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Distributed leadership
Teacher leadership
School improvement
School effectiveness
Issue Date: 
Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore
Hairon Salleh, & Goh, J. W. P. (2020). Leadership for collective learning: An effective distributed perspective (Report No. OER 24/14 HS). National Institute of Education (Singapore), Office of Education Research.
Since the turn of the 21st century, the concept of distributed leadership situated within the context of school improvement has risen in importance. This is due to the growing demands on schools from a wide range of stakeholders within education contexts that are increasingly becoming more complex. Educational contexts are increasingly getting complex insofar as the changes accompanying educational reforms are characterized by intensity, rapidity, fluidity and uncertainty. Policymakers and the public are demanding greater public school accountability in the hope of improving academic and non-academic school outcomes, as well as decreasing the achievement gaps (Heck & Moriyama, 2010) through improvements in teaching and learning. It is therefore understandable that contemporary school leaders use up more time and energy in managing increasingly complex relationships, and resort to distributed leadership where leadership decisions are delegated and shared to other staff members beyond the purview of school principals.

In the Singapore context, delegation or sharing of leadership decisions to middle managers such as department heads (HODs) or subject heads (SHs) has been a common place for more than two decades, especially that pertaining to instruction. In this sense, distributed leadership is closely tied to instructional leadership insofar as the former allows instructional leadership practices to be delegated or shared to other staff members beyond school principals or vice-principals. The link between instructional leadership and distributed leadership has been observed (Lieberman & Miller, 2011; Spillane & Louis, 2002; Timperley, 2005). Hence, instructional leadership practices become more dispersed across the school organization, making it more effective to bring about enhancements in teaching and learning. However, over the last decade, leadership decisions pertaining to instruction have been delegated and shared to teacher leaders. This is a result of the growing demands placed on schools so much so that administrative decisions have to be passed on from senior to middle leaders, which result to middle leaders delegating or sharing their decisions on instructional matters to teacher leaders. These teacher leaders include Senior or Lead Teachers (STs and LTs), Subject and Level Reps, and Professional Learning Community Team Leaders – all of which are involved in making leadership decisions on instruction.
Note: Restricted to NIE Staff.
Project number: 
OER 24/14 HS
Grant ID: 
Education Research Funding Programme (ERFP)
Funding Agency: 
Ministry of Education, Singapore
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