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Leadership of public education : an exploration of executive leaders in education Queensland

  • Bloxham, Thomas Raymond
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
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Education reform aimed at achieving improved student learning is a demanding challenge for leaders at all levels of education across the globe. In Queensland, Australia, Assistant Regional Directors, School Performance (ARD-SP) of public schools are executive leaders at the forefront of this challenge, working with groups, clusters, or networks of schools and one-on-one with principals, focusing on the performance of their schools. The ARD-SP role was recently established to positively impact student learning across the entire public school system in Queensland. The proposed study aimed to capture how ARDs-SP conceptualise and enact their leadership role. The study utilised a micropolitical perspective of leadership to understand the way in which these leaders talked about their leadership practices, their challenges, and the wider contextual factors impacting upon their work. A case study methodology guided the study and allowed ARDs-SP to share their understandings and enactment of executive leadership. A conceptual framework drawing upon the micropolitical leadership framework of Blase and Anderson (1995) was employed to analyse the research data gathered. Data were collected from Education Queensland (EQ) (i.e. that sector of the Department of Education and Training in Queensland responsible for public schools) policy material and reports and two rounds of semi-structured interviews with 18 ARD-SP participants and two senior EQ executives. The findings of this study were initially presented as four themes: performance, supervision, professional challenge, and system sustainability. They were then considered in the light of the literature and explored through the macro, meso, and micro layers within the conceptual framework. The key findings of this study found that ARDs-SP referred to using two different leadership approaches (i.e. an adversarial approach and/or a facilitative approach) when supervising school principals and the approach employed depended primarily upon the perceived performance of the principal. It was also found that the notion of supervision embedded within the role was perceived by ARDs-SP as problematic. These findings imply opportunities to refine the role and in doing so harness other system improvement strategies for EQ. An important contribution of this study was a reconceptualised conceptual framework that showed leadership approaches used by ARDs-SP as falling upon a continuum.

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