Born Free: How to create a School

David Littlefair*, Lucy Barker, Christopher Million, Michaela Khatib

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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School leadership is the pivotal role in school effectiveness (Huber, 2004), with research focussing on leadership in the context of an existing school. This study focuses on the critical role of leadership in creating a school, from initiation of the idea to the fully functioning three phase school it is has become. It analyses the skills necessary to undertake such a task and highlights the barriers and opportunities faced in the process.

This study reflects upon the journey of one person to build a school. Therefore, it has a relativist stance as this may have been different for other people. However, the leadership qualities can be universal and therefore the phenomenon that emerge can transcend this scenario.
Following a thematic analysis of the data seven key themes emerged, those being vision/origin, resilience and determination, opposition and barriers, parents, staff, networks and support. In order to analyse such themes in the context of leadership the dimensions of school leadership by Bush and Glover (2014) were utilised as a theoretical framework.

This study illustrates the tapestry of leadership skills required to create a school, including intrinsic and people skills, to build trust, reassure, and demonstrate resolve. Underlying this is a resolute commitment to the project, an undiminished belief in the philosophy of the school, and a skill based small proposer team containing financial and business acumen. The support of the team, including family members, enabled shared values and resolve to overcome substantial barriers to ensure the vision became a reality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-155
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the European Teacher Education Network
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2023

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