Across Australia, school leaders are doing one of the toughest jobs under the weight of administrative pressures and a quickly evolving ed-tech landscape.
While many principals are thriving their role, others require supports to develop frameworks, tools and resources that support teaching expertise and effective leadership.
One organisation that has gone above and beyond in this respect is the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).
The Institute’s CEO, Lisa Rodgers, said one a key achievement for the organisation this year was the release of ‘Leading for impact: Australian guidelines for school leadership development.’
“Through our consultations we had heard that principals, as well as systems and sectors, wanted to more easily find and develop future leaders, and wanted pathways to leadership to be clearer and more inclusive,” Rodgers told The Educator.
Rodgers said the new guidelines, developed in close collaboration with the profession, give evidence-informed recommendations and advice about developing leadership skills and specific preparation for aspiring principals, while also guiding professional growth opportunities of current principals.
Professional development in demand
Rodgers said that feedback from principals shows that one of the biggest challenges for them this year has been finding the time to focus on becoming a better leader.
“Often, it’s only school leaders themselves who understand how demanding [and rewarding] the role is,” she said.
“School leaders have an immense impact when they have the time to focus, develop and reflect on how to lead their teachers and their students’ learning.”
Another key challenge for school leadership in Australia, says Rodgers, is the pipeline of aspiring principals.
“We know that great teaching has the biggest impact on the learning lives of students, after that it’s the school principal and their leadership teams,” she said.
“So, it’s incredibly important that more teachers view the principal role as an attractive career option; and that, across the nation, a diverse group of aspiring school leaders are identified and developed.”
Rodgers said that working with systems and sectors to publish and share the guidelines, will help to encourage aspiring school leaders and provide them with every opportunity to succeed.
‘Building on shared gains’
Rodgers said AITSL remains committed to working with the profession to support high quality school leadership and “building on the shared gains” of 2018.
“One focus will be to co-develop with the profession a suite of tools and resources for school leaders to easily apply the ‘Leading for Impact’ guidelines in their schools,” Rodgers said.
“Our intention is to achieve this by using the available evidence and targeted case studies to support a shared understanding of what effective leadership looks like in practice. It’s really exciting work and we cannot wait to get started.”
AITSL will also be seeking to develop reflection tools for school leaders, so that systems and sectors in all states and territories can implement effective leadership approaches.
“Last but not least, we’ll keep consulting with principals, school leaders, systems, sectors and the professional associations about how the Principal Standard can best support them in having the biggest impact on teaching and student learning,” she said.
“Principals keep telling us how rewarding their roles are and it will be a pleasure next year to help them in any way we can.”