Education Leadership in Schools

Mahoney and Moos (2010) raised concerns on the leadership and the democracy within schools, expressing the need for change to ensure schools offer the best opportunities for students. The primary role of a school is not only to provide education but also provide a challenging and emotional caring environment, to allow the students to develop (Kapur, 2018; Department of Education, 2015b). The Department of Education (2015b) expresses the importance of Headmasters leading by example, by meeting the four domains of excellence as standard. Those schools branded as inadequate often have leadership and management failures (Hofkins, 1993). The four domains are the self-improving school system, pupils and staff qualities and knowledge and processes. The formation of the school is the leader’s responsibility, ensuring each member of staff is meeting the needs of the students. As inconsistencies could occur, affecting the students’ well-being, and in-turn affect the student’s attainment levels.

Brundrett, Duncan, and Rhodes (2010) state there has been significant change over the last two decades in leadership within schools, with the introduction of multiple levels of leadership roles to ensure additional support for teachers is available. Sheninger (2011) states that education leaders have a multiple-layer of responsibilities, placing immense pressure upon the leaders to be reliable and achieve outstanding results. It is not only Headmasters who are dealing with these stressors, but all levels of leadership are expected to communicate well and demonstrate no inconsistencies. Leaders are under unbearable pressure, as they are expected to maintain consistently excellent teaching, shared knowledge and develop a strong relationship with parents to encourage on-going support and engagement in their child’s education (Education Development Trust, 2014; Department of Education, 2015b).

The Headmasters role as the leaders of the school are considered as the most trusted members of the community, and parents depend upon their ability to maintain the school’s achievements (Day, 2009). Thus, this open position needs to be allocated to the ideal member of staff to maintain trust within the community and ensure success for the school. Engaging and communicating with parents will breakdown the additional barriers to the children’s education, encouraging education at home to occur. Thus, reducing pressure on the teaching staff. Toop (2016) states that the joining of middle leadership and teaching leaders the skill of communicating effectively and sharing ideas will create a unified approach to education.

A clear line of communication needs to be visual, not only with the students and teachers but across all of the senior management team within the school. Therefore, any issues within leadership can be addressed swiftly, and there is no indifference to the approach. Furthermore, Hickman (2017) states that an effective leader collaborates with other members of staff, to release some of the burdens and promote an inclusive involvement and promote engagement with parents. Mistry (2004) expresses the importance of leaders engaging with learning support assistants, as they have been well-established as crucial figures within primary schools, specialising in program prep and interacting with parents.

Matthews (2009) defines outstanding school leaders as motivating, empowering, community-spirited, and promotes professional development. Leaders do not only need to focus upon the children’s well-being but also the staff, to ensure they remain empowered, involved, and feel their leaders value them. Toop (2016) shares the need for a drive in all teaching staff and leaders to build an expectational team approach. To ensure drive remains, leaders need to generously offer praise when it is due and offer opportunities for further training. Hickman (2017) emphasises the importance of leaders complimenting their staff, to boost morale, build confidence, and ensure staff wishes to remain in employment there.

Ofsted (2008, in Matthews, 2009) recognises leadership as remaining as a critical factor to ensure the school’s success. Leaders need to be willing to engage in competition with other schools, competing for the best teachers, and presenting themselves to the community, as the highest achieving school. To do this, Kapur (2018) explains the schools need to design their aims and objectives upon the communities voiced concerns. The leaders are expected to be an inspiring, enthusiast, and be able to communicate with staff, students virtually, and parents (Matthews, 2009; Pont, Nusche, and Moorman, 2008). Leaders are expected to visualise a positive future for both the school and the local community by sharing their ideas and engaging with parents. Thus, in doing so, demonstrating that the school is listening to their local area, encouraging parents to view the school as inclusive. An exceptional vision will ensure that schools achieve. Pont, Nusche, and Moorman (2008) explain the need for schools to devise a plan of action and monitor their progress and celebrate their successes within the community.

Vast improvement has been made over the last fifteen years, as schools are reforming their leadership, due to the number of students attending is rapidly growing, with class sizes growing yearly. The Department for Education (2011) states there has been a growth of 20% in births from 2002, placing further pressure upon the education system. The Department of Education (2011) expresses concern on the increasing class sizes, as it affects attainment levels as there is an increased risk of behavioural problems. Thus, placing further pressure upon middle leaders and Headmasters as they will have restricted time to engage with students and limited engagement with teachers. However, leaders will be able to review whether their teachers can manage and retain student’s engagement successfully.

An expressive, a more decisive leader can change the school’s foundations. School leaders need to have the ability to adapt to change, and transform the education system within their schools, tackling issues head-on (Chugh, 2016). The Department of Health (2015b) expresses the importance of good leadership, stating that if the leaders do not possess the expected characteristics, they will struggle to maintain stimulating education for the children. However, it can be challenging to remain a strong leader due to the complexities of the role. Leaders are expected to challenge their employees yet still motivate them and expect high expectations, with minimum pay incentives. Although the Department of Education (2019) announced a pay increase of 2.75% per cent, the expectation of high achievements with minimum growth could take its toll, affecting the willingness and engagement levels of the staff, which the leaders must challenge. Leadership is a pivotal part of ensuring school success, as it provides the school with a precise aim. The quality of the leader influences the school’s progression and the students learning, thus the importance of evaluating their skills (Plowright and Godfrey, 2008; Barrett-Baxendale and Burton, 2009). Barrett-Baxendale and Burton (2009) believe that leaders need to keep engaging in self-directed development to enhance their leadership skills. Thus, being able to address new issues which are arising. For instance, cyberbullying is a relatively new issue that schools are tackling. If the leaders are unaware of this phenomenon, they will be unable to provide adequate support to their teacher or their students. Thus, resulting in additional issues or the problem escalating out of control.

To maintain strong leadership, Warin (2017) explains the leaders need to develop a nurturing relationship with the students, creating a profoundly caring environment; creating the ideal ethos of a caring school. Thus, resulting in a safer atmosphere for students to discuss any mental health issues. The Department for Education and Gibb (2016) stress the need for a vision leads Headmasters to drive schools to success. However, the Department for Education and Gibb (2016) states that school systems are unable to become dependent upon a handful of individuals, it needs to have an integrated approach of strong leadership filtering to the core of the classrooms as school leadership is the essential element of the school environment. The Ambition Institute (2016) argue that all leaders from middle leaders, governors, Headmasters, and CEO’s need to be ensuring the students are receiving a high-quality education.

Failure is apparent for the leaders, leaving them disheartened; however, efficient leaders will see this as an opportunity to improve themselves. Thus, allowing them to learn from their mistakes. Leaders working in schools in highly challenging socioeconomically disadvantaged communities are at higher risk of failure, due to the on-going challenges of staff retainment and student behaviour (Education Development Trust, 2014). Although, if the leaders restructured their curriculum, students would have a higher attainment level. The flexibility of the leaders to allow teaching staff to use a range of different teaching skills will encourage staff to remain engaged in the students learning. To ensure the youth of today reach their potential, the Department of Education (2015a) states schools need to maintain effective governance and leadership by developing a co-ordinated approach into building upon their foundations and offer support to staff to enable them to achieve in their roles successfully. Leaders need to provide additional support for teachers to ensure they can provide one to one support to students if needed (Chroninin, 2013). As without tailored support, a student who is struggling may begin to disengage with teachers. 

Reference list

Ambition Institute (2016) School improvement requires leadership but depends on effective leaders at every level. Available from: https://www.ambition.org.uk/blog/why-school-leadership-essential/ [Accessed 25/7/19].

Barrett-Baxendale, D. and Burton, D. (2009) Twenty-first-century headteacher: pedagogue, visionary leaders or both? School Leadership and Management. 29(2). Pp. 91 – 107

Brundrett, M., Duncan, D. and Rhodes, C. (2010) Leading curriculum innovation in primary school’s project: an interim report on schools’ leaders in curriculum development in England. Education 3 – 13. 38(4). Pp. 403 – 419

Chugh, S. (2016) Positioning school leadership in Indian Context: Review and Way Ahead. Indian Journal of Educational Research. 5. Pp. 226 – 243

Chroninin (2013) agrees that there are numerous challenges facing teachers, affecting their ability to plan their lesson and dedicate efficient time as required to each student.


Day, C. (2009) Building and sustaining successful principalship in England: the importance of trust. Journal of Educational Administration. 47(6). Pp. 719 – 730.

Department of Education (2011) Class size and education in England evidence report. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system
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Department of Education (2015a) Good leadership impacts positively on education outcomes. Available from: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/good-leadership-impacts-positively-educational-outcomes [Accessed 28/7/19].

Department for education (2015b) Report of the review of national standards of excellence for headteachers. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_
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Department for Education (2019) School teachers pay to rise by 2.75%. Available from: https://www.educationdevelopmenttrust.com/EducationDevelopmentTrust/files/a3/a359e571-7033-41c7-8fe7-9ba60730082e.pdf [Accessed 30/7/19].

Department for Education and Gibb, N. (2016) Nick Gibb: the importance of school leadership. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-importance-of-school-leadership [Accessed 30/7/19].

Education Development Trust (2014) Successful and school leadership. Available from: https://www.educationdevelopmenttrust.com/EducationDevelopmentTrust/files/a3/a359e571-7033-41c7-8fe7-9ba60730082e.pdf [Accessed 22/7/19]

Greatbatch, D. and Tate, S. (2018) Teaching, leadership and governance in Further Education. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/680306/Teaching__leadership_and_governance_in_Further_Education.pdf [Accessed 1/8/19].

Hickman, K. (2017) A qualitative study on educational leadership styles and teacher morale. Available from: https://www.cn.edu/libraries/tiny_mce/tiny_mce/plugins/filemanager/files/Dissertations/Dissertations2017/Hickman_Final.pdf [1/8/19]/

Hofkins, D (1993) Branded as failures. TES: Times Educational Supplement. 4041(8). P2.

Kapur, R. (2018) Education Leadership. [online]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323691649_Educational_Leadershaip. [Accessed 20/07/19].

Mahony, P. and Moos, L. (2010) Democracy and school leadership in England and Denmark. British Journal of Educational Studies, 46(3). Pp. 302 – 317

Matthews, P. (2009) How do school leaders successfully lead learning? Available at: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/254/1/download%3Fid=23637&filename=how-do-school-leaders-successfully-lead-learning.pdf. [Accessed 1/8/19].

Mistry, M. (2004) Managing LSA’s: an evaluation of the use of learning support assistants in an urban primary school. School leadership and management. 24(2). Pp. 125 – 137

Pont, B., Nusche, D. and Moorman, H. (2008) Improving school leadership. Volume 1: Policy and Practise. Available at: https://www.oecd.org/education/school/44374889.pdf [Accessed 2/8/19].

Sheninger, E. (2011) An open letter to principals: Five leadership strategies for the new year. Available from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/principals-leadership-eric-sheninger [Accessed 21/7/19]

Toop, J. (2016) Ambitious for every child. Available at: https://www.ambition.org.uk/documents/571/Ambitious_for_Every_Child. [Accessed 1/8/19]

Warin, J. (2017) Creating a whole school ethos of care. Emotional and behavioural difficulties. 22(3). Pp. 188 – 199

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