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The Leadership Challenge: Improving Learning in Schools

It is also important to recognise, as this review does, that leadership is all about human behaviour. Too much leadership writing is purely conceptual. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with conceptual thinking, it is the mainstay of analysis, but the important thing to keep in view is that when we consider school leadership we are actually concerned with leadership practice – with how it is exercised and transacted. ‘Leadership’ is both a noun and a verb, although there may be too much of the former and too little of the latter in much of the writing about it. If we think about what it means to lead then often, in my experience, the discourse changes. Throughout this review Mulford demonstrates that leadership is about behaviour, action and practice.


Section 1
Three interrelated elements of leadership
Section 2
Context and implications
A complex, changing, challenging landscape
The forces
Advances in science and technology
How might these changes play out for and in education?
Changes in demography and changes in the nature of work
How might these changes play out for and in education?
How might these changes play out for and in education?
Pressures on the environment
How might these changes play out for and in education?
Implications of the forces for schools and their leaders
Achieving balance and choosing between competing forces
Continuity and/or constant change
Dependence and/or independence
Individualism and/or community
Homogeneity and/or heterogeneity
Broadening what counts as good schooling
Cognitive and non-cognitive (including social capital)
The ways schools are organised and run
Concluding comments on school context
Section 3
Organisation: Schools of the future
The OECD scenarios
Status quo
Scenario 1: Bureaucracy
Scenario 2: Social centres
Scenario 3: Learning organisations
Scenario 4: ICT networks
Scenario 5: Market
Scenario 6: Meltdown
Likelihood and desirability of the scenarios
More appropriate models
Model 1: From mechanistic to organic, living systems
Model 2: From thin to deep democracy
Model 3: Personalisation through participation
Model 4: From hierarchy to networks
Social capital and communities of professional learners
Three forms of social capital
Bonding social capital: Within schools
Further support for group development
Supporting group development implementation
The impact of group development in reducing within-school variation
Bridging social capital: Among and between schools
Linking social capital: Between the school and its community
Meeting the challenges to social capital development in schools
Communities of professional learners
Concluding comments
Section 4 Leaders
Adjectival leaderships and does one size fit all?
Instructional leadership
Transformational leadership
Distributed leadership
Distributed leadership as teacher leadership
Distributed leadership as interactions in situations
Some concerns about distributed leadership
Sustainable leadership
Concluding comments on single adjective leadership
Successful school leaders
The quality of research evidence
Leadership for organisational and student learning
Successful School Principals Project (SSPP)
Leadership for Organisational Learning and Student Outcomes (LOLSO)
Concluding comments on successful school leaders
Issues of leader recruitment and retention
Succession planning
Leadership in pre-retirement
Leadership of small schools
Leadership of schools in high-poverty communities
Principal involvement in evaluation and accountability
Principal autonomy
Principal responsibility for evaluation and accountability
Professional learning and standards
New models of shared principalship
Concluding comments
Section 5
Challenges and recommendations
School context
School organisation
School leader
Concluding comments
List of 2007 ACER Research Conference papers

The Leadership Challenge: Improving Learning in Schools