Sustaining success in challenging contexts: leadership in English schools

Christopher Day (School of Education, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper aims to report multiperspective research on ten successful, experienced headteachers working in a range of urban and suburban schools of different sizes (with different school populations and free school meals indices of between 20 and 62 per cent).


A discussion combining narrative and analysis.


The research revealed that the headteachers sustained their success by the application of a combination of essential leadership values, qualities and skills and that these enabled them to manage a number of tensions and dilemmas associated with the management of change.


Illustrates that successful headteachers are those who place as much emphasis on people and processes as they do upon product: all had raised the levels of measurable pupil attainments in their schools and all were highly regarded by their peers. A key characteristic among the heads was that all revealed a passion for education, for pupils and for the communities in which they worked that this was recognised and appreciated by them, that they had translated their passion into practice, and that pupils' achievements had increased over a sustained period of time.



Day, C. (2005), "Sustaining success in challenging contexts: leadership in English schools", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 43 No. 6, pp. 573-583.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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