26 SES 08 C, Leadership Styles and Their Consequences
This paper explores research on system leadership in the state of Victoria, Australia. System leadership is focussed on change across more than one school and is a feature of most systems across the world. In the European context, the OECD described Belgium, England and Finland as examples of systems that have encouraged system leadership in principals by having them cooperate with other principals (Pont, Nusche and Hopkins, 2008). The stimulus for this paper was an earlier paper in which we were charged with the task of finding superintendents in the Australian context (reference withheld). Superintendents as they exist in contexts such as the USA, are system leaders in the sense that they exert a leadership influence across many schools. In our search for superintendents, we didn’t find them. Instead we argued that the superintendent role is like a chameleon in that the person and/or position that best encompasses the functions typically associated with superintendents keeps changing depending on the latest restructure and government approach to administering education. For the current paper we explore system leadership from system, region and school perspectives. It integrates four pieces of related research from the one university, and an external project, to provide an integrated perspective that links system through to school level leadership. At the system level, in a doctoral dissertation, Butler (2014) explored how system initiatives and directions were filtered through layers of leadership to influence the work of school leaders. At the regional level we utilize research on a five-year improvement program in the Northern Metropolitan region of the Victorian school system. Hopkins, Munro and Craig (2011) described how this region developed and applied a framework, powerful learning, that was adopted by most schools in the region and which led to demonstrable improvement in student learning and wellbeing outcomes. Within this region, we report on research about the construction of Hume Central Secondary College (HCSC), which was created from the closure of three failing schools. McCrohan’s yet to be published doctoral dissertation explored the leadership of the principal of this school though a multi-perspective case study encompassing interviews with the principal, teachers, parents, students and school council members, and observation of the school. In a masters dissertation, Huerta Villalobos (2013), through interviews with the critical friends, principal and leading teachers, explored how the principal of HCSC used critical friends to help improve this school. In the final part of this chapter we consider the findings in relation to the research on successful school leadership in Victorian schools.
As mentioned above, the paper is a synthesis of findings from four related pieces of research from the one university, and one external report. The four related pieces adopted a similar research approach essentially relying on multiple perspective, interview-based research. 1. Butler (2014) explored system leadership in the Victorian education system. The study used system documents and individual interviews with four central senior managers (including the DEECD Secretary, and members of the senior management team of the Office of Government School Education), three regional directors, 14 Regional Network Leaders and 23 principals to examine system leadership within the Victorian government education system. 2. McCrohan (unpublished) employed a multiple-perspective qualitative methodology that included interviews with the principal, campus principals, members of the leadership team, middle-level leaders, teachers, students, parents and school council members concerning the improvement of the school. Questions focussed on the role of the principal and others in the school's success. 3. Huerta Villalobos (2013) conducted a single-site multiple perspective case study involving interviews with 13 people: two critical friends, the executive principal, three campus principals, one assistant principal, six teacher members of the leadership team. Questions centred on participant’s perceptions of the role and impact of the critical friends. 4. Successful school leadership research of ours utlized the methodology described for McCrohan's research. The external research was from the edited book by Hopkins, Munro and Craig (2011) which described the school improvement journey of the former Northern Metropolitan Region led by Wayne Craig as the Regional Director. The book tells the story of how Craig led the improvement of this region through the development of a school improvement framework, Powerful Learning, the use of experts in literacy, numeracy, and student welfare, and the support of RNLs, principals and teachers in a collective effort to improve student learning. It is mostly a collection of professional reflections, with one chapter that utilised school achievement data to show regional improvement.
This paper has described several empirical studies within the one jurisdiction, with these studies going from system to school level perspectives. At the system level we saw that there were people that seemed to operate at a system leadership and these were at senior levels of the central and regional systems, with RNLs having potential to exercise system level leadership. Principals tended to not operate as system leaders because they had limited influence across schools. At a regional level, it was clear that regional directors could act as system level leaders, exerting wide influence on clusters of schools to improve. When we moved to the school level we saw in the case of one successful principal, that system leadership was helpful but not the most important influence on school success. Whilst it could be helpful and act as a support, the work of the principal, other school leaders and, in the case study school, critical friends, were more important to the improvement journey of the school. So, what the reader perhaps can see is that system leadership can be important, but that it needs to work in conjunction with school leadership. Without good school leadership, the level of impact of system leadership is likely to be limited. When we consider our own extensive research on school leadership in Victorian schools, there has been very little consideration of the positive impacts of systems, and more often there is discussion about how systems need to be overcome or controlled to mitigate negative impacts. Indeed, in our successful school leadership research, our principals have often described how they had to shape system behaviour so it didn’t impact negatively on their school.
Butler, S. (2014) System Leadership in Victoria, Australia. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis, The University of Melbourne. Hopkins, D., Munro, J., & Craig, W. (Eds) (2011a). Powerful learning: A strategy for systemic educational improvement. Melbourne: ACER. Huerta Villalobos, M. (2013). The Role of the Critical Friend in Leadership and School Improvement, Master of Education thesis, The University of Melbourne. Nir, A.E. (2014). Building trust and control: A challenge for school superintendents, in A.E. Nir (Ed.) The Educational Superintendent Between Trust and Regulation: An International Perspective (pp. 1-16). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. Pont, B., Nusche, D., & Hopkins, D. (2008). Improving School Leadership, Volume 2: Case Studies on System Leadership. Paris: OECD.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.