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School Leadership Preparation and Development in England  

Philip A. Woods, Joy Jarvis, Amanda Roberts, and Suzanne Culshaw

School leadership preparation and development in England has to be understood in the context of England’s radically changing school system. Local democratic accountability of schools has been reduced and a range of new actors have entered the state school system to sponsor and govern schools. Since 2010, the numbers of such “independent” state schools have increased rapidly. As the role of local authorities has diminished, the middle tier of governance has been transformed and continues to evolve, with new forms of grouping schools emerging, such as multi-academy trusts (MATs) and teaching school alliances (TSAs). This and the influential idea in England of the school system as a school-led, self-improving system have implications for leadership and its preparation and development. System leadership, by national leaders of education for example, is seen as an essential layer of support for and a catalyst to school improvement, in addition to leadership of and within schools. In the first decade of the 21st century, leadership preparation and development became more like a “nationalized” service, with the creation of the National College for School Leadership (later the National College for Teaching and Leadership). With the abolition of the National College in 2013, the direction of travel was towards more plural and diverse providers of school leadership and preparation—some would say a privatized model of provision—including MATs, TSAs, schools and other providers. There are both potential strengths and weaknesses in this model. More autonomy is promised for providers and participants in preparing for and developing leadership, which could foster creativity in modes of provision. There are also tensions. Policy aims that promote the quantitative measurement of education on the basis of instrumental and economistic goals sit uneasily with other policy aims that appear to value education as the nurturing of human development as a good in itself; yet different educational purposes have different implications for the practice of school leadership and hence its preparation and development. A further tension is that between a positive recognition in the leadership discourse of the distributed nature of leadership and a tendency to revert to a more familiar focus on positional leadership roles and traditional, hierarchical leadership. Other issues include the practical consequences of a system of plural and diverse providers. The system may increase opportunities for innovation and local responsiveness, but it is not clear how it will ensure sufficiently consistent high-quality leadership preparation and development across the system. There are questions to do with power and inequalities—for example, whether greater autonomy works well for some providers and participants in leadership preparation and development, whilst others are much more constrained and less able to find or create opportunities to develop their leadership practice. Space for critical and questioning research and professional enquiry, independent of the interests and priorities of providers and government, is essential. Such research and enquiry are needed to illuminate how leadership preparation and development practice actually evolves in this more plural system, and who shapes that practice in the differing local contexts across England.

Article

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and School Leadership in Action  

Tomoko Takahashi

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944) was a geographer, elementary school teacher and principal, and educational reformer, who was active in the early-to-mid 1900s in Japan. As a school leader and scholar-practitioner guided by a passion for supporting teachers and improving education for the happiness of children, Makiguchi scrutinized pedagogy as a science and proposed a number of reforms of the Japanese education system, key elements of which, he believed, were failing teachers and students alike. His proposals included, among many: the establishment of standards of competency expected of school principals as well as a system of examination to uphold these standards; the abolition of a government-led school inspection system that pressured and restricted teachers from freely conducting teaching activities; and the establishment of an “education research institute” and an organization for the training of teachers. The growing number of modern educational scholars and practitioners paying attention to Makiguchi’s work and philosophy find his ideas not only valid and applicable to education in the 21st century but also remarkably innovative and insightful. His proposal for school leadership was still but a voice in the wilderness in the 1930s. It was also a bold and audacious attempt for him, especially at the time of the militarist regime. Makiguchi is often compared with his contemporary John Dewey (1859–1952). Evidently, Makiguchi and Dewey were both visionaries, passionate school leaders, and fearless reformers. Bearing this in mind, Makiguchi deserves much more attention than he has received thus far—at least as much as Dewey, if we are to balance the historical account of progressive education as a transnational phenomenon.