Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Introduction by the Guest Editor

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Introduction by the Guest Editor

Article excerpt

The distinguished Harvard scholar John Kotter provided what is generally regarded as the most helpful distinction between leadership and management to be found in the literature (Kotter, 1990). Leadership calls for establishing direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring, and achieving change. The management match in the same order involves planning and budgeting, organising and staffing, controlling and problem solving, and producing a degree of predictability. For example, considering the first element in each set, leadership involves setting the direction of an organisation. Simply setting direction does not mean that action will follow. Plans must be made and resources allocated.

There should be no doubt that both leadership and management are disciplines in their own right, a fact attested to by another Harvard scholar of renown who has had far-reaching influence in education, namely, Howard Gardner, who declared in Five Minds for the Future that 'beyond doubt both management and leadership are disciplines' (Gardner, 2006, p. 5).

It is important to note that leadership must result in change. If no change occurred then either leadership failed or leadership was not needed. Leadership is required to establish a new policy, design a new curriculum or create a new culture. In this sense, leadership is ubiquitous in education and a consequence can be that the study of leadership is often dispersed or dissipated. Given that it is a discipline, however, it warrants a special place in the literature and in institutions of higher learning. It is a phenomenon that can be researched and for which theories can be built and applied in particular fields of policy and practice. It is for these reasons that a special issue of the Australian Journal of Education on the theme of leadership is warranted, especially in the field of school renewal.

School renewal has many shades of meaning: to turn around a once-successful school that has fallen on hard times, to take a good school and make it a great school, to reinvigorate a system of education that is losing market share to another, to rethink the mission of a school or school system to make it a better match to the times, or even more fundamentally, to rethink the knowledge base for learning and teaching. Each is a change that calls for leadership of an exceptional kind in every sense of the Kotter formulation. Each is illuminated in the pages that follow.

This special issue contains contributions from some of the truly outstanding exponents of research, policy and practice in leadership as they apply to the field of school renewal. It is important to state at the outset why they were invited to contribute.

Three are successful leaders of school renewal on a national scale. Writing with Rob Higham, Professor David Hopkins is HSBC iNet Chair in International Leadership at the Institute of Education, University of London and former Dean of Education at the University of Nottingham. Between these appointments he served as Adviser to four Secretaries of State for Education and Skills in England. He has been at the forefront of research, policy and practice in school improvement for several decades and has now turned his attention to a new concept of 'system leadership'. Higham and Hopkins write about school renewal in England. Steve Marshall is former Chief Executive of the Department of Education and Children's Services in South Australia and is currently Director of Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills in Wales. Like Hopkins he has played an important role in renewing a system of education, in this instance on two continents. Writing with Steve Marshall is Professor David Egan, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, who returned to his post after an appointment as Special Advisor in the Welsh Assembly Government, supporting long-serving reforming minister Jane Davidson. Egan and Marshal] provide an up-to-date account of school renewal in Wales. …

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