Leadership in public education

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1 Leadership in public education Policy direction overview Discussion paper three

2 Great educational leaders transform the lives of young people and enrich our whole community. They are the exceptional men and women who take the lead in lifting the quality of teaching and learning for every child in our diverse public education system. Principals do so by creating environments where teachers are inspired to teach, young people are motivated to learn, and the community is actively involved in the life of the school. Preschool leaders support their staff and parents so that every young child has the best possible start in life and learning at a time when it counts most. I believe the role of educational leaders will be increasingly important as we work together to better align our health, education and community services and support to assist children and families. Leaders recognise that children start to learn and develop long before they go to school, and that each child is shaped by family and other social factors beyond the classroom. That makes it all the more critical that leaders for the future have the capacity, values and skills to engage and inspire their community in the education and development of every child. Our educational leaders tell me that while their role is challenging, they enjoy the great privilege it offers. Together with their teams, they help to shape the skills and values of today s young people and future generations of South Australians. However, we face a challenge in attracting, keeping and supporting more outstanding leaders. This challenge confronts education systems nationally and internationally, and will become more acute as many of our most experienced leaders reach retirement age. It will be the quality of our educational leaders and the way they are supported to undertake their responsibilities that helps to transform the massive reforms of the Australian governments national partnerships into real benefits for young people. Their leadership shapes the quality of teaching and learning, the opportunities we generate for all children especially those who are most disadvantaged and the quality of service and support we give in those vital early years of a child s life. This discussion paper seeks your views on how we can best build on the success of our outstanding educational leaders to lift opportunities for all children. This is important for our State s future, because the quality of educational leadership makes a difference for every young South Australian as well as our social, cultural and economic prosperity. Grace Portolesi Minister for Education and Child Development A shared belief in the value and the future of every child exists amongst those of us who work as leaders in public education. In every South Australian community, public schools provide a quality, secular and comprehensive education. They play a unique role in shaping children and young people as individuals and confident, active participants in society. The public education system is diverse, with multiple sources of guidance, direction and expertise, and opportunities to demonstrate leadership within all levels and specialisations. What unites us is our common purpose work that is important beyond measure to give the gift of education to every child. This great purpose has now been strengthened by the creation of the new Department for Education and Child Development, which brings together many professional disciplines and will further reinforce the vital role of schools and preschools in every community. We have been modernising and refocusing our activities to ensure that everything we do is about supporting student achievement, quality teaching and community relationships. As educational leaders, you are at the heart of this work it is your commitment and vision that allows us to translate this activity into positive change at the school, preschool and community level. This paper aims to build a common understanding about who our educational leaders are and the values they share, and stimulate discussion on how leaders can best be supported. Our ability to attract, retain, support and extend high quality leaders will play a vital role in our success in years to come and is one of the highest priorities for me within our strategic plan for public education and care through to I hope that all educational leaders will take the opportunity to contribute to this discussion about the way we define and develop ourselves as professionals. I look forward to working alongside you in this area of vital importance. Keith Bartley Chief Executive Department for Education and Child Development

3 Educational leadership in public schools and preschools Principals and preschool directors are at the heart of our system of educational leadership. A compelling body of evidence shows that top quality leaders are a critical element in building successful schools and improving student outcomes. Through the way they behave and the cultures they create in their schools and preschools, our educational leaders are shaping the people around them including the next generation of society s citizens. We are also on the brink of a significant change to the leadership workforce as many of our most experienced leaders retire over the next five years. For these reasons it is clear that leadership must be actively nurtured within the public education system, and our current and future leaders supported to develop their skills and capacity to continue their own learning and leadership. Purpose in leadership Outstanding leaders who make the biggest difference in their schools and communities are driven by a strong belief in the value of the work they do. They motivate and inspire all around them and build upon the strengths of the communities they serve. They set out explicit aspirations for their students and are successful in engaging parents, students, volunteers and others in helping them achieve these goals. Educational attainment is central to the health and development of our society. It enriches the individual child, builds the economic capacity of the State and creates citizens who have the ability, willingness and opportunity to actively participate in civic, community and family life. Leaders seek to develop every child to their full potential. They provide opportunities for children to develop skills and understanding, and pursue interests that will enable them to lead rich, fulfilling and productive lives. They build communities of interest to support and extend the work of their sites and settings. Each South Australian child is entitled to a high quality education that equips them to meet the challenges of a rapidly challenging world. The task for educational leaders is to work with students, teachers, staff and communities to see this realised in every school and preschool across the State. To a significant extent, successful educational leadership in South Australia will be defined in relation to the National Professional Standard for Principals, as well as the standards for leadership set out in the National Quality Agenda for early childhood development. Leadership across the system While principals and preschool directors hold the positions with the greatest leadership responsibility, we need staff at all levels and speciality areas to demonstrate leadership qualities if we are to deliver the best possible education for every child. The public education system is complex. Each part of this system needs to be performing and collaborating at the highest level possible to achieve the best outcomes. Our educational leaders include our teachers, our non-teaching staff, our families and communities. Teachers whether or not they aspire to formal leadership positions are leaders in their classrooms. We will expand opportunities for teachers to demonstrate leadership by providing the opportunity for exceptional early career teachers to become advanced skills teachers and recognised under the National Professional Standards for Teachers. School services officers and other non-teaching staff will be supported by the outcomes of a review of selection, recruitment and expanding the training opportunities so they can contribute even more to their learning communities. Parents are their children s first teachers, and play a vital role in ensuring that children are engaged in learning, and in supporting them through their schooling. Love of learning is at the core of all he does. He is constantly seeking opportunities to develop or expand his practice for the betterment of colleagues and ultimately for the benefit of students. South Australian advanced skills teacher

4 How do we support quality leadership? We want to create within the public education system a leadership culture where leaders feel confident about what is expected of them, are equipped to meet those expectations and to support their students and staff to develop to their full potential. Through the Education Round Table, principals have told us that to be effective, our educational leaders need a clear understanding about what they are responsible for in their schools and preschools, and the tools and support available to enable them to reach these goals. Australia s first National Professional Standard for Principals was endorsed by Ministers at the Standing Council of Education and Early Childhood in The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership s National Professional Standard for Principals names the five professional practices of successful principals: z Leading teaching and learning z Developing self and others z Leading improvement, innovation and change z Leading the management of the school z Engaging and working with the community. The standard also acknowledges that personal vision and values, professional knowledge and interpersonal skills are key strengths of effective leaders. Similarly, the National Quality Agenda for early childhood outlines a similar set of responsibilities and practices of effective leadership: z Promoting a positive organisational culture and building a professional learning community z A commitment to continuous improvement z Enabling the effective provision of a quality service z Engaging regularly and effectively with families. Our leaders in early childhood settings are shaping the implementation of the initiatives arising from the National Quality Agenda in South Australia and, in doing so, are playing a significant role in the national reform effort. The National Professional Standard for Principals will form the basis of new role descriptions for our leaders. These role descriptions will more accurately reflect the range of responsibilities that rest with our school leaders, and help our leaders to target their professional development more effectively.

5 Leading teaching and learning Teachers deserve educational leaders who will challenge, support and coach them to be the best they can. South Australian primary school principal Educational leaders are best positioned to make a difference in their school or preschool when they focus their professional relationships, their work and their development on the core business of teaching and learning. It is by working with teachers to improve their practice, and building networks of shared professional learning within their schools, that leaders contribute most effectively to improving student outcomes. The National Professional Standards for Teachers provides our leaders with clear information about what teachers should know, do and understand. We have undertaken significant work to improve the way our curriculum is delivered to support quality teaching and learning. The Teaching for effective learning framework helps teachers deliver classroom education in a consistent manner, and improve student engagement in order to raise student achievement. Our principals play a key role in leading the development of teaching and learning that engages every child. And as a system we need to ensure they are supported to maintain their focus on this central aspect of their role. The framework provides guidance for leaders in creating a professional learning community, and places teaching and learning, rightfully, at the centre of their schools. Leading the management of schools and preschools In addition to supporting frontline staff by streamlining administrative processes, we are working to increase the capacity of our school services officer workforce. Increasing the skills of our school services officers in areas such as finance, administration and management will allow our leaders to spend more time on activities that directly improve the quality of education offered to each child. An online professional development service will help leaders to better coordinate professional development. This will provide leaders with information about professional development opportunities from coaching for literacy, to induction training in their new school. The service will include a range of training and development opportunities provided by the department as well as training provided by external organisations. It will also provide a record for every leader, teacher and staff member and enable staff and management to plan, target and record professional development activities over time. Opportunities in professional development Managing professional development is an integral part of improving teacher quality and practice. Our leadership workforce also needs to access a range of professional development opportunities to extend and challenge them as skilled professionals. To help our leaders develop themselves and their staff, a new suite of performance development policies for all public education employees is available. These policies enable leaders to plan professional development in accordance with the national standards for principals and teachers. A new South Australian Institute for Educational Leadership is also under development. This will provide an opportunity to integrate online service and all leadership professional development programs. It will provide educational leaders with information about leadership courses and online access to professional development programs aligned to the National Professional Standard for Principals. The institute will also provide opportunities for principals and preschool directors to collaborate with their colleagues, and enhance their capacity to work in an increasingly multidisciplinary environment. We envisage that the institute will be developed and progressively led by our own State s highly expert leaders. We are also working with the tertiary sector to develop opportunities for postgraduate qualifications for our leaders that reflect the high level of expertise we want to foster. Leading improvement, innovation and change The department s Improvement and accountability framework helps our leaders to continuously improve their schools. We are reviewing the framework to improve its focus on classroom outcomes, and better assist our leaders to orient resources towards areas where they can be most effective. In future, our most experienced leaders will be challenged to share their leadership and management experience across schools and regions. We want all leaders to help drive improvement in the schools that need it the most, and by doing so, improve the quality of public education offered to every South Australian child. What do you think? How can we utilise the expertise of our most experienced leaders to improve our schools and the outcomes for students who need it the most?

6 Engaging and working with the community In order to be effective, it is important that educational leaders have the support and respect of the communities in which they work. To do that, principals and preschool directors understand that listening to and learning from the community is important to the work they and their staff do on a day-to-day basis. Work is currently underway to further assist leaders and teachers to engage parents in their children s education. This work will increase the practical options available for parents and carers to work with schools to support the learning of their child. As part of this work, a social media policy will be released for use across the public education system. New technologies present many opportunities to assist schools and preschools to stay in touch with their communities and with each other. The policy will recognise the usefulness of social media in the education context, and provide guidance around the safeguards that should be in place for staff and students. Many educational leaders find it challenging to manage heightened public and media interest in schools and preschools in a way that allows them to balance both their roles as advocates for their local community and as public servants. To assist principals and preschool directors to communicate effectively, we will provide learning opportunities in communications to help maximise opportunities to celebrate achievements and respond constructively to community concerns. What do you think? What support do you need to engage more meaningfully with your school or preschool community? How do we support our leaders to meet the needs of their local school or preschool? South Australia can boast one of the most decentralised education systems in the country, however there are factors that limit the decision making and the flexibility of schools. One way we can make sure that the services provided by each school and preschool meet the needs of local children and communities is by enabling our leaders to make more local decisions about teaching and resource allocation. This will be achieved in a way that increases the ability of principals and preschool directors to focus on improving individual student and school outcomes within an equitable public education system. Significant progress has already been made in this area, including a new local staff recruitment and selection policy and greater site control over school resources. The Empowering local schools national partnership initiative aims to deliver greater flexibility to local schools and their community to improve student outcomes. We are working closely with primary and secondary principal associations to ensure the views of leaders help shape how this initiative will support schools in South Australia. What do you think? How can we better support leaders to make the local decisions to meet the needs and aspirations of their school or preschool community? At first I thought that leadership would mean that I would be distanced from the education of young people. Not so. As a principal, I can work with my school community to improve the conditions for learning for so many more students. South Australian primary school principal

7 There is a growing need for a new generation of high quality leaders, who can fill the gaps left by some of our most experienced leaders as they head towards retirement. They need to be equipped to lead 21st Century schools and preschools, and motivated to address the challenges within our most complex schools and communities. There are a number of options available to address this need, including: z z z z How do we attract the next generation of educational leaders? creating better, more accessible and more targeted pathways into school leadership identifying our potential school leaders early and providing them with opportunities to experience formal educational leadership roles providing our aspiring leaders with the opportunities to develop the capabilities they need to prepare for leadership making leadership more attractive by providing greater incentives for leaders to work in challenging environments such as low socio-economic status and rural and remote schools. This work is already underway through a number of programs and initiatives. We offer the Qschools program for new and aspiring school and preschool leaders, which uses the National Professional Standard for Principals and the DECD Improvement and accountability framework to help participants explore and understand leadership roles and leadership professional practices. We will also expand our coaching and mentoring programs for new and aspiring leaders in schools and preschools. It is clear that strategies such as mentoring and coaching facilitate deep learning and help unlock potential in order to maximise performance and bring out the best in all participants. We will offer both face-to-face and online mentoring with quality-assured mentors, and work to increase the take-up of work shadowing opportunities. We intend to provide a development centre for aspiring and current leaders within the South Australian Institute for Educational Leadership to enable them to identify their strengths and priorities for professional development. Responses to this paper, and the review of professional development, will also inform the development of a new tailored professional development program for emerging and new leaders. What do you think? What can we do to further encourage and prepare teachers who aspire to leadership roles? Next steps We seek your views on these ideas and initiatives so that we can develop a shared understanding of the directions needed for public education in South Australia. Responses will inform further policy and program development, and will help shape the way we practice and develop educational leadership in South Australia. We hope that you will take this opportunity to advocate on the issues that are most important to you. You are encouraged to discuss your views and ideas in your school and preschool communities, including school governing councils and student, parent, teacher and professional networks and associations. Please send your comments to Further information on the initiatives discussed in this paper can be found online at the Department for Education and Child Development professional development website pages/traininganddevelopment/ Copies of this statement are available from We thank the many leaders and educators who have contributed to developing the issues raised in this paper, including participants of an Education Round Table on leadership and other discussions with the Chief Executive.

8 Leadership in public education

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