Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools

From compliance to commitment

By: Bill Lowe


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 168
ISBN : 9781785834349
Format: Paperback
Published: November 2019

In Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools: From compliance to commitment, Bill Lowe sets out for middle leaders the essential elements of a contemporary leadership approach that will help them successfully navigate a rapidly changing educational landscape.

The position of middle leader is one of the most challenging in any workplace. But knowing how to lead a team effectively will ensure that you, as a middle leader, have the greatest possible impact both on your team and on school improvement.

In Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools, Bill expertly combines the latest educational leadership research with anecdotal reports about a wide range of real-life school experiences, giving you the insights to help you establish yourself and strengthen your influence in the role. He shares impactful advice on boosting productivity – both your own and your team's – and offers guidance on how to succeed through people-focused leadership, rather than by using data as a weapon.

Covering a range of issues – from dealing with conflict and difficult conversations to building and maintaining your professional image – this book reveals the 'how' of leadership when applied to the day-to-day demands of the school setting.

Well-established leadership and management ideas are identified, alongside a wealth of powerful strategies that work in the modern education world – but this book also goes beyond that. Importantly, it uses your own experiences of being a leader and being led to illustrate key points so that the theories can be seen in practice.

Furthermore, the act of reflecting on practice and experience is built into this book, providing 'honest reflection' and 'current experience reflection' activities that invite you to consider things that you have seen, been subjected to and experienced first-hand during your time in education. You will also have opportunities to think about how you might have done things differently and how you will approach things in the future.

Suitable for both established and aspiring middle leaders in primary and secondary schools.

Picture for author Bill Lowe

Bill Lowe

Bill Lowe started his working life as a secondary school history and PE teacher, before moving into a primary setting and progressing to headship. From there he went into higher education as a senior lecturer at Newman University, Birmingham, and now works as a leadership and learning consultant and writer ' a role in which his 20 years of leadership experience are put to good use.

Click here to read Bill Lowe’s blog.


  1. In 'Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools', Bill Lowe demonstrates an assured understanding of what makes middle leadership distinctive. Lowe explores both the opportunities and the challenges the role presents, and discusses how to make the most of the former and how to develop strategies to address the latter, including from the perspective of the internally appointed.

    I like the emphasis on effective change management, the practical advice on how to navigate potential resistance from those who may feel threatened, the focus on middle leaders' capacity to make a contribution to system leadership, and the section on preparing to move into senior leadership. Lowe's probing questions and specific examples, scenarios and case studies encourage honest and productive reflection on the part of the reader as they process their learning. He also explores how developing leaders learn from both positive and negative role models, and delves into the importance of the key dispositions of civility, humility, honesty, empathy, fairness and integrity.

    I would have found this book an invaluable guide when I moved into my first middle leadership role, and can recommend it to those currently managing that transition.
  2. The strength of this book lies in the honest reflections that Bill Lowe shares when he draws upon his own experience in middle and senior leadership.

    Covering a range of important topics - from the value of interpersonal skills, to preparation for further promotion and senior leadership - Bill also explores practical details and relevant management theory from the world of education and wider business. He carefully selects some useful insights from recent research and urges the reader to reflect on their own practice in each area.

    Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools will be very useful for middle leaders looking to research leadership further, whilst the references to further reading will also be invaluable to the aspiring MA student of leadership.
  3. Occasionally, one reads a book that can make a profound difference to the success of an individual or organisation. Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools is such a book. It is an enlightening, thought-provoking text that provides a new perspective on this vital area of school leadership and a road map for modern and effective practice. A must-read.
  4. Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools is an extremely inspiring and motivational book which explores fundamental concepts relating to middle leadership and its place in an educational landscape which has transformed dramatically over the years.

    The useful strategies, case study quotes from a range of teachers and Bill's honesty in sharing his personal experiences make this book relatable to all, seamlessly linking the theory of leadership to everyday classroom experience. The use of reflective questions and evaluations also makes the book thought-provoking as well as informative, and it when we reflect on and relate to our own practice that we truly see Bill's intentions in driving effective and committed middle leadership within schools. Furthermore, his suggestions on how to overcome barriers in order to lead change are successful in helping us to explore leadership through the eyes of every teacher.

    Without a doubt, this is a very insightful and enlightening book - and I highly recommend it to all aspiring and practising middle leaders in education.
  5. Bill's book highlights the importance and relevance of the changing nature of middle leadership in schools, effectively guiding the reader through the demands of the role. It encourages established leaders to reflect on and refine their practice, and is both a “bible” for the aspiring middle leader and a useful resource to support school leadership course requirements and projects. 
  6. Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools is a most timely publication: a book that gets to the heart of leadership through a clear and substantiated narrative accessible to all.

    It is an informed and well-written text that helps readers get past the “what” of leadership by succinctly and eloquently exploring the “why”. Bill Lowe draws from his broad professional experience to illustrate key ideas and concepts, whilst constantly reinforcing these with a wide variety of academic references, and shares a wealth of advice and commentary on what constitutes professional practice. He also provides a range of practical activities and accompanying reflections that guide the reader through the fundamental differences between managers and leaders. Importantly, he also covers system leadership - which is so pertinent considering the shifting educational landscape of school leadership with the emergence of alliances and multi-academy trusts.

    Quite simply, Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools is a vital resource for all who aspire to lead and for all who do lead.
  7. Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools delivers a superb lesson in school leadership that puts the spotlight on understanding and developing people. Bill provides established and aspiring middle leaders with a wealth of practical actions to help them expand their skill set, become more confident in their role and address modern challenges in teaching practice.

    The go-to guide for all middle leaders looking to drive positive change within their schools.
  8. Middle Leadership for 21st Century Schools is a well-written, well-referenced book offering great insights for those working in and around the often overlooked but crucial area of middle leadership.

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