Whatever the individual approach of a school principal, their role impacts not only the teaching and learning they oversee, but also the community that their school operates in.
As such, the question of how educational leadership can be put into practice most effectively is one that is frequently being analysed and discussed by education thought leaders around the world.
On Sunday, several education experts convened in Melbourne for a three-day conference to share their research, and insights, into this important topic.
The Research Conference 2017, run by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) includes keynote speakers such as Professors Geoff Masters AO, Amanda Datnow, Toby Greany, Chris Sarra and Viviane Robinson.
The conference’s theme – Leadership for Improving Learning: Insights from research – discusses the importance of ensuring school leaders have real agency and capabilities in data-driven decision making to solve complex educational problems if they are to sustain educational improvement.
Speaking ahead of the conference, ACER chief executive, Professor Geoff Masters AO, said educational leaders play a crucial role in setting directions for improvement and innovation.
“Recent research reveals that the practices and initiatives of educational leaders can produce significant improvements in student engagement and performance,” Masters said.
“Those practices involve setting priorities for improvement, building a shared commitment across the community and using evidence to plan and review improvement programs.
Masters said such programs require “a sharp focus on the main game” – measurable improvements in student outcomes.
Professor Amanda Datnow from the University of California San Diego is another education expert speaking at the event.
She will report on research investigating the conditions under which data-use efforts can help to open – or close – doors to student learning.
Professor Toby Greany from the Institute of Education at University College London will report on a three-year study of the impact of a ‘self-improving’ policy in England and the tensions created by a simultaneous emphasis on leadership autonomy and accountability.
Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson from the University of Auckland will report on research showing how leaders’ knowledge and skills intersect with their ability to build trust and solve the problems that stand in the way of their improvement goals.
Professor Chris Sarra from the University of Canberra will explore the impact of educational leadership research – for better and worse – on developing and sustaining school improvement approaches that address the profound complexities of Indigenous education.
Delegates at a Leading Thinker seminar with Professor Stephen Dinham OAM, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, prior to Research Conference 2017 will investigate why learning and teaching needs to be the core educational business of educational leaders.
Research Conference 2017 is taking place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 27 to 29 August.