Beyond the power of one: redesigning the work of school principals

  • Pat Thomson
  • Jill Blackmore
Research Article


There is mounting international research evidence that the work of school principals is increasingly difficult, time consuming and more unattractive to prospective applicants. We suggest that the solution to this situation lies in redesigning the work that principals do. Using the New London Group’s (1996) definition of design as both process and product and as a hybrid of existing resources, we offer five cases of redesign: distributed pedagogical leadership, co-principalship, shared principalship, multi-campus principalship, and community-based principalship. We argue that these examples show that redesigns that focus on the school, rather than on the work of the principal, have more far-reaching effects, but are also much more vulnerable to context. We propose three emerging principles for redesign viz. developing a strong warrant for redesign, attending to infrastructure and building organic relations between school and community.


Australia Case studies Innovative school leadership Principalship Principles for redesign of school leadership 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Education, School of Social and Cultural StudiesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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