Exploring the impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes

Pam Sammons (Department of Education, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)
Qing Gu (School of Education, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Christopher Day (School of Education, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
James Ko (The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, PR China)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Publication date: 18 January 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the impact of school leadership, particularly that of the principal (head teacher), on school improvement in England.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts a mixed‐methods (MM), longitudinal design to investigate the leadership of a sample of academically effective and improving schools identified from analyses of national assessment and examination data sets. In addition, questionnaire surveys of principals and key staff and 20 qualitative school case studies were conducted. The paper reports results from the questionnaire analyses and changes in measures of school performance over three school years using data from 378 primary and 362 secondary schools. Confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation models (SEM) test direct and indirect effects of school leadership and school and classroom processes in predicting changes in schools' academic results.

Findings

The analyses identified robust underlying dimensions of leadership and school and classroom processes and highlighted strategies and actions that school principals and staff had adopted to raise pupil attainment. The SEM models reveal both direct and indirect effects of leadership on a range of school and classroom processes that in turn predicted changes (improvements) in schools' academic performance.

Originality/value

This original empirical study presents new results on the leadership of a large sample of effective and improving primary and secondary schools in England. A dynamic model is presented predicting changes in schools' academic performance over three years and identifying direct effects of leadership on school and classroom processes and indirect effects on improvements in schools' academic results.

Keywords

Citation

Sammons, P., Gu, Q., Day, C. and Ko, J. (2011), "Exploring the impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 83-101. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513541111100134

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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