Improving Schools Using Systems Leadership: Turning Intention into Reality, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Improving Schools Using Systems Leadership

Turning Intention into Reality, 1st Edition

By Ian Macdonald, Clive Dixon, Tony Tiplady


256 pages | 31 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-07-22
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It is easy to underestimate the impact that school organisation has on the behaviour, effectiveness, engagement and creativity of the teachers, staff and students who work within it. It also has a marked effect on the well-being of staff members, and how families and the community relate to the school. Attempts to improve school organisation are often short term "initiatives" that only cover only one or two aspects of what it takes to organise a school effectively.

Improving Schools Using Systems Leadership, in contrast, provides those involved in the design and delivery of educational services with a coherent and easy-to-follow framework to help run an effective organization. Based on theory, real data on education improvements at school and regional level, and case studies, this book demonstrates how Systems Leadership can be used to improve school organisation. It integrates models of leadership, teamwork, capability, structure and systems to help make them more effective in improving the learning outcomes of students and also sustain this improvement over time.

This book explains how Systems Leadership can and has been applied in schools to bring clarity to the purpose, structure and systems within a school and have a major impact on its success. As such, it is an essential text for school leaders and managers looking for practical tools to help improve the working lives of the people with their organisation, and hence their effectiveness.


The SLT principles outlined in this book have changed the way I think, plan and act as a leader. Using them has distinctly helped me in successfully creating and leading positive cultural change across a range of schools and colleges.

Noel Rawlins, Principal Western Cape College, Queensland, Australia

Improving Schools using Systems Leadership has the potential to become a pivotal compendium within the global literature on Systems Leadership. Concepts and foundations are introduced and applied to schooling and the work of the principal, concluding with the pertinent question, what does this mean for schools? This book is a must read for educators of our future generation of leaders.

Dr Paul Lynch, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. From the Headmaster to the School Leader

Section I: Understanding the Concepts and Tools of Systems Leadership

Chapter 2. Understanding the Impact of Organisation on Well-Being

Chapter 3. Organising Work - Understanding Complexity

Chapter 4. Our Capability to Do Work

Chapter 5. What Do We Mean by Culture?

Chapter 6. The Tools of Leadership

Chapter 7. Systems and Structure

Chapter 8. Behaviour and Symbols

Chapter 9. Social Process

Chapter 10. Teamwork Leadership and Membership

Section II: Implementing Change

Chapter 11. The General Context – Critical issues in Education

Chapter 12. The Context of Far North Queensland

Chapter 13. Work of the Principal

Chapter 14. Implementing Change

Section III: Results and Outcomes

Chapter 15. Regional Data

Chapter 16. Case Studies

Chapter 17. Conclusion




About the Authors

Ian Macdonald is a Chartered Psychologist and founder and director of Macdonald Associates, an international organisational consultancy. He is also an Honorary Fellow at Brunel University, teaches at Surrey Business School and works with NHS Wales. He continues to consult to a wide range of organisations around the world.

Clive Dixon has been a teacher, principal, Executive Director of schools and was the Regional Director of Education and Training in far north Queensland from 2007 to 2013. Clive currently works as a consultant, coaching school leaders, using systems leadership in schools.

Tony Tiplady is an experienced educator, trainer, indigenous youth specialist, mining operations manager, organisation effectiveness coach, systems leadership coach, consultant and practitioner.

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