Leadership Dialogues II

Leadership in times of change

By: Dave Harris , John West-Burnham


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 216
ISBN : 9781785832567
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2018

Following on from their bestselling title Leadership Dialogues, Dave Harris and John West-Burnham's Leadership Dialogues II: Leadership in times of change examines eight more themes crucial to the effective education of our young people in schools.

We are living in times in which school leaders are looking for both simple answers and detailed instructions to help them progress to their goals. But in a period of rapid change, like the one we are in now (at least for the foreseeable future), there is no step-by-step guide, there is no instruction manual – only strong tools to support leadership teams on their journey.

Leadership Dialogues II is not a book containing all the answers; rather it is a book containing many of the questions that will help school leaders work with their colleagues to find the answers for their own schools within the communities in which they work. Harris and West-Burnham believe that the best people to interrogate the problems and find the answers are those people working in, leading and governing these schools every day, and so they have compiled this helpful resource to promote more constructive dialogue and debate – which will result in the generation of feasible solutions specific to their own schools.

Each of the eight themes in Leadership Dialogues II is of contemporary relevance to 21st century education and is split into five sections, each containing an outline on why this is an important topic, some key quotes to engage your thinking, a 10-minute discussion to provoke debate, some questions for your team to consider and – to help frame the dialogue's outcomes – downloadable, printable resources for each section. The resources are often in tabular form and relate to the material, which means they can be used with little extra preparation, and are all available for download in PDF and Word formats for ease of circulation. The only thing you have to do is think, discuss and then act.

The eight themes explored are:

  • Securing equity and engagement
  • Clarifying the purpose of education
  • Middle leadership – the engine room of the school
  • Managing resources
  • Learning and technology
  • Education beyond the school
  • Alternative staffing models
  • Developing evidence based practice 

 Suitable for school leadership teams in any setting.

Picture for author Dave Harris

Dave Harris

Dave Harris has worked for over 20 years in school leadership, including 12 years as a school principal across both primary and secondary phases. During this time, he has developed a reputation for innovative thinking and practice, which he is now sharing with school leaders across the world. He is a sought-after speaker and writer and is also Business Director of Independent Thinking.

Read Dave's feature on page 26 of Leadership Focus Magazine - March 2013.

Picture for author John West-Burnham

John West-Burnham

John West-Burnham was an independent writer, teacher and consultant in education leadership. He is the author, co-author and editor of many books including Rethinking Educational Leadership and Understanding Leadership. He was a director of three academy trusts and a trustee of two educational charities, as well as an Honorary Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Worcester.


  1. “I would be lying if I said that my bedside table was stacked with the latest educational must-reads.

    In fact, I try to approach my reading habits with some notion of work-life balance. Thus, I am not ashamed to say that there is always room for a bit of low-brow Jack Reacher in my life.

    While it may be a bit of a reach to compare a book on education with the rippling masculinity of Lee Child's muscle-bound hero, Leadership dialogues II is nonetheless his equal in terms of its lean, incisive efficiency to grapple with complex problems.

    This is a nifty little book that fits easily into my busy life: I can pick it up and put it down, and I can start at different points and flit back and forth as my fancy takes me. Critically, for a relatively small investment of time, the returns can be huge.

    This is not a one-size-fits-all book that tells me what to do. This is a very practical work that helps me work with my team to fathom actionable responses to key issues in our context. It is a thinking book that sparks values-led discussion and decision making in devising innovative approaches to stubborn issues in an ever-changing educational landscape.

    Leadership dialogues II helps us to wrestle with eight contemporary themes such as middle leadership, staffing models and evidence-based practice, which are each subdivided into five sections.

    Offering a neatly packaged club sandwich of ideas, research and questions for debate, it saves time by acting like a supercharged executive summary that would otherwise have taken some poor soul hours to pull together.

    Rather like Reacher himself, this is a book focused on action rather than words. Granted, we may not be beating up the bad guys, but the discussion generated can be equally as satisfying, especially when you have that breakthrough, light-bulb, penny-dropping “oh yeah!” moment that triggers real context-based action that improves the life chances of our kids.

    This book is very quick to engage with; as the authors themselves assert, it is a case of “think, discuss, act”. The resources contained within it, and those which can be handily downloaded in either PDF or Word format, offer further frameworks for discussion, debate and action. It is also a book about action and integrity.

    As Harris and West-Burnham state, “the best people to interrogate the problems and find the answers are those people working in, leading and governing these schools every day”.

    At Thistley Hough we have debated long into the night on the thorny issue of equality for all our students. Infuriatingly, and despite all that we do, we still have some where we fall wide of the mark.

    At an SLT meeting a couple of weeks ago we tackled this book's chapter on “securing equity and engagement” to focus our discussion. Team members were guided by the section discussion, and the key questions gave us more momentum and direction than before. The downloaded resources then helped shape our next steps.

    We all then left with some homework of our own to report back in a couple of weeks. For those of us who are time poor, this was a very efficient way to plan a fruitful session. Rather than drifting in the darkness, we quickly found ourselves in the well-lit streets of new thinking. We're not done yet, but I am hopeful that the denouement will be spectacular.

    While Leadership dialogues II may not make you go weak at the knees, it definitely has moral purpose at its heart.

    Suitable for any educational setting, I imagine that most leaders will find a fair few things to gnaw on. Fair enough, I didn't take fully to all the downloadable resources, but I am left feeling empowered that I too can fight the unwinnable and come out on top.

    In my mind, anything that inspires creative thought in the fight to secure social mobility is worth a go.”

    Click here to read the review on Schools Weeks' website.
  2. Education is a continuously evolving profession that requires leaders to be up to date with the changing environment to fully equip their students for their futures and help them achieve their aspirations and goals in their educational and social lives.

    There are many changes to teaching on a weekly basis and new areas of focus are introduced, especially to aid their students to become happy and successful learners and global citizens. I work in an Academy whose main vision is to help the young people to climb the mountain to university and encourage open dialogue between all levels of the management structure.

    Teaching in affluent areas or not the same issues arise that need to be addressed at the start of a student's educational experience and continued throughout all the years that they are at school.

    Leaders have to work through many permutations to engage as leaders. Relationships with leaders is the only way to allow professional growth and improvement for all people involved.

    This book is the second of two looking at the dialogues that need to happen in leadership at educational establishments.

    -˜Leadership Dialogues II: Leadership In Times Of Change' offers many sections on current relevant issues that should be addressed by all leaders in education beginning with the education of vulnerable and disadvantaged children a regular item in the media at the moment. Each section of the book has key quotes related to research and findings and provides clear guidance on the ways to have the discussions with leaders on this topic. This also is supported by electronic downloads that are available to access online and show a format of having to analyse and evaluate your own place of work in relation to the topics discussed in the chapter. This allows all leaders to meet on the same level to discuss and open a dialogue on important aspects of their school and look towards the future with help to achieve their vision.

    Many other areas of a school are introduced such as cross-curricular communication and its importance to supporting the vision of the school and encourages the meeting of subjects and leaders to discuss best practice and how they can move towards their department and overall goals in the long term.

    I especially liked the regular references to the importance of middle leaders and their essential input and support for the whole school's future. As work-life balance is particularly important the section addressing this is enlightening and extremely helpful given the current Ofsted announcement in the press.

    There are many sections in the book looking into the effects of the outside environment on the success for learners and this is also a current discussion that has been made in the public eye recently and again comes with the necessary tools to evaluate a schools impact on the communities and how to open a dialogue with them to help disengaged parents and learners.

    This book stands out as it addresses many current education topics that are being discussed a great length in all areas of the UK including the government and many schools at the moment. The various key quotes from research that are included in each part of the book illuminate the discussion within. The templates and proformas to help with leadership discussions are imperative to help leaders open their dialogues especially in areas that they are not familiar.

    As a leader in a fast-paced academy, this is an enlightening journey through up to date relevant discussion on leadership and should be an essential tool to encourage open dialogue between all members of staff in education and not just those in senior leadership positions.

    It has encouraged me to not only re-evaluate my department but also the input I receive from other subjects and parents to help my subject become part of the one vision for education and the future of those within the system.

    This is a no-brainer for any school CPD library or aspirant leaders/teacher's bookshelf.

    Click here to read the full review online.
  3. Whatever you have planned by way of leadership team meetings and whole school CPD this year, cancel it and work your way through this resource, packed full of the very best in school improvement wisdom.

    At a time when school leadership is pressurised into consisting of leading a school to a decent set of exam results and an inspection that keeps -˜them' off your back for a few more years, Leadership Dialogues II puts the heart, the soul, the integrity and the moral purpose back into its core. And in an environment in which we are told increasingly, and loudly, that education should be -˜like this', here is a book that is about asking questions, not giving off-the-shelf solutions. It dares school leaders to tread a different path - one of inclusion, social equity and success for all students. Two of the leading proponents of school leadership combine common sense, wisdom and research based practice to great effect in imbuing school leaders with the tools, knowledge and bravery to be the leaders that any education system truly deserves.

    Practical and inspirational in equal measure, Leadership Dialogues II is a book that all school leaders should hold close as they seek to answer the many questions it poses and to lead their schools in a way the world dearly needs now more than ever.
  4. Leadership Dialogues II has the moral imperative of education at its heart: to create happy, confident and successful learners. School leaders reading this book will be encouraged to focus on the key questions they have about their own settings and to then take action based on a holistic view of learning and learners, collective responsibility and shared mental models. Educational wisdom, insightful dialogue and challenge are balanced with simple yet extremely powerful reflective tools. 

    Leadership Dialogues II is a flexible resource that will galvanise leadership of positive change in schools based upon the current and future learning needs of children and young people. 
  5. From cover to cover Leadership Dialogues II provides a rich array of highly engaging themes as well as practical tools; yet it serves no straight answers. It is a gem of a read, a book many school leaders have always hoped someone would write just for them in order to boost their leadership capacity, help explore sensitive topics through asking relevant questions, back them up when empowering staff and stakeholders to generate optimum solutions for students, schools and communities, and provide a shot of inspiration to build a society centred around improved well-being.

    Dave Harris and John West-Burnham have once again managed to write a vade mecum for every school leader.
  6. Our leadership teams have never needed more training in their roles as they do now during these challenging times. At Escuelas Católicas de Madrid, we strongly believe that our school leaders have realised the importance of their mission and that new challenges demand new approaches. And as the original Leadership Dialogues has proven to be such a powerful tool for leaders, I believe Leadership Dialogues II will be another important step in the process of developing and improving their skills.

    Harris and West-Burnham offer a serious reflection on leadership with very interesting resources which enable the reflourishing of previous thinking on the topic, and they expertly tackle a wide variety of key points - from the importance of useful meetings to the real purpose of education - from the most particular points up to the most general and crucial ones.

    It is very difficult to find specific and practical books on the subject of school leadership, so we have to be grateful for a title which fills this gap. We are excited to offer Leadership Dialogues II to our leaders in supporting their mission to build the schools we need and that our pupils deserve.
  7. Leadership Dialogues was always my -˜go to' book when planning for more strategic work towards school improvement. As a head teacher it often gave me initial ideas and impetus that I could then apply within the context of our own school. This follow-up picks up from where the first left off, adding sections on topics such as purpose, engagement and developing evidence based practice.

    On the surface, some of the chapters are perennial favourites when it comes to educational thinking; however, the difference with this is the fresh perspectives and divergent thinking it provides. I particularly like the continuing theme of doing things differently - which other educational book would give you the idea of looking at your school as if it were a car, as Harris and West-Burnham have?

    Essential reading for those of us lucky enough to be leading education.
  8. Today's schools are frantic, chaotic places besieged by a constant external bombardment of initiatives and political requirements. Given this environment, how do school leadership teams ensure that they are performing optimally and are up to the challenges ahead? Where does affordable, high quality leadership development come from in this environment? Once again, Harris and West-Burnham - like Batman and Robin - come to the rescue.

    In the same way that the original Leadership Dialogues became an indispensable manual for reviewing the fundamental aspects of school leadership, Leadership Dialogues II takes leadership teams on similar journeys into deeper and currently relevant areas for review; from securing equity and engagement to analysing the use of research in education, via a debate on the purpose of education. The book follows the same model as the original - the establishment of context, the exploration of research and current thinking, and a follow-up of key questions and linked additional resources - and such is the quality and depth of content and the ease of reading, leadership development is unavoidable. Don't expect that this book will give you all the answers, however - it won't. What it will do is stimulate and structure thinking, and challenge leadership teams to find the answers from within their own schools. This book is the catalyst, not the solution.

    Leadership Dialogues II will, like Leadership Dialogues, become an essential leadership tool, racing to the rescue when leaders seek to further improve their schools. You can put away the bat signal, Leadership Dialogues II is here.
  9. In today's ever-changing world of education, we require two distinct varieties of leadership guides. On the one hand we require books that identify the best current practices, which we can then apply to our context; of equal value, and scarcer in number, are those which frame the debates that we must have in our schools and academy trusts in order to build our leadership teams.

    To address today's issues, and those beyond the horizon, we need support in finding solutions, and these are best constructed through well-formed dialogue - which begins by interrogating good practice before moving on to building consensus. This is the distinct aim of Dave Harris and John West-Burnham's Leadership Dialogues II.

    So whether you are looking at challenges as diverse as developing middle leadership, considering alternative staffing models or raising the achievement of disadvantaged pupils, this book will provide evidence and research to consider, questions to help form discussions and, finally, guidance to help you act to make your school or trust as effective as possible.
  10. Relevant, practical and packed full of great resources, Leadership Dialogues II is essential reading for leaders at all levels in schools. It offers both theory and practice, which is great for busy leaders, and provides a really good platform for reflection, thinking and dialogue. The authors really understand the complexities of leadership, and inspire possible solutions and ways forward in a thoughtful but practical way. I highly recommend this book. 
  11. Asking some of the biggest questions of our time, the hugely influential and respected Dave Harris and Professor John West-Burnham provide an external perspective and a range of support materials to aid schools' internal constructive dialogues and decision making. Their think pieces and diagnostic review tools aim to help school leaders make value led, deep rooted, wise decisions for the pupils and staff they lead.

    Far ranging and simply brilliant, Leadership Dialogues II is a -˜group reader' that all those working in schools should use and engage with.

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