Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The preparation and development of middle leaders in Victorian secondary schools
    Cooper, Peter Anthony Hope ( 2021)
    Middle leaders in schools provide a critical link between senior leadership and teaching staff. Employing a multi-perspective case study methodology, this study looked at the common themes facing middle leaders at three Victorian secondary schools, Catholic, government, and independent, with regard to their preparation for leadership, their professional and personal development in the role, how their role is perceived by those to whom they report and those they lead, and how they determine if they have been successful in their role. At each school, the following staff members were invited to participate in the study: senior leaders, middle leaders, and teachers. The middle leaders involved in this research were actively involved in leading pastoral, academic, and/or co-curricular departments within a Catholic, government, or independent school. Semi-structured interviewing was used for the purpose of collecting their responses. The participants’ responses were analysed, and emergent themes described. A total of 56 themes with 78 sub-themes emerged from the study, covering the dimensions of preparation, development, perception, and success in leadership. Common themes raised by middle leaders were professional learning, the support provided in their role, career progression, their ability to influence school direction, level of autonomy in the role, departmental management, professional relationships, and their support of students’ achievement. The study indicates that middle leaders’ measurement of success in the role was primarily linked to student achievement in academic and social domains. A leadership development model is offered to support aspiring and current middle leaders.
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    Practices and characteristics of principals in low educational advantage, improving Victorian secondary schools; contextually aware leadership
    Mccrohan, Kieran Matthew ( 2020)
    This study investigated the leadership of two secondary schools of low educational advantage on an improvement journey located in Victoria, Australia. This study provides further understanding of the ways school principals interact with specific contextual factors in order to support their school improvement journey. In both cases, the principals overcame their school’s challenging circumstances, defined by low performance and low advantage, by employing research based initiatives to drive improvement. Informed by a multiple perspective case study methodology, including interviews with the principal and other school leaders, teachers, parents, students and members of the school council, evidence found principals with a strong moral purpose and change leadership enabled long term, albeit slow improvement. This improvement was enabled by the principal’s navigation of a range of contextual factors that influenced, and were influenced by, the characteristics and practices of the school leader. Along with a strong moral purpose, the school principals had a relentless drive for change that enabled them to overcome great adversity within their school contexts. Employing practices such as increased accountability for teachers around their teaching and learning, implementing collaborative practices across many levels of the school and instilling hope through a strong vision, enabled transformation of these schools into a more desirable destination for students, teachers and the wider community.