The third wave of school reform in Quebec that started in 2000, emphasized developing student leadership. For a school to become successful, it became mandatory for the administration to build leadership-capacity and developing teacher-leadership in curriculum and professional-development and school governance. \ud Building leadership-capacity and sustaining school improvement are the focus of this thesis. It describes the basic actions that schools should take to build leadership-capacity and investigates the characteristics of a capacity-building head and the ultimate effect of building leadership-capacity on student development. It also suggests that leadership-capacity is context specific and differentiated among schools. Leadership-capacity is defined as ‘broad-based skilful participation in the work of leadership’ (Lambert 1998:5) and a way of understanding sustainable school improvement (Lambert 2006:239) given each school culture and context. \ud Following a review of literature, five key-research questions were formulated, addressed through three interpretive case-studies carried out in three private secondary schools in Montreal, Quebec. The research tried to investigate the process of building leadership-capacity and how it sustains school improvement. The study predominantly used a flexible multiple case-study design, using qualitative methods of data collection. In each school, semi-structured interviews, non-participant observations and document checking were conducted, providing method and data triangulation. \ud Given that this research involves multiple case-studies, data analysis was conducted in two stages: within-case and cross-case analysis (Yin 1994:112). Analysis revealed that building leadership-capacity usually starts by broadly and skilfully involving teachers in leadership activities. Sustainable improvement can be supported by transforming the school into a professional-learning-community where learning and improvement become a habit of mind, daily practiced by teachers and students. Knowing that the ultimate goal of school improvement is to enhance student learning and achievement, this can be achieved when schools develop students to become leaders of their own learning journey. Developing teacher-leadership in a school ultimately reflects on student leadership and learning. In addition to these internal leadership-capacity processes, each school has its unique contextual factors, consequently, capacity-building is “multifaceted” (Fullan 2006), based on developing strategies that are unique to each school given its context, internal leadership-capacity predispositions and culture that ensure sustainable improvement for each particular school. The suggested leadership-capacity model provides a visual display for building leadership-capacity based on the dynamic interaction between internal capacity, culture and external context
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