An Exploratory Investigation of the Executive Leadership Team in Schools

Year: 2016

Author: Barnett, Kerry, McCormick, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
The intensified focus of the Australian government and the educational community on improving school and student performance has emphasised the role of quality school leadership and quality teaching in realising this goal. Quality teaching and school leadership have become priority areas and both are being addressed in ways that see new practices and alternative models of leadership such as distributed leadership advocated for schools. However, disregarded by distributed leadership proponents are the middle-level leaders that for many years have existed in schools, such as heads of department or curriculum coordinators and year coordinators. Empirical evidence has supported the critical role of these middle-level leaders in enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in schools. At the same time, other research evidence has shown the work of these leaders is reliant on how their roles are constructed, the support and expectations of principals and individual leader capacity.The aim of this investigation was to identify the nature of successful executive team leadership and leadership of individual team members and, better understand how such leadership can contribute to enhanced teaching practices and learning outcomes for students. More specifically, the study sought to: (1) identify the role of executive leadership teams (ELTs) and individual team members; (2) determine how ELTs and individual team members contribute to enhanced teaching practices and student learning outcomes; and (3) identify factors which increase and/or constrain the ELTs and individual team members in accomplishing these goals. The study was exploratory as the purpose was to identify the nature of successful executive team leadership and leadership of individual team members, and better understand how such leadership can enhance teaching practices and learning outcomes for students. Subsequently, an approach which integrated case study design with qualitative methods of inquiry was used. The sample comprised four selective public high schools from the Sydney metropolitan area. The schools were invited by email to participate in the study. All four schools agreed to this request, representing a 100% response rate. Separate sixty minute, face-to face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the principal, deputy principal and head teachers from the four key learning areas (English, maths, science and HSIE) on site at each of the participating schools. The interviews were audio recorded and professionally transcribed. The interview transcripts were analysed using qualitative data analysis techniques recommended in the literature.The findings will be reported by the presenter.

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