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School Leadership in the Twenty-First Century Critical Essay

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Updated: Dec 28th, 2019


This paper is aimed at discussing the article School leadership in the twenty-first century written by Tony Townsend (2011). In particular, it is necessary to summarize the main issues examined by the author. Additionally, one should critique the validity of the ideas expressed by the scholar. This discussion can be useful since it can identify the strategies that can benefit school administrators and teachers.

Overall, this source can be useful because it throws light on the principles that can help school leaders improve the performance of educational organizations. Moreover, this source is beneficial since it highlights the experiences of school leaders in various countries. These are the main aspects that should be analyzed in this paper.


In this article, Tony Townsend (2011) provides a discussion of the new trends in school leadership. In particular, the author focuses on the approaches that have been adopted in various countries such as the United States, Australia or the United Kingdom. He relies on the articles written by other researchers. One of the trends that the author identified is that many schools have become more market-oriented.

This tendency can be observed in many Danish schools (Townsend, 2011, p. 95). These organizations are supposed to compete for resources or talented students. To a great extent, they can be compared to service organizations that struggle to strengthen their position in the market.

Their competition of these organizations with one another can be regarded as the stimulus that contributes to the improvement of education that they can provide to learners (Townsend, 2011, p. 95). This is one of the trends that attract the attention of the author.

Secondly, the scholar points out that many school leaders have become more accountable for the performance (Townsend, 2011). This is why they should pay attention to the collection of data which can be used to evaluate the progress that schools make.

According to Tony Townsend, much attention is paid to the development of accountability systems which can be used to evaluate the efficiency of policies implemented in educational organizations (2011, p. 97). These systems are critical for the effective functioning of schools and other educational organizations. This is one of the issues that the scholar identifies.

Apart from that, the author notes that the successful performance of schools is possible provided that local initiatives are properly implemented (Townsend, 2011, p. 100). It should be noted that local school administrators are more aware of the challengers that educational organizations have to encounter. In contrast, governmental officials may not be familiar with the specific problems that schools need resolve.

This is why many of their decisions can be questioned. Furthermore, it is necessary to empower teachers who have an in-depth understanding of how students can best acquire knowledge and skills. This is one of the key points that can be made. Tony Townsend notes that this trend can be observed in various countries.

This tendency can be described as decentralization of the educational system as well as school leadership. It contributed to the improvement of many educational practices.

Additionally, the author focuses on leadership training. He points out that there are different approaches to this task. As a rule, school leaders are required to undergo mandatory training (Townsend, 2011, p. 98).

Sometimes, they can do it in colleges or universities, but they can also receive leadership training within educational organizations. The main problem is that very often, educators do not have well-developed leadership skills. These are main topics that Tony Townsend examines in his review of other research articles.


One can say that the article can be of great use to educators and teachers who are responsible for improving the experiences of students and their academic achievement. This source can also help readers get a better idea about the peculiarities of leadership in schools.

Moreover, the arguments presented by the author can be of great relevance to governmental officials. In particular, policy-makers should not stifle local initiatives of teachers because these professionals better understand the problems schools have to resolve.

Therefore, Tony Townsend’s argument can be fully accepted. Moreover, it is critical to focus on the accountability of schools. Judging from my own experiences, I can tell that in many cases, school administrators do take any actions even if they see that the academic attainment of students declines. Therefore, such a concept as competition can be relevant to educational organizations.

Apart from that, Tony Townsend’s article indicates that school leaders should consider the strategies adopted in various countries. This approach is important for the development of the most optimal policies. It should be noted that the author does not attempt to make recommendations. Furthermore, he does not claim the trends, discussed in the article, are always beneficial.

More likely, his intention is to identify and overview the most popular approaches to school leadership. Nonetheless, this source can be of value to people working in schools. Although, I have not been in the position of a person, who shapes the policies of schools, Tony Townsend’s articles is of great interest to me. It eloquently demonstrates that the principles of managerial science can be relevant to schools.

However, there are several limitations that should be considered. Tony Townsend (2011) relies only on secondary data that was collected and analyzed by other researchers. Therefore, this research article lacks empirical evidence. Therefore, this source cannot be used to work out the model that describes the best practices in school leadership.

Furthermore, Tony Townsend does not speak about the specific effects that were produced by the strategies adopted in various schools. Therefore, one cannot determine whether they proved to be effective. Moreover, the author does not offer a detailed description of the policies that are used in various schools.

These are the main limitations that should not be overlooked. Therefore, readers should read other scholarly articles to learn more about school leadership. Still, Tony Townsend’s article can be used as a starting point. This is the main benefit of this source.


Nevertheless, some of the strategies described by the author can be adopted by educators and governmental officials. There are several recommendations that can be put forward. First of all, school leaders and governmental officials need concentrate on the collection of information which can throw light on the performance of schools.

They should pay attention to such indicators dropout rates, academic attainment, enrollment, and so forth. In this way, they can understand whether their initiatives are successful or not. Overall, this information is necessary to assess the competitiveness of schools. This is one of the first steps that educators should take.

Apart from that, school administrators should closely cooperate with one another. They should share information regarding the strategies that they implement in their organizations. This approach can help them improve the quality of education that they offer to students.

This approach has become popular in various countries, but in many cases, governmental officials simply impose their regulations on schools without considering the specific environment of schools. This is the main obstacles that should be overcome since it makes schools less responsive to the needs of students and parents. This is one of the main recommendations that can be proposed.

Additionally, much attention should be paid to the empowerment of teachers whose opinions can often be overlooked. The development of policies should be based on the bottom-up principles which have been implemented in the most efficient organizations.

This means that the initiatives and suggestions offered by teachers should be used as a guide by policy-makers. Finally, it is vital to develop school leadership programs. Their main goal is to show the principles of school leadership should be applied. These are the main issues that should be singled out.


Overall, the issues described by Tony Townsend can be relevant to many people who work in educational institutions. Among them one can distinguish teachers, school administrators, and policy-makers. The author illustrates the strategies adopted by school leaders in various countries.

This article does not include empirical evidence that can be used to develop a model of best practices. Nevertheless, this source can show how school leadership can be improved. This is why it should not be disregarded by teachers and students.

Reference List

Townsend, T. (2011). School leadership in the twenty-first century: different approaches to common problems? School Leadership & Management, 31(2), 93-103.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "School Leadership in the Twenty-First Century." December 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/school-leadership-in-the-twenty-first-century/.


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