The world of schools has become a complex place to be, especially for school leaders and managers at all levels. In a time of massive change, they need wisdom to understand and handle the many interwoven processes that occur in schools and between schools and their environments. They spend much of their time multi-tasking and holding many inter-related items in mind at once, and they are under great pressure to deliver results. Furthermore, in this complex world, although there may be some similarities, each school has a unique set of circumstances in its context. In these circumstances, prescriptions for leadership that apply to one school may well not apply to another.
School improvement over the last decade or so has been led very much by centrally determined improvement initiatives and a stress on accountability and these have played a strong part in changing the face of practice and professionalism in our schools. In this context, this book pursues two central themes. The first is that for school leaders and managers, handling complexity is a major skill rooted in a particular set of circumstances, and this means that understanding what is happening and how things happen is more important than tips or prescriptions about the way they should lead. Having a clear understanding will often in itself suggest how to act in a way that is relevant to the situation. The second is that following many years of central control and a different profile of the skills and professionalism of teachers, the time is now right for the next stage in school development where schools can develop more creative practices of their own applied to their own circumstances.
To support these themes, then, the book looks in some detail at the complexity headteachers face. Complexity theory itself is an emerging science aimed at understanding complex phenomena, and its usefulness for understanding complex organisations has been growing. In the book, I use aspects of this and systems theory to help to understand the processes that go on in schools, and how creativity can be developed. We all use theories, even if they are not apparent, to help us to explain events. Using a complexity theory framework helps us to look at things in a new light and