Internationally, this is a "golden age" of school leadership (Leithwood & Day, 2007, p. 1). Educational reformers widely agree that school leadership is central to the success of their reforms. Governments around the world are devoting unparalleled resources to the development of school leaders. Members of the business community, long enamoured by the romance of leadership, assume that the shortcomings of schools are coincidental with shortcomings in the leadership evident. And the international research community has, at long last, produced a sufficient body of empirical evidence of high quality to persuade even the most sceptical that school leadership matters (e.g. for North America see: Leithwood & Reihl, 2003; Leithwood, Seashore Louis, Anderson & Wahlstrom, 2004; and, Leithwood & Jantzi, 2005. For England see: National College of School Leadership, 2005; Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris & Hopkins, 2006).
But what empirical evidence do we have available on Australian educational leadership? In attempting to answer this question, the Monograph reports on a review of five years (2001 – 2005) of the four leading Australian-based educational journals. These comprise two general educational journals, the Australian Journal of Education (AJE) and the Australian Educational Researcher (AER), and two journals more targeted to the area, Leading & Managing (L&M) and the Journal of Educational Administration (JEA). The time frame has been chosen to reflect a period of major ferment in the area, and of major change in views about schooling and school leadership.
Brief summary results for each article in each journal follow. Conclusions that can be drawn from each journal are listed. The conclusion to the Monograph then reflects back over the entire database, summarises results and suggests it is time that research on Australian educational leadership received greater attention and focus. What is particularly clear is that the quality of research in the area will need to improve dramatically if we are going to be able to extrapolate with confidence to large populations, and to influence policy and practice.
school leadership, educational reform, policy and practice