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UKSSN reviews Leadership for Sustainability book by David Dixon
Posted by : UKSSN
Cover of David Dixon


Dr David Dixon published his book Leadership for Sustainability: Saving the planet one school at a time (Crown House Publishing) in March 2022. We asked UKSSN students, school leaders and teaching staff from Yorkshire and Somerset to read the book and give their thoughts.



Reviews from Yorkshire


“Dr Dixon’s book is challenging and inspiring.  It is presented in a very accessible but comprehensive style.  It links sustainability to a school/college’s key mission and purpose, and cuts right to heart of what it means to be a leader with sustainability at the heart of the organisation’s vision.” 

-Simon Lett, Principal, Greenhead College, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire 


“Students are only too aware that they face life in a climate-altered world, yet many schools have barely begun to address the challenges this poses. Leadership for Sustainability is invaluable reading for every school leader wondering how best to start.  Extremely thought-provoking, wide-ranging, and clear, it explores how school leaders can place sustainability at the heart of their institutions and the multiple benefits of doing so.  Enriched throughout with links to sources of further information, the book also benefits enormously from concrete examples and the author’s candid discussion of his experiences implementing change. While referring mainly to primary settings there’s much here that's useful for leaders in the secondary sector too.  I recommend that anyone working to embed sustainability at their school reads David Dixon’s inspirational book.” 

-Dr Stuart Strathdee, Sustainability Lead, Greenhead College, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire 


“This inspiring and captivating book successfully expands the reader’s knowledge of sustainability and explains how change for a better world is indeed possible. Dixon has structured the book into five chapters, which I found helpful as the book was clear and organised. The recommendations for leaders at the end of each chapter are a great addition as they allow school leaders to think more about how they can contribute into making sure future generations are aware of global issues, as well as sustainability in their schools. As a young adult myself, this book allowed me to realise that there are so many small, simplistic things that we can be doing to help make big changes in order to save our planet, with sustainability at the heart of every action.”

-Sana, Year 12 student executive environment officer, West Yorkshire 



Reviews from Somerset


“I really enjoyed this book and found it thought provoking, as a school leader. The book provides detailed information about the state of affairs right now.  It is really clear about the impact our actions are having on the environment. The author provides sensible, detailed information about what practical action schools can take and suggests the ways in which the curriculum can support this.  There are examples of how schools can be more sustainable, and how this can actually be part of the school improvement plan (which we would term the ARIP). There is the simple approach of ‘five Cs of sustainability’ – captaincy, curriculum, campus, community and connections.

         As David Dixon has been a head himself for 20 years, he understands and describes how heads can and should be effective change agents regarding sustainability. He explains how school leaders can embed eco-friendly practices in the day-to-day running of their schools and points out that this area is actually subject to inspection by Ofsted, under the new framework.” 

-Jacqui Scott, Headteacher, Worle Community School Academy, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset


This is a well-researched book, which has been translated into figures and diagrams specifically for educationalists. Probably aimed at pedagogical leaders more than school business leaders, however the information and the appendices full of policies, charters and curriculum statements would trigger strategic conversations to help all types of school leaders determine their school’s own sustainability strategy and culture.

-Amy Bignell, Operations Manager, Worle Community School Academy


“This book gave me hope, a feeling that the tools outlined have been successfully used elsewhere, and so could bring transformation to the school and the MAT I work within. The book gave me a real sense of pride in this work - talking of those of us carrying out this work as “Guardians of the long term future”, “co-creating new solutions”, offering a “bright future for everyone” through “unleashing minds to avoid blind acceptance of what is normal”. It explains in very clear, simple, straightforward terms why continuing to live inside a myth that infinite growth on a finite planet, walking forwards blinding into the oncoming catastrophe, is sheer madness - and then plots a clear, sensible course out of that madness. It outlines why such a course must necessitate a complete transformation of our culture, and that this can best be driven by a transformation of education - by bringing students to see what is necessary, and teaching them that such changes are possible, by spreading that change on to our communities, we can, and must, drive forward such a cultural shift.”

-Mary Leonard, Science teacher and Lead in Sustainability, Worle Community School Academy, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset


“David Dixon’s book was inspiring to see how the work we do in schools really does make a difference and how we can build on this to create a better future for us all. The book also gives me hope – trying to make a positive sustainable impact in schools can often seem a daunting task. This book is a tool to help simplify and understand the process and brings all members of a school together to work towards a more sustainable planet while ensuring we recognise the urgency of forming a society where we reduce our consumption and ensure we leave it in a better state for future generations”

-Jack, Year 12 Student, Somerset  


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