Monday, 13 Aug 2007

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release Monday 13 August 2007 The best principals are both demanding and responsive Schools that focus only on being more responsive to students without also setting high expectations and demands are making a fundamental mistake according to a paper to be delivered today at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) annual conference in Melbourne. Professor Stephen Dinham will tell delegates that educational leadership, like teaching and life generally, is heavily dependent on relationships. In his presentation Professor Dinham will explore two fundamental dimensions to relationships: responsiveness and demandingness and their influence on teaching and learning in Australian schools. According to Professor Dinham, since the 1960s there has been a greater focus on meeting individual student needs and this has been reflected in school teaching and leadership styles which focus on the individual student, sometimes at the expense of high academic expectations. “Put simply, demandingness and responsiveness have been falsely dichotimised. Ideologically it was believed that any increase in responsiveness towards students required a decrease in demandingness: to be responsive was to be progressive; while to be demanding was traditional.” “However, our research has shown that the best school leaders and teachers see a focus on individual needs and student self esteem as underpinning academic success. They adopt an ‘authorative’ style that blends high responsiveness and high demandingness rather than treating the two as mutually exclusive.” He argues that the ‘false dichotomising’ of demandingness and responsiveness in teaching and school leadership has been a mistake and remains a problem in some schools today. Professor Dinham joined ACER in July 2007 as Research Director, Teaching and Leadership. ACER Research Conference 2007 The Leadership Challenge: Improving Learning in Schools is taking place today and tomorrow at the Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne. Media information on the conference is available at www.acer.edu.au/news/rc ****************ENDS*************