The school of the future: key issues for school leaders

by David Bennett for the National College of School Leadership


What will the leaders of schools in the future be like? It could be that future schools will face radically different challenges that will require different qualities and skills for those in leadership roles. In this article, David Bennett considers five of these challenges, together with five sets of leadership qualities to meet them.

The ideas in the article were developed by a group of school leaders who were working with the author on the question, ‘What will be the leadership paradigm for the school of the future?’

The five challenges

  • How will it be possible to establish a common culture in a diverse organisation?
  • What will be the implications of strategic relationships, as opposed to strategic planning?
  • Society is increasingly looking to education for moral leadership. What will be the implications for schools?
  • What will the current emphasis on emotional intelligence teach us about future pedagogy?
  • How will school leaders manage the practicalities of student learning?

The five leadership qualities

  • Passion and vision
  • Personal values
  • Inner strength and courage
  • Conflict resolution
  • The ability to harness the will of a diverse group of partners.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • What would the reflections from a group of local principals in your network look like? Are you working in different ways than you were five years ago?
  • Bennett talks about the importance of harnessing the will of others. How has your school done this? What else could you do?


Bennett, D. (2000). The school of the future: Key issues for school leaders. Nottingham, UK: National College of School Leaders.

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