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Professional Learning of School Leaders in Australia


Anderson, M and Kleinhenz, E and Mulford, WR and Gurr, D, Professional Learning of School Leaders in Australia, International Handbook on the Preparation and Development of School Leaders , Routledge, Lumby, J., Crow, G. & Pashiardis (ed), USA, pp. 435-451. ISBN 0-415-98847-0 (2008) [Research Book Chapter]

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In Australia, the professional learning of school leaders has seldom mattered more. The importance of school leadership stems both from an foreshadowed crisis in attracting sufficient quality applicants to principle class positions.

There has long been an assumption that empirical and conceptual evidence for this is contested Lakomski, 2005) Nevertheless recent Australian research (Mulford, Silins and Leithwood, 2004) and major international reviews of research (Leithwood and Riehl, 2005; Leithwood, Seashore Louis, Anderson, and Wahslstrom 2004; Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris and Hopkins, 2006) provide a powerful and persuasive case that principal leadership, and educational leadership more broadly conceived, are, after the impact of teachers, the second most important element in improving student learning, albeit that the effects are often indirect. Leadership development programs need to ensure that this knowledge base on successful school leadership is used to improve schools.

Overseas, and in Australia, there are many instances of difficulties in recruiting sufficient quality applicants for principal positions (Collins, 2006). Barty, Thompson, Blackmore and Sachs (2005), Carlin, d'Arbon, Dorman, Duignan and Neidhart (2003), and Lacey (2002), amongst others have all highlighted actual and/or emerging difficulties in the Australian context. The picture is complex however, as there are not necessarily universal shortages, with school location, size of school, the presence of an incumbent principal, local educational policies, and social and generational changes important determiners of the attractiveness of a principal position (Collins, 2006). Nevertheless, it is clear that the preparation of future school leaders needs to be a priority, particularly given the likely retirement of most of the current school principals over the next five to ten years.

A key challenge for developers of school leadership programs is to identify those factors that are of central importance in the preparation of school leaders, including the capacity to take on a broad range of responsibilities and facilitate shared leadership and the relationship between leadership and student outcomes. Attention needs to be given to the recruitment and selection of school leaders who have the qualities and capacities that lead teachers and schools to improve student learning. Stakeholders have also drawn attention to the need to establish working conditions and support structures that will improve the retention of effective leaders.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:professional learning, school leaders, principals,
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Educational administration, management and leadership
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Management, resources and leadership
UTAS Author:Mulford, WR (Professor Bill Mulford)
ID Code:53216
Year Published:2008
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2008-11-11
Last Modified:2012-10-23
Downloads:24 View Download Statistics

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