Publication Date



In 'The leadership challenge : improving learning in schools, conference proceedings', pages 51-54. Camberwell Vic : Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)


This paper draws together findings from a recent major review of school leadership in Australia. In 2006, DEST commissioned an ACER team to prepare the Country Background Report as part of Australia's contribution to the OECD's international activity Improving School Leadership. Preparation of the report provided a timely opportunity to consult with key stakeholders and reflect on school leadership issues in Australia. The research confirms that leadership is important for student learning: academic achievement, academic self-concept and engagement in learning are shaped by teacher and school practices that are influenced by school leadership. Leaders contribute to student learning through their influence on other staff, organisational capacity and context. However, there needs to be greater clarity around the work school leaders are expected to do, and how they can best be supported, if they are to avoid role overload and retain the key focus on improving student learning. Creating the conditions for effective school leadership requires focus and support from the systems within which most leaders work. The paper discusses some promising initiatives in these regards, along with priorities for further development and research.