1st Edition

What Works in School Leadership? Making Evidence-Informed Choices

By Linet Arthur, Debra McGregor Copyright 2025
    344 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    344 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The key purpose of school leadership is to improve learning. What Works in School Leadership? examines research evidence and leadership models that focus on learning, and provides resources that will help readers to understand their school’s culture and develop strategies to change and improve their schools. It introduces and explains contemporary research, leadership theories and real-world examples to identify what can work in school leadership.

    Recognising that leadership occurs at all levels in schools, this book addresses factors that underpin successful distributed, middle and team leadership. Chapters identify how leaders can effectively recruit, retain and motivate their staff, as well as the ways in which professional development can be supported. Key aspects of inclusive leadership that address diversity and equity are considered in depth.

    Each school is unique and there is no magic formula that will guarantee instant results in every school; with this in mind, What Works in School Leadership? provides readers with a range of research evidence and resources to enable them to select strategies that will create a positive learning environment for staff and pupils at their own school.

    This is essential reading for school leaders, those aspiring to leadership and anyone studying or researching school leadership.



    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Leading Learning

    Chapter 3: School Culture and Improvement

    Chapter 4: Leading Change

    Chapter 5: The Empowered and/or Squeezed Middle

    Chapter 6: Leading Professional Development

    Chapter 7: Recruitment and Retention of staff – Leadership Implications

    Chapter 8: Motivating Teachers

    Chapter 9: Leading More Inclusively – Addressing Diversity and Equity

    Chapter 10: Conclusion




    Linet Arthur has extensive experience in educational leadership. This includes teaching courses on educational leadership and management to hundreds of students (at MA and doctoral level). She has also undertaken research, training and consultancy in educational leadership for schools, local authorities and government departments in the UK and internationally.

    Debra McGregor currently works at Oxford Brookes University. She has worked in education for nearly 40 years. She has taught in primary and secondary schools and various university settings in the UK, Europe and USA. She has published many papers and books concerned with teaching, learning and classroom leadership, the performing arts, cognitive development, nature of creativity and close-to-practice research.

    “This book is a must for all aspiring head teachers. It provides a broad spectrum of the work on the subject. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on School Culture and Improvement. Overall, it is a great resource to ‘dip into’ when needed”. Tony Wilmot, Head teacher, Secondary 11–16 School

    “This book is a great source of information for head teachers. I wish I’d had it to read before teaching the NPQH and NPQs. The chapter on retention and recruitment is particularly useful”. Duncan Birds, Head teacher, Primary 3–11 School

    “This book was an incredibly interesting read. I found it useful as I move into headship. Not only have I found some great advice and guidance I have also found comfort in some of the stories and examples that have shown me that I'm not failing so early in the job but am just on the journey that so many other heads and schools have been, and are on”. Neal Critchley, Associate Head teacher, Secondary 11–18 School

    “Having witnessed many efforts at school improvement in Birmingham and London in particular, I just wish we had had available this latest volume from Deb McGregor and Linet Arthur. Every new school leader obtaining a copy and all those wanting to extend their confident competence and understanding will bless the day that the authors put this invaluable and readable volume together.” Sir Tim Brighouse, British Educator, Former Schools Commissioner for London

    “Drawing on a wide range of research evidence and the authors’ many years of experience of teaching and studying what works in the world of successful school leadership (and what doesn’t!), this timely and comprehensive book provides new and refreshing insights into the field. As such, it should prove an invaluable resource for scholars, policymakers, and practitioners, especially those aspiring to lead and colleagues who are already in middle and senior school leadership positions.” Professor Alan Floyd, Institute of Education, University of Reading

    "Leading schools can be challenging, collegial, creative and confounding – sometimes all in the same day! This book synthesises an impressive range of evidence and theory across a broad range of areas, providing an excellent handbook for practitioners and students of contemporary school leadership. In addition, it brings the research to life through a variety of examples and quotes drawn from national and international contexts, including the authors’ own work and experience of working with school leaders in England." Professor Toby Greany, Professor of Education and Convener of the Centre for Research in Education Leadership and Management, University of Nottingham