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Research report

Successful school leadership

Christopher Day and Pamela Sammons

School leaders are under considerable pressure to demonstrate the contribution of their work to school improvement - this review addresses what successful school leadership looks like in a variety of contexts.

The evidence examined by this review indicates that effective school leadership is important but, in isolation, is not a sufficient condition for successful schools.

The review draws particular attention to two concepts of leadership: instructional and transformational. While there is evidence that instructional leadership has been shown to be important for promoting better academic outcomes for students, it is concluded that the two forms of leadership are not mutually exclusive. A combination of strategies can be most beneficial in ensuring school success.

School leaders have a key role to play in setting direction, creating a positive school culture, and supporting and enhancing staff motivation and commitment needed to foster improvement and promote success for schools in challenging circumstances.

The review was carried out by researchers from Nottingham University and Oxford University and was originally published in 2014.