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Leading School Leadership Development | 学校管理職のリーダーシップ形成

Editorial introduction:

I am so delighted to be able to publish this blog, in Japanese and English! Thank you to Midori and her team for sharing their research into leadership development. What is clear from this blog is that the system and conditions within which headteachers are operating has such an impact on their ability to exercise leadership. I’m heartened to see this research emphasising the importance of resources, including human resources, for headteachers to operate effectively. I wonder how much resonance there is with current thinking about system leadership here in England, for example? It’s encouraging to read that Midori and her team have received further funding to start creating a working model, and I’m particularly intrigued to hear more about the role of social networks. Maybe we’ll get an update from Midori some time in the future?

If you’ve enjoyed reading this #BELMASblog then please leave a comment on Twitter and share in your networks.

– Suzanne

Leading School Leadership Development

Midori Ueda

For some years now, in many countries including Japan, the need of school education to undergo profound reforms in order to ensure that all children will be able to fulfil their potentials in this fast-changing world has been felt by scholars and practitioners alike. Almost any area of school education will benefit from such reforms but we believe re-examining the role of school leaders and policies for effective leadership development are two of the top priorities. Wide-ranging research on these issues is being undertaken in many countries including Japan. One such example is the research funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS[1])and led by Prof. Horohumi Hamada of Tsukuba University. The research team consists of 20 Japanese researchers and six associate researchers from China, Korea, Unites States, and United Kingdom.

Studies on school leadership can tend to take a ‘Personal Approach’, that is to say the research focuses on headteachers’ personal perceptions of professionalism in relation to their position and how to improve their skills. However, we – the JSPS research team – believe that in order for headteachers to excel in their roles, the system in which they work must be able to respond to their needs and aspirations. On this basis, for the JSPS study, we have chosen a ‘System Approach’ and examined in detail headteachers’ job descriptions and work environment. The subjects included in job descriptions are: qualifications; training; selection process; assessment; tenure; and remit. The subjects in work environment are: decision-making systems within school; professional associations; and links with academic organisations. By working with a wide range of practitioners and scholars in the field, we aim to gain better understanding of how existing systems promote or hinder school leaders’ achievement. As the result of the study, we hope to be able to propose a vision of effective leadership development schemes in Japan.

We have asked two questions in this study:

  • What will systems and organisations look like if they are to enable and encourage headteachers to work effectively?
  •  In what way can such systems and organisations be realised in Japan?

These questions are considered in two parts: first is an international comparison; and second, the focus is on Japan.

For the international comparison, we selected United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Russia, and Kazakhstan. Each country has its own standards and regulations of training and qualifications in regards to headteachers and their work. We looked at the ‘journeys’ through which school leaders in these countries arrived at their current positions.

The issues we examined in this part are:

  •  Training and qualifications required for becoming a headteacher.
  •  Professional code of conduct and the legal systems by which headteachers’ autonomy is safeguarded.
  •  What training and personal development courses – which are often jointly run by universities and schools – are currently available?
  •  What knowledge and experience did headteachers gain at each point of their ‘journeys’ through the system?

We analysed relevant policies from the target countries, a number of existing studies in the related field as well as the results of the questionnaire.

In the second part, which focused on Japan, our starting point was to review what systems and organisations were currently in place in regards to state school headteachers’ qualifications and their practice. Questionnaires were sent to headteachers, deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers, and teachers in their mid-career in state schools nationwide. The returned replies indicated that for headteachers to exercise leadership effectively, it is vital that they have a thorough understanding of the system within which their schools operate and the nature of problems their schools experience. We found that headteachers’ ability to make use of external resources available is one of the critical qualities of effective leadership.

On the basis of these findings, we interviewed 17 newly-appointed headteachers using a semi-structured interview method. One of the salient points we identified was the importance of support systems and their availability. The interview results showed that a well-organised network of information sources and human resources is one of the decisive factors if school leaders were to develop their professional competence and become effective leaders (H. Hamada et al, 2020; H. Hamada et al, 2021; M. Asakura et al, 2021).

Whilst this study was due to be completed by the end of March 2022, our next step will be to construct a working model for new and more effective leadership development programs. And we have been granted a new fund by ISPS for our research. We are now able to further our research into school leadership development and will be focusing on the role of dedicated social networks.





  • 校長のリーダーシップ発揮を促進する制度的・組織的な条件は何か?
  • 日本でそれを構築するにはどのような改革が必要か?









  • 浜田他(2020)「校長のリーダーシップ発揮を促進する制度的・組織的条件の解明と日本の改革デザイン(1)―スクールリーダーの職務環境・職務状況に関する基礎的分析―」『筑波大学教育学系論集』第45 巻1 号。
  • 朝倉他(2021)「校長のリーダーシップ発揮を促進する制度的・組織的条件の解明と日本の改革デザイン(2)―校長のリーダーシップ実践とその関連要因に関する基礎的分析―」『筑波大学教育学系論集』第46 巻1 号
  • 浜田他(2021)「校長のリーダーシップ発揮を促進する制度的・組織的条件の解明と日本の改革デザイン(3)―初任期小学校校長インタビュー調査の分析―」『筑波大学教育学系論集』第45巻2 号 。



Midori Ueda is a Senior Researcher in the Department for Educational Policy and Evaluation Research at the National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER). Her latest research includes ‘Understanding Issues in Workload Reform in Public Education Services and Schools’ (project research of NIER, 2022-2024), ‘Understanding Issues in Making and Implementing Evidence-based Education Policies’ (project research of NIER, 2019-2021), and ‘Japanese-English Comparative Study on Role Function and Professional Growth of School Office Staff’ (JSPS Research (C), research No: 21K02243).


H. Hamada, et al, (2020), Clarifying Institutional and Organizational Conditions Promoting Principals’ Quality Leadership and Reform Design for Japan (1): An Initial Analysis of Work Environment and Culture, Bulletin of Institute of Education, University of Tsukuba, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp.43-68M. Asakura, et al. (2021), Clarifying Institutional and Organizational Conditions Promoting School.

Principals’ Quality Leadership and Reform Design for Japan (2): A Basic Analysis on Principals’ Leadership Practice and Related Factors Supporting the Leadership, Bulletin of Institute of Education, University of Tsukuba, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp. 17-34.

H. Hamada, et al, (2021) Clarifying Institutional and Organizational Conditions Promoting Principals’ Quality Leadership and Reform Design for Japan (3): An Analysis of an Interview Survey with Beginning Elementary School Principals, Bulletin of Institute of Education, University of Tsukuba, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp.1-20.

Midori Ueda, Senior Researcher at NIER of Japan, and the member of JSPS research team, in charge of the international comparison part and conducted a survey in England.