School Leadership Identification Framework Literature Review

This paper by the School Leadership Institute (SLI) is a comprehensive review of the available literature covering the subject of teacher leader identification and development.

Review summary

This paper published in September 2020 by the School Leadership Institute (SLI) is a comprehensive review of the available literature covering the subject of teacher leader identification and development.

The review was carried out in support of the School Leadership Identification Framework (SLIF). The SLIF is a framework focused on the identification and development of teacher leaders – to enhance their leadership impact and support those aspiring to formal leadership positions.

The literature review focused on 3 key questions:

  1. What does current research say about teacher leadership identification and development?
  2. What are the gaps in teacher leader identification, development and delivery?
  3. How will the School Leadership Identification Framework (SLIF) address these gaps?

The review concluded that education systems need to identify and develop teacher leaders because of their significant impact on student and teacher learning.

Teacher leaders

Teacher leaders are classroom teachers whose sphere of influence extends beyond their own classroom, and who engage is leadership both within and outside the teaching and learning space. They do not necessarily hold formal school leadership positions but display leadership capabilities. They play an important role in school improvement, collaborating with colleagues and contributing to higher standards of achievement.

The research review found that identifying, developing and supporting teacher leaders is crucial to achieving our goal of lifting student outcomes and making the NSW public education system one of the best in the world.

Supporting teacher leaders will help:

  • improve teacher retention rates in our schools, encouraging high quality and effective teachers to remain in the profession
  • encourage collaborative classrooms and positive school cultures
  • build teacher capacity across the public education system by sharing expertise and knowledge within and across schools.

How can teacher leaders be supported?

The review confirmed that teacher leaders can be supported by tailored development opportunities that offer ongoing learning and feedback. Many teacher leaders will move into formal school leadership positions as they progress in their career and the right development opportunities will help this progression.

The SLIF is an important tool in identifying and supporting teachers with the capability to take on leadership roles. It features:

  • an evidence-informed process of teacher leader identification
  • suggested pathways for the development of teacher leaders through professional learning and feedback
  • best practice mentoring guidelines.

Download the SLIF Literature Review

Further reading

Visit the SLI's Leadership Resources pages (available to staff only) to find out more about the leadership development programs we offer for current and aspiring leaders in NSW public schools.

More information

For more information, contact the School Leadership Institute at


  • Teaching and learning


  • Principals and school leaders
  • School Leadership Institute
  • Teaching and learning
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