Simon, C.A (2015) 'Are two heads better than one? System school leadership explained and critiqued.' School Leadership & Management, 35 (5). pp. 544-558. ISSN 1363-2434

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‘System leadership’, as applied to the running of schools, refers to a form of leadership that extends beyond a single institution, where headteachers work with establishments other than their own. This approach is predicated on certain beliefs about the role and purpose of collaborative school leadership and management in a marketised system of state schooling and the benefits of a distributed and networked approach to school improvement. But what are the potential benefits and limitations of school system leadership? What normative interpretations of the system are best suited for purpose? This paper explores these issues with reference to the English school system, where system leadership is actively promoted by government through education policy and school reform. In order to do this, use is made of Gunter, H., D. Hall, and J. Bragg (2013. “Distributed Leadership: A Study in Knowledge Production.” Education Management, Administration and Leadership 41 (4): 555–580.) framework of distributed leadership in schools. The framework identifies functionally normative, functionally descriptive, critical and socially critical positions in the school leadership literature. The paper concludes by putting forward potential alternatives to the largely functional policy narratives and solutions of recent decades, which are based on a broader understanding of ‘the system’.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Collaboration, federations, leadership, schools, system leadership
Divisions: Institute for Education
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2016 16:49
Last Modified: 07 May 2017 01:40
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