As a school leader, you're probably often on the hunt for books that can provide recommendations and insights regarding wellbeing, leadership advice, and general education information. At Edurio we regularly produce research related to school improvement, staff/pupil wellbeing, EDI and more.

Some excellent books have been published on school improvement recently, so in this post, we've collected 10 must-read books (in no particular order) surrounding school improvement and leadership.

1) No Silver Bullets: Day In, Day Out School Improvement - Paul Ainsworth

If you're looking for a book that gives big impact from small changes, this is definitely your must-read!

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the first book on the list of books on school improvement - "No Silver Bullets: Day In, Day Out School Improvement" by Paul Ainsworth

Written by Paul K Ainsworth, this book looks at the impact small day-to-day changes can have on overall school improvement. Having worked as the Director of School Improvement in 4 trusts and supported over 60 schools, Paul has written out 89 tried and tested strategies for school leaders to learn from and adopt.

2) Putting Staff First - Jonny Uttley and John Tomsett

The pandemic has highlighted the need for staff wellbeing, and this book explores how schools can benefit from putting their staff first. 

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the second book on the list - "Putting Staff First" by Jonny Uttley and John Tomsett 

The authors Jonny Uttley (CEO of The Education Alliance Multi-Academy Trust) and John Tomsett (a teacher for 27 years and a headteacher for 12) challenge the notion that schools should put the student first. Instead, they reflect that putting staff first and concentrating on their workload and wellbeing should be a leader's focus. However, they also remark that pupil achievement and staff wellbeing are not separate notions and present the case that teachers with good wellbeing provide students with better teaching, which is always best. 

3) About Our Schools: Improving on Previous Best - Tim Brighouse and Mick Waters

A great read for anyone looking to learn more about education policy.

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the third book on the list - "About Our Schools: Improving on Previous Best" by Tim Brighouse and Mick Waters

Using interviews with secretaries of state and others from the education sector. The authors take the reader on a journey of how our education system has been shaped since 1976, highlighting key areas for future improvement to enable teachers, support staff, and school leaders alike to continue shaping thriving schools.  

4) The Next Big Thing in School Improvement - by Rebecca Allen, Matthew Evans, and Ben White

Educational fads come and go; this book is for those looking to understand how to deal with a fad when it comes.

Written by Professor Becky Allen (Co-Founder of Teacher Tapp), Ben White (Assistant Headteacher of a secondary school in Kent), and Matthew Evans (Headteacher of a secondary school in Gloucestershire) these authors use their collective expertise to discuss how to tackle school improvement. By exploring trends and themes in school improvement of the past and present, this book helps prepare school leaders to be ready for when 'The Next Big Thing' arrives and use it in a meaningful way.

5) Leading Academy Trusts: Why Some Fail, But Most Don't - Sir David Carter with Laura Mcinerney

This book is for those looking to tackle the bigger questions head-on. 

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the fifth book on the list - "Leading Academy Trusts: Why Some Fail, But Most Don't" by Sir David Carter

In 'Leading Academy Trusts', Sir David Carter shows the reader what it takes to become a successful academy trust leader. Drawing on his 37 years of experience in the education sector, David explores the six critical factors that are vital to school improvement and overall trust success. 

6) The Headteacher's Handbook - Rae Snape

This book is a valuable go-to guide for primary school Headteachers. 

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the sixth book on the list of books on school improvement - "The Headteacher's Handbook" by Rae Snape

Following a 14 year career as a primary school head, Rae Snape offers her reader tips, guidance, and advice on how to negotiate headship while describing the role as a mix of an instructional coach and community leader. The Headteacher's Handbook also features insights from influential voices such as Dr Kulvarn Atwal, Mary Myatt, Remi Atoyebi, Paul Dix, and Christalla Jamil.

7) Being the CEO - Michael Pain

This read is best for individuals and/or trust CEOs who want to understand what skills they may need to hone to improve their leadership skills.

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the seventh book on the list - "Being the CEO" by Michael Pain

In this book, Founder of Forum Strategy Michael Pain, offers his experience as a startup owner to sector leader to shed light on a CEO's most in-demand skills. A role many consider the most influential role in an organisation. Michael focuses on six dimensions he deems are essential for success and growth as a CEO. 

8) Talent Architects: How to Make Your School a Great Place to Work - Mandy Coalter

A book for those looking to tackle teacher workload and improve staff retention, performance and engagement. 

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the eight book on the list - "Talent Architects: How to Make Your School a Great Place to Work" by Mandy Coalter

Mandy Coalter uses her vast HR experience across the education sector to help you create a celebrated workplace. Focusing on four pillars of people leadership, Mandy suggests fresh and practical new ideas and opportunities to strengthen your school and teachers, better equipping them to support their pupils.

9)  Imperfect Leadership: A Book for Leaders Who Know They Don’t Know It All - Steve Munby

Have you ever wondered whether or not a successful leader is born or made? 

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the ninth book on the list - "Imperfect Leadership: A Book for Leaders Who Know They Don’t Know It All" by Steve Munby

In Steve Munby's latest book, the reader is invited to learn from Steve's leadership journey, including the highs, the lows and the trial and error that comes with such a role. Through his lived experience, he explores the argument that good leaders are self-aware of their imperfections. Why? Steve argues that by recognising one's imperfections, a leader is more open to learning how to become a good leader; this includes knowing the importance of asking for help. It's useful to note this work also includes edited highlights of the 12 keynote speeches by Steve delivered to school leaders.

10) The Juggling Act: How to Juggle Leadership and Life - Toby Salt

For those school leaders who're looking to find a balance in their role, The Juggling Act is your new go-to guide.

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An image of a book cover on a purple background. The book in question is also the tenth book on the list of books on school leadership - "The Juggling Act: How to Juggle Leadership and Life" by Toby Salt

As a leader, you're often pulled in various directions at all times, professionally and personally. The Juggling Act provides simple and straightforward advice on managing the different areas of your life without burning yourself out. Professor Toby Salt shares his lived experience with the reader to further explore how he juggled high-level stress-induced roles with a large family, and you can too. 

Evidence-Driven School Improvement E-book by Edurio 

Bonus Resource! This piece is best for those who want to use data to improve their school. 

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In the image, there's a screenshot of the cover of one of Edurio's reports, titled "Evidence-driven school improvement". The cover features a green background with a centered illustration of a group of kids standing in front of a school.

We created this publication to serve as a guide for using non-academic data for school leaders by providing a set of tools for gathering the right data, making evidence actionable, and establishing a culture of collaborative inquiry. You can download your copy of Evidence-Driven School Improvement here.