Principals warned: Don’t carry the burden alone

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Friday, 10 Aug 2007

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release Friday 10 August 2007 Principals warned: Don’t carry the burden alone School principals charged with improving educational outcomes should adapt their leadership style to fit in with the context of the school’s needs rather than adopting a one-size fits all approach a major education conference opening in Melbourne on Monday will be told. Professor Philip Hallinger, Chief Academic Officer of the College of Management, Mahindol University, Thailand will deliver the opening keynote address to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) annual conference on the theme The Leadership Challenge: Improving Learning in Schools. Professor Hallinger will contrast the two most influential models of educational leadership: instructional leadership and transformational leadership and offer possible paths towards their integration in the practice of educational leadership. Instructional school leadership is characterised by strong, directive leadership focused on curriculum and instruction by the principal – a ‘top down’ approach. Transformational leadership, by contrast, focuses on the leader’s role in fostering a collective vision and motivating members of an organisation to achieve extraordinary performance – a more ‘bottom up’ approach. While there is now an unprecedented global commitment among government agencies towards training principals to be instructional leaders, Professor Hallinger will argue that this leadership method is not always appropriate. The type of leadership that is suitable at one stage in a school’s journey may become a limiting or even counter-productive force as the school develops. “One of the major impediments to effective school leadership is trying to carry the burden alone,” Professor Hallinger says. “Long term sustained improvement in a school will ultimately depend upon the staff assuming increasing levels of ownership over proposed changes in the school.” “Leadership must be conceptualised as a mutual influence process rather than as a one-way process in which leaders influence others. Effective leaders respond to the changing needs of their context. Indeed, in a very real sense the leader’s behaviours are shaped by the school context.” Phillip Hallinger is Professor of Management and Chief Academic Officer of the College of Management, Mahidol University, Thailand. Prior to joining Mahidol University in 2000, he held the position of Professor of Leadership and Organisations at Vanderbilt University for 15 years. ACER Research Conference 2007 opens Monday 13 August at the Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne and concludes Tuesday. Four keynote and nine concurrent addresses will be delivered. ****************ENDS*************