System Leadership

System Leadership

The environment in which public service leaders operate has been – and is still – changing rapidly, presenting extraordinary and unprecedented challenges and opportunities for leaders. ‘System Leadership’ evolves constantly!

What is it?

System Leadership is schools taking collective responsibility for their own improvement in a collaborative way. It is fundamental to the development of school leadership and the effective enhancement of school leaders.

Why is it important?

System Leadership is central to the overall vision of a self-improving school system where schools, federations, clusters of schools, Borough Partners, Teaching School Alliances, academies, multi-academy trusts and chains take collective responsibility for leading, co-ordinating and delivering sustainable improvement.

Who does it?

System leaders are the people who work with schools outside their own; contributing to the development of leadership and other leaders. They work within and beyond their individual organisations; sharing and harnessing the best resources that the system can offer to bring about improvement in their own and other organisations; influencing thinking, policy and practice; representing and communicating best practice in school leadership so as to have a positive impact on the lives and life chances of all children and young people.


Members of eCAPH are all 'system leaders' as their membership involvement engages them in the process of leadership beyond their school.


There are two aspects to the work; formal and informal.

‘Formal’ System Leadership is frequently grant funded and both organised and quality assured by the Teaching School Alliances. Infrequently, System Leader input may be commissioned by another provider e.g. Cheshire East Council. Nationally accredited (Formal) System Leadership roles include:
• Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs)- many levels of leadership within education
• Local Leaders of Education (LLEs)- a numerically reducing group trained in the past via the National College
• National Leaders of Education (NLEs)- Headteachers
• National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) – Governors
• National Teaching Schools/Teaching School Alliances (NTSs/TSAs)

‘Informal’ System Leadership is schools agreeing and negotiating with each other on ways to provide support and challenge to create further school improvement.

eCAPH forms the link-pin for system leadership across Cheshire East. It's Exec board is made up of representatives of the 15 local clusters of schools.

System Leadership roles
There is a common misconception that gaining a formal national accreditation is the only credible and acceptable way of collaborating to secure school improvement. There are, of course, many other local system leader roles which play a vital part in promoting and providing school to school support in Cheshire. They include specific designations and collaborative enterprises to facilitate strong partnerships to expand capacity for system leadership.