Taking A Lead

A research paper from The Centre for the Study of Market Reform of Education (CMRE)

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How to access the leadership premium

One Education have sponsored a paper, entitled 'Taking a lead: how to access the leadership premium'.

Authored by James Croft of the CMRE, this paper investigates school leadership models, providing a comprehensive review of the current evidence base, allowing us to inform strategy and policy in schools. 

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Update from Kieran McDermott

Since the release of this paper in June 2016, One Education CEO Kieran McDermott has authored a blog on the Question of Leadership in Schools.

Read more

The Background

Much of the present government’s education reform strategy turns on being able to maximise a leadership premium. Attracting new leaders from outside teaching has been a key focus, but growing capacity in the existing system may be more important to keeping pace with the government’s expectations and achieving scale solutions.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has said that the need to recruit good future leaders for England's schools is urgent but that we lack a strategy for identifying and developing talent. What constitutes effective educational leadership, and whether it may be learned or the skills transferred, is a subject that tends to elicit strong convictions, however.

A survey of the substantial research literature concerning the relationship between school leadership and effectiveness reveals a far weaker evidence base than many of the claims made for the importance of leadership, on one or another model, would suggest. It also indicates that the role of contingency and school context in shaping leadership effectiveness is not given the attention that it warrants.

If effective leadership practices are both learned, and embedded, in context, a more refined understanding of contextual and situational leadership and management may therefore be necessary in turn for effective policy geared towards taking advantage of the leadership premium.

About the Author

James Croft is Executive Director of The Centre for the Study of Market Reform of Education and the author and co-author of several of its reports, including Collaborative overreach: why collaboration probably isn’t key to the next phase of school reform (2015).

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