Leading Learning

Written by Pauline Gradden, Deputy Head of Secondary.
At BSKL we believe that if we think about leadership as being confined to only those in positions of authority, then we are wilfully ignoring the leadership talent and capability of many others. If leadership is fundamentally about influence, then within any school there are many sources of influence, both formal and informal.

Distributed leadership means mobilising leadership expertise at all levels in the school in order to generate more opportunities for change and to build the capacity for improvement. The emphasis is upon interdependent interaction and practice, rather than individual and independent actions associated with those with formal leadership roles or responsibilities.

The evidential base about its impact and effect has been summarised in numerous books and articles (Leithwood et al., 2009; Harris, 2013). The evidence increasingly points towards a positive relationship between distributed leadership, organisational improvement and student achievement (Hallinger & Heck, 2009; Leithwood & Mascall, 2008). Many of these studies have identified the importance of distributed leadership as a potential contributor to positive change and school improvement.

With this in mind, here at BSKL, we view the development of the leadership skills of all our staff and students as a priority and we were pleased that this was recognised in the report compiled by the COBIS Accreditation team after visiting BSKL. They noted that leadership and management at all levels is “an outstanding feature of the school” and “one which is fundamentally a system of distributed leadership”. Furthermore they described witnessing all leaders being given “substantial independent responsibilities” and given the “scope to innovate” whilst also being held “accountable through the evaluation of outcomes”.

Below are the perspectives of a range of BSKL leaders on their experiences as leaders and how their roles at BSKL have allowed them to develop their leadership skills:

"Leading the BSF Award has been challenging because this is the first year of the programme. We had an idea of what it should consist of but we had to change and adapt our plans over the year.  Effective leadership is keeping your vision but being flexible enough to make it happen." 
Janine Murphy, Secondary BSF Coordinator

“I feel like the Student Council has helped me as much as the system has helped the school. It has developed my confidence in communicating with other people especially my form and in getting more organised. These are very important skills in leadership. Giving announcements after every meeting developed my confidence and communication with other people. I have definitely improved my leadership qualities over the course of the year.”
Haider Majeed, Year 7 

“Each member of my team has a different skill set that's integral to our success as a year group. I find that sending out regular (and sometimes anonymous) questionnaires to my team really helps me reflect on how to improve my own leadership and management skills. The feedback forms, documents and meetings we share enable us to plan and develop more effectively throughout the year. At the same time they offer staff opportunities to contribute ideas equally across different mediums, feeling confident in sharing best practise and suggesting constructive changes where needed. It has been an invaluable tool as a middle leader.”
Louise Bagnall, Head of Year 7

“Being a Normans house representative at BSKL has allowed me to develop my leadership skills by taking responsibility for decision making on behalf of the team as well as initiating ideas. As not all ideas materialise into actions, it is important to learn to manage and motivate teams to work collaboratively to carry projects through.”
Douaa Sultan, Year 11 

"Through creating and managing the school timetable, I have learnt that coordination between all stakeholders is vital to leading a successful project. Taking support and direction from those with expertise and ensuring cooperation, and buy in from other leaders leads to an increase in efficiency and effectiveness."
Bruce Geddes, Head of Computing and Timetabling

"I enjoyed organising Matt Dickinson's visit to the Secondary School. Matt is an Everest explorer and best-selling author. I led on this project to achieve the leadership strand of the BSF Award. The best part was planning everything, meeting Matt and making his visit a reality. The challenging part for me was public speaking in assemblies and in staff meetings but this was the experience that I needed most."
Rhu Ming Chan, Year 7 BSF Award Participant

"My role is multi-faceted and requires me to be both aware of and involved in a huge number of day-to-day issues and longer term strategic planning. The most important thing I have learnt here at BSKL, is that trusting my team to lead independently is vital if all aspects of running a school are to be completed efficiently and effectively."
Derek Mackey, Head of Secondary

"Being a sports leader has allowed me to develop my communication skills. After leading several groups of students in events and competitions, I found that if communication is not delivered clearly, in a timely fashion and to the right people, then even the best plans can be unsuccessful."
Toby Keen, Year 10