Edit text…

International School System Leadership Certificate Program (ISSL) for Organizations

A Globally-Recognized Leadership Certificate for all Leaders of Educational Systems – Directors, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Program Leaders, Elected Officials and Ministry Personnel

How the ISSL Certificate will help?

As a system leader, you place a high value on professional development that assists you in responding to pressing issues and emerging challenges. The new learning must become a powerful springboard to great ideas and helpful solutions that can be applied immediately to your context. That’s where we can help!

Our program has been delivered onsite in Scotland, Sweden, St. Vincent the Grenadines, and Norway. We are currently delivering the program to a highly-engaged group of system leaders from Brunei. Read about our work! 

Program Description

The International School System Leadership Certificate is issued after completion of Modules 1-6.

Module 1: Leadership for System Improvement

  • How is understanding your WHY critical to creating the system WHY?
  • What does current leadership research reveal about ways effective system leaders approach post-pandemic teaching and learning? How to apply it in your system?
  • Why is Fullan & Kirtman’s research on key competencies for system change so potent and relevant today?
  • What, specifically, are your leadership strengths and areas for growth?
  • How is a meaningful system-level leadership framework, collectively created to reflect international literature, able to improve your leadership practices?
More Information

In this module participants will

  • explore the importance of leaders starting with why
  • examine attributes of effective system leaders for post-pandemic teaching and learning using international leadership frameworks
  • examine the leadership research of Ken Leithwood, Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves, Lyn Sharratt, Avis Glaze, John Hattie, Simon Breakspear and Karen Edge
  • explore Fullan & Kirtman’s research on the key competencies for system change
  • examine the leadership practices and personal competencies of effective system leaders as identified by international research
  • utilize a self-assessment tool for personal reflection on leadership strengths and areas for growth
  • understand the system-level leadership required to support your schools and
  • apply new knowledge to develop a draft system-level leadership framework by reflecting on the discussed literature and shared frameworks.

Module 2: Effective School Systems

  • How is your system performing? How do you know?
  • What does current effective systems research reveal to help improve your personal leadership and system performance?
  • What has the pandemic taught system leaders about addressing systemic challenges and leading in the future?
  • How can your school ‘system’ be mobilized to build intercultural competencies, global citizenship skills, learning organizations and all-around better outcomes and performance?
More Information

In this module participants will

  • review and examine the effective school research from McKinsey & Company, Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Washington State University, Larry Lezotte and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • examine the characteristics of high performing systems according to OECD, McKinsey & Co and international research sources
  • understand the synergy between school and system leadership
  • identify and assess school and system conditions that build intercultural competencies and global citizenship skills
  • understand characteristics of effective learning organizations based on the research of Peter Senge and OECD
  • review key actions of leaders of high performing school and systems that set them apart from others and
  • collectively apply new knowledge to develop a draft system effectiveness framework.

Module 3: Capacity Building Practices

  • How does your system build capacity? How effective is your system? How do you know?
  • What are we learning from effective systems using emotional intelligence (EQ) and cultural intelligence (CQ) to create inclusive systems that maximize school performance?
  • Which personal leadership attributes are most helpful to practicing system leaders today?
  • Why is building lateral capacity, within schools, across systems, and between systems, a key improvement strategy? What can you begin to do differently to build the capacity?
  • How will an understanding of leadership conversations build capacity?
More Information

In this module participants will

  • explore emotional intelligence (EQ) and cultural intelligence (CQ) and identify strategies that maximize performance when interacting with leaders, teachers, students and parents in diverse school communities
  • examine the personal leadership attributes that system leaders draw upon to enact effective leadership practices in national and international schools
  • understand the importance of building relational trust in building a learning community through authentic leadership
  • probe the types and dialogue associated with leadership conversations
  • understand the impact of a collaborative learning community (CLC,) and networked learning communities (NLC) as structures that build lateral capacity with other schools and systems
  • explore appreciative leadership strategies that build professional capital and develop others
  • identify how to develop instructional, social emotional and intercultural school capacity with  school leaders and
  • collectively apply this new knowledge to an analysis of current system-level practices.

Module 4: Data Use and Planning Practices

  • How is data informing decision making in your system? Are you gathering the right data?  How do you know? What additional data is required?
  • Are your school and system leaders working hard and not yet seeing the improvements desired?
  • What are the required system-level conditions that will help you build a high-performing, data informed culture?
  • How are effective school systems organizing, implementing, and evaluating improvement plans? What might you do differently to ensure improvement?
  • What are some recommended strategies for system-level communications to inform your decision-making and processes for monitoring and evaluating school improvement?
More Information

In this module participants will

  • examine characteristics of a collaborative school system culture in which leaders share responsibility for student learning and school improvement based on student needs and school/ system priorities
  • explore system level conditions- goal setting, collaboration, capacity building and infrastructure that build a data informed culture
  • understand the importance of collecting, analyzing and triangulating multiple types of data: student achievement, demographic, intercultural, program, perceptual data and system data, within and across schools
  • understand how to work with school leaders using a variety of data to inform decision making, influence the direction in school improvement planning and lead ongoing monitoring and evaluation of school improvement plan
  • explore the use of data conversations and observations in leading improvement
  • examine dialogue structures to engage school leaders in the cyclical review of school data and the school’s improvement plan
  • understand the importance and challenges of data in building coherence and
  • collectively apply this additional new knowledge to analysis of the current system-level practices.

Module 5: Instructional Practices

  • How effective are instructional practices in your schools? How do you know?
  • How are you creating the conditions and supporting instructional leadership in your schools?   How might instructional leadership frameworks strengthen the impact?
  • What important system conditions are necessary to help maximize school leader efficacy and strengthen instructional leadership in your schools?
  • How can leaders across your system be fully supported in their analysis of current system-level practices and potential new applications?
More Information

In this module participants will

  • consider the beliefs associated with instructional leadership
  • examine the system conditions that build school leaders’ skills in  instructional leadership
  • explore system level  practices  to ensure a strong instructional program,  collective efficacy and
  • collectively apply their new knowledge to analysis of the current system-level practices

Module 6: Collaborative Inquiry Plan for System Leaders

How can you incorporate all of your new learning into an actionable plan?               

“It is not that the research literature is unhelpful but rather it needs to be put into perspective so that individual change leaders can learn to become more effective in practical, meaningful ways. Our intent is to place the leader in the driver’s seat, in charge of their own learning while collaborating with others.” Fullan 2012

More Information

In this module participants will

Develop a plan for a collaborative inquiry by addressing these questions:

  1. What is the collaborative inquiry/problem of practice? What is the question?
  2. What is the theory of action?
  3. What are the collective learning goals of the inquiry? What are your personal learning goals?
  4. What is the context of your inquiry? (system, school, staff, community, length of tenure in current role, etc.) How does the inquiry align with system priorities?
  5. The application of theory to practice is a critical element:
    • How will concepts, theories, and ideas presented in the program influence your actions?
    • What legislation, board policies, and Ministry guidelines will influence your actions?
    • What additional readings have you identified to support your inquiry? (Use proper APA standards.)
  6. What are your specific plans for the inquiry? (must reflect between 50 and 60 hours of work and extend over numerous months)
  7. How will you assess the success of your inquiry? Plans need to provide for the collection and analysis of data.
  8. How will you assess your leadership skills in executing the inquiry?

Program Design, Delivery & Pricing


Our programming consequently aligns in focus and structure, and while elements overlap in selected content, they bring a particular and unique perspective to the learning process. Understanding what effective schools and school-level leadership looks like is the crucial foundation for delivering effective system-level support and thinking in a truly “system” mindset


All modules are highly interactive and use a broad range of strategies; therefore, registration is limited to a maximum of 30 per group. Each module also requires the online submission of a personal reflection following each learning experience.


International School Leadership issues an individual certificate for those who have met the program requirements. Co-branding of the certificate is available.

Online Resources

An online learning forum that provides learning resources, a stop/start/continue quiz for day one, reflection submission, and program evaluation. It also provides a forum for discussions during the periods between the sessions, thereby extending and building the collaborative environment.

Online Resources

Program Pricing

Contracted delivery prices are available and determined by participant enrolment and specific site costs.

Pricing Example:

Onsite 3-day (2 Modules) delivery for up to 35 participants – $17,500 CAD plus venue costs and applicable taxes


The content of the system-level leadership program is founded on research that points to a clear and powerful connection between effective school-level and system-level leadership practices.

Our programming consequently aligns in focus and structure, and while elements overlap in selected content, they bring a particular and unique perspective to the learning process. Understanding what effective schools and school-level leadership looks like is the crucial foundation for delivering effective system-level support and thinking in a truly “system” mindset

Why Select Our International School System Leadership Certificate Program?

“Think ‘system’ and not ‘individual school’ if the goal is to fundamentally change the culture of schools.” Dr. Michael Fullan, O.C

Internationally Regarded

An internationally highly regarded system-level leadership certificate program for national school system leaders

Highly Effective Instructors

Strong evidence of a highly effective instructor who demonstrates a deep commitment to students, resulting in many life-long relationships

System-Level Leadership Practices

Strong evidence of impact on system-level leadership practices

Instructional Strategies

High yield instructional strategies, current research, student-centered curriculum that requires the application of new learning to practice

Program Alignment

Contextualization of the program to ensure alignment with system priorities and

Positive Testimonials

Positive testimonials, advocates and collaborators

Testimonials of Quality

“I liked the system and structure of mixing theory with practice. The leaders left the education not only with more theory but also with a toolbox …”

Who Recognizes Our Certificate Program

Jurisdictions that have engaged ISL in the delivery of the program:

Our Instructors

Joni Heard


Bruce Barrett


Get In Touch

ISL has worked with organizations from North America, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. We have solutions for every part of the world.

If you have any additional questions or are looking to consult with our team of experts, contact us and get started today