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Global Trends and Challenges for School Leaders: Keeping the Focus on Learning

Peter Earley


This paper gives consideration to global trends and recent developments in education systems, particularly as they relate to schools and school leaders operating in high stakes accountability cultures. The importance of leadership for organisation success is noted alongside a number of other key within-school factors such as teacher quality. Successful leaders are differentiated from high-performing leaders and the notion of «leadership for learning» is outlined. This leads to a discussion of the nature of learning – leading learning for what? – and the accountability pressures that make its enactment increasingly problematic whilst, in some cases, leading to undesirable practices. There is need for a cadre of proactive, reflective leadership professionals with social responsibilities. Education systems and schools need reflective professionals who are able to make judgements and act upon what is considered to be «educationally desirable». The challenges educational leaders face, both now and in the future, including keeping the focus on «learning» and seeing themselves as proactive reflexive leadership professionals, are also discussed.


Accountability; High stakes testing; Leadership for learning; Learningcentred leadership; Successful leadership; Toxic leadership

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2016-014-earl

Copyright (c) 2016 Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS Journal) – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie


Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (19/05/2010 n. 278)
Online ISSN 2037-7924 - Print ISSN 2037-7932

Research Laboratory on Didactics and Evaluation - Department of Education - "Roma Tre" University

Executive Editor: Gaetano Domenici - Managing  Editor: Valeria Biasci
Editorial Board: Giuditta Alessandrini - Eleftheria Argyropoulou - Massimo Baldacci - Joao Barroso - Richard Bates - Christofer Bezzina - Paolo Bonaiuto - Lucia Boncori - Pietro Boscolo - Sara Bubb  - Carlo Felice Casula - Jean-Émile Charlier - Lucia Chiappetta Cajola - Carmela Covato - Jean-Louis Derouet - Peter Early - Franco Frabboni - Constance Katz - James Levin - Pietro Lucisano  - Roberto Maragliano - Romuald Normand - Michael Osborne - Donatella Palomba - Michele Pellerey - Clotilde Pontecorvo - Vitaly V. Rubtzov - Jaap Scheerens - Noah W. Sobe - Francesco Susi - Giuseppe Spadafora - Pat Thomson
Editorial Staff: Fabio Alivernini - Guido Benvenuto - Anna Maria Ciraci - Massimiliano Fiorucci - Luca Mallia - Massimo Margottini - Giovanni Moretti - Carla Roverselli 
Editorial Secretary:
Nazarena Patrizi