figure 2, a path-analysis model (with numbers included this
time) representing the strength of relationships among the same variables (except
altered teacher practices) considered in the study illustrating Claim 4. The leadership
measured in this case was not provided exclusively by headteachers: we asked about
the leadership provided by many possible sources
/individual teachers, staff teams,
parents, central office staff, students and vice-principals
/as well as the principal or
headteacher. ‘Total leadership’ refers to the combined influence of leadership from
all sources.
Figure 2 indicates the following.
.There are significant relationships between total leadership and the three
dimensions of staff performance.
.The strongest relationships are with teachers’ perceived working conditions.
.The weakest relationships are with teacher motivation and commitment.
.The relationship between total leadership and teachers’ capacity is much stronger
than the relationship (illustrated in Figure 1) between the headteacher’s leadership
alone and teachers’ capacity.
The most significant results of this study for our purposes, however, were the indirect
effects of total leadership on student learning and achievement, through its direct
effects on the three dimensions of staff performance. Total leadership accounted for a
quite significant 27% of the variation in student achievement across schools. This is a
Total Leadership
Motivation and
Student Learning
and Achievement
.46* .40*
Figure 2. Total leadership effects on teachers and pupils
34 K. Leithwood et al.
much higher proportion of explained variation (two to three times higher) than is
typically reported in studies of individual headteacher effects.
In addition to this direct evidence concerning the effects of distributed leadership,
less direct evidence in support of this claim can be found in research on formal
leadership succession, school improvement initiatives, processes used to successfully
turn around low-performing schools, and the movement towards flatter organisa-
tional structures and team problem-solving.
Claim 6: Some patterns of distribution are more effective than others
This claim grows directly from evidence about the superiority, in most but not all
contexts, of distributed rather than focused (single-person) leadership. Research on a
sample of 110 schools demonstrated that there are relationships between the use of
different patterns of leadership distribution and levels of value-added student
.Schools with the highest levels of student achievement attributed this to relatively
high levels of influence from all sources of leadership.
.Schools with the lowest levels of student achievement attributed this to low levels
of influence from all sources of leadership.
.Schools with the highest levels, as compared with those in the lowest levels, of
student achievement differed most in their ratings of the influence of school teams,
parents and students.
.Headteachers were rated as having the greatest (positive and negative) influence in
all schools.
This evidence is at least consistent with claims about the ineffectiveness of laissez-
faire forms of leadership.
It also reflects earlier findings about power as a relatively
unlimited resource in organisations.
There is no loss of power and influence on the
part of headteachers when, for example, the power and influence of many others in
the school increase.
While the evidence strengthens the case that some leadership distribution
patterns are more helpful than others, it sheds little light on the range of patterns
that actually exists in schools and, most importantly, the relative effects of these
patterns on the quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement. Evidence on
these key questions is extremely limited, and efforts to fill this gap represent the
advancing edge of current leadership research. A number of theorists have
proposed leadership patterns that they believe capture the range currently found
in schools: for example, additive patterns reflecting uncoordinated patterns of
practice by many people in an organisation, as compared with parallel patterns that
reflect greater coordination.
A recent report on evidence from private sector
begins to support the sensible assertion that more coordinated
patterns of leadership practice are associated with more beneficial organisational
outcomes. No comparable evidence has yet been reported in schools.
School Leadership and Management 35
Claim 7: A small handful of personal traits explains a high proportion of the
variation in leadership effectiveness
Why are some leaders more expert than others? Why do some people seem to
develop leadership capacities to higher levels and more quickly than others? These
important questions direct our focus to what is known about successful leaders’
personal traits, dispositions, personality characteristics and the like. A substantial
body of research conducted outside schools provides a reasonably comprehensive
answer to these questions as it applies to private sector leaders.
However, within
schools the evidence is less comprehensive. Little research has focused on personality
characteristics or intelligence, though there have been significant contributions
concerning cognitive processes
and leaders’ values.
One recent American study
on school leaders’ confidence or sense of collective
efficacy illustrates the potential value of future research on headteacher traits. Using
a database comparable to the ones summarised in Figure 2 and noted under Claim 6,
this study found that some characteristics of school districts (for example, a clear
focus on pupil learning and achievement and a commitment to data-based decision-
making) had a significant influence on school leaders’ sense of how well they were
doing their jobs. This sense of efficacy in turn shaped the nature of headteachers’
leadership practices; highlighted the relationship between these practices and such
things as decision-making processes in their schools; and had an indirect but
significant influence on pupils’ learning and achievement.
Although not setting out to be research on leader traits, recent studies of leaders’
efforts to improve low-performing schools
have begun to replicate evidence from
private sector research. This evidence warrants the claim that, at least under
challenging circumstances, the most successful school leaders are open-minded and
ready to learn from others. They are also flexible rather than dogmatic in their
thinking within a system of core values, persistent (e.g. in pursuit of high
expectations of staff motivation, commitment, learning and achievement for all),
resilient and optimistic. Such traits help explain why successful leaders facing
daunting conditions are often able to push forward when there is little reason to
expect progress.
A recent publication
sponsored by Division A of the American Educational
Research Association (the largest association of its kind in the world, with many
international members) claimed that research on school leadership has generated few
robust claims. The main reason cited for this gap in our knowledge was a lack of
programmatic research; a paucity of accumulated evidence from both small- and
large-scale studies, the use of a variety of research designs, and failure to provide
evidence in sufficient amounts and of sufficient quality to serve as powerful guides to
policy and practice. We have no quarrel with this assertion.
36 K. Leithwood et al.
This assertion, however, should not be taken to mean that we know nothing of
importance about successful school leadership. There are some quite important
things that we do know, and claims that we can now make with some confidence. Not
taking pains to capture what we know not only risks squandering the practical
insights such evidence can provide; it also reduces the likelihood that future
leadership research will build cumulatively on what we already know. Failure to
build on this would be a huge waste of scarce resources.
This summary of the literature has presented, in the form of seven strong claims,
the most important results of previous school-leadership research. We explore these
claims in more detail in our full review of the literature.
This literature review, the
jumping-off point for a large-scale, mixed-methods empirical study, will extend the
number of robust claims that we can legitimately make about successful leadership in
a range of schools. In so doing, it will significantly increase the quality and quantity of
evidence of what successful school leadership means in practice.
Notes on contributors
Kenneth Leithwood is Professor of Leadership and Policy at OISE/University of
Toronto. His research, writing, consulting and teaching are about the nature,
causes and consequences of successful leadership, the impact of educational
policies, and organisational change processes.
He is senior editor of both the first and second International Handbooks on
Educational Leadership and Administration (Springer) and his latest book (co-
authored with Brenda Beatty) is entitled Leading With Teacher Emotions In
Mind (Corwin Press).
Alma Harris is a Professor and Director of Leadership and Policy Unit, University
of Warwick. Her most recent research work has focused upon organisational
change and development. She is internationally known for her work on
educational leadership, focusing particularly on ways in which leadership can
contribute to school development and change. Her most recent work has
focused on distributed leadership and organisational change. This work has
received international recognition and acclaim.
David Hopkins is the inaugural HSBC Chair in International Leadership, where he
supports the work of iNet, the international arm of the Specialist Schools
Trust and the Leadership Centre at the Institute of Education, University of
London. He is also a Professorial Fellow at the Faculty of Education,
University of Melbourne. Between 2002 and 2005 he served three Secretaries
of State as the Chief Adviser on School Standards at the Department for
Education and Skills. Previously, he was Chair of the Leicester City Partner-
ship Board and Professor of Education, Head of the School, and Dean of the
Faculty of Education at the University of Nottingham. Before that again he
School Leadership and Management 37
was a Tutor at the University of Cambridge Institute of Education, a
secondary school teacher and Outward Bound Instructor. David is also an
International Mountain Guide who still climbs regularly in the Alps and
Himalayas. Before becoming a civil servant he outlined his views on teaching
quality, school improvement and large-scale reform in School Improvement for
Real (RoutledgeFalmer2001). His new book Every School a Great School has
just been published by the Open University Press.
1. For example, see Gezi (1990) and Reitzug and Patterson (1998).
2. See Mortimore (1993) for evidence on this point from England, and Scheurich (1998) for
evidence from the United States.
3. See Hallinger and Heck (1996a, 1996b, 1998).
4. Evidence justifying this point has been reported by Creemers and Reezigt (1996) and by
Townsend (1994).
5. Results have been reported in more or less detail in two sources: Marzano et al. (2005) and
Waters et al. (2003).
6. This evidence has been comprehensively reviewed by Frederick et al. (2004).
7. Such evidence can be found in Leithwood and Jantzi (1999a, 1999b); Leithwood et al.
(2003); Silins and Mulford (2002) and Silins et al. (2002).
8. See Macmillan (2000); Fink and Brayman (2006).
9. See Matthews and Sammons (2005). Murphy (in press) reviews extensive evidence about
the importance of new leadership in the case of private sector turnarounds.
10. Lowe et al. (1996) review evidence collected mostly in non-school contexts. Waters et al.
(2003) provide evidence of all these practices in school contexts, although they use different
labels and categories. Leithwood and Riehl (2005) describe these practices using these
categories. Day and Leithwood (2007) synthesise the case study work of researchers with 64
successful leaders across eight countries.
11. See Yukl (1989). Gary Yukl is among the most influential and prolific of leadership
researchers focused on non-school organisations.
12. Evidence about the contribution of these practices can be found, for example, in Hallinger
and Heck (2002).
13. Evidence about the contribution of these practices can be found, for example, in Bass and
Avolio (1994); Gray (2000) and Harris and Chapman (2002).
14. See Leithwood (2006) and Day et al. (2007).
15. Evidence about the contribution of these practices can be found, for example, in Louis and
Kruse (1998); West et al. (2005); Chrisman (2005); Muijs et al. (2004); Jackson (2002) and
Reynolds et al. (2001).
16. Evidence about the contribution of these practices can be found, for example, in Dukem
(2004) and Reynolds et al. (forthcoming).
17. A good review of corporate turnaround leadership can be found in Slatter et al. (2006). For a
review of evidence about state- and district-prompted turnaround processes in the US, see
Mintrop and Papazian (2003). In the UK context, see, for example, Day (2005) and Harris
18. Evidence in support of this claim can be found in Harris (2002) and Billman (2004).
19. See Mintrop and Papazian (2003) for US evidence and West et al. (2005) for evidence from
20. See Ross and Glaze (2005).
38 K. Leithwood et al.
21. See Foster and St Hilaire (2004).
22. See Bell (2001).
23. For example, in relation to accountable policy contexts, see Belchetz and Leithwood (in
press) and Day and Leithwood (2007); in relation to diverse student contexts, see Giles et al.
24. A series of papers devoted to this problem can be found in the fourth issue of Educational
Evaluation and Policy Analysis (2003). The case for pursuing this focus has recently been
made in a compelling article by Viviane Robinson (2006).
25. Leithwood and Jantzi (2006).
26. We refer here to path-modelling techniques, in this case structural equation modelling.
27. The American study, funded by the Wallace Foundation in New York, was conducted by
research teams from the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto. A report of
their findings is in Mascall and Leithwood (in press). The English study, funded by the
DfES, has been reported by Day et al. (2006) and is to be published in book form (Day et al.,
28. The English study, funded by DfES, has been reported by Day et al. (2006).
29. See Mascall and Leithwood (in press).
30. See Bass (1985).
31. See Malen (1995).
32. These are terms used by Gronn (2003) and Spillane (2006) respectively.
33. See Ensley et al. (2006).
34. This research has recently been summarised by Zaccaro et al. (2004), for example.
35. One line of research on school leaders’ problem-solving expertise has been pulled together in
Leithwood and Steinbach (1995).
36. See Begley and Johansson (2003) for a representative sample of this research.
37. Leithwood and Jantzi, in press.
38. One relevant set of data has been reported by Jacobson et al. (2005).
39. See Firestone and Riehl (2005).
40. Leithwood et al. (2004).
Bass, B.M 1985. Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.
Bass, B.M., and B.J. Avolio. 1994. Improving organizational effectiveness through transformational
leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Begley, P., and O. Johansson. 2003. The ethical dimensions of school leadership. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
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... School leadership is most important along with the teachers in terms of students' learning (Leithwood, Harris, & Hopkins, 2008). This notion alerts the importance of assessing school leadership for school importance. ...
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The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) is a widely used self-report scale with the original twenty-three items and its abbreviated version of nine items to assess workers’ engagement. This paper reports a validation study of the UWES-17 and UWES-9 using confirmatory factor analysis, its convergent validity and invariance across gender in a sample of 921 Portuguese school leaders. The main findings support a bidimensional conceptualization of work engagement measurement. The Portuguese version of UWES-9 is proposed as a reliable and robust (CFI = 0.97; TLI = 0.95; RMSEA = 0.073) tool to assess work engagement amongst Portuguese school leadership. The 9-item UWES is a reliable instrument to assess work engagement among Portuguese school leaders and could be used as an effective screening tool in educational contexts.
The exceeding importance of academic optimism and the promising potential of middle leadership demand research attention in contribution to student success and school improvement. This paper presents a critical analysis of the roles and contributions of middle leaders through the lens of the academic optimism model. This study used mixed methods with a nonexperimental, exploratory-sequential approach (case-selection variant), identifying best-case participants and featuring qualitative findings through semi-structured interviews with six public-school department heads. These participants represent two high, two average, and two low-optimistic departments. Findings revealed that middle leaders perform four key roles in reinforcing academic optimism: professional mentors, team builders, learning facilitators, and performance navigators.
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This literature review examines the impact of transformational leadership on the achievement of objectives in the implementation of new educational policies. Drawing on a comprehensive analysis of existing research, this study explores the pivotal role that transformational leadership plays in shaping the outcomes of policy initiatives within educational settings. The review delves into the theoretical foundations of transformational leadership, its key attributes, and its potential to drive positive change in policy execution. Through a comparative analysis of empirical studies, the review demonstrates how transformational leaders inspire and motivate stakeholders, fostering a shared vision and commitment to policy objectives. By establishing open communication channels, encouraging innovation, and cultivating a culture of collaboration, transformational leaders can facilitate the alignment of educational practices with policy intentions. Furthermore, the review examines the contextual factors that may influence the relationship between transformational leadership and policy success, offering insights into the conditions under which transformational leadership is most effective. The findings of this review contribute to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms through which transformational leadership influences policy outcomes. By shedding light on the interplay between leadership behaviors and policy implementation, this study provides valuable insights for educational leaders, policymakers, and researchers seeking to enhance the efficacy of new educational policies through effective leadership strategies.
This study focused on investigating the learning situation of student teachers especially their experiences on feedback they receive during their study time including teaching practice. It was conducted in Rwanda. The study was guided by the theories on educational quality which, on one side, places teacher education at the central position of ensuring effective teaching and learning process. In this line, effective training to make sure that teachers are taught in the same way they are expected to teach is essential. On the other side, feedback, which is an important element of the learning engine, is indicated necessary for ensuring that student teachers learn from a conducive environment. This study intended to answer the research question “How does teacher education look like regarding feedback in the Rwandan context?”. To answer this research question, the study was conceptualized as a qualitative research where semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 student teachers who have been selected using a theoretical sampling strategy from 13 Rwandan Higher Learning Institutions. Data collection was done in combination with data analysis to maximize all the qualities in the field. Qualitative content analysis using intertwined deductive-inductive approach has been used for data analysis. With abduction process, a deep analysis of the empirical data led to the definition of criteria and then ideal types of feedback experienced by student teachers in Rwanda. With this analysis, three types of feedback namely administrative feedback, correctional feedback, and instructional feedback emerged. Further analysis showed that student teachers in Rwanda experience different forms of feedback. They have divergent understandings of feedback. Delayed feedback leads to increased uncertainty among students, communication of feedback creates different forms of relationships between student teachers and teacher educators. In addition, student teachers learn implicitly from teacher educators how to provide feedback, and there are no common standards regarding internships. The analysis of the results of this study with regard to the discourse on teacher education, feedback, and educational quality indicates that feedback in teacher education has a multidimensional effect. It is an instrument for quality learning, learning climate, and social relationships. Feedback serves as a tool for student teachers’ professionalization and shows a transformative function for shaping teachers into change agents at the school level and in the society. When feedback focuses more on marks, it creates a misconception for student teachers about what effective feedback looks like. The study argues that feedback should be well integrated during the initial training of teachers to ensure that they experience it and are well prepared for establishing a conducive learning environment. This necessitates explicit role modelling from teacher educators. The findings of this study suggest avenues for further research about the distribution of these types of feedback, examine the effects of teachers’ role modelling on teaching quality and development in society, the role of feedback in preparing student teachers for reflective teaching, the conceptualization of teaching profession by student teachers, and influence of feedback to transformative education more especially the role of feedback about the pedagogy of peace. Regarding practice, this research underlines the need for integrating feedback in teacher training programme both as a content and an approach, associated with effective role modelling by teacher educators.
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En este artículo se exponen y discuten diversas conceptualizaciones referidas al tema de liderazgo directivo, desde los estilos de liderazgo hasta las prácticas directivas, siempre buscando su relación con el impacto en la calidad educativa. Se plantea que, independientemente de las opciones teóricas e incluso ideológicas subyacentes, el debate sobre los “estilos directivos” puede también ser analizado como la priorización de ciertos ámbitos específicos de la labor directiva. Asimismo se expone la reciente taxonomía de prácticas directivas de K. Leithwood et al., y se valora su potencialidad para guiar investigaciones empíricas, en especial respecto de la asociación entre prácticas efectivas de los directivos y los resultados de aprendizaje de los alumnos. Finalmente se plantea la pertinencia de estos conceptos para avanzar en una agenda de investigación que puede ser estratégica en la definición de políticas de fomento del liderazgo directivo. Descriptores: Liderazgo, dirección, prácticas efectivas, aprendizaje escolar. Principals Leadership Practices and Learning Results. Toward Concepts Capable of Guiding Empirical InvestigationThis article presents and discusses several conceptualizations for the subject of principals leadership, from the styles of leadership to the managerial practices; always looking for their relationship to the impact of educational quality. It is theorized that, regardless of theoretical options, or underlying ideologies, the debate over “principals styles” can also be analyzed as the prioritization of specific subjects of management labor. At the same time, the recent taxonomical managerial practices of K. Leithwood et al. is presented, and it’s potential for guiding empirical investigations valued; specially in respect of the association between effective principals practices and the resulting learning of students. Finally the importance of these concepts for the advancement of an investigative agenda is shown. Such an investigation could prove strategic for the definition of policies regarding the principals leadership.Keywords: Leadership, principals, effective practices, learning.
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El artículo presenta un estudio de caso de un proceso de mejora en una escuela venezolana. Con la finalidad de identificar y describir las políticas y medidas que se pusieron en práctica analizando los efectos y consecuencias de las mismas buscando identificar de igual manera la relación existente entre las políticas y medidas y los cambios percibidos por la comunidad docente.
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High standards are required to succeed in the state upper secondary school system and many challenges have to be met. School principals with their leadership experience and practices are key actors to ensure the achievement of these goals. The study aims to find out Estonian state- operated upper secondary school principals’ understandings of their leadership practices and supporting factors of their work. The data were collected with semi-structured interviews with eight school leaders. They were analysed with directed content analysis and leadership practices were analysed in four dimensions: setting directions; building relationships and developing people; developing the organisation to support desired practices; improving instructional programmes. An inductive approach was used to analyse data to explore the supporting factors. The findings showed that principals followed all dimensions of successful leadership practices. An important dimension appeared to be building relationships with students and teachers. The main concern in their work regarding school improvement challenges was teachers’ workload. Principals saw the strength in having trustworthy and supporting relationships with the operator and being part of the state upper secondary school network. It would be recommended to systematically assess and develop the leadership competencies of school leaders along the dimensions of successful leadership and to closely address the professionalism and support of the school operator, because it was identified by school leaders as an important factor influencing their work.
Among the many significant features of this volume is the dedication to the late Don Willower, Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State University. It is significant in light of Willower’s long record of major contributions to the empirical literature in Educational Administration and his mentorship of many students steeped in the tradition of the so-called science of administration. These include scholars like Wayne Hoy and Peter Cistone who readily acknowledge their personal and intellectual debt to Willower. How is it, then, that Willower, a colleague of the giants of Educational Administration in the 60s and 70s, people such as Dan Griffiths, Jack Culbertson, and Roald Campbell, to name just a few, came to associate himself with this relatively upstart group of academics and practitioners interested in values, of all things? As an inheritor of the mantle thrown down by Getzels and Guba all those years ago, it might seem strange to see Willower consorting with people who argue about the distinction between fact and value. It is true, of course, that Willower majored in philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo as an undergraduate. So the language and the ways of thinking among many of those interested in values and ethics were not all that foreign to him. He could certainly hold his own in debate with his friend, Chris Hodgkinson, the foremost philosopher of Educational Administration in the field today, and a contributor to this volume.
If there in one word to describe the issues addressed by Peter Gronn in The New Work of Educational Leaders it's "timely" And if there is one book that education policy makers, system CEOs and education ministers should find the time to read, this is it' - Educare News This book is essential reading fro those involved in educational leadership and policy development. This work is also valuable for those interested in the locally organized and interactionally achieved context of institutional work' - Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics if Education Though based in Australia, Peter Gronn shows familiarity with the British education system, and this boo is relevant to those in the compulsory and post-compulsory sectors interested in the themes of education leadership' - Learning and Skills Research In The New Work of Educational Leaders, Peter Gronn provides a new framework for understanding leadership practice. The work of leaders will increasingly be shaped by three overriding but contradictory themes: design; distribution; and disengagement. These are the architecture' of school and educational leadership. Designer-leadership is the use of mandatory standards of assessment and accreditation for school leaders, such as the National Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in the United Kingdom and the (Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards in the United States. Distributed patterns of leadership have developed in response to the intensification of school leaders' work under policy regimes of site-based and school self-management. Disengagement describes a culture of abstention, in which school systems anticipate leadership succession problems, such as projected shortages and recurring recruitment difficulties.
Purpose: This study aimed to estimate the impact of collective, or shared, leadership on key teacher variables and on student achievement. As well, it inquired about the relative contribution of different sources of such leadership and whether differences among patterns of collective leadership were related to differences in student achievement. Methods: Evidence included 2,570 teacher responses from 90 elementary and secondary schools in which four or more teachers completed usable surveys. Student achievement data in language and math averaged over 3 years were acquired through school Web sites. Data were analyzed using path-analytic techniques. Findings: Collective leadership explained a significant proportion of variation in student achievement across schools. Higher-achieving schools awarded leadership influence to all school members and other stakeholders to a greater degree than that of lower-achieving schools. These differences were most significant in relation to the leadership exercised by school teams, parents, and students. Principals were awarded the highest levels of influence in schools at all levels of achievement. Implications: Influence seems to be an infinite resource in schools. The more those in formal leadership roles give it away, the more they acquire.