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									               NSW Department of Education and Training

            Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award

                          GENeration neXt


Dr. Grahame Morgan                           Mr. Russell Hawkins
Principal                                    Principal
Beverly Hills North Public School            Tregear Public School
New South Wales, Australia                   New South Wales, Australia
Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award

                              EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This research examined issues concerned with generational change in executive positions
within the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET). The research found that more
than fifty percent of executive and a larger percentage of principals are over fifty years of age
and are approaching retirement.

The researchers conducted interviews with new principals and professional learning providers
in New Zealand and South Australia. These interviews formed case studies which were
examined in conjunction with a review of service provision for leadership development within
NSW DET. A literature review on best practice in principal preparation was conducted.

The research concluded that there is currently a large range of program offerings and initiatives
to support aspiring, new and experienced principals. There is significant agreement on the most
effective means of preparing school leaders despite the general lack of research to support the
efficacy of principal preparation programs. The features of effective principal preparation
       A coherent research base or framework.
       Links between theory and practice.
       Content applied in authentic settings addressing common issues.
       Practical skills developed in context.
       Challenging relevant simulations to improve decision making.
       Supportive groups providing a social structure for skills acquisition.
       Mentoring to guide new leaders.
       Co-ordination of leaderships support.
       Sequential development across the different stages of leadership.

The comprehensive offerings within the NSW DET may benefit from the co-ordination of
support involving state wide frameworks, regional initiatives and key stakeholders‟, notably
principals‟, organizations.

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award

New and aspiring principals would also benefit from the construction of a coordinated cycle of
leadership preparation and development through the stages of school leadership. Program
offerings should utilize the expertise of current and recently retired school leaders applying the
NSW DET Leadership Capability Framework and utilising trained and accredited mentors.

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award

The research was undertaken in response to impending generational change in the principalship
resulting from the aging population of school executive within NSW DET. The report is based
on research undertaken by the authors and study tours of Auckland, New Zealand and
Adelaide, South Australia during 2005.

The purpose of the research was to:

   Develop methods of identifying those principals approaching retirement who could provide
    support to aspiring and new principals.
   Provide recommendations on the ways in which the NSW DET and the NSW Primary
    Principals Association (PPA) could develop systems to ensure effective leadership
    knowledge transition.
   Provide recommendations in terms of the current leadership capability framework by
    establishing the relative importance of different aspects of leadership knowledge.
   Identify leadership skills and knowledge domains seen as important by generation “x”
    principals and compare these with those seen as important by current “baby boomer”
   Identify any particular skills that new and aspiring principals are bringing with them and
    those that current principals may transfer before retirement.

This report was produced by Dr. Grahame Morgan and Mr. Russell Hawkins joint recipients of
a Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award awarded by the Hon Andrew Refshauge
Deputy Premier, Minister for Education and Training. We would like to express thanks to the
NSW Department of Education and Training and the NSW Primary Principals Association for
providing the opportunity to undertake this research.

We would also like to thank:

New Zealand

Lionell Mickell – Leadership Unit Consultant University of Auckland.
Cherie Taylor-Patel – Principal Flanshaw Road School

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award
Madeline East – Principal Farm Cove Intermediate School
Ross McGowan – Principal Pakuranga Health Camp School
Suzanne Billington – Principal Bairds Mainfreight Public School
Tina Voorouw – Principal Rongamai Public School
David Eddy – School Leadership Centre University of Auckland

South Australia

Andrew Plastow – Alberton Public School
Nancy Schpelius – South Australian Centre for Leaders in Education (S.A.C.L.E)
Wendy House – South Australian Centre for Leaders in Education (S.A.C.L.E)
Sue George-Duiff – Croydon High School
Sue Burtenshaw – Gipps Cross Girls High School
Tony Cocchiaro – Director Metropolitan West District

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award


INTRODUCTION --------------------------------------------------------------------------7


PRINCIPAL PREPARATION ------------------------------------------------------------11

NEW SOUTH WALES --------------------------------------------------------------------17

NEW ZEALAND ---------------------------------------------------------------------------22

SOUTH AUSTRALIA ---------------------------------------------------------------------35

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS --------------------------------------40

BIBLIOGRAPHY ---------------------------------------------------------------------------48

APPENDIX A – METHODOLOGY -----------------------------------------------------50

APPENDIX B – PRINCIPAL SURVEY -------------------------------------------------51


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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award


Across the western world the profession of teaching in general and the principalship in
particular sits on the cusp of a significant workforce transformation. An aging workforce
means that over the next ten years many of the “baby boomer” generation will retire from their
senior teacher and leadership positions in schools. The corporate knowledge of these retiring
school leaders need not be lost. Succession planning can be utilized to shape a more
empowered group of educational leaders who are ready to meet the challenges of schooling in
the future. To ensure high quality leadership it may be necessary to think beyond the traditional
boundaries of succession planning. This research suggests that the nature of the leadership
roles within schools which Generation X will inherit should not be left to chance but rather
constructed in partnership with the DET, key stakeholders and current school leaders. The
NSW public education system would therefore benefit from the development of a coherent
system of knowledge transition.

A new generation of teachers, educational leaders and parents observe schooling with a
growing sense that they are inheriting a very different world from that of the post World War II
baby boomer generation. The emerging leaders of Generation X are leaving the relative
certainty of more conservative times well behind. Coping with relationships, building wealth,
working and living in information rich environments and dealing with the ambiguities of
modern life are challenges for current generations. Twenty and thirty something teachers have
embarked on teaching and school leadership careers with many variables and few certainties. A
recent history across Australian education systems of bureaucratic central control conflicts with
a march towards professionalism and autonomy. This has created a tension between the
comfort of the past and the uncertainty of a changing future in which increasingly educated,
skilled and politically astute Generation X professionals will be working within traditional
bureaucratic contexts. This research considers some of the key issues which confront school
leaders and systems faced with a significant workforce transformation in times of rapid change.

Beyond the immediate consideration of succession planning it might also be appropriate to ask,
what future do we want for educational leadership? The authors assert that succession planning
should be about more than preparing people to fill vacant positions. It should also be about

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building futures. Although the quantity and quality of future leaders is important to systems of
education in terms of workforce planning, the future direction of the role should be a central
concern for current school leaders. A broader view of succession planning gives rise to more
global issues about school leadership given that it is not sufficient to consider school leadership
out of a systemic context. Leadership and the nature of its values, range of responsibilities and
levels of influence is integral to the type of system in which it is embedded. Proposing changes
in leadership roles in terms of the skills set we expect these people to acquire and how we
prepare future leaders has implications for the systems of education in which these leaders will

The writers suspect that future generations of principals will be less inclined to operate within
traditional bureaucratic systems. More to the point, the type of professionals who would best
lead professional school communities are not necessarily the type of people who would
respond well to high levels of bureaucratic control. Instead, such people may select other
careers with higher financial rewards or those with more self-direction where professionalism
is respected, valued and acknowledged as core to the function of the organisation. In this
respect generational change in the principalship would seem to be inevitable however, the
associated cultural change which will attract and successfully prepare the best quality leader is
more problematic. As Hale & Moreman (2003:19) point out “the bad news is that a radically
new generation of school leadership is needed and the preparation programs of today are not
yet up to the task of equipping these leaders for the challenges of the 21st century”.

The popular press has reported that significant numbers of school principals in Australia will
be retired by the end of this decade. Within the NSW Department of Education and Training
(DET) workforce planning statistics supports these reports, with more than half of all
principals due to retire within the next ten years. This evidence of impending significant
change in principal demographics has considerable ramifications for schools and school
systems. High quality succession planning will become an imperative as the experience and
skills of current school leaders is lost through retirement and a new generation with different
life experiences emerges to take their place. The need for succession planning for the
principalship has been well established in current research. At this time of generational change

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award
it might also be opportune to look at how the DET can create ongoing systems of succession

As indicated the NSW Department of Education and Training workforce planning statistics
highlight significant impending change across all levels of school leadership. This change will
see an increasing number of retirements and a loss of some of the systems most experienced
school leaders at all levels.

                                                               Primary Principals Age

                           500                                                                             Primary Principals
                           400                                                                             Female
                           300                                                                             Primary Principals Male
                             0                                                                             Primary Principals Total








                                                                                                    65 +

                                          Graph 1: Age distribution of Primary Principal

The age distribution of primary principals (Graph1) within the NSW DET reveals that 1102 of
the 1775 principals or approximately 63% are currently over fifty years of age. An analysis of
secondary principal‟s ages reveals that 323 or approximately 82% of principals are also over
fifty years of age. These DET workforce planning statistics highlight the impending significant
generational change in the principalship across NSW.

                                                                    High School Principals

                                                                                                           High School Principals Female
                                                                                                           High School Principals Male
                                                                                                           High School Principals Total
                               35–39      40–44      45–49         50–54    55–59       60–64       65 +

                                    Graph 2: Age distribution High School Principals

The problem is not unique to NSW, indeed education systems around the world are
experiencing or anticipate problems in the supply of quality school leaders. Kelempen &

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award
Richetti (2001:1) in the United States indicates that, “the nation‟s reservoir of experienced
principals is about to become seriously depleted, leaving reform to rookies. Forty percent of
elementary, middle and high school principals are about to retire, according to U.S.
Department of Labor statistics”.

In the Canadian context Phillips (2003:1) indicates that, “of the incumbent school leaders
approximately 30 to 57%, depending upon the province, are expected or are able to retire in the
next 3-5 years. The average age of principals is 46-51 years. Decreasing numbers of candidates
are applying for school leadership positions and even within the current pool of vice-principals
many express no desire for the principalship, e.g., a survey of New Brunswick vice-principals
stated that only 19.5% of them were interested in a principalship. Williams states that the
outflow of qualified persons through retirement strongly outnumbers newly qualified persons
entering the field. (The number of replacement-qualified persons over the five year period is
only 44 per cent of those projected to retire - a decrease in the pool of 56 per cent).”

While traditionally school principal positions have been filled with experienced Assistant
Principals, Head Teachers and Deputy Principals, similar age distributions are evident in these
promotions positions. This leaves a possible future where many inexperienced school
principals will be supported by other school executives who are also new to the role.

In total the NSW Department of Education and Training has approximately 5393 executive
staff who are currently over fifty years of age. This represents 50% of all executive staff in
public schools in NSW.

In the United States shortages of principals are reported in some areas. Archer (2002) discusses
the strain that is being placed on New York City schools due to significant number of new
principals taking on the role with only limited leadership experience or training. Within the
NSW context of a statewide staffing approach it is unlikely that shortages would eventuate.
The real possibility exists however of the inequitable distribution of the most qualified and
competent candidates. While shortages are not likely in NSW it is important that strategies are
in place to manage generational change. System should be concerned not only about filing
vacant positions but also about ensuring that we have the right sort of leaders with the right sort
of skills and values for schools across the system.

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As indicated the problem is not unique to NSW and is evident in the United States, Canada and
elsewhere. Hale and Mooreman (2003:1) point out that, “it is impossible to ignore the
escalating need for higher quality principals - individuals who are prepared to provide the
instructional leadership necessary to improve student achievement”.

The need to prepare effective school leaders is a critical issue for education systems as Davis et
al (2005) indicates there is recognition that school leadership is second only to teacher
performance in improving student outcomes. Hale & Moreman (2003:19) support this message
indicating that “the principal‟s role in determining school quality and students achievement is
decisive”. Traditional methods of preparation utilizing progression through school based
executive positions have provided a vehicle for leadership training and a supply of school
leaders. It is becoming increasingly evident that this may be inadequate in modern education
systems which are facing a unique set of circumstances in that large numbers of leadership
vacancies will occur within the context of a rapidly changing educational environment.
Lashway (2003) argues that those who are currently taking on first time principal roles will be
entering educational environments which are significantly different from those of only five
years ago.

Davis et al (2005:6) indicates that the role of principal is increasingly complex as “principals
are expected to be educational visionaries, instructional and curriculum leaders, assessment
experts, disciplinarians, community builders, public relations/communications experts, budget
analysts, facilities managers, special programs administrators, as well as guardians of various
legal, contractual and policy mandates and initiatives. In addition, principals are expected to
serve the conflicting needs and interests of many stakeholders, including students, parents,
teachers, district office officials, unions, state and federal agencies. As a result, many scholars
and practitioners argue that the job requirements far exceed the reasonable capacities of any
one person”.

In the United States, university preparation programs are coming under increasing criticism
(Levine, 2005) for being disconnected from the real word (Davis et al, 2005). Lashway (203:1)
argues that with “heightened expectations, principals require new forms of training”. While

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award
Lashway indicates that there is little research available on the correlation between leadership
preparation programs and principal‟s effectiveness a Public Agenda survey in the United States
found that 69% of principals and 80% of Superintendents believed that principal preparation
was inadequate. Isik (2000) presents some evidence to suggest that principal training programs
are effective however, the magnitude of this effect has not been determined. The debate on
preparation has largely centered on the relative value of academic learning as opposed to field
based experience. Academic programs are said to have an advantage in the analysis and
understanding of complex issues but experience problems in creating a “bridge between theory
and practice” (Lashway, 2003:2). On the other hand “field based knowledge has obvious
practical value but is oriented around existing practice rather than reforms that may be needed”
(Lashway, 2003:2). Norton (2002) highlights the limitations of standards frameworks which
can result in a formula approach. When performance is matched to standards the core aim of
preparation can be deflected towards meeting a descriptive set of standards rather than gaining
mastery over the more substantive elements of leadership capability. Within a standard
framework approach Norton argues that there may be a failure to address the fundamental
reforms that are necessary around the core business of schools.

A significant problem highlighted by Lashway is the self selection process often used as a
precursor to leadership preparation. He argues there is little effort to reach out to encourage
talented individuals to take on leadership roles. Problems also arise where the personal
qualities of applicants are not a central focus of selection. More effort may be needed to
identify high quality potential leaders who are not necessarily skilled at self promotion or
under the immediate gaze of the gatekeepers to advancement.

While existing knowledge on the best way to prepare school leaders is scant a significant
review of school leadership preparation states that, “evidence indicates that effective programs
are research-based, have curricular coherence, provide experience in authentic contexts, use
cohort groupings and mentors, and are structured to enable collaborative activity between the
program and area schools”. (Davis, et al. 2005:5)

Principal preparation and subsequent career development appear to lack a strong research
foundation. Despite this there is consensus on the most effective methods of preparation.
Davis, et al (2005:11) states that program delivery should be “through a variety of methods to

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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award
best meet the needs of adult learners and to allow principals or aspiring principals to apply the
curricular content in authentic settings and towards the resolution of real-world problems and
dilemmas. There is therefore a need to create real and simulated leadership experiences for
participants in preparation programs who would otherwise lack the experiential base”. Key
methods of delivery include:

Field Based Experience

Field based experience is used on the premise that exposure to the real-world of leadership can
improve a persons ability to analyse circumstances, consider options, plan for change and put
this planning into practice. “There is a sizable body of research that suggests most adults learn
best when exposed to situations requiring the application of acquired skills, knowledge, and
problem-solving strategies within authentic settings, and when guided by critical self-
reflection.” (Davis et al, 2005:12)

Neville (1996:1) argues that field based experience allows people to “gain valuable insights
into the realities of the job. It could also provide opportunities for teachers who aspire to be
principals to determine whether the principalship is a position they wish to seek”.

Problem Based Learning

Problem based learning operates on the premise that it is not enough to have the skills to
successfully operate within the principal‟s role, it is also critically important to know when to
use these skills. Such judgment can be acquired through challenging and relevant simulations
within a problem based learning approach. Problem based learning was originally used to
support medical students who were presented with hypothetical situations that they were likely
to encounter in practice. Using theory and research encountered in professional learning
possible solutions to the hypothetical situation are proposed within the context of group

Bridges (1992) pioneered the use of problem based learning in educational management. The
three main goals of problem based learning are identified as: “(1) the development of
administrative skills, (2) the development of problem-solving skills, and (3) the acquisition of
the knowledge base that underlies administrative practice”. (Lumsden, 1992)

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Cohort Groups

Cohort or collegial groups have operated both formally and informally within education
communities for some time. “The grouping of administrative candidates as well as experienced
school leaders into cohorts has become increasingly popular. Proponents of cohort grouping
strategies maintain that adult learning is best accomplished when it is part of a socially
cohesive activity structure that emphasizes shared authority for learning, opportunities for
collaboration, and teamwork in practice oriented situations.” (Davis et al, 2005:13)

Interviews with principals in New Zealand and South Australia indicated the high value placed
on cohort groups. A number of new principals indicated that the supportive collegial groups
established had made a significant difference to the way they experienced the principal‟s role.
The concept of „just in time‟ support, where a new principal could call on an experienced
principal in a critical situation was highly valued. Such relationships were best established
within the collegial group as new principals were then able to make decisions about who they
could trust and confide in when confronted with demanding issues.


Mentoring is a long established practice whose history can be traced back as far as Homer‟s
Odyssey. Mentoring is a significant relationship in which a senior experienced person supports
the career development of a less experienced person. “Mentoring relationships should serve to
reduce the distance between a learner‟s independent problem-solving performance and his/her
potential developmental level achieved through problem solving with guidance from and
expert”. (Davis et al, 2005:13) Through this process the corporate knowledge and practical
skill of the mentor is passed on within the context of the role. “Mentoring programs connect
principals with people who can help them test ideas, reflect on their own practices, model
effective practices navigate tough situations, and affirm their approaches”. (Riggins-Newby &
Zarlengo, 2003:5)

In the United States and elsewhere the effectiveness of this training has gained more
prominence as systems are faced with the problem of supplying quality school leadership.
While many systems have qualified people who might take up the role, a function of mentoring

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is to encourage the best people to do so. The purpose of mentors is to assist new and emerging
principals to acquire the knowledge and characteristic behaviours that are typical of successful
leaders. “Since 1991, MESPA has tailored mentoring programs that support new principals
facing a challenging landscape of educational reform in Massachusetts. MESPA has always
used retired principals as mentors, taking advantage of their desire to stay connected and their
ability to step back and reflect about the profession”. (Riggins-Newby & Zarlengo, 2003:9)

In recent time the mentoring relationship has received increased interest from academics and
professionals in the field. What is emerging is the importance of selecting the right mentors
and the right matches to ensure a productive and successful relationship. (Cordeiro & Smith-
Sloan, 1995)

In establishing mentor relationships it is important to recognize the value of context. Ideally
mentors should have experience and have demonstrated success in schools with the same
characteristics as the schools in which the new principal is operating. “There is an
unquestionable connection between the principal‟s ability to lead learning and the support they
themselves receive in their everyday work. Mentoring supplies the necessary support as
effective job embedded professional development”. (Riggins-Newby & Zarlengo, 2003:5)

The role of the school principal has never been more complex or more critical. Traditionally
principals may have served a long apprenticeship as an Assistant Principal or Deputy Principal.
The quality of this preparation for the role has been dependant upon the principal‟s skills and
willingness to professionally develop executive staff. With the average age of in school
executive across all levels increasing it is likely that individuals will enjoy rapid promotion
into the principal‟s role. This will see the need for mentoring from those experienced in school


Coaching is described as a formal process which provides an opportunity to reflect on
professional practice within a framework of confidentiality. McCoy (2005:43) indicates that
coaching is “based on the understanding that, given the opportunity to reflect and a
commitment to act, people are able to change the way they operate, develop their potential, and
achieve more in areas they choose to address”.
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Leadership Fellowship 2004 – Frank Farrell Award

McCoy (2005:43) reports that a group of Victorian principals have had the opportunity to work
with personal coaches, “the Victorian program is currently aimed at providing high performing
principals with coaching in a bid to improve leadership skills, prevent burnout and balance
work and personal lives”.

Conclusions on Preparation

Although a coherent research base on the efficacy of principal preparation is lacking, there
appears to be widespread agreement on the essential elements of effective preparation. These
include the need for:

        A coherent research base.
        Links between theory and practice.
        Content applied in authentic settings addressing common issues.
        Practical skills developed in context.
        Challenging relevant simulations to improve decision making.
        Supportive groups providing a socially cohesive structure in which to acquire skills.
        Mentors to guide new leaders through the process of skill acquisition.
        Co-ordination of the leadership support provided.
        Sequential development across the different stages of leadership.

Regardless of the methods used to prepare future leaders, leadership preparation needs to be
carefully planned, of adequate duration and particular efforts should to be directed towards
support early in a principals career. As Lashway (2003:3) points out there is a “critical
induction period in which the principal‟s career choice is either validated or undermined”.

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The NSW Department of Education and Training is a large and complex organization
providing school education to approximately 750,000 students in more than 2200 schools.
Schools are located in ten regions across NSW and are also supported through a centralized
state office structure.

Over recent years the NSW DET and stakeholder groups including the NSW Primary
Principals‟ Association and NSW Secondary Principals‟ Council have developed an extensive
range of leadership preparation programs. These programs include a dedicated Professional
Support and Curriculum Development Directorate responsible for Leadership Development

The various supports available through the DET at the state level are identified in the
leadership development website at; http://www.curriculumsupport.nsw.edu.au/leadership and

The School Leadership Development Strategy

This strategy has been developed in response to the Government‟s commitments in leadership
development. It will provide for accessible and flexible delivery of leadership development
opportunities with an emphasis on self assessment, individual planning, mentoring, and
professional learning. The strategy will encourage school leaders and those who aspire to
leadership positions to access learning opportunities that take into account the personal and
professional experience, career stage and aspirations of individuals.

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The five elements of the strategy are:

Leadership capability framework and development instrument

A leadership capability framework will underpin all leadership development programs.
Research to identify the capabilities demonstrated by effective school leaders has been
conducted by the University of Technology, Sydney in October 2002 and September 2003.
Professional Support and Curriculum in consultation with the NSW Secondary Principals‟
Council and the NSW Primary Principals‟ Association used this research as well as national
and international developments to design a Leadership Capabilities Framework (LCF). This
framework provides descriptions of five domains that combine to ensure effective school
leadership. The LCF has been published on the School Leadership Development website. This
framework will continue to be responsive to feedback from school leaders and developments in
leadership. A leadership development instrument linked to the LCF has been developed. It is
being trialed as part of the Targeted Principals Preparation Program (TPPP) and will enable
individuals to conduct a self, peer or 360° assessment of their current leadership strengths and
areas for further development.

                           DET – Leadership Capability Framework Model

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Targeted Principals Preparation Programs for aspiring leaders

The Targeted Principal Preparation Program is specifically focused on preparing those who
aspire to be a principal within two years and in a school context that may be characterised by:
• special program funding (for example, Priority Schools Funding Program, Priority Action
  Schools Program, Country Areas Program)
• remote location
• high staff mobility
• high proportion of newly-appointed teachers and executive
• schools with culturally diverse communities.

The four targeted groups for 2004 are:

• small   primary schools in rural and remote areas (PP5 & PP6)
• medium-sized     primary schools (PP3 & PP4)
• rural   secondary and central schools
• metropolitan   secondary schools with culturally diverse communities.

Almost 500 school leaders from across the state applied to be participants in the 2004 program.
60 participants were selected. Cycle 1 commenced in February 2004. Cycle 2 commenced in
April 2004. Principals who have current or recent successful experience in a school
representing one of the targeted contexts were asked to apply to be mentors to the participants
in the TPPP. Almost 200 principals applied to be mentors. 30 were selected and received
mentor training in December 2003.

Funds for travel, shadowing opportunities, attendance at conferences and other leadership
experiences will be provided to participants and mentors. An introductory conference for
participants and mentors in the first cycle was held in Sydney on 16 and 17 February 2004.
There are 480 aspiring school leaders who will receive training in the TPPP in 2004, 2005 and

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Induction support for new school leaders

Induction and orientation for newly appointed principals includes a two-day conference and
follow-up support provided by state office. The induction conference provides opportunity for
new principals to develop personal leadership development plans based on the LFC, form
collegial networks, meet senior departmental officers and learn of some important departmental
policies and procedures. Follow up telephone contact and online resources will ensure
continued support is provided. Newly appointed deputy principals receive one day induction
training and a resource folder containing a congratulatory letter from the Director-General,
useful contacts and important departmental policies and procedures.

Leadership development support for current school leaders

The School Leadership Development website provides a wide variety of relevant materials and
services to aspiring, beginning and continuing school leaders. Twelve $5000 scholarships have
been provided to principals to conduct research into school leadership developments in 2004.
The results of this research will be available on the School Leadership Development website.
Training opportunities to support aspiring leaders through mentoring by current school leaders
in targeted school contexts will continue to be provided by the TPPP.

Online leadership development support

A menu of development opportunities aligned to the LFC has been developed. This online
resource allows school leaders to access research articles, departmental materials and policies,
tertiary courses, professional associations and information about upcoming state and national
leadership conferences. The website address is:


Future developments to this website will include provision for online conferences, access to
online principals consolidated training and “just in time” learning units.

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Support for leadership training including school executive support is also being developed
through the regional structure.

The NSW Primary Principals‟ Association has developed a Leadership Development Strategy
under the structure of the Leadership Collective.

Leadership Collective NSW PPA

The stated purpose of this professional learning initiative is to “promote school leadership by
assisting in the continuous improvement of education......by creating the means through which
the collective wisdom of Primary Principals may be used as an educational resource and by
providing support for the professional and welfare needs of Principals”. The Leadership
Collective is governed by a Collective Board of Management which reports to the NSW PPA

The collective‟s belief statements recognize that the future of professional standards and
accreditation of principals is almost certain and the collective seeks to position the NSW PPA
as an important player and not just a participant in this debate.

Leadership learning based on a strong research culture with principal leadership learning
increasingly tied to academic credibility is a cornerstone of future success for the collective.
The collective also seeks to play an advocacy role which is stated on the NSW PPA website as

        Promotion and dissemination of information as it relates to the Leadership Collective
        Celebrate successes
        Promote the values and beliefs of the Leadership Collective
        Be passionate about the purpose of the Leadership Collective
        Encourage active participation
        Promote ownership and commitment
        Relevance

The NSW PPA collective acknowledges the increasingly global nature of information
exchange and of professional learning for Principals. The collective has stated links which
include the following domestic and international learning organizations;

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         Ontario Primary Principals‟ Association
         Macquarie Leadership Centre – Ron Ikin
         Australian Principals‟ Centre – Melbourne - Nick Thornton
         Wollongong Leadership Centre



The New Zealand education system supports approximately 765,000 students in 2647 schools
and is significantly more deregulated than the current NSW DET model. Each school is
managed through a Board of Trustees made up of community members and the school
principal. The principal is responsible to the Board and for the day-to-day management of the

Supporting schools are service providers, The Ministry of Education, The New Zealand
Qualifications Authority, Teacher Registration Board and Education Review Office. Within the
New Zealand System the Board of Trustees made up of elected parents representatives,
community members, staff representative and the principal establish a charter consistent with
government legislation. The Board of Trustees is responsible for meeting the objectives set and
managing the resources provided to operate the school. The Education Review Office conducts
comprehensive inspections of schools to ensure they are meeting their objectives. The principal
manages the school within the policies set by the Board.

Principals appeared to experience significant autonomy in the day-to-day management of
schools including issues of staffing and properties. Within the New Zealand public education
system principals are more accountable to the local community through the established board
of trustee‟s structure and less accountable in terms of line management.

The Ministry of Education offers principals support, mentoring and follow-up to assist
principals to manage their work. Significant aspects of this support are provided through tender

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processes and involve service providers completing competitive tenders to provide leadership
and other professional development support. This often occurs through higher education

The New Zealand system recognizes known pressure points for principals. The most critical of
these is upon entry as principals learn the skills to undertake their role. In response the Ministry
offers an 18-month program of support for first time principals. As part of this program each
principal receives a mentor and becomes a member of a learning group. Despite the voluntary
nature of this program 97% of new principals have taken up this support. Advisers who are
attached to colleges of education in each region visit and support principals, they also follow
up with the small numbers (3%) who do not enroll in the First-time Principals Program
(FTPP). A number of principals indicated that interview panels that are managed through the
Board of Trustees may increasingly look to selecting candidates willing to participate in the
First-time Principals Program.

The Ministry of Education also supports an on line community service „LeadSpace‟ which
provides information, discussion and on-line mentoring. Recently the Ministry has established
a development centre for experienced principals. The system of education in New Zealand
provides a range of face to face mentoring program that enables principals to learn from and
support one another.

The initiatives implemented are part of the ministry's long-term strategy to build leadership
capacity in New Zealand schools. These strategies include;

        LeadSpace,
        Aspiring Principal‟s Pilot,
        First-time Principals Program
        Principal Professional Learning Communities (PPLC),
        Principals' Development Planning Centre (PDPC) and
        Leadership and management advisers.

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LeadSpace is a website http://www.leadspace.govt.nz/ dedicated to building leadership
capacity through bringing together leadership information, ideas, tools, and links, from the
interactive and practical to the theoretical. Leaders use the site on a day-to-day basis and as a
source for further reflection and professional learning.

Massey University has recently undertaken an external evaluation of two areas on LeadSpace –
the 'leadership area' and the Principals Electronic Network (PEN) which is accessed through „e-
Net‟ area. Recommendations have been provided on areas for improvement. The evaluation
confirms that principals find the leadership information useful, but that more needs to be done
to create time and motivation for principals to participate in PEN.

LeadSpace features a series of digital stories which are currently available on the web site.
Planning is underway to extend the tools and resources available on the site over the next six

Aspiring Principals' Pilot

The pilot program for Aspiring Principals run by the University of Waikato School Leadership
Centre concluded in mid-2005. The Ministry of Education is now considering policy options
for the possible continuation of a provision to encourage interested teachers into school
leadership positions.

First-time Principals Program

The University of Auckland is contracted to provide the First-time Principals Program , an 18-
month induction program designed to support new principals as they develop their skills in
successful school leadership. Supporting the programs is a confidential website for first-time
principals called New Principals Online (NPO).

The contract with University of Auckland to deliver this program of induction and support for
beginning principals runs through until mid-2006. Mentoring and NPO arrangements have
been strengthened for 2005, in line with the recommendations of the 2004 NZ Council for
Education Review Evaluation.

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During 2005 the University of Auckland will be updating the curriculum for this program to
reflect the recent emphasis on evidenced-based leadership for improved learning outcomes.
The first residential course for 2005 took place in Auckland in April 2005.

Principal Professional Learning Communities

The Principal Professional Learning Communities is a partnership between Massey University,
the New Zealand Principals' Federation, and the New Zealand Educational Institute. It aims to
provide support for principals and keep them up-to-date through discussions and reflection on
recent readings and research.

In 2005 about 200 principals from around the country were participating in this group-learning
program, usually meeting twice a term in groups of four or five.

The contract is delivered through Massey University Principal and Leadership Centre. The
contract for this program is being extended for a further 18 months from June 2005.

Principals' Development Planning Centre

The Principals' Development Planning Centre program is a five-day course that enables
principals to develop their leadership capacity though reflection and evaluation in an
environment that is supportive and challenging. PDPC provides a diagnosis of principal's
current level of skill and knowledge, and identifies areas for development. This provides
principals with information to prepare an individual development plan which they then own.

In 2005 and 2006 support for principals through PDPC programs is being directly managed by
the Ministry of Education, at the request of principal sector representatives.

In 2005 approximately 100 experienced principals will participate in PDPC programs, meeting
in Wellington for a week of development planning in a group of six principals. Six senior
principals also attend each centre, acting as observers and facilitators, and advising on the
individual learning plan that each participating principal is expected to draw up by the end of
the week. There is also funding available to assist principals who have participated in the
centre to implement their plans.

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Leadership and management advisers

Between 70 and 80 leadership and management advisers, contracted by School Support
Services, work with primary and secondary schools leaders across the country. The advisers
support individuals and school clusters and are involved in supporting principal‟s work in
aspects such as planning and reporting, change management and strategic planning.

Coordinators of these advisory teams from all six College of Education regions recently met
with First Time Principal Directors to create better alignment between their respective areas of
work. A national hui for all leading and managing advisers was held in Auckland in the third
week of May. The focus of the hui was on using data for school improvement.

TEAM Solutions

TEAM (Total Education Advice and Management) Solutions provide for the professional
growth of principals. Funding is provided through a contract with the New Zealand Ministry of
Education after a successful tender. The focus of the contract is to deliver school support
services including professional development support for leaders and teachers.
The program through TEAM Solutions operates at three levels providing a facilitator or mentor
to the:
     Aspiring Principals Program
     First-time Principals Program
     Experienced Principals Program.

The Aspiring Principals Program is in the pilot stage with thirty aspiring principals currently
involved. The program is being organized by the Waikato University, Hamilton.

The First-time Principals Program has been taken up by the vast majority (97%) of first time
principals in New Zealand. Although not compulsory the program is increasingly being seen as
an essential prerequisite by the Board of Trustees of schools in New Zealand who are
responsible for principal selection. A number of principals surveyed regarded this program
very highly describing it as the best professional learning experience they had been involved
in. The team consists of twenty six mentors nationally who provide support to early career

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The Experienced Principals Program is run through the PDPC and provides professional
development for principals with five or more years of experience. Currently the program
provides support for up to two hundred and fifty principals in groups of fifty who complete the
program in Wellington.

TEAM Solutions

TEAM Solutions is an education unit of the Auckland College of Education and has been
providing professional development for educators since 1989. The organization currently has a
contract with the Ministry of Education to deliver school support services involving
professional development support for leaders and teachers. In delivering services TEAM
Solutions are expected to achieve key government priorities. Milestone evaluation reports are
prepared for the Ministry. TEAM Solutions employ groups of experienced educators to provide
services to schools.     Currently TEAM Solutions provides support to 672 primary and
secondary schools. Within this structure three principals are responsible for 470 schools in the
Auckland area. There are 30 aspiring principals currently undergoing a pilot project for the
New Zealand Ministry at Waikato University, Hamilton located 120km South of Auckland.

Meetings with principals indicated that services provided by TEAM Solutions and mentoring
personnel were held in high regards and their support was valued by school leadership.

Farm Cove Intermediate

Madeline East is an experienced principal at the Farm Cove Intermediate School. She reports
that the National New Zealand Principal‟s Federation has discussed Assistant Principals‟ and
Deputy Principals‟ conferences. These have yet to be established.

Currently school executive support operates on a regional level through groups such as the
Auckland Principals‟ Federation. The current professional development appraisals of Deputy

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Principals and Assistant Principals are informal processes at the school level. Mentoring
programs through the First Time Principal‟s Program were described as “working well”.

Madeline described challenges for principals including compliance issues Vs teaching and
learning and working with people. Principals‟ welfare is supported through a group of fifteen
principals who rotate on a principals‟ help line and usually staff the service once a month.

Madeline discussed The Education Review Office (ERO) process and the subsequent report
which is a public document placed on the internet. The process is similar to a quality assurance
model. The ERO process is designed to assess and assist through strategic and annual planning
goals which are identified for discussion with the ERO team.

The resourcing of schools was described as the biggest issue in New Zealand Principals‟
Federation. Parity with secondary schools is the single hottest topic.

Pakuranga Health Camp School

Ross McGowan is principal of Health Camp School which is located in South Auckland and
provides support for students at risk through a ten week intensive residential program.

Ross indicated that support was provided to principal through the School Leadership Centre
University of Auckland. The Ministry provides a series of three day courses for aspiring
principals. Ross indicated that the First-time Principals Program is the best professional
development he had been involved with. The mentor appointed as part of the program was
highly valued for the support provided. Informal mentoring by school executive throughout his
career was also considered to be an important part of career development.

Ross described the First-time Principals Program as involving 18 months of support including
residential which were conducted during the school vacation. Ross also described the enhanced
school leadership project which involves a mentoring project for newly appointed and first

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time principals. An example project might involve the way data on students‟ achievement is
collected and reported.

The view held was that the principal‟s role was not converted and there is a perceived shortage
of applicants in some areas. Principal shadowing and informal mentoring is considered a good
option for support. Principals viewed positively that the ministry has now identified the need
for principal mentoring and leadership development.

Flanshaw Road Public School

Cherie Taylor-Patel is principal of a middle decile, middle class school, attracting average
funding from the ministry. Schools in New Zealand are ranked on a decile ranking which
indicates the socio-economic status of the community and is used to provide formulas for
differential funding. Cherie indicated that she „self identified‟ her own mentor and followed a
principal she respected to other schools to maintain the mentoring relationship.

Cherie completed the Aspiring Principals‟ workshop with Ministry of Education and TEAM

Cherie supported her own professional development by establishing networks and taking
professional learning opportunities. Networks include a wide circle of colleagues/friends and
Lionell Mickell, allocated by state office through TEAM Solutions. The First-time Principals
Program had a balance of speakers on leadership and management. This was described as a
valuable development opportunity.

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Bairds Mainfreight School

Suzanne Billington is the principal of Bairds Mainfreight which is named after a freighting
company who sponsor the school. Bairds Mainfreight is a low decile school attracting funding
on the basis of the low socio-economic demographics of the community.

Suzanne indicated that most professional development and mentoring across her career has
been informal. Suzanne indicated that she would have valued formal mentoring leading to
professional dialogue, sharing and networking. Suzanne indicated that mentors to assist with
properties would be important at this early stage of the principalship.

Breakfast meeting were held with first time principals and encouraged networking. Meetings
were conducted on a confidential basis a wide range of issues could be raised and addressed.
The Board of Trustees had provided $5000 to support the professional development of the
principal. Areas which Suzanne considered important to leadership development included
working with Assistant Principals and Deputy Principals, consultants to support curriculum
implementation, the opportunity to work with senior management and the New Zealand
Teachers Council web site.

Rongamai Public School

Tina Voorouw is the principals of Rongamai Public School which is a decile 1 school in a low
socio-economic community. Tina has one years experience as principal and twenty years in
classroom. She has completed a Masters Degree to balance theory and practice. Rongamai has
approximately 150 students many with learning and behavioural issues.

The school is described as having strong community links and an active Board of Trustees. The
Board of Trustees has strong links with the different cultures which make up the local
community. There are three separate schools on site based on cultural heritage. The population

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of the school is highly mobile and made up of 40% Maori, 20% Cook Islander, 5% Samoan,
5% Nuien and 5% Tongan.

A local principal provides mentoring support for Tina. This support is valued and Tina
indicated that a critical element of this support was the opportunity to share ideas and concerns
regarding aspects of school leadership.

Tina described the First-time Principals Program as a great opportunity to develop a supportive
network, which allows new principals to come to grips with issues. The network is run as part
of the First-time Principals Program. The value of mentors working along side new principals
was stressed.

School Leadership Centre

New Zealand Review Office is an independent government office. In the late 1980‟s some
school review reports about under performing schools reached the media. In 1999 the New
Zealand Minister for Education, Trevor Mallard formed a school leadership reference group.
This coincided with the establishment of the National Centre of School Leadership (NCSL) in
Nottingham in the United Kingdom. The NCSL was opened in 2003. The University of
Waikato, Hamilton wrote a curriculum for induction of new principals. Curriculum delivery
was tendered and won by the University of Auckland. Project teams were established at the
leadership centre. The conceptual design of modules and on-line curriculum delivery is now in
place. The program includes an induction program followed by three residential components
Within the residential program case studies are presented to course attendees. Module options
include areas such as financial management and properties. Approximately 97% of first-time
principals from primary, secondary, independent, state and rural schools and Maori schools are
participating. A reference group of first-time principals is elected and provides feedback.
Principals are supported by twenty six mentors working in teams nationally.

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The First-time Principals Program supports approximately 140 – 150 new principals each year.
The primary method of delivery is coaching / mentoring. Approximately ten mentors attend
residential courses as they are conducted throughout the year.

A new principals online project is being established with full time staff. A facilitator is
employed to complete the technical work. The resulting web site has a discussion, feedback
and programming section for first time principals.

In addition to other programs a new program for experienced principals has commenced
operation. Through the Professional Development Principals Centre principals of five years or
more experience are provided with performance feedback and a confidential report on
professional development. The program caters for a maximum of 250 in groups of 50 who
attend a residential course in Wellington.


The common themes to emerge from interviews with New Zealand principals and educators
highlight the provision of professional leadership support in the context of a decentralized
education system. The absence of a large bureaucratic centralized structure lends itself to the
outsourcing of aspects of school support including professional learning.

Through tender processes the government is able to set the parameters of responsibility and
expectations in the form of achievement goals for which the service provider is held
accountable. This system has enabled the University sector to play a leading role in the
provision of professional learning. The connections with the University sector and the
employment of experienced principals under the umbrella of the service provider, provides
significant scope to closely link leadership theory with practical experience.

A significant feature and advantage of the First-time Principals Program was the fact that
almost all first time principals were involved ensuring each new principal received a significant
and consistent induction program as a foundation on which to build success in the role.

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All principals interviewed spoke highly of and valued their involvement in the FTPP. The
opportunities provided early in their career were considered important to their success in the
role. The case studies also highlighted the value placed on mentoring and support groups
within the context of FTPP. A number of principals indicated that many potential leaders
would not experience the same opportunities for growth and development or career
opportunities without formal access to mentors.

A number of principals indicated that their Board of Trustees were prepared to invest
significant additional funds from school community source to support their professional
learning and development in the role of principal.


The South Australian Public Education system is managed through the South Australian
Department of Education and Children‟s Services which supports approximately 170,000
students in 609 government schools. Seven key offices are responsible to the Chief Executive
within the South Australian system. The Office of People and Culture has responsibility for the
development of leadership capacity at all levels of the organization. There are eighteen districts
across the state with a district director and support team. The system is involved in a reform
agenda which includes educational, organisational and leadership initiatives.

South Australian Centre for Leaders in Education

The South Australian Centre for Leaders in Education (SACLE) is a branch of the South
Australian Department of Education and Children‟s Services. Nancy Schupelius is director of
the centre and Wendy House is a project leader with SACLE.

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SACLE is staffed with the following roles:

        1 x Director
        2 x Project Leaders (Principal Consultants)
        3 x Admin staff

Principal positions in South Australia are filled following the advertising of the position in the
„Express‟ newspaper. Self nominated participants regularly participate in a CV writing
workshop to sharpen their skills.

SACLE coordinates the „Leaders Briefing‟ project which is targeted at newly appointed
Principals. Mentoring and coaching is important to this project given the spread of principal
positions from pre-school to high school.

SACLE coordinates the “Aspiring Leaders” scholarships. This project has an annual budget of
approximately twenty five thousand dollars. The program targets school executive staff to run
professional development programs within their local communities. There is a broad outline of
descriptors for success connected to this project. One goal of the project is to engage and retain
young people at school and improve their learning outcomes. Research across these schools
provides a basis for improved community practice. The “Southern Alliance” project for
example focuses on monitoring of attendance. Parents provide mobile phone numbers to the
school so that student absences can be monitored via a short message service (SMS). This
project has measurably improved student attendance.

„HEADS UP – 21‟ was discussed in the context of the recent appointment of NSW DET
Deputy Director-General, Schools, Mr. Trevor Fletcher. The SACLE team refers to this
successful project as an initiative of Trevor‟s. The program offers participants three days in the
school holiday period for aspiring and newly appointed principals. All seventeen educational
districts in SA have allocated participants. Aspiring Leaders are matched to mentors within the
same district. Professional Principal Associations such as the South Australian Secondary
Principals‟ Association and the South Australian Primary Principals‟ Association participate in

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this project. The Small Schools Association and the Area Schools Association – for country
schools from K-12 also participate in this project.

Alberton Public School

Alberton Public School is a low socio-economic school in outer suburban Adelaide. Andrew
Plastow was appointed Principal in January 2004. Andrew reports that he inherited a
challenging school culture and staffroom with great potential but a low level of trust and

Three people have mentored Andrew in different contexts and different roles. Andrew
describes these mentors as having been his „Bosses‟. Andrew regards one successful trademark
of his career centering on his varied roles. This variety of roles over a relatively short time
frame has included:

         Behavior support teacher in a special education unit.
         Leadership roles at Port Augusta and Wyalla Special Education Schools.
         Consultancy in behavioral support in Adelaide with a caseload for behavior
          management in schools. .
         Primary school counselor which is a promotional position linked to co-coordinator 2 –
          Key Teacher. This is akin to the discontinued executive teacher status in NSW DET
          primary schools.
         Relieving Deputy Principal which was an opportunity in addition to the „Primary
          Counselor Role‟
         Head of Campus role which is equivalent to NSW DET Assistant Principal status.

This aspect of varied responsibilities and opportunities early in the career of young principals
is a feature of many principals surveyed as part of the GENeration next study.

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Croydon High School

Sue George-Duiff is Principal at Croydon High School. Croydon High in Adelaide can be
characterized as a “School Card” school with high need welfare families. School Card entitles
the student to receive full funding support into school based on socio-economic circumstances.

Sue‟s path to the principalship has benefited from opportunities to work in a broad range of
career roles including:

        Project Officer work with students at risk in Port Augusta.
        Curriculum project officer work in curriculum with SA State office.
        Principal induction day guest speaker as invited speaker to State Office induction.
        Informal mentor for new principals within her area network.

Sue commented on her wide network of mentors which she can “lean on” and a very
supportive and newly appointed district director whose relationship with Sue concentrated on
“Issue Specific Mentoring”. Sue commented that a single critical mentor principal assisted her
in her promotion to Croydon High.

Sue advises her mentors, who are aspirant and newly appointed principals to take control of
their own career. An important aspect of Sue‟s work is to support people. Sue comments that
women leaders can underestimate what they can do which is characterized by “lots of self
doubt” and that men on the other hand are very confident.

Sue commented very positively about the work of „Heads Up 21‟ which is paid professional
development for the first-time principal. Sue asserted that SACLE was strong on providing the
“whole picture” aspect of effective school leadership.

Sue commented that across the system and throughout all schools that salary needs to be
commensurate with responsibility.

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Gepps Cross Girls High School

Sue Burtenshaw is Principal at Gepps Cross Girls High School in north suburban Adelaide.

Sue‟s variety of school leadership roles early in her career prepared her for the challenge of her
first principalship at Gepps Cross Girls High School. These roles included:

        Classroom teacher in Virginia USA.
        Counseling (executive) position after three years experience.
        Home economics classroom position at Woomera and then Coober Pedy in rural South
        Community funded executive position in Northern Adelaide.
        Four years at Craigmore High, work shadowing within the secondary school.
        School counselor position in Gepps Cross Girls High School.

Sue spoke very highly of her mentor principals who she had worked with and who encouraged
Sue to apply for additional promotions. Sue attributed part of her successes in her career to
internal networking in the northern suburbs of Adelaide. Sue suggested that particular “just in
time” mentoring had contributed to her success such as crisis management mentoring at
Coober Pedy School in rural South Australia.

Sue recommends “Heads Up 21” as a good project that principals should engage with.
Sue explored the concept of volunteer mentors versus casual but salaried “retired” principals
who have also supported her.

Sue suggested that principal level conferences needed to grow other teachers and to include
deputy principals into these conferences in order to share what is „secret principals‟ business‟.

Sue commented that within her own school the committee structures provided „fresh eyes‟ such
as having an outside principal on internal school committee. Sue commented that this is also a
viable way to generate new ideas which could be debated and harmonized into school practice.

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There were two central themes to emerge from our discussions with principals in case study
schools from South Australia. Firstly, there was extensive discussion around the critical
importance that successful mentoring relationships play in career development. Secondly, there
was an acknowledgement by all principals of the vital career successes which can be attributed
to seizing and exploiting early career opportunities in school administrative and consultancy
support roles.

All principal interviews conducted in South Australia encouraged aspirant and newly appointed
principals to seek mentoring support. Line managers or “bosses” were frequently the best
sources of mentoring as nominated by the principals who were interviewed. All principals
interviewed encouraged aspirant principals to maximize their opportunities for consultancy
support and school administrative roles. There would appear to be a very high correlation
between rapid promotion and career advancement to school principal level and those same
personnel who were prepared to take on administrative and consultancy roles early in their

The policy implications for the two central themes noted above have been recognized by the
South Australian Department of Education and Children‟s Services. Evidence of support for
early career development of aspirant principals can be seen in the very positive feedback which
all principals who were interviewed provided for the “Heads Up 21” project. Indeed the
naming of this project invites participants and observers of the Department, to take notice of
School Leadership issues for the 21st Century.

The policy implications for encouraging aspirant principals to be “early adopters” of career
opportunities for consultancy support and school leadership roles is less clear. Whilst there
may certainly be equity and industrial issues in the “targeting” of talented staff for early career
enhancement and advancement it would appear that this is what is happening on an informal
basis and obviously without systemic or formal support. These observations are also clear from
the New Zealand case studies and in the authors experience are clearly visible in aspects of the

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Indeed, the flirtation which the NSW DET State Leadership Unit had with a “high-
performance” teacher-leaders symposium in late 2004 (affectionately referred to as Hi-Po
leaders) would suggest that there are personnel who can be identified early in their careers for
early leadership development, if not necessarily calling this “fast tracking”.

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The purpose of this research was to investigate issues centering on the problem of the changing
nature of school leadership in NSW. These changes will result from anticipated retirements of
principals and other executive in schools. The aims of the research were to examine methods
of supporting new and aspiring leaders, provide recommendations on how best to ensure the
transition of leadership knowledge examine the current leadership capability framework in
light of the research findings and examine the leadership skills that might be required of the
next generation of school leaders. The research used case studies which examined methods of
leadership preparation in New Zealand and South Australia along with a literature review.


Evidence suggests that many systems of education have struggled with issues related to the
preparation of future school leaders. While shortages do not seem likely in the NSW context,
ensuring high quality leadership for schools is a challenge and should be a priority for all
systems of education. Education systems including the NSW public system have recognized
that they cannot afford to leave new principals to fend for themselves, learning by trial and
error as they face complex educational, social and political issues that are inherent in today‟s
school communities. The NSW system and associated stakeholder groups including the NSW
Primary Principals‟ Association and the NSW Secondary Principals‟ Council provide
comprehensive and wide ranging leadership development strategies for the NSW public
education system.

In such demanding contexts mentoring has been used effectively to support skill development.
Mentoring has the added advantage of making use of the corporate knowledge and the systems
investment in building the capacity of experienced school leaders over the course of their
careers. Through the proliferation of mentoring programs there is widespread acceptance that
the experience of school leaders should not be lost on retirement. Systems need to be
developed to ensure that experienced school leaders have opportunities to pass on their
knowledge to future generations.

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As leadership preparation strategies are developed it becomes increasingly necessary to
establish a coordinated cycle of knowledge transition. Ensuring that the body of leadership
knowledge and the values and attitudes of school leadership are passed on from one generation
of school leaders to the next is an important challenge to be addressed. This knowledge should
be available and accessed through the various stages of leadership. Lashway (2003:3) argues
that there is a need to provide “a seamless continuum of professional training throughout the
leader‟s career”. Davis et al (2005:5) highlights the need for “systems that support their
implementation and sustainability” and Hale and Moreman (2003:9) indicate the need “to take
a more policy-focused approach to changing how a state prepares its educational leaders and to
create more coherent educational leadership development systems”.

While mentoring in all its forms may be a productive resource, it has the potential to impede
professional learning and growth at times. Mentoring can be most useful when:

        Mentors are adequately trained.
        Mentors have experience which matches the school context in which the new
         principals finds themselves.
        There is immediate access to expertise.
        There is a matching process with an element of self selection of mentors.

In a broader sense the case studies revealed that a significant task of mentors is to define that
which distinguishes between what new principal needs to know in the long term as opposed to
what they want to know immediately. For new principals a focus on maintenance, finance and
other administrative issues might seem critical in the short term however, such forces will not
be sufficient to support the development of the higher order skills necessary to lead complex
school communities. Carefully constructed dialogue between newly appointed Generation X
principals and recently retired baby boomer principals may assist. To be of lasting value such
dialogue should transcend the “administrivia” and other basic skills of successful principals
and enter into the professionally challenging realm of discourse on the interpersonal and
political domains. To manage and lead discourse between emerging and current or retiring
principals the NSW DET Leadership Capability Framework is a useful tool which could be
further developed for this purpose.

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Quality leadership preparation utilising experienced and successful practitioners as mentors
will guard against the risk that the role will degenerate from a focus on educational leadership
to administrative management and compliance activities. Such management roles would reduce
professionalism and autonomy and are unlikely to attract the numbers of high quality people
we require to lead and teach in NSW public schools.

Quality educational leadership for the future education system can be secured through an
integration of skill and knowledge production and rigorous selection processes. These will
include defined standards at each level of the principalship, mentoring and peer review of
activities, professional learning activities from a variety of sources which dovetail with formal
academic qualifications and work performance supported by fellow professionals.

Programs such as the NSW DET Targeted Principal Preparation Program and NSW Primary
Principals‟ Association Leadership Collective initiative may go some of the way to addressing
the generational shift in the principalship. These programs are in part mirrored in professional
development models from New Zealand and South Australia. The NSW DET and key
stakeholders appear to have available a more comprehensive range of leadership development
strategies than are available in either New Zealand or South Australia.

There are some lessons from the context which may be of value to NSW. The New Zealand
Principals‟ Federation and individual participants indicated strong support for the First-time
Principals Program. This program matches beginning principals to experienced trained mentor
principals in order to provide on the job development and support. The tendering process in
which programs are out-sourced has several advantages in terms of clearly defined and
accountable goals and the inclusion of a range of outside expertise within programs. The
involvement of the University sector draws closer links between theory and practice which is
enhanced through the initiatives flexibility in the employment of retired principals to support
the program. The length of the program which provides support for up to eighteen months was
also considered an advantage.

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The workforce transformation as the baby boomer generation retires and generation X leaders
emerge to fill their positions is a statistical certainty. This issue is one which school systems
and professional principals associations are grappling with across the western world. Skills
based succession planning, mentoring and targeting aspirant schools leaders will allow large
numbers of school principal positions to be filled in the decade. Quality control is more
problematic and will require planning, coordination and accreditation of the wide range of
programs available.


Recommendation 1 – The DET create and maintain a list of experienced principals
approaching retirement who could provide mentoring advice prior to and post retirement.
These principals should self nominate and be available to assist following recommendations
from supervisors. Mentoring expertise could be of a general nature and also specific in areas
such as maintenance, finance, professional learning, curriculum implementation, working with
school communities and managing student behaviour.

Rationale: Creating a pool of expertise would provide opportunities for principals to pass on
expertise towards the end of their career and facilitate ongoing support after retirement. The
option for principals to draw on expertise in specific areas is seen as a particular advantage for
new principals and an option for School Education Directors to further support principals.

Recommendation 2 – Systems are developed to match beginning principals with experienced
principals who have experience in similar work environments. Beginning principals have a role
in self-selecting mentors from a pool of mentors available.

Rationale: The relationship between mentor and the mentored principal is critical to the
success of this support. Self-selection and mentoring training are identified in the literature and
through this research as the most effective ways of ensuring the mentoring process is

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Recommendation 3 – Regions play a greater role in establishing mentoring programs and
ensuring effective principal preparation programs at the local level within the context of state
wide leadership capability frameworks.

Rationale: Regions provide an immediate and local vehicle in order to establish local priorities
for leadership development and identify likely candidates.

Recommendation 4 – The DET revitalize and reinvent the relationship between principals and
school executive staff to provide clearer advice and greater focus on preparation for the
principal‟s role within the context of this relationship. Professional learning for principals
should be developed to assist in the development of school based leadership preparation
initiatives. Selection criteria for executive positions should emphasis future leadership
potential. Deputy Principals, Head Teachers and Assistant Principals should be included on the
principals email distribution lists.

Rationale: The process of leadership preparation at the school level is often described as ad
hoc with principals indicating that quality mentoring support at the school level often occurred
by chance. Systematic processes and support for principals with a focus on preparing executive
for the leadership role would capture a greater range of potential leaders. A greater pool of
potential leaders will likely contribute to increasing the standard of leadership across the
system. The context of significant retirements from school executive ranks requires a response
from principals to support new school executive. The broader dissemination of information
supplied to principals would be an advantage and aligns with the Department‟s Leading and
Managing the School Framework which emphasizes shared governance of the school.

Recommendation 5 - Greater emphasis be placed on providing immediate support (mentoring
/job coaching in general and specific areas of need) to new principals in more demanding

Rationale: Principals indicated that they greatly valued the “just in time” support which could
be provided by experienced principals. This type of support was particularly valuable in
demanding contexts where immediate solutions to issues such and properties and finance
allowed first time principals to maintain focus on the core issues.

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Recommendation 6 – Accredited professional learning courses be developed and provided for
leadership mentors. Professional learning in this area should be a prerequisite to the provision
of mentoring within the DET.

Rationale: Effective mentoring is a skill which can be enhanced through specific training
which will allow for higher quality support and consistency of support to new principals.

Recommendation 7 – DET develop strategies to focus on identifying talented early career
teachers and alerting them to the need for career and leadership planning.

Rationale: Principals describe the ad hoc nature of their career development with many
indicating that their path to leadership was partly dependant upon being in the right place at the
right time and in chance meetings with supervisors who were willing to support their career
development. Systems should encourage all staff to seek leadership opportunities increasing
the pool of competent people willing to take on leadership roles.

Recommendation 8 – Teachers with leadership potential are identified and encouraged to seek
out of school experiences to develop a broader systems view. Principals should support and
promote these opportunities as an important leadership development approach.

Rationale: A common theme amongst principals interviewed for this study was their
experience in various non-school based roles such as consultancy. Principals indicated that
such opportunities provided them with the broader perspective, profile and confidence to seek
school leadership positions.

Recommendation 10 – The system should continue to focus on building a culture which
values leadership at all levels and supports those aspiring to these leadership roles.

Rationale: Many principals indicated that leadership roles within schools were not sought after
by staff. They often described circumstances where leadership was seen as a burden of extra
tasks rather than an opportunity to apply skills and effect change. Staff at all levels across the
school should be provided with leadership opportunities and career path planning as part of the

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cycle of continuous professional improvement. Increasingly, with increased rates of retirement,
the expectations that are established around available leadership positions in schools will be
able to be met by the system as the numbers of vacancies increase.

Recommendation 11 – Work be undertaken on defining and developing appropriate support
across the stages of leadership from emerging leadership to experienced leadership within the
Leadership Capability Framework.

Rationale: Principals require different targeted support at each stage of their career. Matching
available support to the requirements of principals will provide a more effective strategy to
support school leadership and assist in providing sequenced service delivery.

Recommendation 12 – NSW DET support or undertake research aimed at evaluating the
effectiveness of the leadership preparation programs it employs.

Rationale: The literature indicates that little research has been conducted on the relationship
between leadership preparation and support and the effectiveness of school leaders. In order to
ensure the appropriate targeting of funding, models of leadership preparation require
comprehensive evaluation.

Recommendation 13 – Integrate and co-ordinate systems of leadership preparation for public
schools across NSW.

Rationale: Within the NSW public education system there are many and varied programs to
support school leaders. These programs are provided by the system and key stakeholder
groups. There would be significant advantages in the development of a comprehensive list of
strategies and programs available and the co-ordination of this support through the state office
so that principals could access support through the various stages of leadership.

Recommendation 14 – The NSW DET                    seek an evaluation report from the Victorian
Education Systems on the coaching program for high performing principals with a view to
trialing the approach in NSW DET.

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Rationale: Little evidence of programs to support our most experienced school leaders was
available in the literature.

Recommendation 15 – The NSW DET investigate the feasibility of a principal accreditation
process. This process should expand on the professional standards framework for teachers and
utilize a coordinated approach to principal‟s preparation.

Rationale: Principals accreditation would add status to the role of principal and provide more
impetuous to principal preparation and support programs and strategies.

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Archer, J. (2002). Novice principals put huge strain on N.Y.C. schools. Education Week. May
Bridges, E. (1992). Problem Based Learning for Administrators. Eugene, Oregon: ERIC
Clearinghouse of Educational Management, University of Oregon.

Cordeiro, Paula A., and Ellen Smith-Sloan. "Apprenticeships for Administrative Interns:
Learning To Talk Like a Principal." Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American
Educational Research Association, San Francisco, April 18-22, 1995.

Davis, S., Darling-Hammond, L., LaPointe, M., Meyerson, D (2005). School Leadership
Study: Developing Successful Principals. Stanford Educational Leadership Institute. The
Wallace Foundation.

Hale, E. and Hunter, N, M. (2003). Preparing School Principals: A National Perspective on
Policy and Program Innovations. Institute for Educational Leadership, Washington DC and
Illinois Educational Research Council, Edwardsville, IL.

Hess, F.M. (2005). An Innovative Look, a Recalcitrant Reality: The Politics of Principal
Reform. http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.22126/pub_detail.asp.

Isik, H. (2000). From Policy into Practice: The Effects of Principal Preparation Programs on
Principal Behaviour. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the University Council for
Educational Administration (UCEA) Nov 3-5.

Klempen, Robert, A. and Richetti, Cynthia, T. (2001). Greening the Next Generation of
Principals. Education Week. Dec 12, 2001.

Lashway, Larry (2003). Transforming Principal Preparation. ERIC Digest

Levine, A (2005). Educating School Leaders. The Education Schools Project.

Lumsden, L. (1992). Prospects in Principal Preparation. ERIC Digest, No.77.

McCoy, Jennifer. (2005). Coaching for Leadership in Schools. The Australian Educational
Leader 27, 4.

Nevill, D. (1996). Administrative Internships: A Practical Approach. SSTA Research Centre
Report #98-03: http://www.ssta.sk.ca/research/leadership/98-03.htm.

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Norton, John (2002). Preparing School Leaders: It‟s Time to Face the Facts. Atlanta, Georgia:
Southern Regional Educational Board.

Phillips, Susan (2003) Education Analyst. The Canadian Principal.

Riggins-Newby, C, G. & Zarlengo, P. (2003). National Association of Elementary School
Principals. (2003) Making the Case for Principal Mentoring, Brown University.
Roza, M., Celio, B, M., Harvey, J., Wishorn, S. (2003) A Matter of Definition: Is there truly a
shortage of principals? A Report to the Wallace – Readers Digest Funds.

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In 2005, the researchers traveled to Auckland New Zealand and Adelaide South Australia to
conduct interviews with principals who were new to the role and with the service providers
responsible for the development and implementation of principal professional learning

The methodology involved:

        The construction of a questionnaire to provide focus and consistency for one-on-one
         interviews with principals and staff in leadership development positions.

        Interviews were conducted with principals and educational leaders in New Zealand and
         South Australia.

        Case studies were developed on the basis of responses from interviews.

        Leadership preparation strategies in New Zealand, South Australia and New South
         Wales were reviewed.

        A literature review was conducted focusing on current research on the development of

        Interviews, literature search and case studies were used to establish key trends and

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                              Leadership Fellowship Survey

Name:                                              Code:
Date:                                              Location:
Principal Experience Years:                        Mentor Contact Period:
                                                   Mentor Experience:

1. How did your employer prepare you to take on the role of principal?



2. How satisfied were you with this preparation? (Strengths and weaknesses)

Scale 1 -5


3. What are the most significant challenges in your role?



4. Have you had a mentor? Formal or Informal

5. How was your mentor selected?

6. How should mentors be selected?

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7. On what issues / aspects of school management has the mentor been of assistance to

Priority list:
Other (political)


8. Are there any disadvantages to having a mentor? What are they?

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APPENDIX C – NSW DET School Executive Age Distributions
(source NSW DET workforce planning).

                                                            Head Teachers



                                                                                               Head Teachers Female
                                                                                               Head Teachers Male
                                                                                               Head Teachers Total


                                25–29 30–34 35–39 40–44 45–49 50–54 55–59 60–64 65 +

Head Teacher Secondary (1937) approximately 50% over fifty years of age.

                                                       Deputy Principal Primary


                                                                                       Deputy Principals Primary
                          80                                                           Female
                                                                                       Deputy Principals Primary Male

                          40                                                           Deputy Principals Primary Total


                                25–29 30–34 35–39 40–44 45–49 50–54 55–59 60–64

Deputy Principals Primary (172) approximately 53% over fifty years over.

                                                      Assistant Principal Primary



                                                                                          Assistant Principals Female
                          600                                                             Assistant Principals Male
                                                                                          Assistant Principals Total


                                25–29 30–34 35–39 40–44 45–49 50–54 55–59 60–64 65 +

Assistant Principals Primary (1602) approximately 41% over fifty years of age.

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                                                Deputy Principal Secondary


                                                                                Deputy Principals Secondary
                       200                                                      Female
                                                                                Deputy Principals Secondary
                       100                                                      Deputy Principals Secondary

                             30–34 35–39 40–44 45–49 50–54 55–59 60–64   65 +

Deputy Principals Secondary (423) approximately 59% over fifty years of age.

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