Thinking about principalship

by David Stewart


In this article, David Stewart explores the link between effective principalship and school cultures that support learning. He originally developed it for the First-Time Principals Induction Programme in 2002.

He overviews the work of a number of theorists who argue that successful leadership stems from a particular form of school culture – one where schools are perceived as communities rather than organisations. He looks at the differences between transactional and transformational leadership – with an emphasis on the role of the principal in transforming the school culture.

The article covers:

  • the crucial role of the principal
  • a school development approach
  • the concept of community
  • establishment of a learning community
  • principals’ responsibilities.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might assist your reading of this article:

  • David Stewart sets out Sergiovanni’s outline of cultures that are transactional or transformational. Where does your school sit along the continuum between the two?
  • What broad strategies or actions might help a school which has a focus on being an organisation to become one that focuses on being a community?

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