Keynote 2: School Leadership and Education System Reform
School Leadership And Education System Reform: A Paradox And A Quest
The paradox in this title refers to a set of contradictions that sit at the heart of education policy in many school systems. Policy makers in these systems want things that, if not inherently at odds, are nevertheless in tension – such as a tightly defined set of national standards and a broad and balanced curriculum; academic stretch for the most able and a closing of the gap between high and low performers; choice and diversity and equity, and so on.
The quest is for leaders and leadership that can resolve these tensions in practice. School autonomy policies have placed huge power in the hands of, and pressure on the shoulders of, leaders in high-autonomy-high-accountability quasi-market systems.
What seems clear is that change will require new approaches which somehow unlock leadership agency whilst supporting the development of new forms of leadership that can – and consistently do – resolve the paradoxes. This session will focus in particular on England’s efforts to create a ‘self-improving’ system, which can be seen as one response to these issues. It will draw on the findings from a three year study of the changes in England to draw out the wider implications for policy and practice on leadership and school system reform.