Leadership of professional learning communities in Singapore schools: The tight loose balance

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Ho, Jeanne Marie Pau Yuen
Ong, Monica Woei Ling
Tan, Liang See
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Purpose: This paper presents a study on how professional learning communities (PLC) are developed in an Asian setting, and the nature of leadership that helped to cultivate and sustain PLC in such a context. <br><br>Research Method: The study adopted a sequential mixed method, starting with a survey followed by qualitative case studies, involving focused group discussions and interviews. This paper focuses on findings derived from the qualitative data, triangulated with the survey data. <br><br>Findings: The study raises questions about common assumptions regarding PLC, and shares how Singapore’s unique cultural context mediates and filters western notion of PLC and of shared leadership for PLC. The study suggests that leadership for PLC requires a centralised decentralisation approach, which provides clarity and alignment through strategic direction and supporting structures, while simultaneously enabling the distribution of leadership to teachers. The paper also explicates the tensions that arise due to the need to balance a tight loose approach, and suggests how organisational and inquiry structures can both enable and constrain the distribution of leadership in a PLC setting. <br><br>Implications: Findings from the study has implications for policy makers and leaders in schools who are steering PLC initiatives.
This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in Educational Management Administration & Leadership. The published version is available online at
Distributed leadership, professional learning communities, teacher leaders
Ho, J., Ong, M., & Tan, L. S. (2020). Leadership of professional learning communities in Singapore schools: The tight loose balance. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 48(4), 635-650.