Home' Independence : Independence Vol 35 No 1 May 2010 Contents Independence Vol 35 No 1 May 10 31
because a lot of parents are really
taken in by the headline numbers,
are educationally ill-informed and
are emotionally involved. Not even
all education advisors or inspectors
understand the distinction between
achievement and attainment – that what
a child achieves year on year on year is
not the same as the attainment they get
in a single test – so it’s very difficult to
bring parents into such conversations.
Can you share with us some of the
successful strategies adopted by school
leaders to keep their schools future
oriented that you have observed in
What we found in the best schools was
a lack of complacency. There was an
attitude of intellectual challenge and the
idea that the Head is always learning –
an attitude that says, we’re going to see
things a little differently all the time. One
of the things that has impressed me when
I’m in Australia is how much Australians
like to travel abroad and are willing to
learn from a wider context.
The idea of ‘entrepreneurship’ in school
leadership, can you tease that out for us?
In business, entrepreneurship relates to
the idea of people being creative and
Dr Brent Davies is Professor of
International Leadership Development
at the University of Hull, UK and an
Associate Director of the Specialist
Schools and Academies Trust. He is also
a Professorial Fellow at The University
of Melbourne, Visiting Professor at
the Institute of Education (University
of London), Special Professor at
the University of Nottingham and
a Faculty Member of the Centre
on Educational Governance at the
University of Southern California.
His most recent publications (2009)
are a revised second edition of
Essentials of School Leadership
and, co-edited with Mark Bundrett,
Developing Successful Leadership.
Strategic intelligence is like strategic acumen.
It’s about scanning the boundaries and having a
mindset for change improvement.
dynamic to create wealth. In schools,
it’s about doing creative things and
aiming for best practice. For example,
as a Principal, what you might want
to do is develop six really powerful
teams within the school and let them
challenge each other, let them compare
practice. The aim would be to create a
dynamic sort of thunder in the school
rather than having just a few risk takers
challenging things and feeling isolated.
An entrepreneurial leader will want
dynamic teachers who challenge the way
things are done rather than rely on a top-
down directive that simply tells teachers
that they could do something better.
The development of strategic intelligence
amongst school leaders – you regard this
as a ‘multiple intelligence’ in the Howard
Gardner style. What is it, do you think?
And how do you best develop it?
Strategic intelligence is like strategic
acumen. It’s about scanning the
boundaries and having a mindset
for change improvement.
I think the problem for Principals is that
the pressures are so huge. They very often
get ground down by ‘urgent’ and don’t
really have time to stand back and look at
the bigger picture. One of the frameworks
to develop strategic intelligence is
therefore to provide Principals with space
and time to reflect on what they’re doing
and interact with other colleagues and
what they are doing.
Another way to encourage strategic
intelligence is for Principals to sit
down once a month with their senior
team, have a glass of wine and just
talk about what’s happening – where
you think you’re going, and what
are the issues – rather than holding
yet another agenda-driven meeting.
These are strategic conversations.
I don’t think you write a futures plan.
I think what you need to do is have
a futures dialogue to develop a
You note that strategic leaders are
characterised by, among other things,
powerful personal and professional
networks. One of AHISA’s services to its
members is to encourage and support
those networks. Have you observed any
successful strategies that professional
associations might adopt to help leaders
develop their strategic intelligence?
I think you possibly do a very good job.
You have just the right opportunities
and framework for people to
develop the necessary networks.
There’s an advertisement on television
here for a motoring organisation and
it says ‘Well, I can’t fix it, but I know
a man who can’. And it’s almost like
that with Principals – it’s a matter of
being able to say, ‘Well, I really don’t
know what to do about that but I
know somebody who does’. It’s about
getting access to in-time professional
learning that works, from Principals
who’ve got relevant experience.
Professor Davies was interviewed by Garth
Wynne, Headmaster of Christ Church Grammar
School, Perth, WA.
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