School Leadership

School Leadership

School Leadership

School Leadership


Effective school leadership is essential. As schools become increasingly complex organizations and their role in socializing young people is recognized, the task of leading the school community is receiving greater attention than ever before. School Leadership summarizes current thinking about leadership in schools and suggests ways forward. School leadership is set in its social context. Is leadership associated with function within a bureaucratically ordered hierarchy, is it widely shared across communities, or is it both? The school is considered both as an institution of the State and as an agency of democratic values. Ideas as to who the leaders are and what leadership involves are recast. The authors' recent experience with Scotland's Headship preparation and development is discussed and analyzed. The Scottish experience provides examples of general issues facing many schools and school leaders. School Leadership is required reading for head teachers, education administrators, and for those aspiring to leadership roles in schools. This is a thoroughly revised and updated edition of a book that has been a key resource for Scottish School Leadership programs since its first publication in 2003.


Schooling and democratic society

To understand school leadership, we need to understand schools. We therefore in this chapter will situate school leadership within the broad set of political and social factors that frame schools and schooling. In the context of democratic living we are uneasy about the concept of leadership. We give power and influence to leaders, but are keen to keep them in check. Clearly there are complex connections between our concept of democracy, current structures for democratic participation and the sharing and distribution of power, and the ways in which schools work, and what we expect of them. We will also offer a brief account of some of the framing experiences of the past twenty or so years which have influenced decisions and decisionmaking in Scottish schools and outline different ways of looking at schools – ‘outside in and inside out’ – which correspond in some ways to two different ways of framing schools as organisations. Scotland, in line with many democratic societies, has protected freedoms to establish and run schools separately from the state, and while some aspects of school leadership are shared across every kind of school, the management of state schools through elected representatives provides a very different framing context for school leadership within these schools. While some of the following discussion is relevant to all schools, much is of singular relevance to those schools provided by the state as a public service.

There is a tension, and suspicion, in democratic societies about the existence and powers of leaders. Control of the power of the state which should exercise its authority only with the consent of those governed, and of those leaders who exercise that power, has been an enduring theme in the development of modern democratic societies since the US Declaration of Independence. It is an ideal which has underpinned some of the most significant political struggles of our age, from the war against Hitler to the liberation struggles of colonised peoples.

Moving from the broad brush of political ideals to the detail of what the modern, increasingly complex state does, it is harder to follow these ideas of freedom and consent through into practice. The modern state, with its . . .

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