ABSTRACT: This article explores the role of principal leadership in creating a thinking school. It contributes to the school leadership literature by exploring the intersection of two important areas of study in education school leadership and education for thinking which is a particularly apt area of study, because effective school leadership is crucial if students are to learn to be critical and creative thinkers, yet this connection has not be widely investigated. We describe how one principal, Hinton, turned around an underperforming school by using critical and creative philosophical thinking as the focus for students, staff and parents. Then, drawing on the school leadership literature, the article describes seven attributes of school leadership beginning with four articulated by Leithwood and colleagues (2006) (building vision and setting direction; redesigning the organisation; understanding and developing people; managing the teaching and learning program), and adding three others (influence; self-development; and responding to context). This framework is then used in a case study format in a collaboration between practitioner and researchers to first explore evidence from empirical studies and personal reflection about Hinton’s leadership of Buranda State School, and second to illuminate how these
general features of school leadership apply to creating a thinking school. Based on the case study and using the general characteristics of school leadership, a framework for leading a thinking school is described. Because the framework is based on a turnaround school, this framework has wide applicability: to schools that are doing well as an indication of how to implement a contemporary approach to curriculum and pedagogy; and to schools that are underperforming and want a rigorous, high expectation and contemporary way to improve student learning.