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What Is Good Leadership in Schools?

Good leadership in schools is vital for improving the learning outcomes of students. Learn how to boost your school leadership capabilities.

A recent study found that not one school (of 180 surveyed) was able to improve student achievement records without effective school leadership. This research  shows a clear connection between skilled school leadership and positive student learning outcomes. It’s proof that good leadership in schools makes a direct impact on students’ experience and performance.

Good leadership in schools is the practice of encouraging and enabling school-wide teaching expertise in order to achieve a strong rate of progress for all learners. This leadership can be driven by principals and executive staff in traditional leadership roles, as well as by school leaders and teachers without defined leadership roles.

For teaching staff and future leaders in the education sector, it’s important to understand what the benchmark is for good leadership in schools, and how it can be used to drive lasting change.


What does good school leadership look like in practice?

Effective school leaders apply their educational expertise and management skills in order to focus their efforts, and those of their teaching staff, on improving the quality of student learning outcomes. Part of this involves keeping up-to-date on the latest teaching technologies and trends. It also requires excellent interpersonal skills – as leaders work with students, staff, parents and external communities to gain constant feedback and find opportunities to innovate. School leaders need to have a solid grasp of operational best practices and an aptitude for enabling continuous development.

Good leadership in schools helps to foster both a positive and motivating culture for staff and a high-quality experience for learners. Leaders at all levels in schools can contribute to this by developing the top skills needed by school leaders.


5 top skills of good school leaders

  1. Leading through teaching and learning

For a school leader to be successful in their role, they need to lead the way in driving teaching and learning outcomes, first and foremost. This involves setting expectations about the school’s learning practices and ensuring the organisation’s values and behaviours underpin a focus on improving student success.

Good leadership should always seek to innovate in the field of education, keeping up-to-date with the latest developments while also seeking feedback from school staff and students. Importantly, school leaders should encourage the continuous learning and development of teaching staff, so that educational methods are informed by current industry practices. Beyond their own school, leaders should encourage collaboration and partnerships with other education providers, resulting in broader impacts on the education system.

  1. Developing self, and others

Good school leadership should have a strong focus on continued professional development. This starts with leaders growing their own skills and knowledge through a commitment to professional development and personal health and wellbeing. It should also promote the development of other teaching staff.

Leaders within schools should work with staff to understand their personal development needs and skills, as well as knowledge gaps. This can help to create a culture of empowered, self-directed learning and responsibility, leading by example to demonstrate how schooling staff can improve their teaching capacity. 

  1. Promoting positive change in school environments

With the education space evolving rapidly, it’s essential for leaders in schools to be open to innovation and change and to drive new initiatives in the school environment. The change should remain consistent with the school’s values and goals, while genuinely working towards the improvement of student outcomes. Leaders in schools should ensure that a culture of research, innovation and creativity is at the heart of the organisation, and should seek regular feedback and data on student performance relating to changes.

  1. Driving school management

Leaders in schools use a range of data management methods and technologies to manage school staff and resources efficiently. They work with team members to ensure efficient operations, while also liaising with school boards, governing bodies and parent cohorts.

Driving school management involves the responsibility of connecting the school’s vision and values with everyday operations to ensure the best learning outcomes for students. Leaders need to create strategic plans based on consultation with staff, students, parents and outside influences.

  1. Engaging and working with the community

A key focus that school leaders need to have is engaging with their wider community. Schools are often comprised of a mixture of students from different cultural, linguistic, and spiritual backgrounds. Effective leaders must interact with and celebrate the diversity of the community, ensuring everyone is made to feel included.

From students, parents and carers, to other schools within the education system, leaders need to foster good relationships and build strong partnerships to ensure positive outcomes are achieved across the sector.


Take your teaching career to the next level

Further study in education could help you become a future leader in schools. There is a range of resources available to educators to help you make an impact as a leader, and studying a Master’s degree can help you take your own professional development to the next level. Educators can experience a variety of benefits from obtaining a Master’s qualification in education, including higher salaries and exciting professional development opportunities.

A Master of Education degree can provide a deeper understanding off the theoretical and practical backgrounds that drive the teaching profession. Consider developing your leadership capabilities and start your journey towards driving change in the education sector.

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