Successful school leadership: case studies of four Singapore primary schools

Loke Heng Wang ( National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University Singapore Singapore )
David Gurr ( University of Melbourne Melbourne Australia )
Lawrie Drysdale ( University of Melbourne Melbourne Australia )

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Publication date: 17 March 2016



This paper explores the characteristics and practices of principals in four successful Singapore primary schools.


Multiple perspective case studies were used which included semi-structured interviews with the principal, teaching and non-teaching staff, students, parents and school board members in each school.


The principals were found to have contributed significantly to the success of their schools. Their leadership was underpinned by their personal qualities, beliefs and values, which guided their practices. The four principals were highly successful in improving school capacity through redesigning school structures, particularly those that facilitate improvement in the work of teachers. They enhanced the professional capacity of the teaching and non-teaching staff through professional development programmes and the development of future leaders. The principals also established meaningful partnerships with stakeholders inside and outside the school community. Each of the principals described how their leadership was built upon the legacy of previous principals at their schools.


As part of a larger project, the International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP), this research adds an important Asian context to the literature on successful school leadership. A 6E model - Educate, Envision, Energize, Engage, Enable and Embrace - was developed to describe how principals led their schools to achieve educational excellence.


Wang, L., Gurr, D. and Drysdale, L. (2016), "Successful school leadership: case studies of four Singapore primary schools", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 54 No. 3.

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