School leaders must focus on teaching and learning

Media release

Back to media releases

Tuesday, 14 Aug 2007

MEDIA RELEASE For release Tuesday 14 August 2007 School leaders must focus on teaching and learning The more school leaders focus their influence, their learning and their relationships with teachers on the core business of teaching and learning, the grater their likely influence on student outcomes. This is among the findings from a review of published research to be presented to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) annual conference in Melbourne on Tuesday. Professor Viviane Robinson of the University of Auckland will deliver a keynote address on research that focused on identifying the relative impact of different types of leadership on student outcomes. Professor Robinson and her colleagues reviewed 24 international studies published between 1985 and 2006 that provided evidence about the links between leadership and student outcomes. They identified five leadership dimensions that had a particularly powerful impact on students: Establishing goals and expectations; Strategic resourcing; Planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum; Promoting and participating in teacher learning and development; and Ensuring an orderly and supportive environment. “There is unprecedented international interest in the question of how educational leaders influence a range of student outcomes,” Professor Robinson says. “This interest reflects the conviction of the public and politicians that school leaders make a substantial difference to the quality of teaching, and hence the quality of learning, in their school. “However, while this belief is supported by the qualitative research on the impact of leadership on school effectiveness and improvement, quantitative research, using large samples of schools produces more modest findings for the effect of leadership overall. Despite this overall finding, there are particular types of leadership that do have an important indirect effect on student outcomes. Those types include involvement with teachers in planning and oversight of the teaching programme and active participation with teachers in professional learning and development.” Leadership theory, research and practice needs to be more closely linked to research on effective teaching, so that there is a greater focus on what leaders need to know and do to support teachers in using the teaching approaches that raise achievement and reduce disparity. Viviane Robinson is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She is an organisational psychologist, specialising in organisational effectiveness and improvement, leadership and the relationship between research and the improvement of practice. The research she is presenting is part of the New Zealand Ministry of Education’s Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis programme which examines the impact of selected aspects of the education system on student outcomes. ACER Research Conference 2007 The Leadership Challenge: Improving Learning in schools is taking place at the Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne and concludes Tuesday. ****************ENDS*************