Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The leadership role of principals in selected secondary "Schools of the Future": principal and teacher perspectives
    GURR, DAVID ( 1996)
    Schools of the Future is a major management reform of government (public) schools in Victoria, Australia. When fully implemented all schools will have control of 90% of their operating costs, principals will have the power to select and initiate the removal of staff, and schools will have a school charter that details a three year resource and accountability framework. As principals were viewed by the government as central to the reform, this research focussed on perceptions of the leadership role of principals. Perspectives on principal leadership were gathered from both principals and teachers using a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology without an a priori theoretical framework. Principals and teachers were interviewed at seven schools. In addition, principals only were interviewed at three schools. In total ten principals and thirty teachers from ten schools participated in the research. The perceptions of principals and teachers were found to be similar. The perceived leadership role of principals was found to be complex and multi-dimensional with 17 leadership themes described. In addition, there were 13 themes where change was noted in the leadership role since the introduction of Schools of the Future. Comparing the found leadership description with findings from the leadership literature resulted in a list of 12 recommendations for practice and support for three current conceptions of leadership: 1. Instructional leadership was evident, although there was less direct involvement by principals than suggested by previous research, indicating that the leadership could be better described as indirect instructional leadership. 2. The importance placed in transformational leadership conceptions on culture and symbolic leadership, and on being future orientated was confirmed in this research. 3. Support was also found for Caldwell and Spinks' description of leadership for self-managing schools, highlighting the additional leadership foci of accountability and responsiveness. Based on the research findings and comparison with the leadership literature, a model of leadership was presented that had four leadership areas labelled learning and teaching, symbolic and cultural awareness, future orientation and accountability. The model emphasised the linkages between instructional leadership, transformational leadership and leadership for self-managing schools. The model also emphasised the complexity of the leadership role of principals.