Dimension: building leadership teams

This dimension is part of the Professional Leadership priority and is identified as​ a high-impact  Improvement Initiative.


School leaders play a critical role in school improvement, including by developing the capabilities of staff in leadership teams to implement and sustain change. Effective school leaders develop structures that support evidence-informed learning. Effective school leadership is measured by the quality of relationships that support achievement, engagement and wellbeing.

The quality, strength and resilience of leadership teams relies on organisational structures which support and enhance shared approaches to leadership tasks. Such collaboration requires time, and, together with data analysis, is essential to sustaining continuous improvement. System leaders play an important role in networks and Communities of Practice to share practice, build capacity and learn from their peers.

Improvement measures

Results from the School Staff Survey, available in Panorama, can be used to measure progress, and as success indicators. Suggested factors include the 'leading change', 'shielding and buffering', 'understand contribution to school improvement' and 'flexibility' factors.

Supporting Resources

FISO Strategic Enablers for Implementation Guide


The Continuum for Building leadership teams describes a range of proficiency levels (Emerging, Evolving, Embedding and Excelling) that assists principals and teachers to identify areas of practice that require attention in order to deliver improved student outcomes.

Component: The leadership team leads school improvement


Leaders have a basic understanding of current school improvement research and use student data to influence the school’s choice of FISO priorities for school improvement. Leaders encourage staff to trial high-impact classroom teaching techniques linked to an emerging model of pedagogy.


Leaders establish a SIT to drive and oversee the implementation of the school’s improvement plans/strategies. The SIT plays a key role in shaping the school’s improvement plans and goals, outlined in the SSP. Leaders provide clear and explicit direction and support for the SIT’s activities, including raising awareness across the school community of its improvement goals and targets, identified in the SSP and AIP. The SIT facilitates discussions on evidence-based school improvement models and how they may help the school with sequencing and managing change.


The SIT has a shared understanding of why and how AIP strategies and actions will be implemented, and how these will support the school’s vision, values and culture. The SIT develops leadership capability among teachers in the implementation and monitoring of PLCs/ PLTs, fostering a culture of improvement across the school. SIT members communicate to the wider school community the school’s vision, values and culture, and the priorities which drive its improvement agenda.


The SIT, PLCs/PLTs, teachers and school council work together to maintain a focus on improvement across the school. The goals of the SSP are linked to the strategies and actions of the AIP. The timetable and meeting schedules prioritise collaboration for improvement across all teams. The SIT establishes a culture of review, responsibility and shared accountability among all staff in ensuring school improvement. The SIT makes decisions based on a shared and strongly held belief that the school, with wider community support, can sustain improvement.

Component: School leadership is shared


The principal identifies teachers to whom they delegate specific leadership tasks or roles. Leaders take account of teacher and leader input and feedback when making decisions. Leaders have different understandings about the school’s priorities. There is scope for leaders’ roles, responsibilities and accountabilities to be strengthened.


Leaders develop processes which enhance the leadership potential of all staff. Leaders establish formal and informal structures to canvass the views of staff when formulating decisions. Leaders understand that collectively, they are responsible for improving student learning and achievement. Leaders acknowledge that all teachers are leaders of learning in classrooms and across the school, and actively provide opportunities for them to demonstrate that leadership.


Leaders collaborate with staff to document and clearly communicate leadership roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, aligned with the school’s priorities. Leaders ensure building leadership capability across the school is affected by opportunities for leadership development, including coaching and mentoring. Leaders review leadership roles to identify ways in which the effectiveness of the leadership team and middle-level leader may be enhanced.


Leaders demonstrate high levels of self-efficacy and collective responsibility for all elements of school improvement and student achievement, engagement and wellbeing. Leaders can rely on one another, are motivated and work harmoniously to provide resilient, shared leadership. Leaders analyse staff perception data and work as a team to understand and address any staff concerns about leadership in the school.

Case studies

To see examples of how schools in Victoria are implementing the FISO dimension: Building leadership teams see: Building leadership teams case studies.

Evidence base

To view the evidence base for the FISO professional leadership priority area see:

Evidence - Professional leadership evidence base


Why should my school focus this improvement initiative?

Elmore (2000) argues that leadership of schools is beyond the capacity of any one person and needs to be 'distributed' to incorporate the contours of expertise within a culture that provides coherence, guidance and direction for teaching, learning and instruction.

How will my school know if we should focus on this improvement initiative?

Consider the following:

  • To what extent does the school community have a clear understanding of the school vision, values and culture and the priorities for driving the school improvement agenda?
  • What level of buy-in do staff have, and are they unified and coherent in the pursuit of the school's agenda?
  • What level of satisfaction do staff report, including through the staff opinion survey, and do they feel they can contribute to goal setting and planning?
  • To what extent do staff work in professional learning teams to share professional learning and align efforts?
  • Does the school have a documented succession plan and focus on building its future leaders?
  • To what extent is the leadership in the school structured around experience and collective efficacy, or is it role-based?
  • Do the leadership roles match the identified priorities of the school?
  • How does the leadership team ensure that decision-making is based on the needs of the students?
What can my school focus on?
  • Reviewing organisational structures and roles to optimise resources for effective team leadership.
  • Developing distributed leadership capacity across the school.
  • Involving all staff in the establishment of the school vision, goals and accountability measures.
  • Establishing professional learning teams.
  • Relentlessly nurturing staff development and empowering emerging leaders to contribute their full potential to school improvement efforts.
Where to next?

If you choose to focus on this Improvement Initiative, the tasks below may assist you to develop actions that your school implements:

  • Build knowledge and capability, share lessons about evidence-based improvement strategies, and use school data to measure impact and forensically identify areas for improvement and monitoring performance.
  • Strengthen succession planning to guarantee a pipeline of next generation leaders.
  • Build knowledge and capability to lead change to enhance school climate and professional learning culture.
  • Develop the capabilities of leading teachers and instructional leaders to strengthen their expertise-proven coaching and feedback methods.
  • Ensure that student voice is given consideration in all aspects of the school
  • Ensure that there is a strong focus on developing and enhancing student leadership programs.

More information

For more information, see: Professional Leadership priority