Raising Standards Together

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MEP learning pack

Masters in Education Practice: Leadership


Leadership for improvement



There is strong evidence of an indirect but powerful relationship between school leadership and student outcomes in academic and well-being domains. Effective leadership in areas of learning and teaching strategies, as well as contextualised leadership that is in tune with local and individual needs of learners, tend to provide the greatest impact. Within schools in challenging circumstances, pressures to raise standards are felt particularly sharply. Evidence suggests that encouraging a collaborative identity to which all can subscribe  empowers schools; this helps them to deal with the immediate pressures of their challenging circumstances and also helps bring about sustained improvement over time. How all leaders are trained, developed and renewed is also of great importance. The connection between school performance, the contribution of school leadership and the professional learning that supports leadership needs to be at the heart of improvement policy and practice. The development that appears to be most effective is when it is applied and embedded with strong reference to the context in which leaders work.


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  • Bryant, D.A., Walker, A. and Lee, M. (2013) The impact of international, national and local forces on the enactment of quality leadership preparation programmes, in Mark Brundrett (Ed) Principles of school leadership (2nd Edition). Sage.
  • Day et al (2009) Ten Strong Claims About Successful School Leadership. Nottingham: National College.
  • Earley, P., Higham, R., Allen, R., Allen, T., Howson, J., Nelson, R., Rawar, S., Lynch, S., Morton, L., Mehta, P. and Sims, D. (2012). Review Of The School Leadership Landscape. Nottingham; National College for School Leadership.
  • Harris, A. (2009) Improving Schools in Challenging Circumstances: Differentiation not Standardisation in Hargreaves, A. (eds) An International Handbook of Educational Change.  Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Leithwood, K. and Seashore-Lewis, K. (2012) Linking Leadership to Student Learning.  California: Jossey-Bass.
  • Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammonds, P.,  Harris, A. and Hopkins, D. (2006) Seven Strong Claims About Successful School Leadership. Nottingham: National College.
  • Moorosi, P. and Bush, T. (2011) School leadership development in Commonwealth countries: learning across the boundaries. International Studies in Educational Administration, 39(3), 2.
  • Muijs, D., Harris, A., Chapman, C., Stoll, L. & Russ, J. (2004). Improving Schools in Socio- Economically Disadvantaged Areas: An Overview of Research. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15(2), 149–176.
  • Robinson, V. M. J., Lloyd, C. A., & Rowe, K. J. (2008). The impact of leadership on school outcomes: An analysis of the differential effects of leadership types. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(5), 635–674.
  • Walker, A., & Qian, H. Y. (2012). Reform disconnection in China. Peabody Journal of Education, 87(2), 162–177.
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