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Leadership in our secondary schools: good people, inadequate systems

  • Macann, Graeme1
  • 1 Graeme Macann Consultancy
Published Article
Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice
Exeley Inc.
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
DOI: 10.21307/jelpp-2020-004


The contexts in which Aotearoa New Zealand leaders learn and work have improved in some respects from 30 years ago and deteriorated in others. The improvements include a significant shift away from heroic, often dictatorial, models of leadership towards a greater focus on the many layers and types of leadership required for secondary schools to be successful. The deterioration in leaders being able to learn together across our state school system is created by high levels of competition among state secondary schools and by the inability of the Ministry of Education to have as much influence as might be hoped for in a state education system on the learning – by adults as well as children – in schools. In many parts of the country non- Māori school leaders now have the ability to know much more about hapu and iwi history relevant to their setting than was the case 30 years ago, including through the work of the Waitangi Tribunal. The “balkanisation” of our school system has become more pronounced over the last 30 years, as have the challenges resulting from the growing socio-economic divide between our poorest state schools and our most affluent. The “hands-off” approach from the Ministry of Education and successive governments regarding school zones has damaged the integrity and efficiency of our state school system. Several bitter pay disputes between governments of the day and the secondary teachers’ union, the Post-Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) especially, have meant that shared commitments by teachers’ representatives and the Ministry of Education to plan well for teacher supply for our state secondary schools have been difficult to achieve. Teacher supply challenges have added to the pressures on senior and middle leaders of the state schools serving our lowest socio-economic communities especially.

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