2011 Academy Photography Fellowship

Awarded to Chris Presland – Principal St Clair High School, St Clair, NSW.

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

Chris’ research is on the Consultant Principal (a future position?).

He writes …

It is widely accepted that the Principal of a Public School in NSW is a unique position. It is pivotal in the success or failure of any initiative, policy or procedure. The Principalship is the one and only place in the NSW DEC at which all of the system’s functions come together.

In essence, everyone wants access to and influence over, the Principal.

Historically the supervision of Principals has been driven by line management/performance management systems drawn from business models where the line manager had a title (including School Inspector, Cluster Director, District Superintendent and School Education Director). These line managers were in turn supervised by someone in a more senior bureaucratic position and they in turn were line managed by a Deputy Director General (DDG), Schools.

Regardless of the structure of the day, all of these positions were fundamentally driven by a pyramid style model of management. Essentially this model provided bureaucrats and politicians some form of reassurance that the Principal would be held accountable by someone in a more senior position.

Arguably, there has been a tension between the role of the supervisor as line manager monitoring systemic accountability requirements, and the role of the supervisor in providing support and professional learning for the principal and the school.

In recent years many people have challenged the thinking of school based practitioners in relation to what is often termed the “factory” model of schooling.

Perhaps such a challenge should be directed towards the incumbent “factory” model of bureaucracy and politics.

This Academy Scholarship will enable the development of a paper which explores the following questions.

  • What if we were to challenge the entire notion that a Principal had to be “line managed”?
  • If we did that, what might Principal Support look like?
  • Who would be in the best position to provide that support?
  • What would Principal Professional Development look like?

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