School improvement requires leadership dedicated to teaching and learning that goes beyond a single school leader to leaders across multiple positions and levels of influence who work together to advance student learning (Harris, 2004). Researchers have concluded that senior leaders, such as principals, can and do influence learning
indirectly by creating cultures of high performance and mediate the conditions for teachers to positively influence student learning (Leithwood et al., 2020). Research into another form of leadership, middle leadership, has found that with support from principals (De Nobile, 2017; Lipscombe, et al., 2021), middle leaders have the potential to directly impact teaching and learning (Bassett,
2016; Bryant, 2019; Gurr, 2019) by leading from the classroom (Grootenboer, 2018) and collaborating with teachers (Lipscombe, et al., 2019). Conversely, while senior leaders can make a moderate impact on school teaching and learning (Leithwood, et al., 2020), it is teachers who most directly influence student learning (Hattie, 2003).
It seems pertinent, therefore, to consider how senior leaders, middle leaders and teachers can best work together to positively impact student learning.
This paper discusses middle leadership as a significant form of school leadership and explores how middle leaders can work in partnership with senior leaders and teachers as key brokers in school improvement when certain conditions such as positionality, role clarity, trust and collaboration are afforded.