Enabling School-driven System Leadership: Rapid review

Claire Easton, Robert Smith, David Sims, Helen Aston

01 October 2012

NFER funded this rapid review of the evidence on how high-performing countries enable school-driven systems leadership. The review found that each of the successful systems identified in the literature had some form of middle tier that was distinct from national government.

Key Findings

  • stakeholders who are committed to working together and sharing experience
  • distributed leadership, harnessing the expertise of all staff
  • provision of traditional ‘support and challenge’ functions alongside brokering and enabling ways of working that respond to schools’ needs.
  • a lack of trust between the middle tier and schools
  • a failure to challenge when necessary, which can lead to long-term decline
  • failure to look beyond one’s own institutions and take responsibility system performance
  • lack of capacity in the middle tier to support and challenge schools.
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