Appendix 4: School leadership and achievement

What we know about the influence of school leadership (MOE 2008 and 2012) 1

What this evaluation suggests about the impact of leadership in schools (ERO 2015)

1. A school leader influences outcomes largely through her/his actions as a pedagogical leader and a shaper of school culture. These two key roles have a positive impact on the school’s systems, networks and relationships.

2. Senior and middle leaders may have a positive impact by improving teaching and raising student achievement. This is especially the case when the authority for the leadership of learning is effectively distributed by a school’s leader to those with expertise for the particular achievement challenges that the school is facing.

3. However senior and middle leaders’ roles are diverse. The nature and composition of teams differ greatly in different school settings, as do the types of tasks and responsibilities expected from different team leaders. Some roles offer a clear focus for the team leader and a purpose that is well understood and appreciated by the team. Other roles may have multiple purposes. As a result these team leaders can claim no clear loyalty or priority from team members.

4. Usually the clearer the team leader role and the more shared the team purpose the greater the influence a particular team leader is likely to have. However the personal attributes and qualities of the leader also have a strong influence on outcomes, particularly the level of relational trust that a specific team leader generates.

1. Some schools accelerated learning much more strongly than did others. Progression (with more than 50 percent of learners accelerating) was strong in over 40 percent of the primary schools but in no more than 15 percent of secondary schools.

2. In successful primary schools, school leaders influenced both pedagogy and culture positively. In successful secondary schools, school leaders played a strategic and an overseeing role, with pedagogical leadership delegated to senior or middle leaders. Sometimes new roles for specific achievement challenges were created.

3. Primary school team leaders’ roles were generally well focused on accelerating the learning that made a difference. In the secondary schools where progression was strongest team leaders also had a clear focus on raising achievement, and this focus was shared with their team. Teams made the most difference in Years 7-13 schools. Teams in these schools were generally smaller than in Year 9-13 schools, where progress was generally more limited.

4.Team leaders in Year 7-13 schools focused on acceleration in Years 7 and 8 (one case) and in Years 9 and 10 (another case) and made a significant difference to learning outcomes in their school. Team leaders in Years 9-13 schools appeared to make most difference when they focused on teaching in Years 9 and 10 rather than Years 11 and 12.