Leadership: building high-performing and improving education systems

Liz Slater

This review looks at key aspects of policy and practice relating to headteachers: their changing role; management of supply; recruitment; performance management; training and development.

Many of the policy documents and much of the recent literature talk about ‘leadership’ when discussing the role of headteachers and principals of schools. The word is also used when writing about other senior and middle managers. It is a way of showing the difference between what used to be expected of headteachers and what is expected of them now. They now have more responsibilities. As a result, they need different characteristics and a wider range of knowledge and skills.

'Leadership' is a generic term. It opens up the possibility of learning from the exercise of successful leadership in other organisations, particularly where improved performance is needed. Leadership, particularly by the headteacher, is important in promoting school improvement. Research has also identified the role of middle leaders, particularly heads of subject departments, in shaping the academic effectiveness of the school.