Leadership for learning in China: The political and policy context

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


This chapter aims to map the political and policy context that shapes how school leaders lead for student learning in Mainland China. Over the last decade the central government in China has moved to deemphasize the all-consuming “High Exam” focus; the Exam tends to equate student learning with excellent results on standardized examinations. Despite clearly articulated reform intentions, school principals in China find themselves in “messy” situations as they try to translate these intentions into the reality of their schools. There is tremendous pressure on principals from all directions to produce outstanding student exam performance. Based on a study conducted in Shanghai with a group of senior secondary school principals, the chapter argues that a considerable gap exists between policy intent and policy effect. Principals’ work lives are fraught with tension as they attempt to address the demands the reforms impose on what and how students should learn. The chapter concludes with some of the implications for Chinese leaders which accompany these tensions. Copyright © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational handbook of leadership for learning
Place of PublicationDordrecht, The Netherlands
ISBN (Print)9789400713499, 9789400713505
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Qian, H. Y., & Walker, A. (2011). Leadership for learning in China: The political and policy context. In T. Townsend, & J. E. C. MacBeath (Eds.), International handbook of leadership for learning (pp. 209-225). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.


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