Research Articles (English)

School Leadership and Professional Autonomy

Author: Brian J. Caldwell (Wales Journal of Education)

  • School Leadership and Professional Autonomy

    Research Articles (English)

    School Leadership and Professional Autonomy



School autonomy remains an elusive term in research, policy and practice as does the role of the leader under its various manifestations. The purpose of this article is to illuminate the issues and describe new perspectives and important breakthroughs that may help manage if not resolve some of the associated tensions. This paper draws on two sets of studies. The first culminated in the International Project to Frame the Transformation of Schools conducted in 2007 in Australia, China, England, Finland, United States and Wales and funded jointly by the Australian Government and Welsh Assembly Government. Findings were reported by Caldwell and Harris (2008). The second was part of the International Study on School Autonomy and Learning, conducted from 2014 to 2017 by teams of researchers from Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong), England, Israel and Singapore. While selected findings are reported here, accounts of developments in the six countries are contained in a special issue of the International Journal of Educational Management (2016). The Australian contribution was supported by funds from the Australian Government and was conducted in two stages (1) 2014 and 2015 (Caldwell, 2016a, 2016b, 2016c) and (2) 2017 (Caldwell, 2018). The article deals with (1) reframing leadership as capital formation; (2) refocusing to emphasise professional autonomy rather than structural autonomy; (3) leadership roles in different national contexts; (4) school leadership, professional autonomy and curriculum; and (5) preparation and professional learning of leaders in high-performing countries.

How to Cite:

Caldwell, B. J., (2018) “School Leadership and Professional Autonomy”, Wales Journal of Education 20(2), 10-34. doi:

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Published on
01 Nov 2018
Peer Reviewed