2014 Academy Photography Fellowship

Awarded to June Hingston – Principal
(ex Callaghan College, Newcastle, NSW.)

The Academy Photography Fellowship provides funding to the amount of $4000 annually to be used for the purpose of educational research.

The aims of June’s research are to:

  1. Examine the relationship between factors that affect principal leadership practice in the implementation of SBM policy reform.
  2. Explore the impact of the implementation of state SBM reform on the enactment of principal leadership.
  3. Investigate the effects of the implementation of school-based management reform on the workload and role of the principal, in terms of role overload, role conflict and role ambiguity.
  4. Improve school leadership practice through the development of research-informed professional development programs and instruments, and the development of a database of principal best practice (Innovation Projects).
  5. Contribute to the theory knowledge and practice on SBM, system reform, factors that influence principal leadership and the enactment of principal leadership.
  6. Inform policy on the effects of the implementation of SBM reforms on principal leadership practice.

She writes …

Principals hold very significant positions in the education process and are essential for successful schooling. They are the main source of leadership in their schools and they are second only to classroom teachers as an influence on student learning (Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Harris, 2009; Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris, & Hopkins, 2006).

There are many sources of leadership in schools, but principals remain the central focus (Anderson, 2011). Recent research (Hallinger, Wang, & Chen, 2013, p. 8) reported that leadership works through a ‘mediated effects model’ to improve student outcomes whereby principals indirectly affect people, work structures and processes and school culture. Effective principal leadership shapes the teaching and learning environment, raises expectations, provides support for parents, students and staff and promotes higher achievement levels (Day et al., 2009). Of principals’ effects, it is the influence that they have on the work of teachers that has the greatest impact on student learning and achievement (Day et al., 2009; Wahlstrom, Seashore-Lewis, Leithwood, & Anderson, 2010). Principal leadership matters and a more detailed understanding of how principals enact leadership has the potential to improve the learning of students, improve schools and contribute to successful school reform.

School-based management (SBM) reform has become a dominant theme in education in most countries around the world (Caldwell & Spinks, 2013; Leithwood & Menzies, 1998). In Australia, recent Commonwealth Governments have prioritised SBM as a focus for educational reform, even though the evidence to support this reform movement is controversial (Briggs & Wohlstetter, 2003; Smyth, 2011). There is a belief that the public education system needs to change to make it more efficient, more internationally competitive, improve student outcomes and to reduce the equity gap between students (Hallinger, Murphy, & Hausman, 2013; Smyth, 2011). The New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (NSWDEC) has developed policies to devolve greater decision-making to schools, making them more self-managing through the Local Schools Local Decisions Policy reforms. Principals, for example, by 2016 will manage 70% of the state education budget, instead of 10% in 2012 (NSWDEC, 2014). Through these reforms, it is anticipated, that principals will have greater flexibility within the NSWDEC but with an associated increase in accountability (McInerney, 2003). Local Schools Local Decisions (LSLD) is a significant reform process and its success depends on principal support for the effective delivery at the school level. All school reforms “…depend for their success on the motivations and capacities of local leadership” (Leithwood, Seashore-Lewis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004, p. 4) . In this process, principal leadership may change. An understanding of the factors that influence and change principal leadership, in an environment of increased SBM, is essential for practitioners and policy makers for the successful implementation of this reform agenda. This Research Project will focus on: the context factors that influence principal leadership; the enactment of principal leadership using Leithwood’s (2012) model of ‘School-level Leadership Practices’; and the impact of LSLD (as an example of system reform) on the role of the principal.

The aims of this study are to:

  1. Examine the relationship between factors that affect principal leadership practice in the implementation of SBM policy reform.
  2. Explore the impact of the implementation of state SBM reform on the enactment of principal leadership.
  3. Investigate the effects of the implementation of school-based management reform on the workload and role of the principal, in terms of role overload, role conflict and role ambiguity.
  4. Improve school leadership practice through the development of research-informed professional development programs and instruments, and the development of a database of principal best practice (Innovation Projects).
  5. Contribute to the theory knowledge and practice on SBM, system reform, factors that influence principal leadership and the enactment of principal leadership.
  6. Inform policy on the effects of the implementation of SBM reforms on principal leadership practice.

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