Trauma-Informed Integral Leadership: Leading School Communities With a Systems-Aware Approach

Article published in the International Journal of Whole Schooling

Full reference:


Greig, J, Bailey, B, Abbott, L, & Brunzell, T. (2021). Trauma-Informed Integral Leadership: Leading School Communities With a Systems-Aware Approach. International Journal of Whole Schooling, 17 (1), 62-97.


The impacts of childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences can have devastating consequences on students’ learning and wellbeing. Pairing this alongside the negative and vicarious impacts of secondary traumatic stress on teachers and school leaders, efforts towards whole school change are complex endeavours. The extant literature from trauma-informed practice for school leadership provides useful frameworks for leaders to understand their guiding roles within trauma-affected communities. However, trauma-informed practices require further enquiry and better integration with systems-aware perspectives. A systems-aware approach to school leadership positions leaders within the dynamic systems in which their schools are embedded. It helps leaders to navigate the networked patterns of relationships within their communities. Given impacts of intergenerational poverty, racism, childhood trauma and long-standing educational inequity, community devastation from natural events such as droughts and bushfires, plus the world-wide uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many complex factors that now require systems-aware perspectives to address compounding systemic concerns. In order to contribute to the advancement of both trauma-informed leadership and systems-aware leadership, this paper makes the case for integrating these fields within school contexts. Predicated on a systematic literature review and novel theorising, this paper explores how a new practice framework for a trauma-informed integral response to bolster school leaders can be used to benefit whole communities.


The full article can be accessed and downloaded for free on the International Journal of Whole Schooling website here.

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