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NZ Needs to Recognise And Invest in School Leaders

author:The New Zealand Initiative.

Report shows principals crucial to lifting student achievement
Ex-Auckland Grammar headmaster calls for investment in leadership

Wellington (28 October) – The education sector needs to recognise the crucial role that leadership plays in raising student achievement in schools and better equip principals for the job, according to a new report by the New Zealand Education and Scholarship Trust and The New Zealand Initiative.

The report underscores the importance of leadership in New Zealand’s decentralised education system, where schools are largely self-managing. Principals are responsible not just for maintaining high teaching standards but also for overseeing administrative tasks, finances, and human resources, as well as providing the vision and direction for the school.

John Morris, author of The School Leadership Effect, argues that the significance of school leaders is not universally recognised in New Zealand.

“Education systems around the world are looking to develop aspiring school leaders and providing support and professional development for those already in the role,” he said. “It is time New Zealand followed suit.”

The report examined a cross-section of the literature on school leadership, and discusses the nature of school leaders’ dispositions, strategies and practices that influence student achievement.

Contemporary models of school leadership are also outlined in the study with particular discussion on the most recent research that incorporates an expanded understanding of leadership:

“Even the strongest proponents of instructional, transformative, distributed and sustainable leadership are moving away from the exclusivity of the one-size-fits-all, charismatic, heroic model of leadership”, Morris said.

Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative, Dr Oliver Hartwich, said: “New Zealand’s children deserve the best education in the world. Our previous research highlighted the importance of teachers for student achievements, and just last week we published a report on a promising school cluster model to promote education excellence.”

“But to make any of these initiatives work, school leaders are crucial. There is a key to education success: Great leaders make great schools; great schools have great teachers; and great teachers develop great kids,” says Dr Hartwich.

New Zealand Initiative October 2014 2012